Cuiying Zhang, Australia
Jason and Christine Loftus, Canada
Amy Lee, USA
Jane Dai, Australia
Sterling Campbell, USA
Professor Kunlun Zhang, Canada
Ming Zhao, Ireland
Christina Yuan, USA
Yongjie Tan, USA
Shenli Lin and Jinyu Li, Canada
Yuzhi Wang, Canada

Professor Zhang was the first overseas practitioner to be released from wrongful detention in China, thanks to the strong support of many Canadians

My name is Kunlun Zhang. I am a Canadian citizen and a professor of art. Because I practice Falun Gong, I was arrested three times while staying in China to take care of my elderly mother-in-law. On November 14, 2000, I was sentenced without trial by the Chinese authorities to three years in labour camp because I refused to denounce Falun Gong. With the help of the Canadian government, Amnesty International, and the international community, I was released on January 10, 2001.

During my detention, policemen beat me to the floor and shocked me all over my body with high voltage electric batons. They threatened that if I uttered a sound, they would shock my mouth. The head of the police station said to me, "We have orders from Jiang Zemin. As long as you refuse to denounce Falun Gong, we can do whatever we want to you. If you were beaten to death, we could simply bury you and tell the outside world that you had committed suicide." My arms, legs, and other areas were burnt in many places from the intense electric shocks. I could even smell my own burning flesh. The beatings and electric shocks injured my left leg badly. It took three months for the wounds to heal.

In addition to physical torture, police used intense mental torture against me. I was forced to attend "brainwashing" class. The so-called class is actually the same as jail, since we were deprived of our freedom and were totally isolated from the outside world. If you are "transformed" to denounce Falun Gong, you will be released; otherwise, you will be sent to labour camp for three years. They even forced us to pay "tuition" of 10,000 Chinese yuan, which is equivalent to one year's salary, for such torture.

Every day, along with the other practitioners, I was forced to sit straight on a small bench to watch brainwashing propaganda films all day and all night. They forced convicts to monitor us and keep us from closing our eyes or lowering our heads. Their goal was to keep us from having even one minute to be able to think independently.

In December of 2000, I was transferred to Wangchun Labour Camp, which is notorious for its cruelty toward Falun Gong practitioners; it is often referred to as "Hell on Earth". The security staff there tried much harder with their brainwashing tactics, using psychological attacks and mind control to torment me and force me to renounce my belief in Falun Gong. I was monitored twenty-four hours a day by a group of policemen. After days and nights of endless brainwashing, deception, coercion, and psychological attacks, I almost collapsed. Such mental torture was even worse than physical torture.

These memories are extremely painful and are beyond words' description. Every time I recall those darkest days in my life, I feel as if I am still being mentally tortured. The pain remains vivid, the memories haunting. However, I have to stand up to tell the truth and to stop the torture, as tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are still suffering in jails and they can't get their voices heard. Many of those practitioners have suffered much more than I did. Already more than 800 practitioners have been tortured to death. Now that I have gained my freedom, I feel that it is my responsibility to speak for them and to let the world know about the truth of the persecution, so that more kind-hearted people will stand up to help end this brutal persecution in China.

After I was released, I traveled to Canada and the United States to generate awareness of the vicious persecution in China. In March, I learned that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights would meet in Geneva. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to bring this urgent issue to the attention of the world's human rights leaders. As an overseas Chinese, I want to see China to become a prosperous country. However, prosperity has to be built on stability. Only when a country has people with good morals, only when a country's leaders respect its citizens' human rights, can that country become stable and prosper. It broke my heart to see that innocent citizens are being murdered by their own president in China simply because they believe in the high moral principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance". Yet Jiang Zemin's regime shamelessly lied in Geneva that "now is the best period of time of human rights records in China".

I wanted to use the example of myself to tell the world: "Thousands of Chinese practitioners are still being physically and mentally tortured every minute. They need your help!" Despite the fact that Jiang Zemin's regime sent 500 spies to Geneva to interfere with our activities, and despite the fact that they fabricated stories there to discredit me, I was determined that nothing could stop me from revealing the truth of the persecution I witnessed and experienced in China.

I traveled to 10 countries in Europe, including Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. I spoke at press conferences, met with Members of Parliament and ambassadors responsible for human rights, and visited human rights organizations like Amnesty International. They've all expressed their support after learning the truth.

I believe that righteousness will surely overcome the evil.

Prof. Zhang was the first overseas practitioner to be arrested in China. His case paved the way for subsequent rescues and the family rescue campaign.

By March 2003, Canada had helped to rescue nine practitioners from torture in China to safety in Canada.

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