FALUN GONG
Falun Gong was banned in China in 1999 and more than 3,300 Chinese practitioners have died in prison or due to abuse in the 10 years of the crackdown, according to members of the groupReuters/Radu Sigheti

My name is Yu Minghui. I am 28-years-old and from the city of Mudanjiang in China's Heilongjiang province. Since graduating from the Cambridge School of Art, I have lived and studied in London. My father, mother, aunt and I have joined thousands of other Chinese citizens in suing our former president and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chairman, Jiang Zemin. Below are our reasons.

My father, Yu Zonghai, 58, graduated from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts at an early age and is a professional oil painter and a talented ice sculptor. He was honoured several times as a model employee of the City Library and of the State Library. My mother, Wang Meihong, 57, was a senior engineer in the City Geological Institute and one of her academic papers won a national award.

We used to have a very happy and peaceful life and through Falun Gong, a meditation and self-cultivation practice, my father's health dramatically improved. He gained great peace of mind through embracing its guiding principles as taught in Zhuan Falun, the core text by Master Li Hongzhi. Our family members started practising Falun Gong as well after they saw my father's improvement.

According to Falun Gong teachings, when there is a conflict, we should always look inwards instead of blaming others; we just want to be good people as part of society, with a peaceful heart. For myself I suffered with bad tonsillitis but after practice it gradually disappeared. I became very healthy and also good academically being one of the top students in the class.

In July 1999, all this was abruptly disturbed, when Jiang Zemin, out of jealousy and paranoia, instigated the persecution of Falun Gong, banning the practice and completely destroying the lives of practitioners. Soon after, our home was searched by local police and my father was questioned about whether he would give up his belief and renounce Falun Gong in public.

After his refusal, he was taken to the police station and later sentenced to one year in Mudanjiang Sidao labour camp. In 2001, he was caught again and was secretly sentenced to 15 years in Mudanjiang Prison. The heavy penalty was that he hung a big banner with "Falun Dafa is good"(Falun Dafa is also known as Falun Gong) wording on a building in the city centre.

Who are the Falun Gong?

Falun Gong self-immolation protest
Members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement protest against Chinese persecution in LondonDemotix.com

Founded by reclusive leader Li Hongzhi, the Falun Gong movement was banned by China in 1999 as its membership ballooned to more than 200m. At its centre, Falun Gong is a form of meditation that resembles the Chinese practice of Qi Gong and borrows heavily from the tenets of Buddhism.

The group is heavily curtained inside China and NGOs have reported widespread abuse, torture and long jail sentences for its practitioners. Thousands of practitioners inside and outside China have launched legal challenges against the government and specifically former president, Jiang Zemin, who initiated the 1999 crackdown.

My mother, who also refused to give up her belief, was not exempt from this nightmare. She was initially kidnapped and taken to a brainwashing centre (also called a black jail) for three months in 2001. And she was under arrest again in 2003 and sent to Harbin Women prison for an 11-year sentence after a secret trial. The main offence was that she distributed leaflets with Falun Gong content.

Both my parents were mentally and physically tortured in prison. My father told me that his chest was beaten badly with electric batons, and now he sometimes has difficulty breathing.

In the past he had a very healthy heart, but now he has serious heart problems. The back of his head was hit by a heavy implement, and now he often feels dizzy. Due to constant beatings on his face by prison guards and prison inmates, he has only a few teeth left.

In August 2006, the lacrimal gland of his left eye was cut while performing forced labour, and his eye was torn. He didn't receive any medical treatment in time, which prevented his lacrimal gland from ever being re-connected.

Because of the injury, he has a serious eye problem and very poor eyesight. Following the CCP policy of making Falun Gong practitioners renounce their belief by force, one of my father's legs was broken during a beating in 2009.

Despite my father's poor health, the prison still forced him to do heavy and high intensity physical labour. A book he'd worked hard on for me, writing about his drawing experience, was found and burned. After fourteen years of prison life and torture, my father's health is very bad. According to his fifteen-year sentence, he will have to spend one more year in prison; my family and I live in fear every day for our loved one being tortured.

My other family members also suffered from varying degrees of persecution. Under the high intensity working environment in prison, my mother was insulted and suffered forced conversion, just in a few years her black hair all turned grey. My eldest aunt was sentenced to a labour camp and forcibly injected with a lethal drug in a police hospital.

My younger aunt was sentenced to seven years in prison. My cousin was forced to quit university study and sentenced to a labour camp for three years, where a guard broke her nose during a beating. My grandparents, grandma and grandpa, passed away one by one in deep pain, longing for their children and concerned for their safety.

At the age of 16, I totally lost the protection of my parents. I lived alone, yet the police often harassed me at school and broke into my house several times. I had nightmares during these years, afraid to turn off the lights to sleep.

I was supported by family friends, who are Falun Gong practitioners too. With their help I survived this disaster and got educated. But for more than ten years, the total time I spent with my parents was less than twenty-four hours. Countless nights I fell asleep crying and missing them, I couldn't bear the pain of thinking about my parents' situation and I had a huge fear that I may lose them forever like other Falun Gong kids.

I felt deeply desperate and helpless. For years, I was deprived of normal family warmth and parental care because of this persecution that destroys human relationships.

The pain my family and I went though is hardly possible to describe fully in words. But we are just one of thousands of tragedies. This man-made disaster headed by Jiang Zemin, has destroyed countless families' happiness. So many children have lost due parental care, experienced forced displacement, but also had to endure the pain of losing loved ones at a very young age, living in an environment of hatred, demonisation and discrimination created by the CCP's lies, all with the aim of rooting out Falun Gong.

I sincerely hope, that current president Xi Jinping could bring the culprit - Jiang Zemin - to justice and immediately stop this brutal and vicious persecution of Falun Gong.

Read my words, hear my voice, and know my reason why.

Yours sincerely,

Minghui Yu