(Minghui.org) “They looked like chickens hanging there,” recalls one soldier. “It was very cold one night in December 2000. At around 1 a.m., we were ordered to get armed and move to the Dandong Train Station...I was shocked to notice that the open-top train, normally used to carry livestock, was full of Falun Gong practitioners of different ages. They were hung up to the top steel beam in the train. I heard they were being taken back from Beijing because they were protesting for their right to practice Falun Gong. I was so scared that I stood still with my submachine gun.”

The above offers a glimpse into the horrific torture endured by Falun Gong practitioners at the hands of the Chinese Communist regime over the past fifteen years. What awaited them in prisons, labor camps, detention centers, and brainwashing centers were even more brutal.

Freezing is one of many torture methods devised by the authorities in their attempts to force practitioners to renounce their beliefs. Practitioners were left to freeze either outdoors or indoors for extended periods of time. This is used in conjunction with other forms of torture to increase practitioners' suffering.

Practitioners subjected to the freezing torture often sustained serious injuries. Some died as a result, while others had toes or legs amputated.

One such case was that of Ms. Qiu Liying: while on a hunger strike at a labor camp, Ms. Qiu was taken to a yard after she was found doing Falun Gong exercises. It was -20°C (-4°F), but she had only a thin shirt and sandals on. She was handcuffed behind her back and hung up on a tree. Her runny nose formed a meter-long icicle, which left the back of her hands with bloody holes.

Ms. Qiu Liying

Cases in this report demonstrate the damage caused by various forms of the freezing torture. For ease of reading, below is an outline:

Deaths and Injuries Caused by Freezing

Freezing Outside in Winter

  • Stripped of Clothes and Freezing
  • Buried in Snow
  • Forced to Sit, Stand or Lay on Ice
  • Made to Stay Outside in the Snow for Extended Periods of Time
  • Left in Deserted Suburb and Freezing
  • Standing against a Mirror
  • Freezing in Front of Air Vent
  • Freezing Hands Beaten with Tree Branches

Freezing in Cold Rooms

  • Freezing in a Cold Room with Ice
  • Blown by Fan
  • Walk-in Freezer
  • Freezing during Sleep
  • Freezing with Doors and Windows Open
  • Freezing by Air Conditioner

Feet Submerged in Cold Water, Ice, or Snow

  • Shoes Filled with Cold Water
  • Soaked with Cold Water without Shoes
  • Forced to Stand in Cold Water/Ice
  • Feet Submerged in Snow

Deaths and Injuries Caused by Freezing

• Mr. He Huajiang was tied to a chair in a bathroom and had his mouth sealed tight one December day. Guards opened the window to let in the bone-chilling air. They kept pouring cold water over him, all the while beating him frequently. He died two hours later, at the age of 42.

• Mr. Zheng Zhiqiang from Dandong City, Liaoning Province was forced to stand barefoot outside in the snow twice a day for 17 days, with a 33-pound wooden board hanging from a thin wire around his neck. This and other torture he suffered caused his death a few months later in 2004.

• Mr. Xu Fayue was handcuffed to a bed in his cell. It was about -12ºC (10ºF) at the time, but guards kept the door open for five days. By the time his handcuffs were removed, his hands were extremely swollen and had turned black. Two of his toes had to be partially removed, and a third toe had to be amputated completely.

• Mr. Yang Baochun was made to stand in the snow barefooted. When he was allowed back in, guards poured hot water over his feet, which soon began to fester. The guards didn't send him to a hospital until it became clear that his life was in danger. Doctors were forced to amputate his right leg.

• Ms. Song Huilan was made to sleep on the floor every night with a very thin layer for cover when it was below -23ºC (-10ºF). Part of her uterus slipped out of her vagina as a result.

Freezing Outside in Winter

In many cases, Falun Gong practitioners were forced to stay outside when it was extremely cold.

Stripped of Clothes and Freezing

• Mr. Gong Jingwang, a taxi driver in Tianjin, was beaten after being arrested. Officers stripped off his clothes and handcuffed him to a post in a yard when it was below -10°C (14°F). Half an hour later, the officers continued to beat him.

• While in police custody, Mr. Liu Wenji from Pingquan County, Hebei Province was forced to stand outside naked and had water poured over him. When the water became frozen, officers forced him to sit on the ice.

• Similarly, Ms. Liu Liwei was stripped of her clothes and taken to the yard in the winter while incarcerated at Liaoning Women's Prison. She was also beaten and deprived of sleep.

