A 76-year-old woman died while serving a 3.5-year term for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Meng Qingmei’s family received a call from Jinan Women's Prison in Shandong Province around June 13 that she was in critical condition. When they rushed to the Shandong Province Military Hospital, Ms. Meng had already passed away. Her death certificate said she died at 6 a.m. on June 14 from multiple organ failure due to electrolyte imbalance. The prison authorities said Ms. Meng went on a hunger strike for 28 days before she died, but they denied having force-fed or tortured her.
Ms. Meng’s family demanded to bring her body back to Shan County, Shandong Province, where she lived, for cremation, but the authorities refused to allow it. They were forced to have Ms. Meng cremated in Jinan and took her ashes home on June 16.
Ms. Meng used to suffer from severe nerve damage resulting from a car accident. Her family spent a fortune trying to seek cures for her but to no avail. Only one day after she learned Falun Gong, her condition disappeared and she was able to walk on her own again.
After the Chinese communist regime ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, Ms. Meng was repeatedly arrested and harassed. She was detained for 45 days after being arrested on August 20, 2009. The police attempted to give her a labor camp term but had to release her after the labour camp refused to accept her due to her poor health.
Ms. Meng was arrested again on April 19, 2013. After the Shan County Procuratorate returned her case to the police for insufficient evidence, the 610 Office (an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong) pressured the prosecutor to indict her.
Ms. Meng appeared in court on June 18, 2013. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea for her and argued that it’s her freedom of belief to practice Falun Gong. The judge sentenced her to three years in the Shandong Province Women’s Prison.
Less than a year after she was released, she was arrested again on May 20, 2017, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. She was given another term of 3.5 years, also to Shandong Province Women’s Prison.
Ms. Meng held a hunger strike in March 2018 to protest the persecution and was force-fed and tortured. Her family suspected that she was also force-fed during her latest hunger strike prior to her death and that her sudden passing could be a result of the force-feeding and torture.
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