Mum tells of Harrowing Ordeal in newly published book – ‘Witnessing History’
Visiting the Sunshine Coast this week to launch her new book ‘Witnessing History: One Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong’ (Allen & Unwin), Sydney mum, tells of her harrowing ordeal.
Recalling her life in China, only 5 years ago, Jennifer Zeng, a scientist by profession, had begun a successful career, married her university sweetheart and together the happy couple were expecting their first child. However, due to complications during childbirth, Jennifer suffered two haemorrhages and contracted hepatitis C from blood transfusions which left her unable to work or care for her daughter. "I was only 30 years old; I had a wonderful husband and a precious daughter but I felt so wretched that life hardly seemed worth living," she writes in her book.
However, her life made a sudden turn around for the better. Once she started practising Falun Gong (an ancient Chinese exercise-meditation system), she regained her health, career and optimism. Yet her happiness was short-lived. In July 1999, China’s Communist Party banned Falun Gong in the most far-reaching suppression since the Cultural Revolution. Her once peaceful life was suddenly shattered and one night while she slept, authorities kidnapped Jennifer from her home and sentenced her to a forced-labour camp; her only ‘crime’ being her belief in Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance.
Jennifer describes her forced-labour camp ordeal: “During my year long detainment, I experienced far more brutality and darkness than I ever thought existed, and certainly more than I could bear”. Upon arriving at the forced labour camp, Jennifer was forced to squat all day in the blistering sun and endure hours of physical and verbal abuse. Night and day she was required to knit garments until her hands bled to feed the booming Chinese economy. During this time, Jennifer saw many of her companions tortured to the point of dying and many still remain incarcerated today.
After serving her sentence and at risk of being sent back, Jennifer managed to flee to Australia, but in doing so had to leave her husband and young daughter behind. Witnessing History published by Allen & Unwin is not only a true story of the triumph of the human spirit, but a tale of courage and conviction in the face of the most gruelling adversity. The story reveals a hidden tragedy that is currently unfolding behind closed doors in China today.