The Story of Zhu Ying

Ying Zhu is a permanent resident of Canada and a student at Concordia University in Montreal. On May 10th, 2001 Ying disappeared when she traveled to China to visit her husband and parents. Ying’s mother had recently undergone two heart surgeries and urgently wished to see her daughter. On May 24th, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democracy in Hong Kong confirmed that Ying was arrested as she entered China simply because she is a Falun Gong practitioner.

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice. It consists of meditation, gentle exercises, and the guiding principle of Truthfulness- Compassion-Forbearance. It is peaceful and apolitical.

Ying has no criminal record. Her friends in Montreal are shocked and sad that such a gentle, kind, and sincere person could be arbitrarily arrested for doing nothing wrong.

In June 2001, WOW Zone ( ) received a letter from Mr. Richard Zhang, who told us about Zhu Ying and asked for help in circulating the story. We posted the URGENT APPEAL, and thanks to the kindness of all those who took the time to write on her behalf, Ying is now free and a strong voice for those who are still detained in death camps in China.

Ying and I emailed and spoke on the telephone after her release, and we met in Montreal for the first time on August 2, 2001.

Zhu Ying and Carmen Colombo
Photo: Carmen Colombo of and Zhu Ying

The following is Ying's story, in her own words.

My experience of being arrested and detained in China
Ying Zhu
June 22, 2001

Good Morning, everybody.

I am happy to see all of you today.

I am so happy to be back to Canada, to embrace freedom, to be able to see my friends again, to be able to practice Falun Gong without worrying about being jailed or persecuted. Because I lost freedom once, I know how precious it is to regain it. I'd like to thank everyone who has made this possible. 

I am very moved after I heard how Canadian people appealed for my release from the Chinese detention. I thank you all whole heartedly, especially the Concordia University, the Concordia Student Union and the Canadian Federation of Students, Members of Parliament, Amnesty International and many NGOs, Canadian government, media and thousands of kind hearted Canadians; I would give my special thanks to my friend Claude Emond. 

It has been a nightmare. I was kidnapped, interrogated, threatened, and mentally abused by the people from the Ministry of National Security Department. (Equivalent of the K.G.B. in former Soviet Union.) 

Following is a brief story of what I experienced.

I. Kidnapped at customs

May 10th 2001 is the date I cannot forget: I lost my freedom right after I stepping on the motherland of China where both my parents and my husband live. All because I chose to practice Falun Gong for my health and peace of mind. 

My mother had recently had two heart surgeries. She missed me very much and I worried about them too, so I made the decision to visit them. This was my first visit to China since I immigrated to Canada in 1997. 

I arrived at the Guangzhou train station at about 6 o'clock in the evening. At customs, as soon as I showed my passport, I was taken to a room with over 20 people in straight uniform that were standing around. I asked for the reason. They said it was regular check. They searched my luggage and took my Falun Gong book and exercise music.  They took my address book, which I refused to let them have and started to rip it. They threw me on the ground. My leg was heavily hurt. The address book contains contact information of my friends in Canada. However, this address book was targeted as "evidence of crime". Later, I was interrogated day after day for information about this address book.

At about 9:30pm, escorted by four people who refused to show their identification, I was driven to a building with no sign outside. I was brought to one room and was held there for over 30 days without showing me any legal documentation for my arrest. 

II. 33 days in detention

The room was about 20 square meters. There was a washroom with a bathtub, but it had no door for the washroom, not even a bath curtain.

I was not allowed to step out of the door for the entire 33 days, except one time when I was brought out to meet with my sister-in-law for 10 min in a hotel room.

I was not allowed to contact anybody or make a phone call. I was totally isolated from the outside world.

I was monitored around the clock. At every minute, there were 3 people watching me in the room, 1 man and 2 women. 12 people made the shifts. Even during the night, they are sitting in my room monitoring me. They once commented on my sleeping positions.

I could not sleep with 3 people watching me and with the 120-Watt light bulb in front of my eyes day and night. The light was on 24 hours a day. They never turned it off. 

Every one of my movements, temperaments, expressions and emotions were recorded and filed. I felt very tense and nervous.

Using the washroom was humiliating and difficult as they were in the room. My health began to deteriorate and my internal system became chaotic. I knew that they were trying to break me.

At the beginning, I had fever for 3-4 days and could not sleep or eat anything for the four days.

I was extremely worried about my parents. Everyday, I asked them to release me. I said that my parents must be very worried about my disappearance. It was inhumane to not allow me to go home and keep me like this. However, they never answered me.

Throughout the 33 days detention, three people (other than those monitoring me) came to interrogate me every day. They not only tried to persuade me to give up Falun Gong practice, but they also tried to dig out every details contained in my personal phone book. For each person in my book, they ask very detailed questions such as the name, gender, nationality, whether he is a practitioner or not, etc. I guess that they were trying to find clue/evidence that I might have connection to some "anti-China forces" that may lead to a severe criminal charge against me. In the mean time, they tried to make a Black List in order to persecute the practitioners overseas. Just like they were able to do to me and many other practitioners.

