For many people in China, having certain spiritual beliefs means facing the prospect of persecution. In a country where only a handful of belief systems are approved – Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism and Taoism, Falun Gong was never going to have it easy.
Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline that was introduced to the public in 1992 and spread rapidly across China. It consists of moral teachings, a meditation and four gentle exercises that together improve health and energy levels. But communist authorities illegally banned the practice on 20 July 1999, when former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin felt its overwhelming popularity was overshadowing his own legacy.
Anybody who refused to give up their belief was subjected to state-led persecution, including physical and psychological abuse, rape and sexual assault, slavery and imprisonment. This arsenal of torture and terror, perfected through the numerous political and religious campaigns over the last 60 plus years of communist rule, was directed not only at Falun Gong believers, but also their partners and children.
Such was the fate of young refugee Eric Jia, as told in the short film ‘Split by the State’. Facing persecution by the Chinese communist regime for their faith, Eric and his mother manage to escape to Australia by joining a tour group to the country. However, Eric’s father is not so fortunate. He is locked up in China’s notorious prison system, where he is brutally tortured and abused in solitary confinement. His only ‘crime’ being his faith in Falun Gong.
The news that Australia’s Prime Minister will visit China, offers Eric hope, and he pleads for government intervention in his father’s case. After 15 years apart, will they finally reunite?