Li Kunlian - 李坤连
(Minghui.org) The persecution of Falun Gong continues in China as 2019 begins. At least 931 practitioners were sentenced to prison in 2018 for upholding their faith, with many more being arrested and harassed.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
Falun Gong practitioners are not the only ones suffering from the persecution that began in July 1999. Many of their family members, who do not practice Falun Gong, have also been affected and seen their lives shattered. The plight of a family reported in this article is one such example.
Mr. Li Kunlian, a resident of Yingkou City, Liaoning Province, was newly reported to have died in November 2009 after suffering years of mental breakdowns following his wife's death in March 2004.
His wife, Ms. Wang Fuqin, and their three daughters all started to practice Falun Gong in 1997. The daughters were arrested one after another around 2004 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, with the youngest one sentenced to four years in prison. Ms. Wang tried seven times, but was denied visits with her youngest daughter each time. She was so traumatized by her daughters' arrests that she had a stroke and died at the age of 69.
Her husband could no longer take it and went insane. Every day after dusk, he would grab a knife or stick to scare away “imaginary bad guys” who he thought were coming to take away his loved ones. He died five years later, at the age of 71.
The late Mr. Li Kunlian and Ms. Wang Fuqin
Below is the elderly couple's youngest daughter's story.
A Well Respected English Teacher
The youngest daughter, Ms. Li Fengmei, was an English teacher in Xiongyue High School. She used to suffer from various health issues and was troubled by her strained relationship with her parents-in-law.
Her life changed in 1997 when she began to practice Falun Gong. The gentle exercises improved her health and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance turned her from a quick-tempered person to a kinder and more considerate person.
With these changes, Ms. Li's family lived in harmony and was happy. Her performance and ethics at work also earned her respect and the title of an exemplary teacher.
Targeted Before Persecution Officially Began
Several Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in Tianjin on April 23, 1999, months before the Chinese communist regime formally launched the persecution. Ms. Li went to Beijing to appeal two days after the Tianjin arrests. After she returned home, she had a gathering with other local practitioners to discuss her trip to Beijing. The local officials deceived them into going to the township government, where the police interrogated them. Ms. Li protested against the interrogation and was put under surveillance after she was released.
The second arrest of Ms. Li took place on July 20, 1999, the day the persecution officially began. She was detained in Xiongyue Police Department for nearly eight hours.
After that, officials often harassed Ms. Li and pressured her employer to force her to give up her belief. She wrote a statement against her will to renounce Falun Gong but soon wrote another statement to nullify what she said in the first statement. Police arrested her at school on September 24, 2001, and kept her at the Gaizhou Detention Center. She went on a hunger strike and was released five days later. Her family was also forced to pay 3,500 yuan.
Fleeing to Avoid Involuntary Abortion, Losing Baby While on the Run
On July 20, 2002, the first day of summer break, local police took Ms. Li to Yingkou Brainwashing Center. An officer said they arrested Ms. Li because of her eloquence and her good reputation—if she could be made to renounce her belief, officials could then use her to transform other practitioners.
Ms. Li refused to yield. The officials planned to send her to a labor camp but found out she was two months pregnant. They ordered a doctor to perform an abortion, but the doctor firmly refused, citing Ms. Li's poor health. Ms. Li also opposed it strongly. She was taken to a hospital on July 25 for forced abortion, which left Ms. Li with no choice but to flee later that night.
But police did not give up. Since they could not find Ms. Li, they went to arrest her two sisters, Ms. Li Fengzhen and Ms. Li Fengzhi, also Falun Gong practitioners. The two sisters were also forced to stay away from home and, upon returning, they were taken to a brainwashing center.
Because Ms. Li had to switch places from time to time and led a difficult life, her fetus died in her womb soon afterward. Police raided her rental place again on February 10, 2003, two days before the Chinese New Year. She and other practitioners had to jump out of the window to flee. Ms. Li lost consciousness after she landed on the ground.
Four hours later, she regained consciousness and found a bone fracture on her right shoulder. Her face was also left with a two-inch wound. Officers took her to the police station, where she later escaped.
