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The Continuing Persecution of Beijing Practitioner Mr. Cao Dong

February 07, 2009 |  

(Clearwisdom.net) Mr. Cao Dong, a Falun Gong practitioner in Beijing, is currently detained and being persecuted in Tianshui Prison in Gansu Province in retaliation for an interview he gave to the Vice President of the European Parliament in which he exposed the persecution of Falun Gong. He met with Vice President of the European Parliament Mr Edward McMillan-Scott on May 21, 2006, and told him about the severe persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Mr. Cao was immediately arrested by police from the Domestic Security Division and taken to Gansu for detention. He was "illegally sentenced" to five years in prison just before Chinese New Year's eve in 2007. His lawyer said that the only evidence justifying the sentence was a false confession.

At a meeting of the European Parliament on the afternoon of August 7, 2008, Vice President McMillan-Scott made a speech about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners Cao Dong, Niu Jinping, and Zhang Lianying and the persecution of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and dissident Hu Jia. He expressed his concern for the safety of Falun Gong practitioners.

Mr. Cao Dong was born in Qingyang City, Gansu Province, on July 4, 1972. He graduated from the French Department of Beijing Foreign Language University in 1995. He worked in the tourism industry. He lived in Room 704, Unit 1, Building 6 in Baozhuzhi, Zhaojialou in the Dongcheng District of Beijing.

On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started to persecute Falun Gong. Many practitioners went to Beijing to appeal for justice and demand that the government clear the name of Falun Gong. The CCP, however, sent out military and civilian police to arrest practitioners who appealed for Falun Gong. Beijing practitioners Cao Dong and Yu Zhou (who was persecuted to death in February 2008) managed to rent places to temporarily accommodate many practitioners from around China who came to appeal for Falun Gong. On August 20, about 200 practitioners held a Fa conference at Tasha in Liang Township, Fangshan District, Beijing, and shared experiences for nearly four hours. Practitioners agreed that cultivators had no enemies. Falun Gong had never been against the government. Under the current circumstances, they agreed that practitioners should talk to the government about Falun Gong peacefully, rationally, and kindly. The CCP called this incident the "August 20th Tashan Assembly." Cao Dong and Yu Zhou were considered the organizers of this assembly. Officers from the Fangshan Police Department illegally arrested Yu Zhou and other practitioners who attended the Fa conference. They deceived Cao Dong into going to a meeting by guaranteeing that these practitioners would be released. After they met Cao Dong, they arrested him immediately and took him to the Fangshan Detention Center and then transferred him to the Qiliqu Dispatch Station in Beijing. Due to efforts by his friends, Mr. Cao was released two months later. He had been tortured.

In November 1999 Mr. Cao accompanied a practitioner from outside of Beijing to see Beijing practitioner Ms. Ren Qiongfang. The CCP recognized Ms. Ren's husband, Li Xuejun, as "a key Falun Gong practitioner." Their home was secretly monitored by police. On the way home, Cao Dong was arrested by the police who had secretly followed him. He was interrogated, but none of his behavior was found to violate the law. Officers from the Xicheng Police Department took him to his local police department, the Dongcheng District Police Station, where he was asked if he practiced Falun Gong. Cao Dong replied yes. Then he was taken to the Dongcheng District Detention center where he was illegally detained for a month.

On February 25, 2000, Cao Dong and another practitioner, Gao Feng, returned to Beijing from Lanzhou by train. The train police found Gao Feng reading Zhuan Falun and asked them whether they practiced Falun Gong. They replied yes. The train police then arrested them and took them to the Jining City Police Department in Inner Mongolia. The two were put in administrative detention on a charge of "reading Zhuan Falun on the train." They were taken to the Jining City Drug Rehabilitation Center where they were locked up with drug addicts. Because they continued practicing Falun Gong there, police and drug addicts severely beat them. According to Chinese law, the maximum period for administrative detention should not be over 15 days. But the rehabilitation center detained Cao Dong and Gao Feng for 22 days before releasing them after being pressured by their family members.

