The film “Unsilenced” moved Australian audiences during its premiere at the NSW Parliament on October 19 in Sydney. The latest work by award-winning Chinese-Canadian director Leon Lee proved to be a powerful tool in raising awareness of one of the most brutal and horrific persecutions in history, that perpetuated by the Chinese Communist regime against Falun Gong practitioners.
The film, based on the true story of Wang Weiyu, a student at Tsinghua University in China, recounts the experiences of two pairs of students at this prestigious university as they struggle to defend the rights of freedom of belief while enduring arrest, torture, and death threats, in a race to show the world what goes on behind a wall of censorship and lies fabricated by the propaganda apparatus of the the Chinese Communist Party.
Winner of the 2021 Audience Award for Narrative Feature at the 28th Austin Film Festival in Texas, the screening was sponsored by Epoch Times Australia and NSW upper house MP, Reverend Fred Nile.
Nile commented at the premiere, “We know that these brutalities continue to occur, as they have been documented by the International Religious Freedom Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and many other nongovernmental human rights organizations.”
He added, “The Communist Party eradicated freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and commerce or free will. … The cost of this is the destruction of the human spirit, and the result is the eventual enslavement of the population of the nation of China.”
Nile went on, “I applaud those brave souls in China who have actively voiced their protests.” He concluded, “We need your prayers and your action to help bring that about here in Australia, as well as in other countries. God bless their efforts for freedom, truth and compassion.”
Paul Folley, general manager of the Australian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property commented, “The quality of the film is absolutely superior. … It’s superbly made.”
Folley added, “But what moved me the most was the heroic bravery of the people under that system, who are resisting, the people who are holding on and not cracking under the pressure.
“Their dedication is very, very moving. …They are symbols of all the people in China who are resisting.”
Wang Weiyu’s story
The experiences that served to bring the film’s script to life were presented by Wang at the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington D.C. in July 2021.
In 1997, Wang, who at the time was a doctoral candidate in optical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, was captivated by the moral teachings of the “Falun Gong” book and soon began practicing the discipline at one of the numerous practice sites within the university, along with 500 other students and teachers. According to regime figures, between 70 million and 100 million people in China practiced the discipline, attracted by its moral principles and health benefits. The CCP’s atheistic doctrine and a deep zeal for Falun Gong’s popularity triggered the crackdown.
When the persecution began on July 20, 1999, the pressure of the state’s repressive apparatus was quickly felt at the university, where Wang experienced it firsthand.
The old tactics of coercion and public humiliation used during the Cultural Revolution were brought to the fore. The deputy secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at Tsinghua ordered his classmates to condemn and criticize him for more than two hours. Wang recalled, “I was suddenly made to stand before dozens of them, helpless and forced to listen. I still can’t forget the face of my close friend, who stood up and threatened me, ‘If you keep your belief in Falun Gong, I will stab you to death.'”
His friend’s attitude reflected the effectiveness of the regime’s smear campaign.
After being suspended twice for refusing to give up the practice, Wang was forced to give up his doctorate in 2002.
Shortly afterward, while walking down the street, a group of police officers pounced on him, ripping off his glasses, knocking him to the ground, and stomping on his head, before he was dragged into a police patrol car.
Wang was taken to a detention center where other Falun Gong practitioners were being held. From the first day, the torture began.
A group of four or five “trainers” took turns shocking him with electric batons from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following day. After discharging the battery of the batons, they would simply plug him into an electrical outlet and continue the torture. He received electric shocks to every part of his body.
Wang spent the next six months in solitary confinement in a small cell. He was forbidden to speak and had to ask permission to go to the toilet, which was generally refused. During the day he was forced to sit on a small stool. The bitter cold chilled his bones as he tried to protect himself by propping his legs against his chest.
He said, “The harsh conditions caused my body to atrophy. I fell asleep to the high-pitched sound of whipping and the horrible screams of the tortured women. During this period, my parents were not allowed to know my location or condition and these horrible days were not even considered a period of detention by the CCP government.”
During his years of incarceration, Wang learned about other detention centers. At the conference he recalled Fengtai and Chaoyang in Beijing.
Wang said, “These [detention] centers kept Falun Gong practitioners on the verge of starvation. Even the jailers would say, ‘There are no human rights here,’ but the court judges would simply disregard those complaints and respond, ‘These trials were not my doing and I am just following orders.'”
He also spoke about forced labor in Tianjin prison, describing the inmates as “modern-day slaves.” They worked wrapping candy, making paper molds for muffins, and sports balls.
Once released and after a decade of suffering, police and CCP agents continued to monitor him. In 2011, Wang escaped China and emigrated to the U.S. in 2013. Today he lives with his family in Michigan and works as a software engineer.
His faith and perseverance still motivate him to continue to reveal to the world the truth about Falun Gong and to denounce the horrors committed by the Chinese Communist regime.