Tortured at Detention Center
Ms. Li and another practitioner were arrested on August 21, 2003. One officer beat her and interrogated her. She refused to answer questions unless the handcuffs were removed. Seeing her unwilling to put the handcuffs back on, three officers covered her with a blanket and beat her badly.
She was then kept at Bayujuan Detention Center for 13 months where she was severely tortured. On the day of her arrival, Ms. Li went on a hunger strike to protest the illegal detention. Guard Zhao Wei slapped her hard in the face. Her left ear was bleeding badly.
Three days later, a deputy director and several officers from the domestic security bureau came to interrogate her. Because Ms. Li did not yield, these officers and a guard surnamed Zhu took turns torturing her: knocking her shoulder hard against the wall, pushing her abdomen forcefully with their knees, pulling her hair, and slapping her in the face over 30 times. This left Ms. Li dizzy, coughing, and in pain all over. She also had rashes all over her body.
After the beating, one officer told the deputy director that no interrogation record had been made. “Cases related to Falun Gong are easy to handle,” replied the director, “You can write down whatever you want to make up.”
Seven days into Ms. Li's hunger strike, detention center head surgeon Gao Rizheng force-fed Ms. Li while guards Zhao Wei and Zhang Xingqiang held her tightly in a chair. Zhao intentionally added more salt to the force-feeding mixture of milk and saline to increase the pain. Because the tubing through the left nostril caused injury, the right nostril was then used. This caused vomiting and Ms. Li later had bleeding in the lower body, accompanied by stomach pain.
Ms. Li once had a severe stomachache with a fever of over 104o F. She was sweating due to the pain and her body was shaking. A doctor at the Bayujuan Hospital declared her in life-threatening condition and asked Gao to notify Ms. Li's family. But Gao ignored the doctor.
Another time when Gao was performing intravenous injection for Ms. Li, a doctor saw it and asked, “How could you apply such a high dose? What if she dies?” One director in the hospital heard about this and order an ultrasound. Gao ignored it and secretly sent Ms. Li, who already had high fever, back to the detention center. Since then, Ms. Li suffered from memory loss, leaving many to believe the drug administered by Gao earlier could have been nerve-damaging.
After the mistreatment of Ms. Li was exposed on Minghui.org, guards and officials instructed inmates to torture Ms. Li. Sheng Ying, an inmate who had been in the detention center for a second time, slapped Ms. Li hard in the face on September 24, 2003. This left bruises in her face and left eardrum ruptured.
Repeated beatings and other types of torture caused swelling in Ms. Li's head, face, and lymph system. She had fever all the time with nausea, coughing, and dizziness. The force-feeding also led to organ injury in her digestion system, which caused an intestinal obstruction and she almost died. Although Ms. Li had been sent to Bayujuan Hospital four times for rescue, officials blocked the information and prohibited family visitation.
Repeated Rejection by Prison Due to Poor Health
Officials at the Bayujuan Court secretly sentenced Ms. Li to four years imprisonment in early March 2003 without evidence. After her arrest, Ms. Li had refused to answer the police's questions or sign any documents. Her family did not hear about her court hearing until her sentence was pronounced. They hired an attorney to appeal her case, but officials threatened the attorney not to accept the case. Soon afterward, Yingkou Intermediate Court upheld the original sentence.
Fearful of Ms. Li's possible death, officials at the detention center requested medical parole on her behalf. But doctor Gao blocked the parole request. He added nerve-damaging drugs to Ms. Li's food and intravenous injections. This led to Ms. Li's memory loss, hair loss, breathing difficulty, inability to walk, incontinence, and loss of function in her sensory organs. She was on the verge of death several times.
Gao and a guard sent Ms. Li to Liaoning Women's Prison at 5 a.m. on May 15, 2004. On the previous night, Gao forcibly injected Ms. Li with an unknown drug. The prison refused to accept Ms. Li, suspecting that she had lymph node tuberculosis. Gao had no choice but to send Ms. Li for examination, which confirmed the tuberculosis diagnosis. After Gao brought Ms. Li back to the detention center, the unknown drug injected one day earlier began to work, leaving Ms. Li in bed, with breathing difficulty, memory loss, and more organ failure.
