On April 25th, Mother and Daughter Walk Hand in Hand, Validate Dafa Amidst Eight Years of Hardships and Tribulations

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Speaking of going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong on "April 25th" eight years ago, Zhang Xiulian and her daughter spoke so clearly about it that it seemed as if it only happened yesterday. In the past eight years, Zhang Xiulian and her daughter, one while in mainland China and the other while being on the other side of the world, have validated Dafa, clarified the facts about Falun Gong and cultivated themselves during this brutal persecution.

Zhang Xiulian (first from the left) silently protests in front of the Chinese Consulate
Zhang Xiulian demonstrating a torture method that Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to

On April 25th, 1999, Zhang Xiulian and her younger daughter Shali, rode their bicycles to the Appeals Office of the State Council on Fuyou Street in Beijing. Like other Falun Gong practitioners, they hoped to describe the true situation to leaders at the State Council, ask them to release arrested Falun Gong practitioners in Tianjin as soon as possible, ask them to reinstate the publishing of Falun Gong books, and request an environment to practise freely in.

They said that everybody stood there peacefully and in good order. The police vehicles were continuously and slowly driving by in front of them. The video cameras on the police vehicles swept the crowds, but no practitioner dodged the camera. Everybody was calm, because they knew that what they were doing was the most righteous thing.

On June 14th, 1999, the CCP publicly expressed its position over its official media, claiming that reports of suppressing Falun Gong is "completely a rumour that was purely fabricated to confuse people's minds.... " and "repeatedly stated that regarding all normal activities of doing the exercises and keeping fit, the government at different levels have never prohibited them. People have the freedom to believe and practise a certain cultivation way, and also have the freedom not believe in a certain cultivation way..."

However, just three days before making these statements, on June 10th, the CCP set up the infamous 610 Office, which can bypass government oversight in various matters, particularly in planning, organising and directing the suppression of Falun Gong.

On July 20th, 1999, the persecution campaign began.

Young Woman Detained Twice

Shali was still a college student in 1999. Because she took part in the April 25th peaceful appeal, wrote to her relatives about Falun Gong, showed truth clarification fliers to her friends, told them that "Falun Dafa is good" and told them about the facts of Falun Gong, the authorities constantly hounded her.

Shali said, "At the end of 2000, officers from the police station asked me to go to meet with them. They had letters that I wrote to my uncle and asked me some questions. That was the first time they contacted me."

"Early 2001, prior to the Chinese New Year, police and staff from the residential committee brought me to the police station and detained me in a basement for three days. After that, they sent me to a detention centre and locked me in a cell full of Dafa practitioners… Most of them had gone to Tiananmen Square to unfurl banners."

"It was horrible there, I could often hear Dafa practitioners being beaten. In the twelfth month of the lunar year which was in the middle of winter, they poured cold water on Dafa practitioners, drenching them from head to toe. Some practitioners were in handcuffs and shackles. The food that was given to them was terrible."

"One day, the police said, 'Tonight, there will be some important news to be broadcast, everyone must watch it.' That night, the staged 'Self-immolation on Tiananmen Square' was made known to the world. The police had learned of it before the broadcast."

"That time, I was detained for a month."

In mid-April, Shali was detained for a second time. This time, she was held for nearly 20 days.

Shali said, "That day, a teacher from my department duped me into going to the university at 7:00 a.m. After arriving at the university, I was pushed into a car where there were other Dafa practitioners from the same university. The car drove us to the Tuanhe Forced Labour Camp. It is really a demon's den, used for brainwashing Dafa practitioners."

"Every Dafa practitioner was surrounded by several collabourators [former Falun Dafa practitioners who have gone astray due to brainwashing and torture]. They kept scolding and verbally abusing us. Their behaviour was erratic and crazed. In that evil environment, Dafa practitioners were unable to sleep or eat. They became dizzy, and were almost unable to think normally. Dafa practitioners were often physically abused, forced to remain standing facing a wall."

"The work unit that sent each practitioner to the labour camp would pay 200 Yuan to the forced labour camp for each practitioner that they sent in. The money would be used for food and drink of those working on brainwashing practitioners, sprucing up the environment of the forced labour camp, presenting a false picture of peace and tranquility to deceive people."

