Eight Falun Gong practitioners in Liaoning Province, including three women, were persecuted to death for upholding their faith between January and March 2020. All of them had been sentenced to prison at least once for their faith.
Five of the practitioners died as a result of torture and abuse in custody, while the remaining three passed away after they were released from prison. The youngest practitioner was 47-year-old Mr. Hu Lin, an aircraft engineer, and the oldest practitioner was 78-year-old Ms. Li Guirong, a retired school principal. The six other practitioners, including a former military doctor, were aged between 56 and 66.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Falun Gong has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.
As of April 8, 2020, 4,408 practitioners were confirmed to have been persecuted to the death by the communist regime. Due to the difficulty in getting information out of China, the actual number is likely much higher.
Deaths in Custody
Retired School Principal, 78, Dies in Prison While Serving Time for Her Faith
Ms. Li Guirong, a retired elementary school principal in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, died in Liaoning Province Women’s Prison in mid-January 2020, only weeks before the end of her five-year term for practising Falun Gong. She was 78.
Ms. Li was arrested on February 7, 2015, after being reported for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. She appeared in the Hunnan District Court on June 24, 2015, and was sentenced to five years.
Ms. Li’s latest arrest came only 15 months after she finished serving a seven-year prison term, also for her faith.
On October 17, 2006, Ms. Li, then 64, was arrested for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was sentenced to seven years by the Heping District Court on May 14, 2007.
While Ms. Li was in Liaoning Province Women's Prison, the guards ordered inmates to beat and kick her and stomp on her hands. Her face bled, her hands were swollen, and she was covered in dark bruises. Much of her hair was pulled out.
The guards sometimes forced Ms. Li to squat on the concrete floor for days on end, not allowing her to eat, use the restroom, or sleep. To make the torture worse, they forced her to take off her shoes and poured cold water on her feet while she squatted. Her legs hurt unbearably. She was unable to stand or sit afterward and had to crawl to get anywhere.
By the time she was released on October 17, 2013, Ms. Li was emaciated, her hair had turned gray, and all her teeth had fallen out. Yet, agents from the local 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong, still harassed her from time to time.
Mr. Zhang Zhencai Reportedly Dies from “Cancer" in Prison
Mr. Zhang Zhencai and his wife, Ms. Zhang Lianrong, of Heishan County, Liaoning Province, were arrested on July 14, 2019 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. The police ransacked their home the next day and confiscated their Falun Gong materials and other personal belongings.
The local Procuratorate approved their arrests on July 29, 2019. They were later sentenced by the Heishan County Court, with Mr. Zhang given 23 months, and Ms. Zhang 26 months.
Mr. Zhang was sent to a prison in Dalian City, Liaoning Province. A prison guard called his family on January 23, 2020 to say that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Two weeks later, the prison informed Mr. Zhang's family that he had passed away on February 7. The name of the prison and more details about his death remain to be investigated.
Ms. Zhang is currently imprisoned in the Masanjia Ward of Liaoning Women’s Prison.
Aircraft Engineer in Critical Condition Denied Medical Parole, Dies in Prison
Mr. Hu Lin, a Shenyang City, Liaoning Province resident, died on February 16, 2020 while serving two years for practicing Falun Gong.
The aircraft engineer had been in critical condition after months of being on a hunger strike and being tortured, but he was denied medical parole on the grounds that he refused to renounce his faith.
Mr. Hu was arrested on May 23, 2019 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong.
He started a hunger strike to protest the persecution after he was sent to the Faku County Detention Centre. He was tied to a bed in a spread-eagle position and force-fed. The guards left the feeding tube in his stomach in order to increase his suffering.
Mr. Hu was sentenced to two years by the Faku County Court on June 20, 2019 and sent to Kangjiashan Prison on October 30, 2019.
When Mr. Hu’s family visited him in the prison on November 7, 2019, he was emaciated. He had also lost sensation in his legs and suffered multiple organ failure.
His family demanded medical attention for Mr. Hu, but the prison authorities refused and blamed him for shouting “Falun Dafa is good” after he was taken there. The prison guards said they wouldn’t release him "even if he died."
In the next few months, the prison authorities repeatedly told Mr. Hu’s family that they wouldn’t bear responsibility for his life, as he was still on a hunger strike and shouting out “Falun Dafa is good.”
Mr. Hu’s family went to different government agencies to seek justice for him, but the local prosecutor said he wouldn’t consider who should bear responsibility until Mr. Hu was dying; another officer, Liu Xing, who was overseeing the prison, also refused to meet with the family.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus during the Chinese New Year, the prison prohibited his family from visiting or even calling Mr. Hu.
On the evening of February 14, 2020, the prison called Mr. Hu’s older brother, Mr. Hu Shuang, and said that Mr. Hu had been sent to the hospital for emergency treatment.
His family rushed to the hospital overnight and saw him being treated in the intensive care unit.
Mr. Hu passed away around 1 p.m. on February 16.
Mr. Yu Yongman Dies in Custody Three Months After Arrest
Mr. Yu Yongman, a 65-year-old resident of Liaonyang City, Liaoning Province, died at the Liaoyang Detention Center on February 23, 2020. Officials claimed that the cause of death was “sudden illness,” but an autopsy indicated that one of his ribs was broken and he also had tear injuries in his lungs.
Mr. Yu, an employee of the Liaoyang Petrochemical Company, was arrested on November 15, 2019 while reading Falun Gong books with several other locals. The authorities accused him of installing satellite dishes to receive signals from New Tang Dynasty (NTD), an overseas television station known for reporting uncensored information about China.
