Reporting on good deeds is the media’s way of promoting good people. Imprisonment is the state’s way of punishing bad people. Usually these two groups of people don’t overlap much.
They do in China. One group of good, kind people have drawn media attention for their good deeds, but are currently or have been jailed. Why? Not because they broke the law, but because they practice Falun Gong, a peaceful spiritual practice of body and mind.
These good people are being persecuted merely for exercising their right to freedom of religion, a right supposedly protected by the Chinese Constitution.
A Warmhearted Person
Mr. Si Deli is a 64-year-old professor of art. Since he began to practice Falun Gong in 1996, he has lived by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and has done many good deeds.
Mr. Si once visited a relative in a hospital. There he met a little boy, a victim of a hit and run. The boy’s leg was broken but his family couldn’t afford the surgery. Mr. Si gave the family 5,000 yuan but didn’t leave his name. Later, the grateful family turned to a local TV station to look for the warmhearted person who had helped them.
The boy was not the only one Mr. Si has helped. He donated 1,000 yuan to a young girl diagnosed with cancer.
Such a good person has been a target of the local authorities for practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Si has been arrested many times, illegally detained, put through forced labor, and imprisoned since Jiang Zemin, the then leader of the Chinese Communist Party, launched the persecution against the practice in 1999.
Mr. Si was put on trial for his belief most recently in October at the Shihe District Court in Xinyang City.
“Ms. Li, where are you?”
Ms. Li Jinan, a 61-year-old former government employee from Kunshan City, has had a similar experience—a person whom she has helped turned to the local newspaper to look for her.
Ms. Li financially supported Hong Gang, a poor boy in the countryside, from the second grade to just months before his high school graduation. They communicated through mail and built a solid relationship over 10 years. She wrote him regularly and with each mail included a stamp for a return letter. Her support, warm encouragement, and guidance have changed young Hong Gang’s life for the better.
Their communication stopped abruptly in November of 2002 when Ms. Li was arrested. When Hong Gang was accepted by a university the following year, his first thought was to share the good news with Ms. Li. To his disappointment, all his letters were returned by the post office.
In a continuous effort to find his benefactor, Hong Gang turned to the local media in 2006. An article was published in Kunshan Daily in March that year, titled “Ms. Li, where are you?”
Where was Ms. Li? She was imprisoned by the Communist regime for her belief in Falun Gong.
Hong Gang is only one of the children Ms. Li has sponsored. She never told anyone exactly how many children she helped, but once in a while she would mention one of them finding a job or graduating. Some of the children are now all grown up and some are still in elementary school.
A Donation of 20,000 Yuan
Mr. Wang Xiliang started practicing Falun Gong in July 1994 and took on a new outlook on life. “I wanted to help others,” he said. “I anonymously donated 20,000 yuan to ‘Project Hope.’ The maximum amount a person could donate each time was 10,000 yuan at the time, so I split the contribution and did it in two days. It was reported in the newspaper.”
Twenty thousand yuan was no small amount in 1994. Though Mr. Wang had only started practicing Falun Gong, he was able to take money lightly. He has a heart of gold.
This good man has been arrested many times since 1999 for remaining resolute in his belief.
A Kind Farmer Imprisoned
Ms. Wang Zhilan is a farmer from Gangu County, Gansu Province. Though she is not rich, she often buys food and household items for poor families in the village. She donated money for the village to build a new road, which benefited everyone. She donated 500 yuan to the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Her good deeds drew praise and she was interviewed by a local TV program.
Even so, she could not escape the unjust treatment shared by hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China—Ms. Wang has been arrested and detained several times for her belief.
A Touching Story in the Taiyuan News
Mr. Wang Zhigang runs a bookstore near Taiyuan University of Technology. He started practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and strove to be a better person. His large donation of 15,000 yuan after the 1998 China floods drew media attention and was reported in the Taiyuan News.
Mr. Wang was not rich. The money he donated was his years of savings from the bookstore’s small profits.
For giving out fliers with Falun Gong information, Mr. Wang was arrested in July 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison. He was tortured to the point of near blindness at Jinzhong Prison.
A Press Conference Held for an Anonymous Donor
Ms. Lu Chunyun, a teacher from Jilin Province, started practicing Falun Gong in 1996 for health reasons, but soon found the practice morally edifying as well.
When the city government tried to raise money to build an overpass in a busy section of the city, she donated all of her savings, a total of 60,000 yuan, anonymously. In her letter to the mayor, she wrote, “I am a student of Teacher Li Hongzhi. Through studying Zhuan Falun, I now understand the true meaning of life. Falun Gong has changed me from a selfish person to a good person.”
The city government held a special press conference praising this “anonymous donor” whose “name” was carved on a stone sign by the overpass.
Ms. Lu traveled to Beijing to appeal for her right to freedom of religion when the persecution started in 1999. Since then, she has been repeatedly arrested, put through forced labor, imprisoned, and detained at a mental hospital. The ill treatment she suffered caused her weight to drop to 77 pounds at one point.
Why Was Their Story Dropped?
Falun Gong practitioners do not care about fame or self-interest. They often do not leave their names when they help others. Especially after the Communist regime started suppressing the practice, some of the good deeds done by practitioners were not reported.
Mr. Chen Guoqing and his wife Ms. Han Yuqin were doctors at the Central Hospital in Mudanjiang City. The couple made large donations anonymously to help support children of poor families.
Their good deed drew attention from the local TV station and they were interviewed. However, the couple was asked to lie about their motives in donating the money. Mr. Chen recalled, “I clearly told him [the reporter] that we did what we did because of our belief in Falun Gong. The reporter threatened to take our story out of the program unless I said it was because of the Communist Party’s ‘enlightenment.’”
“We purposely donated the money anonymously in the first place. Why would we care about being on TV? As practitioners, we strive to meet the Fa‘s standards of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, not to become celebrities.”
The couple has been arrested for their belief and both have lost their jobs.
“I just want to help those in need”
Mr. Wang Jicai from Benxi City donated 100,000 yuan after the 1998 floods in China. When he did the money transfer, the donation center staff insisted that he leave his name and address so that he could be contacted for an interview later. He smiled and said, “I am a practitioner of Falun Gong. I just want to help those in need. The Fa has taught me to not care about fame or personal gain and to always consider others first.”