On October 1, 2000, Yang Dong, a policeman who was in charge of the Zhaojialou area in the Dongcheng District of Beijing, received an order that said that he should forcibly take all Falun Gong practitioners in his area to the police station and detain them to prevent them from going to Tienanmen Square to appeal for Falun Gong. Yang Dong went to Cao Dong's home early in the morning, intending to take him to the police station. Cao Dong's wife refused to open the door for him. Yang Dong, however, stayed outside his house. Cao Dong had to go to work that day because he had to go to the airport to meet a foreign tourist group. He opened the door. Yang Dong grabbed him, but Cao Dong said that he had to go to work. Yang Dong didn't believe him and followed him to the travel agency where Cao Dong worked. He found out that Cao Dong indeed had to go to the airport and so he returned to the police station. But his superiors reprimanded Yang Dong and demanded that he bring Cao Dong to the police station by any means. They sent other three policemen to the airport with Yang Dong. But Cao Dong managed to avoid them. Yong Dong and other officials from the city security bureau went to the home of Cao Dong's employer to investigate Cao Dong's situation. The employer told them that Cao Dong was very upright and was doing a good job. Unable to get evidence against Cao Dong of any wrongdoing, the officials from the security bureau threatened his boss, saying "Such a dangerous person! How can you let him do work related to foreign affairs? Are you able to shoulder the responsibility if anything happens?" Cao Dong learned of this incident later. To protect his workplace and his employer from persecution, he faxed a resignation letter to his employer, who expressed deep regret to see him go. His employer asked someone to pass a message to him: "You are welcome to come back at any time. Our door is always open to you."

On November 19, 2000, when Cao Dong and several other practitioners were meeting in a flat in Kandan, Fengtai City, police broke in and arrested them. They confiscated his mobile phone, over $6,000 in cash, his household registration book, and wallet and didn't give a receipt. They kept this confiscated property. The police found several banners and accused Cao Dong of bringing them in. Cao Dong was first detained at the Haidian Detention Center, where he was interrogated and deprived of sleep every night for a week. Policeman Li Jun along with two other officers tried to extort a confession from him by torture during the interrogations. They repeatedly shocked the artery in his neck resulting in hair loss, until he became bald. One month later, Cao Dong was transferred to the Seventh Department of the Beijing City Detention Center and then was transferred to the Fengtai Detention Center.

On March 1, 2001, Fengtai District Court "illegally sentenced" Cao Dong to four and a half years in prison for printing Falun Gong truth-clarification materials. When the court session opened, no lawyer was allowed to defend Mr. Cao or help him enter a not guilty plea. After the sentencing, the detention center didn't allow him to appeal. In May, he was transferred to the prisoners' dispatch center, where a policeman by the surname of Zhang shocked him for practicing the Falun Gong exercises until he lost consciousness.

One week later Cao Dong and fellow practitioner Gao Feng were taken to Lanzhou Prison in Gansu Province. Police from the Prison Entrance Team handcuffed Gao Feng and hung him from a horizontal bar with his feet barely touching the ground for nearly one hour. They hung him like this three different times. Every time, he fainted from the intense pain. To protest their illegal detention, Cao Dong and Gao Feng started a hunger strike. They refused to eat or drink. In order to separate them, on the fifth day the prison sent Cao Dong to Pingliang Prison in Gansu Province.

Cao Dong was kept at Pingliang Prison for four years. On May 19, 2005, his term was over. According to Chinese law, prisoners must be released if their term is finished. But the CCP never follows the law in Falun Gong cases. Because Cao Dong had not been "transformed," the prison sent him directly to the 610 Office in Qingyang City. The 610 Office tried to make Cao Dong write a guarantee statement. They threatened to send him to the "transformation" base in Gansu Province for further persecution. Cao Dong refused to write the guarantee statement. After much effort by his family, he was released and returned home safely.

One year later, on May 21, 2006, Cao Dong had an interview with the Vice President of the European Parliament about the human rights situation in mainland China. He told the Vice President of his personal suffering, what he had seen and heard in prison, and how Falun Gong practitioners been subjected to many kinds of torture. That same day, the Second Section of the Beijing National Security Bureau secretly arrested Cao Dong. They tortured him in order to get information on overseas Falun Gong practitioners and practitioners in other areas. They handcuffed Cao Dong to a chair and didn't allow him to sleep for six days and five nights, during which time eight people divided into four shifts and took turns threatening, intimidating, and swearing at him, 24 hours a day non-stop. They pushed Cao Dong half a meter away from a TV set and turned the TV volume to the maximum while playing a VCD slandering Falun Gong. They forced him to watch and hear it. During the course of this round of persecution, the perpetrators injured his left eye.