Nine days later, Gao and two other officers sent Ms. Li to the prison again on May 24. By then, Ms. Li could hardly stand or walk. Prison officials again refused to accept Ms. Li because of her health, unless a doctor could confirm she was free of tuberculosis. Gao went to a university hospital, asking for a letter claiming that it was a lymph node mass instead of tuberculosis. A professor confirmed that it was tuberculosis. In the end, Gao had to take Ms. Li back, who lost consciousness several steps out of the hospital.
Ms. Li's health worsened day by day. She was unable to take care of herself, and could only drink water and eat some soup. Noticing that unknown substances were added to the soup, she stopped eating it. The medical bail requested by the detention center was approved, but Gao still refused to release her. Instead, he and two other officers took Ms. Li to the prison for the third time on September 22, 2014, and through personal connections, managed to leave Ms. Li in the prison.
Brutality in Prison
Jiang Zemin, the former communist party leader who began to suppress Falun Gong in July 1999, once gave an order to defame practitioners, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically. This was fully implemented in Liaoning Women's prison. Guards and inmates restricted practitioners' access to the toilet. When practitioners used the toilet without permission, guards often stopped the practitioners' food or water.
In addition, practitioners were not allowed to speak with anyone other than those assigned to watch them. They were also prohibited from family visitation, making phone calls, writing letters, or purchasing daily necessities. Despite these restrictions, they were forced to work. Inmates who mistreated or reported practitioners were rewarded, while those who helped practitioners were reprimanded in public or given other types of punishment.
Inmates also physically abused Ms. Li. One evening, a guard instructed three inmates—two murderers and an arsonist—to take her to the bathroom for force-feeding with unknown drugs. They also read books slandering Falun Gong to her and forcibly grabbed her hand for signature on a prepared statement that renounced the practice of Falun Gong. In addition, they forced her to stand motionless till 4 a.m. the next day. When Ms. Li protested and tried to return to her cell, another guard stopped her and sent her back to the bathroom for continued mistreatment. To stop Ms. Li from calling out, inmates taped her mouth shut and Ms. Li lost consciousness as she struggled. By 5:30 a.m. when it was time to do hard labor, inmates dragged her all the way to work.
Despite the mistreatment, Ms. Li always tried explaining what Falun Gong is to guards and inmates and debunked the hate propaganda from the communist party. She also helped other practitioners who were persecuted in the prison.
During one physical examination in 2006, Ms. Li was diagnosed with severe myocardial ischemia. The doctor recommended hospitalization. Because of malnutrition and long-term pressure, Ms. Li's health worsened. Her entire body ached and she had difficulty working.
But Ms. Li was forced to keep working every day, producing IC cards (also known as smart cards). One technician from the vendor once commented this kind of work was harmful to one's health, especially for women. Inside the prison, detainees often lost consciousness due to fatigue at the work unit.
Later Ms. Li had lymph node swelling as well as reddish swelling all over. In addition, her bones were aching throughout her body. The medical diagnosis indicated lymphoma, with lymph nodes swelling all over. Again she was in a life-threatening condition.
The persecution also hurt Ms. Li financially. Right after her arrest, her employer terminated her job and stopped her income. Her husband was under pressure and divorced her, leaving her with nothing. After Ms. Li returned home from prison, her employer refused to hire her back and did not pay her any money. Ms. Li had to rely on help from relatives or make some money from tutoring.
Suffering of the Parents
As Ms. Li was being tortured in Bayujuan Labor Camp, her mother, Ms. Wang Fuqin, was very worried. In addition, her two other sisters were also sent to a labor camp. The extreme mental pressure triggered a stroke, leading to her death on March 21, 2004. She was 69 years old.
Before her death, Ms. Wang attempted seven times to visit Ms. Li during detention. But all the requests were denied. After her death, the family talked with detention center officials, hoping Ms. Li could see her mother before the funeral. This request again fell upon deaf ears.
The series of tragedies drove Ms. Wang's husband, Mr. Li Kunlian, insane. He was in a panic all day. At dusk, he would scream outside the house, waving a knife or stick to scare away the imaginary, bad people who came to harm his family. Every time, family members had to console him and coax him back into the house.
Mr. Li passed away on November 22, 2009, at the age of 71.