Ms. Xu Xinyang
“I saw my father for the first time when I was 7, as he was sentenced to 8 years before I was born for producing Falun Gong materials,” said Xu Xinyang before the “Deteriorating Human Rights and Tuidang Movement in China” forum in 2018.
“He wanted to hold me, but I was scared and hid behind my mom. I refused to let him hold me because I never had a chance to know him. This became my lifelong regret.”
Parents Arrested, Father Incarcerated Eight Years
Xu Xinyang is the daughter of Ms. Chi Lihua and the late Mr. Xu Dawei. Mr. Xu worked as a chef in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, where the family resided. He was well-regarded in his hometown due to his kind and honest demeanor.
Xu’s parents both began practicing Falun Gong before the persecution began in 1999. For printing informational materials on Falun Gong after the persecution began, they were arrested in February 2001.
At the time Xu’s mother was pregnant with her, yet she was still beaten by police. Xu’s father was also sentenced to eight years in four different prisons where he would be severely persecuted.
The four prisons Mr. Xu was incarcerated at were the Dabei Prison in Shenyang, First Prison in Lingyuan County, Second Prison in Fushun City, and Dongling Prison in Shenyang City.
For remaining steadfast in his faith, Mr. Xu was violent brainwashing, extended periods of handcuffing and shackling, savage beatings, hanging by the arms, force-feeding, being whipped with rubber tubes, being punctured with needles, starvation, and electric shock treatment.
He was often sent to the “strict management team”, that engaged in more ruthless torture.
One of those tortures was the “extreme stretching method:” his limbs were stretched in four different directions for 24 hours a day. Usually, a person could not bear it for more than three days, but Mr. Xu’s limbs were stretched like that for seven days the first time and then many more times thereafter.
Despite the unfathomable hardship and developing symptoms of pleurisy from torture, Mr. Xu appeared skinny but in a clear mental state when the family was finally granted a visit on February 14, 2008.
One Hundred Days of Tragedy
The family was shocked when they went to pick up Mr. Xu at the prison around a year later, on February 3, 2009. His hair was gray, and he was emaciated, had dull eyes, and did not recognize his family.
When his family members asked, “What is wrong with him? Why is he so thin?” the guards did not respond.
At home, his family members found that he could not eat, kept coughing, and was too weak to even spit. There were many marks on his body left by electric batons. His hands and feet suffered from edema. There were injuries on his right knee and ankle. The skin on his buttocks was necrotic and dark purple. He also had a mental disorder.
While he was clear-minded, he told them, “The prison authorities gave me nerve-damaging drug injections, locked me in solitary confinement, and kicked and punched me.”
Mr. Xu’s family then took him to the hospital, the doctors told the family he was beyond treatment. 13 days later Mr. Xu passed away at 36 years old.
Within 100 days, Xu Xinyang’s uncle, grandfather, and grandmother would all pass away, either directly because of the persecution, or because they couldn’t bear the pain of Mr. Xu’s death. Mr. Xu’s parents had painstakingly waited for eight years for his release.
The eight-year-old lost not only four family members but also her right to attend school.
“I was forced to transfer to three different schools when I was in the third grade of elementary school,” she said.
At her fourth school, Xu found some peace and happiness, as the principal and most of the teachers at this school were Falun Gong practitioners.
However, a mass arrest would take place not long after, and all the teachers would be arrested. Xu managed to escape with some classmates, however, many students weren’t so lucky and were taken away by the police.
One boy was interrogated for a long time and was not allowed to sleep for four nights in a row. The police tried to extort information from him regarding who the teachers had contacted, and so on.
The boy was so terrified that he collapsed and died soon after he was released.
After the incident, Xu was also targeted by the police. She had no school to go to and had to wander around in the country with her mother.
The two eventually escaped to Thailand when Xu was 12. After being granted refugee status by the U.N., they were able to come to the United States last year.
Xu Xinyang and her mother have attended many human rights forums and vigils commemorating Falun Gong practitioners. They shared their story before a forum at the U.S. Congress in 2018, highlighting the severity of the persecution in China.
At a candlelight vigil commemorating victims of persecution in 2021, Xu said, “My father was killed for his belief. I came here today to remember him.”
“When I look back, it makes me proud that my father did not give up his belief despite being imprisoned and abused for such a long time… Today, seeing so many practitioners holding photos of the victims, there is a story behind every face—all of them were brutally tortured. Perhaps they suffered even more than me except that today I have a chance to speak out and do something about it.”