Zeng, Jennifer 1966-
Zeng, Jennifer 1966-
Born October 19, 1966, in Sichuan, China; immigrated to Australia, 2001; children: a daughter. Education: Peking University, M.S.
Home—Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong, translated by Sue Wiles, Allen & Unwin (Crow's Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2005, published as Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom, translated by Sue Wiles, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Jennifer Zeng is an activist who was born in Sichuan province, in China, on October 19, 1966. Zeng graduated from Peking University with a master of science degree in biochemistry. She began practicing Falun Gong in 1997, a spiritual meditation program initially favored by the Chinese government. However, when the movement's leaders began encouraging its participants to stand up against injustice, often directed at the government, China's political force came down on the group, labeling it as a religious cult, and arresting members across the country. Zeng herself was arrested four times. She was sent to a labor camp for rehabilitation, or as Zeng calls it, brainwashing. There she was physically and mentally abused, even facing electric shock treatment. Zeng was able to flee to Australia in 2001, with her young daughter following later, for her own safety.
Although Zeng will not be arrested for practicing her Falun Gong group meditations in the country, she has been outspoken on Australia's lack of commitment to protecting local practitioners and standing up for the country's religious freedom rights, for fear of insulting or angering China. In an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Web site, Zeng recounted an occurrence of this claim, saying that in one such case, "a Chinese official walked out of the Chinese Embassy in Canberra and actually slapped the face of a female Falun Gong practitioner … on her face." She continued, when that woman pointed out that "this is Australia, she has the right to be there and to just keep doing mediation there, and that a Chinese official says I'm a Chinese diplomat. Who cares? What can Australia do to me."
In 2005 Zeng published her memoir, Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong, which was translated by Sue Wiles, in Australia. The following year, it was released in the United States as Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom. In the account Zeng outlines the abuse she suffered in the Chinese labor camps for being a member of Falun Gong. She also describes her struggle to practice her beliefs and the difficulties she faces even outside of China in doing so.
Ceci Neville, writing in Epoch Times, remarked that the book "tells not only a personal journey, but gives an intriguing glimpse at the underbelly of the last major Communist power in the world." Neville added that the stories "may even lead those reading this book to sign a petition or speak to their Senators and members of Congress about this issue, or ask what our government is doing to break through China's Internet blockade. It might touch the reader's conscience. It touched mine." A contributor to the Midwest Book Review "highly recommended" the book, calling it "a necessarily harsh assault on a nation that does not respect civil rights." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that the memoir "does shed light on" a number of issues important to the Falun Gong struggle against government repression and its use of concentration camps. The same contributor remarked that "China watchers should be attentive to this simply written but invaluable report from the front." Booklist contributor June Sawyers found that Zeng's story of torture and so-called rehabilitation by the Chinese government "constitutes an often harrowing, powerful reminder of what can happen when government power runs unchecked."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Zeng, Jennifer, Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong, translated by Sue Wiles, Allen & Unwin (Crow's Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.
Booklist, February 15, 2006, June Sawyers, review of Witnessing History, p. 40.
Midwest Book Review, January, 2008, review of Witnessing History.
Publishers Weekly, January 30, 2006, review of Witnessing History, p. 48.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Web site,http://www.abc.net.au/ (June 9, 2005), Brendan Trembath, author interview.
Epoch Timeshttp://en.epochtime.com/ (February 23, 2008), Ceci Neville, review of Witnessing History.