A resident of Luzhou City, Sichuan Province recently passed away while serving a 5.5-year prison term for not renouncing her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
According to Ms. Liang Wende's family, the prison told them that Ms. Liang began to vomit everything she ate and suffer from severe diarrhoea in late May 2019. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away on June 24, 2019, one month after she was hospitalized for medical treatment. She was 64 years old.
While the prison didn't provide additional information about Ms. Liang's sudden death, her family suspected that she might have been given unknown drugs or subjected to other forms of mistreatment that caused her condition to deteriorate so quickly.
Ms. Liang's passing marked an end to her 20 years of suffering for upholding her faith. Prior to her latest prison term, she had served two labor camp terms totaling 4 years, and another prison term of 4.5 years. She was fired from her job in 2000 after her employer found out she had gone to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong.
In addition to her own suffering, her family had been subjected to constant harassment and endured tremendous pressure from the persecution.
Growing up amidst long-term intimidation and discrimination, her young adult son once burst into tears in front of her and said, “mum, do you know how I survived all these years?”
Ms. Liang said she remained silent at that moment, lest her son cry even harder.
Taking Up Falun Gong
Ms. Liang began Falun Gong cultivation practice in 1997. Many of her ailments, including chronic fatigue, duodenal ulcer, and gastric sinusitis, soon disappeared.
She once recalled, “I often asked myself, what's the purpose of life? What do I want to achieve from busily working every day? With these questions in mind, I read Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong, and found answers to all of my questions about life.
“Shortly after I took up the practice, all of my chronic ailments went away. My body felt light and my heart was filled with happiness. I had a new outlook on the world. I no longer worried about setbacks in life. I became more open-minded and considerate of others. My relationship with my family also improved.
“While the morality of the society was declining rapidly, I knew I shouldn't follow the current and slide down with it. I live by Falun Gong's principles, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, and strive to be a good person every day.
“As I worked at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, our clients were all business people in the local area, who often bribed my colleagues in order to get things done faster. After I began practising Falun Gong, I stopped taking gifts from them.”
Persecuted for Upholding Her Faith
After the Chinese communist regime began persecuting Falun Gong, many Chinese people were influenced by the demonizing propaganda spread by the government and developed hatred toward the practitioners.
Because of Ms. Liang's persistent efforts to raise awareness about the persecution, she was subjected to two decades of arrests, detention, harassment, and incarcerations.
Repeated Detention and Dismissal from Workplace
Two days after the national persecution campaign began in July 1999, Ms. Liang's supervisor at work talked to her and attempted to force her to give up her faith. She refused to comply.
Ms. Liang went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong in October 1999. After she returned, the local police interrogated her and asked her where she went. Her workplace suspended her bonus and sent her to work at a remote location in the countryside as a punishment.
She was arrested three times between March and August 2000, and detained for a total of 60 days. The police monitored her daily activities after she was released.
In early March 2000, the police arrested her, using the excuse that she received some local Falun Gong practitioners. She was detained for 15 days.
The police ransacked her home on May 9, 2000. They found some materials about Falun Gong, used them as evidence to charge her with “inciting disruption of social order,” and detained her for 15 days.
On the afternoon she was detained, her workplace fired her.
After another arrest on August 22, 2000, the officers interrogated her at the police station. When she refused to answer their questions, they handcuffed her to a fence, forced her to stand until midnight, then took her to a detention centre, where she was held for 30 days.
First Forced Labour Camp Term
Only two months after she was released from the detention centre, the police knocked on her door in the middle of the night on November 27, 2000 and asked her to sign a document for a 1.5-year labour camp term.
She was held at the Huangjingshan Detention Centre for a few days and then taken to the Nanmusi Forced Labour Camp on December 1, 2000.
At the labour camp, she was forced to read, watch, and listen to propaganda programs. When she and most practitioners refused to renounce their faith, the guards escalated the persecution.
Beginning on July 10, 2001, they were forced to listen to audios attacking Falun Gong in the morning, then undergo military training under the scorching sun in the afternoon.
When the practitioners still refused to give up their faith after several months of abuse, the guards sent them to the “strict management cell” in late October 2001. The cell was isolated from outside. The practitioners were forced to sit without moving from early morning until 8:00 p.m.
