Article from German Newspaper "The Sächsische": Rescued from a Forced Labour Camp

A Chinese lady recounts her experience and thanks the Dresden locals for their help

Xiong Wei was delighted to be back from Beijing. Everything turned out well. Yet, the thirty five year old experienced a nightmare from which she almost did not escape alive. She has to thank Dresden’s locals for her escape, among others. In 1992, the daughter of a senior engineer and a pediatrician arrived in Germany. She studied Economics in Berlin until 1999. There, she heard about Falun Gong for the first time. She told us, “I was often ill, weak, stressed out and worried about everything.”

Finding Inner Harmony

Another Chinese student introduced this meditation practice to Xiong Wei. She read the Falun Gong introductory book, practised the meditation exercises and noticed that she had more energy, was more at ease and less stressed out. She told us, “I found inner harmony. Now I understand better the meaning of life.” Thus, Xiong Wei was among the first Falun Gong practitioners in Germany.

After she graduated, this young woman was employed by a German company, which sent her to their Beijing subsidiary. She was delighted to be back with her family. She translated and became the contact for the German headquarters. It was quite challenging.

Yet, even then, not everything was quite right. The Chinese regime had banned Falun Gong just a few months earlier and had begun to persecute practitioners. One day, Xiong told one of her co-workers about it and was told, “Don’t ever talk about it.” But she could not refrain from doing so. Therefore, Xiong Wei tried to fight the Chinese propaganda [...]. She responded by distributing flyers on the streets. These flyers detailed the torture perpetrated by the regime on practitioners and also about the first torture victims.

Three years ago, it was a beautiful sunny winter day in Beijing when she was arrested. Three plain-clothed policemen pulled Xiong Wei into a taxi and took her to the closest police station. There she was held for six hours in a small cell with only standing room. It was so small that one could neither sit nor lie down.

Next she was taken to a pre-trial prison. There, the young Chinese woman had to share a fifteen square metre small cell with twenty-two women. She told us, “During the day we sat on the wooden benches, which became beds during the nights.” She could barely sleep. It was just too congested. They were constantly monitored with a camera. The food was unreal, cooked mashed Chinese cabbage, laced with bugs. The twenty-three women had to share one toothbrush.

It got worse. Xiong was tortured, beaten, kicked, had to squat for days and was not allowed to sleep. The re-education policemen took turns and constantly talked to her during their shift. She was asked to renounce Falun Gong and sign a document to never again practise Falun Gong. Xiong wrote, “I would rather die,” instead of her name.

She was sentenced to two years in a labour camp without legal process. She was forced to pack chopsticks until late at night. Later on, she knitted sweaters and gloves from 6 am to 9:30 pm. All this was earmarked for exportation. She recalled that, “The elderly women cried and worked at the same time.” There was never a moment of peace. She was constantly harassed and mistreated.

Posting Cards to China

While she suffered, German friends and acquaintances had mounted a rescue effort. They collected signatures demanding her freedom and distributed postcards, asking that people send them directly to the slave labour camp. Zhao, a scientist and co-worker from the Technischen University went to the village fairs, the Golden Horseman and any other place where he could appeal for help to a large crowd. He does not remember how many signatures he collected but about 40,000 were collected worldwide.

On January 4th 2004, Xiong Wei gained her freedom. She is now in Germany. Last night she told her story at the Ökumenischen centre and thanked the many Dresden locals for helping her and being there when she most needed it.


Background of Falun Gong

1. Falun Gong is a Chinese meditation practice, collectively called qigong. We were told that it has no political or religious orientation.
2. This practice aims to bring body and soul towards perfection, and is a combination of meditation and physical exercises. It is similar to Tai Chi.
3. Falun Gong adherents follow three principles, Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. One will do good deeds and care about the welfare of others.
4. In July of 1999, this movement was banned in China. Its adherents claim that there are between seventy to one hundred adherents in Dresden […].
5. Human rights organisations allege that more than 100,000 practitioners have been detained in detention centres, slave labour camps and psychiatric clinics since the movement was banned. By the end of 2004, there were 1,128 deaths through torture.
6. During the April 2002 state-visit by the Chinese head of state Jiang Zemin to Dresden, a scuffle broke out when a Chinese security officer manhandled an adherent.

Originally published in German at

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