"The forced labour camp also called in Dafa practitioners' elderly family members, who would kneel down to plead with the Dafa practitioners to accept the brainwashing. I often heard the crying of elderly people from nearby cells."

"If some practitioners were brainwashed, they would be forced to sing a song called 'The Same Song' together."

Shali said in deep grief, "In that environment, five or six people were around you on a daily basis. During the night, they took turns to sleep. I could not sleep. Once my eyes closed, they would pinch me. Gradually I felt I could no longer endure, and finally I complied with the evil against my will, and was released in May."

Staying Away from Home for Two and a Half Years

Shali returned home from the Tuanhe Forced Labour Camp, but she was constantly monitored by the police. She had to go to the police station to report for duty, and the police often came to her home to harass her late at night.

After Shali graduated from university, she found a teaching job. In May 2002, Jiang Zemin issued a secret order to "kill without mercy" after practitioners tapped into cable TV to clarify the truth, and there was once again a nationwide wave of arrests of Falun Gong practitioners. Shali did not want to suffer physical torture and mental torment any more, and had to leave home and become homeless.

Shali said, "Life was really hard during that period of time. I even felt bitter in my mind." She stayed in one place for three months, then changed to another place, finally she moved to a faraway suburb and settled down. In order to avoid the police's harassment, she could not contact her family and her family did not know where she was, either.

"I spent two Chinese New Years alone. The money earned by doing odd jobs could not maintain the lowest standard of life." Shali said that she did not return home until the second half of 2004.

No matter where she was, Shali did not forget that she is a Dafa practitioner, and she would often went out to distribute materials to clarify the truth according to the situation.

Validating Dafa Overseas

Ms. Zhang Xiulian, Shali's mother, came to Canada in 2001 when her older daughter Laula gave birth. From that point on, Zhang Xiulian could be seen clarifying the truth in different activities in Vancouver.

Regardless of whether it was a sweltering summer day or snowy winter evening, Zhang Xiulian has been peacefully participating as a part of the around-the-clock protest in front of the Chinese Consulate. Ms. Zhang recalled that on a winter day in 2001, it snowed heavily. The snow around her body gradually melted into water. She was soaked by the slush. From morning to evening, she was drenched with icy water for over ten hours.

When asked if she found it to be hard, she said, "We have only suffered a bit physically. It in no way compares to what practitioners in China have been through. What they face is pressure from the entire country's machinery. Besides physical torture, they have endured even more torment mentally. We can only use this way to tell the whole world what is really happening in China, and give fellow practitioners inside China our support."

In 2004, many practitioners went to New York to clarify the truth. Zhang Xiulian supported her older daughter Laula to go there. Laula went to New York for three months, and Ms. Zhang was alone at home with two children. One was four years old, and the other was two years old. She not only took part in Dafa activities as usual, but also studied the Fa [Law and principles of Falun Gong] together with the two children at home. Her granddaughter Hui Hui was just over two years old, and she could read Zhuan Falun. The adults read one paragraph, and children read one paragraph. Even when doing meditation, the children were very focused.

Zhang Xiulian also spends her spare time making phone calls to China to clarify the facts about Falun Gong and advising people to quit the CCP and its affiliated organisations.

Several years ago, the saddest thing for Ms. Zhang was that she did not know where her younger daughter was, whether or not she was safe. During the night, she called again and again in her mind, "My daughter, where are you?"

Early in 2007, Shali also came to Vancouver. Though her husband, who is nearly 70 years old and has a poor health, is still being held captive by the CCP, Ms. Zhang believes that the day for reuniting with him will not be too far.

Looking Back at April 25th, Her Heart Is Filled with Pride

Eight years have passed. During the eight years, the CCP has exhausted all of its evil and despicable means to persecute Dafa practitioners, but Dafa practitioners have not fallen down. Instead, they have become even more steadfast and understood the Fa even more deeply. People from more and more countries around the world have supported Dafa and more people have become Dafa practitioners. The CCP has failed miserably and faces an inevitable destruction.

Today, looking back at April 25th, Zhang Xiulian proudly said, "The April 25th peaceful appeal helped many people in the world learn about Falun Gong, and the world's people witnessed the Dafa practitioners' demeanour for the first time. It laid a solid foundation for Dafa practitioners in their later truth clarification, and for more people to practise Dafa in the ensuing years."

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