Under this mental and physical torture, Cao Dong started to vomit blood and pass blood in large quantities every day. He once fainted and nearly died. Three times he was taken to a hospital for emergency treatment. The CCP officials then sent Cao Dong to the Chaoyang District Legal Training Center where he was further persecuted. They squandered huge amounts of manpower and resources to try to brainwash and "transform" him. They flew people to his parents' home to threaten and deceive them, intending to use pressure from his parents to "transform" Cao Dong. They videotaped his parents and brought the tape back to Beijing to show Cao Dong in an attempt to soften his will. They confiscated his telephone book and threatened him by saying that they would arrest all practitioners who had contact with him in an attempt to force him to give in. They tried to deceive him by saying that as long as he cooperated with them, he would be released shortly. When all these methods failed, the Second Section of the Beijing Domestic Division secretly transferred him to the Gansu Provincial Security Bureau. They did this to avoid the attention of the international community. The Second Section gave orders to the Gansu Provincial Security Bureau to deal harshly with Cao.

On September 4, 2006, Cao Dong was sent to the Gansu Provincial Security Bureau. On September the 27 Qingyang City Procuratorate announced the formal arrest of Cao Dong and detained him at the Security Bureau detention center. Officials from the Security Bureau came to secretly talk to him. They said that as long as he agreed to gather information on overseas Falun Gong practitioners and activities for them and as long as he said such sentences as "I have come to this stage all because of the poison of Falun Gong," the Security Bureau would set him free on bail once he was sentenced. Cao Dong refused them. On December 22, manipulated by the Second Section of the Beijing Domestic Security Division and the Gansu Provincial Security Bureau, Xifeng District Court in Qingyang City secretly opened a session against him. Cao Dong and his lawyer demanded that the prosecutor provide evidence for any crimes committed by Cao Dong. The prosecutor could not show any evidence and was speechless in the cross examination. After the session, the judge told Cao Dong that as long as he wrote something to denounce Falun Gong, everything would be "easy to solve." Cao Dong refused to write any such statement.

On January 29, 2007, Xifeng District Court secretly sentenced Cao Dong to five years in prison for the crime of "providing overseas organizations with materials and information on the persecution of Falun Gong followers" (from the verdict). On March 22, 2007, the Qingyang City Court rejected Cao Dong's appeal with no reason stated.

On May 24, 2007, the Gansu Provincial Security Bureau secretly sent Cao Dong to the Tianshui Prison in Gansu Province where he was isolated with inmates who monitored him 24 hours a day. They locked him alone in a cell with four criminals taking turns watching him 24 hours a day. He was not allowed to leave the cell even for a little while, and not allowed to listen to the radio or contact anyone. Other people were not allowed to contact Cao Dong either. The four criminals were a murderer, a drug addict, a pimp, and an economic offender. The prison told the four inmates that Cao Dong could commit suicide at any time and had mental problems and ordered them to monitor him strictly. They set up a reward system for the four inmates. If they did their job wholeheartedly, they then their sentences would be reduced; if they didn't do the job properly, they would have time added to their sentences. Instigated by the prison, the four inmates often swore at, threatened, and intimated Cao Dong and sometimes beat him.

In May 2008 in an anti-earthquake shed, the drug addict swore loudly at Cao Dong when he went to the toilet by himself. He beat Cao Dong but was later stopped by other inmates. On June 26, 2008, the prison held a meeting on Welcoming the Beijing Olympic Games. All Falun Gong practitioners were required to attend. In the meeting Cao Dong said he wanted to make a speech. Two inmates didn't allow him and dragged him out of the meeting room. These inmates received 40 points as reward for their "good work" and had their sentences reduced. On June 1, 2008, one inmate said hello to Cao Dong when he passed the window of Cao Dong's cell. The four inmates beat him severely and the prison officials also interrogated him. Cao Dong was assigned hard labor in the Second Prison Area which had the toughest working conditions.

Cao Dong has been in this isolated and controlled situation for more than one year, and the abuse is still going on.

