Tony Lui endured two years of torture in a Chinese labour camp because of his refusal to denounce Falun Gong.
He is one of millions of Falun Gong practitioners who have been persecuted by the Chinese Community Party (CCP) over the last 17 years for their opposition to the party.
On Friday, Mr Lui and fellow Falun Gong practitioners visited Mudgee as part of a 100-stop tour of Australian towns and cities to draw attention to the oppression of Falun Gong followers in China.
The SOS tour is part of the national campaign asking Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turrnbull to call on the Chinese leader Xi Jinping to cease human rights abuses against the spiritual group.
Claims that Falun Gong prisoners are being murdered for their organs have been supported by a recently released report analysing organ transplant data from Chinese hospitals.
The Blood Harvest report by human rights lawyer David Matas, Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Kilgour and journalist Ethan Gutmann found that the number of organ transplants in China far exceeds official figures and the number of legitimate donors and concluded that organis for transplant are being removed from living Falun Gong members.
Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), is a spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercise with the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.
SOS tour participant Lee Chen said Falun Gong is banned by the CCP because practitioners refuse to accept the party’s propaganda.
“In China, the only way to control people is to brainwash everyone,” she said. “You do what you are told, but what we believe is not what the Community Party wants us to believe.
“They teach people to hate us and turn people against us
“If you are a Falun Gong practitioner, you can lose your position and your salary and those who report you get rewards.”
As a student, Mr Lui was reported to the CCP by his teachers and other students because he was practising meditation and reading and distributing Falun Gong pamphlets.
He was taken first to the police station, then to a “brainwashing centre” and when he refused to reject his beliefs, to a labour camp.
In the labour camp, he endured horrific torture, beatings and abuse for two years, until he was released due to public pressure from the international media.
At one time he was deprived of food and water for three days.
“They would keep on eye on me for 24 hours a day,” he said.
“I had to sit in a small square without any movement. If you move they beat you. If you sleep, they beat you.”
After his release, Mr Lui returned to school to complete his post graduate studies in chemical technology.
However, he continued to be followed and watched and eventually fled to Australia.
Mr Lui’s mother in China continues to be harassed by police.
Xun Xu, also travelling with the SOS tour, served a four-year sentence in a labour camp for refusing to denounc Falun Gong.
Both men have been granted protection visas in Australia and are happy to be living and working safely here.
The tour which visited Mudgee on Friday, one of a number which will crisscross Australia, had travelled as far as Lightning Ridge, and despite the elections, met with several mayors of the towns they visited.
Lee Chen said residents of regional Australia were shocked to learn of the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong
“Australians are great – we appreciate their support from the heart,” she said.
While in Mudgee, SOS tour participants invited Mudgee residents to sign postcards as part of their national campaign. More than 20,000 postcards are expected to be delivered to Mr Turnbull’s office in Canberra.