Witnessing History:  One Chinese Woman’s Fight for Freedom

Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman’s Fight for Freedom


“[A] hair-raising first-person look at China’s brutal concentration camps… China watchers should be attentive to this simply written but invaluable report from the front.” 

Publishers Weekly

“[Zeng’s] description of abuse and torture, including electric-shock treatment, constitutes an often harrowing, powerful reminder of what can happen when government power runs unchecked.”


May 13 is World Falun Dafa Day

Witnessing History

One Chinese Woman’s Fight for Freedom


Jennifer Zeng


Publication Date: May 13, 2006

A graduate in science from the prestigious Beijing University, a wife, mother and Communist Party member, Zheng (Jennifer) Zeng’s life was derailed because she practiced Falun Gong, a hybrid of Buddhism, Taoism, and certain physical exercises. Its main tenets are simple: Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance. Throughout the early and mid-90s, the number of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners grew rapidly. Falun Gong began to draw criticism from China’s official media in 1996, and in 1997 the Chinese Ministry of Public Security launched a national investigation, which culminated in the detainment, torture, and murder of Falun Gong practitioners.  Now, in Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman’s Fight for Freedom, Zeng offers the first, first-person account of what life is like inside the Chinese re-education camps.

Zeng began to practice qiqong (the practice of mind and body improvement through exercise and meditation) to recover from cirrhosis of the liver. In 1997, on her sister’s recommendation, Zeng began to practice a form ofqigong called Falun Gong. At first amazed by the Communist Party’s crackdown on Falun Gong, Zeng was sent to a detainment center twice. When she refused to recant, she was sentenced without a trial to re-education through forced labor. Her re-education, in part undertaken by fellow prisoners incarcerated for prostitution, dealing in pornography, and drug addiction, took the form of beatings, torture by electric prod, semi-starvation, and sleep deprivation. 

While imprisoned, Zeng struggled with her decision to recant. Ultimately, she decided to become “reformed” so that she might be released and could tell the world about what was happening in China. As part of her reformation, she had to take part in the re-education of other practitioners. As one sleep-deprived woman recants, Zeng observes, “My hair stood on end. I had never been present at that instant at which somebody was reformed. Tragedy may be seeing the destruction of something beautiful but nothing in the world is more terrifying than the sight of an angel suddenly becoming a devil, of an ordinary person being driven mad.” 


Zheng (Jennifer) Zeng was born in Sichuan Province, China, in 1966. She graduated from Beijing University in 1991 with a Master of Science in Geochemistry and worked in the Development Research Centre of the State Council of the P.R.C. until 1996 as a research fellow, then worked as an investment consultant. She began to practice Falun Gong in 1997. After her release from Xin’an Labor Re-education Camp, she fled to Australia in September 2001 and was granted refugee status twenty-two months later. She still lives in Australia with her daughter.  


Witnessing History • Jennifer Zeng • Soho Press

PUB DATE: May 13, 2006 • PRICE: $25.00

ISBN: 1-56947-421-4

Link to the book:www.randomhouse.com/book/210894/witnessing-history-by-jennifer-zeng

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