After he was sentenced, Cao Dong applied for an appeal, but his application was intercepted by the Gansu Provincial Security Bureau. When he arrived in Tianshui Prison, he wrote the appeal again and tried to send it to his lawyer. The prison, however, didn't let him mail it out. At the end of 2007, Cao Dong's family tried to hire a lawyer for him but needed him to write a letter of authorization. The prison didn't let him send it out to his family. As a result, Cao Dong has been unable to enjoy the right of appeal. The prison also told him that he was not allowed to mention his case in letters to his family, not allowed to mention when he was arrested, when he was sentenced, when he was transferred to Tianshui Prison, or what the prison was like. Otherwise, all the letters would be intercepted. A belt and a watch that his family sent him were confiscated by the prison. Even newspapers and magazines his family subscribed to for him were taken by the prison. Cao Dong took this matter up with the officials in the prison many times, but they ignored him. Cao Dong is being deprived of all his legal rights.

Among the 15 prisons in Gansu Province, Tianshui Prison is the special base for "transforming" Falun Gong practitioners. It has a so-called "Anti-Falun Gong Section," which specializes in persecuting practitioners. In 2006 a practitioner from Qingyang, Liu Zhirong, was beaten to death by the guards in the prison. To deceive the outside world, the prison created false evidence to "show" that Liu Zhirong died as a result of suicide. They used this incident as an excuse to strengthen the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. From April 9 to April 11, 2007, the prison held a so-called "Advocate Civilization and Oppose Evil Groups" picture exhibition. They put up propaganda materials such as the fabricated Tienanmen Square Immolation Incident to deceive prison guards and inmates who didn't know the truth about Falun Gong and incited their hatred towards Falun Gong and Falun Gong practitioners. The "Anti-Falun Gong Section" often instigated inmates to force practitioners who were very determined in their belief to watch VCDs that viciously slandered Falun Gong. They didn't let practitioners sleep and forced them to watch such VCDs 24 hours nonstop, intending to "transform" them. An inmate who was released from there said that Cao Dong was locked up in a cell separately as soon as he was sent there; four inmates followed him 24 hours a day in turn, and he was not allowed to contact anyone or do exercises outside the room. He has been locked up in the cell for more than one year. Further details of his imprisonment are unknown due to the strict censorship. What we do know is that he is very weak, has suffered hair loss, and his face is very pale. This inmate said, "He is so shaky and weak that the wind could blow him away."

Cao Dong's father, Cao Douxu, and mother, Gao Jumei, live in Qingyang City in Gansu Province. They are locally well-known teachers. They are in their 60s and have retired. His father suffers from cerebral hemorrhage and cannot walk properly and has difficulty in speaking. His mother has to take care of his father because he cannot look after himself. His mother is not in good health either. Last year she had a relapse of a leg ailment and couldn't walk. She improved after medical treatment, but she still cannot walk. Cao Dong is their only son. His parents have no one looking after them. The harassment and deception from the Second Section of the Beijing Domestic Division and the Qingyang City 610 Office, as well as Cao Dong's imprisonment, have affected them deeply. They have been traumatized to the brink of collapse.

Cao Dong's wife, Yang Xiaojing, is also a Falun Gong practitioner from Beijing. She was illegally put into forced labor camps twice. In May 2006 when Cao Dong was arrested, she was still in the Beijing Women's Forced Labor Camp. After she was released, she tried to hire a lawyer and appeal for her husband. During the process she was monitored by the Beijing Police Department and harassed by them many times. In December 2007 police in the Dongcheng District forcibly took her to the police station and then to the Fengtai Domestic Division where she was interrogated for a day. At the same time they searched her home for any Falun Gong materials so that they could secure "evidence" to put her in prison. But they found nothing and had to release her. Due to fear of further arrest and ill health, Ms. Yang had to leave home to avoid further persecution. She now has to move from place to place.

Cao Dong's home in Beijing has been ransacked several times. On May 26, 2006, Hu Songtao and Chen Shoushui from the Second Section of the Beijing City Police Department took keys from Cao Dong and illegally entered his home without notifying any of his family members. They confiscated valuable property such as a laptop worth at least twenty thousand yuan, didn't put the items they confiscated on the official list, and then privately kept them. On the evening of November 19, 2000, police from the Fengtai District broke into Cao Dong's home at Yueqiao and took his mobile phone, six thousand yuan in cash, a bank card, and a telephone card, among other items. Again, they didn't officially record the items they confiscated and took for themselves items worth fifteen thousand yuan. In December 2007, police from the Fengtai Domestic Division again broke into Cao Dong's home and stole property, claiming they were looking for evidence to convict his wife.

We appeal to international human rights organizations, governments, and all people for their attention to and support of Cao Dong and his family. Let's work together to appeal for Cao Dong so that he can be released from prison.