“We slept, ate, washed, and relieved ourselves all in there. The cell was filled with the filthy smell of urine and excrement. I had scabies all over my body, which was both itchy and painful. My buttocks festered and oozed pus from the sitting. The suffering was really beyond words,” Ms. Liang said.
After three months of the “strict management detention,” she was forced to write a renouncement statement and released on January 29, 2002 ahead of schedule.
But agents from the 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong, didn't allow her to go home. Instead, they sent her to the Sanhuashan Detention Centre, where she was held for 56 days.
Before she was released, her previous supervisor at work, staff members from the local residential committee, and her family members were forced to sign a guarantee statement, promising not to allow her to practice Falun Gong again.
The police also confiscated her ID card and required her to report to the residential committee every day.
Ms. Liang was arrested again on June 11, 2002 after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. The police ransacked her home and took her to the detention center. Because she did the Falun Gong exercises, the guards chained her hands and feet together.
Ms. Liang described the torture, “I couldn't stand straight and had to ask for others' help eating, putting on clothes, and even using the restroom. I woke up frequently from intense pain and had trouble falling asleep again. Though the weather was very hot, I couldn't take showers, and smelled.”
“On the third evening, I complained to the head of the detention centre that even death row prisoners weren't treated like that, and they did that to me only because I practised the Falun Gong exercises.”
On the next day, the guards loosened the chains that connected her handcuff and shackles. But they didn't remove the shackles until a week later, and the handcuffs until one month later.
Ms. Liang was held at the detention centre for three months and made to finish serving the remaining time of her first labour camp term. She was released on September 10, 2002.
Second Forced Labour Camp Term
Only six months after she returned home, agents from the Domestic Security Division arrested her again and gave her another 2.5-year labour camp term.
“While I was incarcerated at Nanmusi Forced Labour Camp for the second time, the persecution was even more severe than the first time,” she said.
“I was forced to stand for long hours facing the wall, deprived of sleep, and restricted of restroom use. Meanwhile, I was subjected to intensive brainwashing and forced to watch and read propaganda materials that slandered Falun Gong.
“When we resisted the brainwashing, the guards began to starve us and beat us at will.”
She said that some practitioners were force-fed with a quart of water every two hours and not allowed to use the restroom. Some were forced to relieve themselves in their pants.
Forced to Live Away from Home
Because Ms. Liang filed complaints against her labour camp terms and the tortures she was subjected to after she was released in August 2004, the local police and 610 Office agents went after her and attempted to arrest her again. She was forced to live away from home to avoid further persecution.
During the time she was wandering about, the police frequently harassed her family and demanded that they provide information on her whereabouts. Her sister, a maths teacher, was forbidden from teaching for a week. More than 100 students' classes were affected.
As soon as Ms. Liang returned home in February 2006, the police came to harass her and asked what she had been doing during the past two years.
Sentenced to 4.5 Years
Ms. Liang was arrested on October 3, 2007 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. The police ransacked her home and confiscated her computer, Falun Gong books, and related materials.
After nearly five months of incarceration at Naxi Detention Centre, she was sentenced to 4.5 years by the Longmatan District Court on February 26 and then transferred to Sichuan Province Women’s Prison on May 30, 2008.
She recounted that she was forced to do slave labour, subjected to brainwashing and long hours of standing, etc., as the authorities continued to pressure her to renounce her faith. Even one month before her term ended, she was still forced to stand and attend brainwashing sessions.
The police required her to report to them regularly after she was released on April 2012.
She was taken to another brainwashing session on November 5, 2012 and held there for 11 days. The staff stripped off her clothes to body-search her.
Second Prison Term
Ms. Liang was arrested again on December 25, 2015, and stood trial in a makeshift courtroom at Naxi Detention Center on July 11, 2016. She was sentenced to a 5.5-year prison term and fined 10,000 yuan on December 13, 2016.
She appealed the verdict, but the appeal was rejected by Luzhou Intermediate Court during a secret hearing on April 20, 2017.
Ms. Liang was transferred to Longquan Women's Prison in June 2017 and passed away two years later.
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