A woman with late-stage breast cancer died on April 23, 2020, while serving time for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999.
Despite repeated requests from Ms. Lan Lihua’s family to release her on medical parole, the authorities at Liaoning Women’s Prison kept Ms. Lan imprisoned on the grounds that she refused to renounce her faith.
Ms. Lan fell into critical condition on April 13 and was sent to the hospital. Although the prison finally relented and agreed to release her, they nevertheless deliberately slowed down the approval process.
On the evening of April 22, 2020, Ms. Lan fell into a coma. The prison guards only allowed three of her family members to see her for the last time in the hospital. She died at 6 a.m. on April 23. She was 49.
Prison Sentence and Denied Medical Parole
Ms. Lan, of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, was arrested on November 6, 2018, for passing out a calendar bearing information about Falun Gong.
She developed breast cancer while being held at Shenyang City No. 1 Detention Center. Despite her condition, she was made to stand trial at Sujiatun District Court on May 5, 2019, and sentenced to three years and ten months the next day.
Upon learning of her verdict, Ms. Lan’s family said to judge Qu Ning, “She is so sick now and didn’t violate any law. Why did you give her such a lengthy term?”
Judge Qu replied, “Things are about to get even worse for her.”
Ms. Lan was transferred to Liaoning Women’s Prison on September 26, 2019, and contracted Hepatitis B shortly after.
The prison authorities repeatedly denied her medical parole, admitting that the reason was because she refused to renounce Falun Gong.
On March 17, 2020, a guard surnamed Guo called her family and demanded they make a 5,000-yuan deposit for her to do a physical checkup. Guo said Ms. Lan was very weak, unable to walk on her own, and kept coughing. But he emphasized that they wouldn’t release her on medical parole.
Ms. Lan’s family made the deposit. Four days later, Guo called back to inform them of the results, which indicated that her cancer had metastasized to both of her lungs. She had excess fluid accumulation in her chest and heart, enlarged axillary lymph nodes, as well as swelling around her right collarbone and scalp, which were also indicators that the cancer had metastasized.
On April 13, the prison called Ms. Lan’s son and told him that she was just taken to the hospital and that a doctor had issued a notice of critical condition for her.
Ms. Lan’s family frequented the prison every day for the next few days to demand medical parole for her.
Although the prison agreed to issue the medical parole on April 16, they gave Ms. Lan’s family the run-around between the prison, justice bureau, and procuratorate in an attempt to delay the process.
Ms. Lan passed away before the medical parole was granted.
Ms. Lan’s last arrest came only two years after she was released from a 14-month term at the same prison for suing Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong. The Liaoning Women’s Prison also refused to release her on medical parole, despite the fact that she was in serious condition after being tortured there.
After Ms. Lan was released in August 2016, the police harassed her from time to time. The harassment before her latest arrest was on August 28 and 29, 2018, when the police went to her home, took her photo, collected her personal information, and pressured her to stop practising Falun Gong.
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