Because of practising Falun Gong, Mr. Yu had been arrested several times in the past two decades. He served two years in a labour camp and four years in the prison. He was forced to do unpaid labour, subjected to intensive brainwashing and tortured.
Mr. Zou Liming Dies Six Months into His Prison Term
Mr. Zou Liming, a resident of Panjin City, Liaoning Province, passed away six months after being imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong.
Mr. Zou was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in 2015 for talking to people about his faith. He was exempted from serving time due to his physical condition.
In September 2019, the authorities took Mr. Zou back into custody at Nanshan Prison in Jinzhou City, and then transferred him to Dalian Prison in November. His family wasn’t allowed to visit him.
On February 7, 2020, his family received a call from Dalian Prison telling them that he'd fallen into a coma and had been sent to the hospital. The prison didn’t provide any details regarding what had caused his coma.
Mr. Zou passed away one month later, on March 8. He was 66 years old.
Deaths After Being Released
Imprisoned Woman Released in a Vegetative State, Dies a Year and a Half Later
Ms. Wu Xiufang, of Fuxin City, Liaoning Province, passed away on February 8, 2020, less than two years after she was released from prison in a vegetative state. She was 64.
Ms. Wu was arrested on August 18, 2015, while putting up informational materials about Falun Gong. She was sentenced to three years and taken to Liaoning Women’s Prison in June 2016.
Ms. Wu suffered a haemorrhagic stroke due to mistreatment by prison guards. She lost all of her mobility and was kept alive with a feeding tube.
Despite her condition, the prison still forced her to finish serving the entire three years. By the time she was released on August 19, 2018, she had fallen into a vegetative state.
Her daughter took her to a hospital, only to be told that there wasn’t much they could do to help her.
Because Ms. Wu’s pension was suspended due to the persecution, her daughter and son-in-law struggled to cover her medical expenses and to take care of her while both of them were employed full-time.
Former Military Doctor Dies after 14 Years of Imprisonment for Upholding His Faith
Mr. Zhao Chenglin, a retired military doctor in Benxi City, Liaoning Province, passed away on February 15, 2020, after struggling for two years with poor health from 14 years of imprisonment and torture. He was 58 years old.
Mr. Zhao took up Falun Gong in August 1994. Because not giving up his faith with the onset of the persecution in 1999, he was removed from his post in the military and transferred to a local hospital as a regular physician.
For the next two decades, he was repeatedly arrested and detained. He served one year in a labour camp and two prison terms of nine and four years.
The labour camp and prison guards beat Mr. Zhao, causing injuries to his head and internal organs. He lost several teeth during force-feedings. His head was disfigured. His buttocks developed infected wounds as a result of abuse.
The guards once hung him up by the wrists in a dark room for a few days, with his feet pulled apart by shackles. He fainted several times from the pain.
After more than a month of torture, many places on his legs became infected and he suffered internal injuries. The guards refused Mr. Zhao medical treatment and kept him in solitary confinement.
In another torture, the guards tied up his limbs and suspended him in the air, which caused tremendous damage to his wrists and ankles.
Incapacitated After Serving Seven Years for Her Faith, Ms. Lin Guizhi Passes Away
Ms. Lin Guizhi, a Chaoyang City, Liaoning Province resident, passed away on February 20, 2020, after suffering years of persecution for her faith in Falun Gong. Her death came only one and a half years after the passing of her husband, who had endured tremendous mental distress due to her ordeal.
Ms. Lin took up Falun Gong in March 1998. She credited the practice for curing her severe heart condition that often caused her to lose consciousness.
Because of holding firm to her faith, Ms. Lin was frequently arrested and harassed. Unable to live a normal life, she was forced to go into hiding, only to be arrested again on November 18, 2003.
Ms. Lin was sentenced to seven years in Liaoning Women’s Prison by the Shuangta District Court in January 2004. After one month of detention at the local detention centre, however, her heart condition recurred.
The prison initially refused to admit her due to her health on March 5, 2004, but they were forced by the police to take her in two months later.
The prison guards beat Ms. Lin after seeing her doing the Falun Gong exercises, fracturing her ankle.
Even with her health quickly deteriorating due to the abuse, the prison authorities refused to release Ms. Lin on medical parole, saying it was because she refused to renounce Falun Gong.
In November 2008, Ms. Lin was in critical condition and suffered shock. After a physical checkup at the hospital, she was granted medical parole on November 19.
Yet when Ms. Lin’s family went to the local Domestic Security Division to do the paperwork for her parole, police chief Li Guangwen refused to process the request and said that Ms. Lin didn't qualify for release.
The police later relented at Ms. Lin’s family’s persistence. When they went to the prison to take her home on January 14, 2009, however, the prison attempted to force Ms. Lin to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong. When she refused to comply, the prison also refused to release her.
Shortly after that, the prison authorities began to put toxic drugs into Ms. Lin’s food. Some inmates also saw the guards putting the drug directly into her mouth, after she lost consciousness and went into shock due to ongoing abuse. She often appeared to be in a delirious state as a result of being drugged.
When Ms. Lin’s husband visited her on September 9, 2009, she suddenly lost consciousness for five minutes. A guard told him this wasn’t the worst, as she sometimes lost consciousness for half an hour or fainted six or seven times a day.
Ms. Lin ended up serving her full term and was never provided with any medical treatment.
Her condition never improved and she remained mentally disordered and incapacitated after she was released. She was only 58 when she passed away.
While Ms. Lin was serving time in prison, her husband, Mr. Zhang Zhongquan, felt helpless after witnessing the brutality against his wife but was unable to seek justice for her. The tremendous mental distress took a toll on his health. He passed away in September 2018, at the age of 56.
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