Danshan’s Story: For Years, Mother Suffered in a Labor Camp
October 2000 can be called the beginning of my family’s tragedy. One day, after my father and I came back from my aunt’s home in a cheerful mood, a phone call reached my home saying that my mother, a teacher at a special needs school, was arrested because of her faith in Falun Dafa.
At that time, both my father and I were reading Falun Dafa’s book and practiced the exercises. However, after my father came back from the police office, even though he thought Falun Dafa is good and believed that the Chinese media was lying in order to justify the persecution, he dared not practice anymore. As for me, I was too young to understand what was happening. I did not even realize where my mother was going.
Several days after, I finally realized what was happening because dozens of relatives came to my house and tried to persuade me to ask my mom to give up practicing Falun Dafa. I was only in elementary school, but I was shocked by my relatives’ behavior. I read Falun Dafa’s books many times and knew that they only talk about how to become better people. What they were all asking me to do was to lie.
I tried to argue with them. However, my father and the rest of the family didn’t care and thought what I said was silly. I was offended by their words and couldn’t stop crying. Before I left the room, my father told me to bring all the Dafa books out so he could send them to the police office. I had never seen his face twisted like that before.
In my room, I felt panicked and was too afraid to disobey my father, but I didn’t want to give up the books. So I put a bunch of comic books in a paper bag and made them to look like the books my father wanted, passed through the living room where he was, and dropped the bag of books into the garbage outside. My father seemed to choose to believe me and never asked again, so I still kept Falun Dafa books inside my desk.
I heard that my mother was found to have health conditions, and I was very happy because someone told me that because of this, the many labor camps won’t take her. So I thought my mom would be back soon. However, I was wrong, and my mother was sent to Masanjia Labor Camp. I was left to live with my father.
One day, my mother’s sisters and my father took me to the detention center where my mother was. I can only remember that the whole environment was filled with panic and sadness. No one looked like how they used to and behaved almost crazily. There were also people who were numb and cold. There were policemen whose voices and words were so disgusting that they made me uncomfortable. They said that Falun Gong is a national problem, and because of the Communist Party’s orders, they will not spare anyone who does not give up practicing. Then my mother’s relatives cried even harder. In the afternoon, we left after all of our hopes were crushed.
From 2000 to 2014, because of practicing Falun Dafa, my mother was sent twice to Masanjia Labor Camp, several times to brainwashing centers, and more than 7 times to detention centers. Countless times she was terrorized by policemen.
After my mother was gone, I was usually home alone since my father was busy at work. I felt I was different from other students and lived mostly in depression. After my mother was released, I was still very afraid that policemen would grab her from the market or from her school. If she was late coming back, I would stand by the windows and think about all the bad things that could have happened. These thoughts filled me with panic and my brain would not stop scaring itself until I saw her appear.
Truth be told, even home wasn’t safe. In 2005, they came to my house and took my mom to Masanjia Labor Camp illegally. Sometimes I think, if I didn’t have the strength of faith, I might have developed mental illness at a young age.
One day my elementary school teacher Ms. Sun came to our classroom and told us to sign a signature drive for charity, so I signed it without much thought. However, after several years, I learned from a classmate that it was not for charity at all, but a promise that we won’t practice Falun Gong. I guess my teacher lied to me because she knew my family’s situation.
In junior high and senior high, I was treated differently in school by my teachers. The junior high head teacher, Ms. Huang, often made me stay after class to clean. In senior high, because my mother told him about Falun Dafa’s true situation, Mr. Chu treated me differently, punished me harder than the other girls, and spoke strangely to me.
Even though we knew that many Falun Gong practitioners were killed by the CCP, we had not heard about organ harvesting until whistleblowers revealed that the CCP has been harvesting practitioners’ organs for transplants.
In labor camp, the policemen would run physical tests of the inmates’ organs. They say it’s for the prisoners’ health, but really it was to test for viable organs. My mother’s outcome showed her organs were in bad condition, even though she felt fine and had no illness for more than 20 years. We realized that my mother was lucky.
Many of her friends disappeared in labor camp. For example, a woman named Jie Jiang disappeared in Masanjia Labor Camp in 2007. One day, policemen sent Jiang to the hospital of Shenyang Medical University for her stomach problem.
After a couple days, my mother overheard them say that ”we can delete Jie Jiang’s name from the list.” At the time, no one understood what the policemen were referring to. After several years, we heard that many people died having their organs harvested in Masanjia Labor Camp, and that many hospitals like Shenyang Medical University helped the CCP kill people for their organs.
In 2012, I applied for college abroad and was accepted at Arizona State University. I came to the United States on a student visa, and began a new life here. Meanwhile my mother had gotten her passport and a tourist visa to the United States as well, but the danger was not over.
In 2014, policemen came to the house and told my father that my mother needed to do blood test but did not tell him what it was for. My father refused and told them my mother was a good citizen and contributed to the family, what they did was illegal. However, the local police office sent people to watch my mother at her work and at our home. They even tried to break into the house in the middle of the night.
One day, they were waiting for her at the house, ready to blood type her. My father called to warn her not to come home. So instead of going home, she snuck away to the airport and managed to board a flight to the U.S. If she hadn’t, the police would have taken her. If she didn’t act so quickly, the police might have frozen her visa or put her on a no-fly list.
Fortunately, she’s here with me now. My father, however, is still in China and our family is separated by oceans. At least now, we can practice our faith freely and my family in China is spared from constant harassment.