Once, they showed a photo of me appealing in Hong Kong prior to my visit to China. They said that they had known all that I had done in Hong Kong. All that I did in Hong Kong was to peacefully protest against the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

III. Brainwashing by a Psychologist

A few days after my arrest, a person claiming to be a "psychology professor", named Mr. Qiu came to visit me. After giving me many propaganda materials defaming Falun Gong and the founder Mr. Li Hongzhi, he started to make his attacks on me directly. He said that he managed to make many practitioners give up Falun Gong practice. He believes that those who refuse to give up Falun Gong practice all had mental problem. The serious ones were all sent to mental hospitals to receive psychiatric treatment. I was shocked. I could not believe that he said this so bluntly to me. I knew that many practitioners were persecuted in mental hospitals, but I never dreamed that this cruel reality could be so close to me. I started to worry that they would send me to a mental hospital because I had no intention to give up Falun Gong at all.

He came again another time. This time he was even more shameless. He told me to cooperate with the government; otherwise, I would incur suffering for myself. He said that it was not impossible in China to create false allegations and accusation, even the Marshal He Long (a famous Chinese leader) had been sent to prison with false accusation and died there. I knew that he was intimidating me, but I was still frightened. I knew clearly what he said was a reality in China. Many innocent people have been falsely accused and severely persecuted due to various reasons in the past 50 years of Communist regime. I worried that if I died here, no one would ever know how I disappeared or what happened to me. At that moment, I had a strong thought in my mind that I must be alive and let the world know this truth.

IV. Surveillance at home

On June 12th, in that afternoon, the 3 people who interrogated me came to tell me that I could go home, but not without condition. I had to sign a record of all the talking that had gone on and give them my fingerprint. They videotaped the entire process. They also took away my personal address book and my passport before they let me go home.

They clearly told me that I was still under house arrest.

Although I was able to stay with my parents from June 12th to 18th, I was threatened not to contact people in Canada. My daily life and communication were under close surveillance. They  phoned my parents home everyday to check on me. I felt the tremendous pressure. Every time the phone rang, I became nervous that it might come from them to interfere with my family. I wanted to leave China as soon as possible. The country I loved so much.  

V. Return to Canada

On the 18th of June, I contacted those responsible for my arrest to get my passport and address book back. The same 3 people met me in a hotel. They requested that I write a promise not to engage in activities that go against Chinese government and the Chinese people and a promise to report any related situation to the Chinese government. This process was also videotaped. I was also threatened that I would bring trouble to myself in Canada if I mentioned that it was the Security Department of the Chinese Government that was in charge of my case. Meanwhile, I was warned that my life and studies in Canada might be in danger if I speak about these things and tell the truth, after my return to Canada. They are so afraid of people knowing the truth about their actions. After this episode my address book was returned tome. The passport, however, was given to me next day when I left China. The people who arrested and interrogated me are from the Ministry of National Security Department associated with the "610" office that was set up especially to persecute Falun Gong and its practitioners.   

On June 19th when I arrive at Hong Kong, an immigration officer detained me again at the custom for 3 hours without any explanation, hinting that it was related to my belief. It felt so ridiculous since Falun Gong in Hong Kong is legal. There is no doubt that they have compiled a Black List of Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong.

I arrived in Montreal on June 21 early in the morning.

VI. A few words from my heart

Now I am free. However, my experience in China will not be forgotten. Everyday was full of worry and anxiety. I tried my best to maintain a peaceful heart and mind and to relieve my parent’s worries. I am so fortunate to have had the support of the Canadian people and my friends. However, I cannot forget about the ten of thousands of practitioners who are not so lucky and continue to suffer for their beliefs. I hope my experience can give them a voice, let the Canada and the world know that this brutal persecution continues and increases in its intensity everyday. When I was first detained about a month ago, the death toll of practitioners was just under two hundred, today there are 229 practitioners that are know to have died in police custody. This experience has shown me just a bit of what some practitioners have been going through for the past two years, and I would not wish this on anyone. With my freedom, and because I once again have a voice, I will dedicate myself to securing the release of all the Falun Gong practitioners illegally detained and arrested in China. I will not rest until they know the freedom that I know now. From this experience, I have understood that a strong international voice for justice can help bring about an end to this vicious persecution. Let us work together and much harder to help the other Falun Gong practitioners in China and to work towards a peaceful resolution to this human rights crisis. 

Lastly, everything that I have stated today is what I experienced in China. I, myself, am responsible for all of the information and everything that has been said. This matter has nothing to do with my family and relatives in China. I would like to end by telling those that assist this persecution that good is rewarded with good and that retribution for any bad deed you do will come. Let history be the judge.

Zhu Ying's Letter to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien


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