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Interview and Painting: Red Wall
Introductory Note: From July the 15th to the 16th, 2004, an art exhibition sponsored by the Falun Dafa Association of Washington, D.C. with the theme of "Uncompromising Courage," was held in the exhibition hall of Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Falun Gong practitioners created all the art works in the exhibits. Some of the artists are still illegally imprisoned in China. After five years of bloody suppression, these Falun Gong artists hope to express the joy of returning to one’s true nature through cultivating Falun Gong, their indestructible righteous beliefs under cruel tortures and suppression, their persistence in pursuing Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, and their faith in “justice will defeat evil eventually.” These artists each have their merits. They have tried to use the traditional methods to achieve their goals. We will continue to introduce the works of these artists, the ideas behind their works and their creation processes.
Reporter: Zhu, Qingming, reporter for PureInsight Net
Reporter: I have seen two of your paintings that are featured in the exhibit and both paintings use the suppression of Falun Gong as their themes. One of the paintings is named “Red Wall.” Would you please talk a little bit about the process of its creation and how your personal experience under the suppression in China influenced its making?
Zhang: China has five thousand years worth of civilization; her culture and civilization are envied by the world. However, the traditional culture is continuously being destroyed instead of being expanded. After Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin took over, its destruction has reached its peak. Under Jiang’s ruling, there wasn’t any concern about the old Chinese civilization, human rights, or human dignity. His only interest was to maintain his regime and personal gain. Thus, China is in such a mess. Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese culture. It teaches inner cultivation towards compassion. It enhances physical as well as mental health. Practitioners have experienced regaining health from illness in a short time, including many cases proclaimed by doctors as incurable. Some strayed youths, who couldn’t be changed through the normal education, became good people and understood the true meaning of life, after they have practiced Falun Gong. Thus, Falun Gong became popular in China through spreading from person to person. In just seven years, the number of practitioners reached one hundred million. Normally, a leader would be very happy that his country had become such a civilized society. Isn’t this wonderful? But out of personal jealousy simple because the number of those practicing Falun Gong outnumbered the communist members, Jiang Zemin launched the persecution of Falun Gong.
Reporter: Why is this painting named “Red Wall”?
Zhang: Jiang came into power from the bloodshed of the June 4th, 1989 Student Freedom Movement. His regime was maintained by suppressing his opponents. His political “achievements” were written in blood. “Red Wall” symbolizes Zhang’s dictatorship. Traditionally, red is a favorable color in the minds of Chinese. However, the red in this painting expresses terrorism. The wall looks very oppressive. Many cracks indicate imminent collapsing of its foundation as well as the dictator ruling. During this period, Dafa practitioners have suffered tremendous tribulations, but their spirits will be shining forever. They suffered not for themselves, but for the truth of the universe. Their most benevolent deeds will be rewarded with good endings. Look at this practitioner in the painting, although he is tied up and undergoing torture, his Primordial Spirit has already ascended to heaven. I have been arrested four times in China. I was beaten and shocked with electric batons. My household possessions were confiscated. I was constantly under surveillance. I was also sentenced to carry out forced labor. Even when I was released, I had nowhere to tell people the truth. Because China is just like a big jail, every move is watched, and one can be arrested at any time. Under international pressure, the Chinese government had no choice but to release me. Even after I was released, I still had no personal freedom. I created this painting to reflect my feelings and situation then.
Reporter: People in the painting are tied to the wall with foot shackles. Some are sitting on ice, both hands tied in the back, etc. Did you experience the same cruel torture? Or did you witness those scenes.
Zhang: I was personally shocked with electric batons. It was extremely painful. They applied two electric batons to me. Later, I was sentenced to perform hard physical labor. The day before I was sent to the labor camp, the police beat a practitioner so badly that the twenty-eight practitioners who witnessed the incident told police to respect human right and stop the beating. Police wouldn’t listen, so they went on a hunger strike to let the police know that what they had done was wrong. Police unrestrainedly dragged practitioners out one by one and viciously beat them up. Some were beaten until they were unconscious. During the bath, I saw their bodies were covered with large patches of purple. I asked them what had happened. They told me that police had used seven to eight electric batons to hit each one of them for a long time, thus causing those injuries. Such torturing, nonetheless, will not change people’s beliefs in truth. Later, I was transferred to another labor camp. Over there, they used a very tricky way to lie to practitioners. They used special agents to confuse practitioners. Practitioners became confused, as they were imprisoned in isolation without the means to know anything. The camp also sent many special agents disguised as practitioners to spread rumors and phony messages to confuse practitioners. They applied brainwashing and lying in this situation. A practitioner from Qingdao City once told me that he went to Beijing to appeal and was beaten by police until his eyes were dilated. Police thought he was dead and thus dragged him to a remote place in Shijiazhuang. Yet he survived. He reasoned that he needed to tell the government that the persecution of Falun Gong was wrong. So he returned to Beijing and once again was arrested. This time police used sandpaper attached to the sole of a shoe to rub his buttock until all the skin was rubbed off. The pain was beyond description. When he told me this episode, his whole body was trembling and he couldn’t stop crying. There was an elderly schoolteacher who was in the same camp with me. He was put in an iron cage, with both hands tied together in suspension so that he couldn’t move, just like that posture in the painting. They then let criminal prisoner bring a poisonous snake to bite his neck. Later he found a fang was left in his neck and pulled it out. Being a practitioner, he had unusual resistance. If such abuse were applied to an ordinary person, he would be dead without any doubt. Many similar cases happened in the camp. There are countless cases of practitioners who regained their health from some unknown illness after practicing Falun Gong. Many such cases happened to people around me, such as my friends and the parents of students. Jiang disregarded this fact and the welfare of Chinese people. What expressed in this painting is the terrorism under Jiang’s ruling.
Reporter: I noticed that two Chinese characters meaning “suppression” were painted in white on the red wall. Are you trying to convey a message about Jiang’s suppression of Falun Gong practitioners?
Zhang: Yes. Jiang gave a directive for officials to carry out this policy in persecuting Falun Gong: "Defame their reputation, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically." You can imagine what has happened in China when Jiang uses the whole country’s machinery, from police, military, special agents, and a whole set of administrative management including culture and education [ministries]. Students who practice Falun Gong are expelled from school. A whole campaign of propaganda, including TV broadcasting, newspapers, and even foreign policy has been used for such purpose. He used a quarter of the national gross income to carry out this suppression. You can imagine the magnitude of the pressure. They have used every torture technique known to human history. There are more than one hundred torture methods being used to torment Falun Gong practitioners. The cruelty is beyond description.
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