Illegally detained and tortured for her faith, a woman breaks silence from prison

Xu Na is an award-winning Chinese artist, poet, and independent painter who has been persecuted, abducted, and tortured by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for her belief in Falun Gong. Also known as Falun Dafa, it is a spiritual practice from the Buddha School that consists of five gentle exercises and adhering to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

The artist has been practicing Falun Dafa since 1995 with her husband Yu Zhou, a talented musician and member of the popular three-person band “Xiao Juan and Residents in the Valley.”

Mr. Yu died in police custody just ten days after being imprisoned in 2008 at one of the many police checkpoints set up throughout Beijing to crack down on dissent ahead of the Olympics. Reports later emerged that he was tortured to death, reported. The artist was only 42 years old.

Yu’s death in custody was widely reported by international human rights organizations and Western media, including Amnesty International, the New York Times, and the Associated Press. Authorities barred his family from accessing surveillance videos in the prison and from seeing his body. Xu was not allowed to attend his funeral and was herself sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Xu survived various types of torture in Beijing’s women’s prison and made it out of prison alive after being imprisoned twice for her faith, in 2001 and 2008.

Xu’s last imprisonment was in 2020 when she was charged with “using a heretical organization to undermine law enforcement,” a vague provision of the criminal code commonly used to sentence Falun Gong practitioners to sentences of up to 12 years.

On April 22, 2021, human rights lawyer Mr. Liang Xiaojun visited Ms. Xu in Dongcheng District Detention Center, as reported by website. Mr. Liang tweeted that Ms. Xu and other practitioners were imprisoned for posting photos and articles online to expose the severity of the pandemic in China.

Ms. Xu told the lawyer: “I endured eleven kinds of torture and walked out of the prison alive. In the past 22 years, how many wives have been separated from their husbands and how many families have fallen apart. And how many have been tortured, injured or beaten into disability. [All of their suffering] was only because of a book [the teaching of Falun Gong], a DVD, a software to break the internet censorship in China, or a name list of people who have been tortured to death for their faith. What kind of government is this? What is it afraid of?”

She also shared with the lawyer: “I can’t stay silent to protect my own interest. Anyone in society should have a moral judgment of unfair things unrelated to them. This is the basic responsibility for being a person. If I identify with such a government (the Chinese communist regime), then I’m not a decent person.”

“It has been twenty years. It [the persecution] shouldn’t go on anymore. It’s time for the persecution to end.” she added.

In this regard, lawyer Liang tweeted an emotional message regarding the prevalence of faith and courage over the fame and fortune that Xu might enjoy:

“As an artist and freelance writer, Xu Na’s knowledge, her own tragic encounter and bumpy fate in fact brought her wisdom, conscience, and courage that is carried deeply in her heart.”

“Under the cruel circumstances, she is indifferent to fame and fortune. The fame she should have enjoyed and her influence are underestimated, but she is not being taken lightly by the government. Every time I meet her, it is a process of listening and learning for me,” he wrote.

Falun Dafa was a popular practice in China until 1999 with nearly 70-100 million practitioners. Jiang Zemin, the leader of the CCP at the time, grew jealous of the practice and viewed it as a threat to the communist ideology. Hence, a nationwide campaign of persecution to defame the practice was launched.

To this day, followers of Falun Gong are subject to severe persecution which includes imprisonment, forced labor, psychiatric abuse, and being killed for their organs. State-sanctioned organ harvesting is a billion-dollar business in China with prisoners of conscience being killed on demand.