• Pan Zhenfang and Meng Zhaomin from Sanhe City, Hebei Province were stripped to their underwear and made to stay outside, with Mr. Meng handcuffed to a pole and Mr. Pan Zhengfan handcuffed to an advertisement board. When they were finally let inside, they had lost feeling in their limbs and could not walk steadily.

• Ms. Han Liping and a few other practitioners were stripped to their undergarments and forced to stand in snow barefooted for more than 7 hours. After they were let inside, guards blew air at them with a fan for more than two hours.

• Teacher Zhang Jian wasn't able to move his arms for more than 40 days after he was forced to stand outside in his underwear and had water poured over him.

Buried in Snow

• Ms. Ye Dajun had her clothes removed and was forced to lie on the ground face down. Two inmates then buried her in snow for more than two hours.

• Mr. Chen Aizhong also had his clothes stripped off and was handcuffed to a tree in the yard. Guards buried his feet in snow, causing serious injury. He was later killed during force-feeding.

• A practitioner (name unknown) recalled, “The guards threw me outside to freeze in the snow, only to take me inside ten minutes later. They blew warm air towards me, but before I was able to recover from the cold, they pushed me outside again. They alternated like this four or five times before they buried me in snow and poured hot water on my head.”

Forced to Sit, Stand or Lay on Ice

• Ms. Cong Chengfen and a few other practitioners were forced to sit on ice with their legs straight. Any move would result in punches and kicks by guards. When the ice melted, the guards dragged them to another icy spot. Some practitioners' pants were frozen to the ground. They lost feeling in their limbs after four or five hours.

• The elderly Ms. Cui Xiuzhen was made to alternate between lying on snow and sitting on ice for hours.

• Mr. Xie Chunfeng was forced to sit on the frozen surface of a pond for half an hour in only his underwear.

• It was -12ºC (10ºF) at night on February 7, 2000. The guards at Geijiao Detention Center in Kaifeng City, Henan Province poured water on the ground to make ice. They forced 11 female practitioners with only undergarments on to sit on the ice barefoot for four hours straight. The practitioners had to hold ice in their hands at the same time. Eventually, the ice on the ground was stained with menstrual blood.

• Hundreds of miles away in Qinglong Autonomous County, Hebei Province, more than 10 female practitioners wearing thin clothes were forced to lay on the ice face down, with arms and legs straightened. Their palms and insteps had to touch the ice. If they couldn't keep the pose, they would be whipped or stomped on by guards. Their hands, feet and faces turned black. When they were finally allowed to get up, the shapes of their bodies had been imprinted in the snow.

Made to Stay Outside in the Snow for Extended Periods of Time

• While detained at Qianjin Forced Labor Camp in Harbin City, middle school teacher Ms. Zuo Xianfeng was forced to stand in snow for an hour when it was -20ºC (-4ºF).

• Li Mingyan, Su Li, Xiang Guiying and Gao Yumei from Yishui County, Shandong Province were made to sit in snow. After it melted, a guard poured cold water on them. They were tortured this way from 6pm to 4am for four continuous days.

• Ms. Liu Yunxiang from Weifang City, Shandong Province was forced to shovel snow with bare feet and no jacket on January 21, 2000. She later suffered two miscarriages as a result of beatings in prison.

• Zhu Feng and Chai Xiuzhi from Yushu, Jilin Province fainted when they were made to stand outside in the snow, when the temperature was below -20ºC (-4ºF).

• Mr. Lai Yunchang was forced to sit outside from 7am to 7pm every day in winter months.

Left in Deserted Suburb and Freezing

• Following his trip to Beijing to petition the central government to end the persecution of Falun Gong in 2001, Mr. Shang Shuichi was poisoned at a detention center. He was then stripped of his winter clothes and dumped in a deserted Beijing suburb with bare feet and a thin sweater. He passed away in February 2001 as a result of freezing and poison.

Mr. Shang ShuichiStanding Against a Mirror

• After being arrested in December 2000, Ms. Ji Shuhua and Ms. Wu Defang were forced to stay in the yard of a police station in Hebei Province while it was snowing heavily. They were forced to stand against a large mirror on the wall with their arms stretched horizontally. Their forehead, nose, and palms had to touch the mirror. They were beaten whenever a small gap between their bodies and the mirror was seen.

Freezing in Front of Air Vent

• Ms. Zhang Guilan said, “In December 2003, more than 24 Falun Gong practitioners in Heilongjiang Women's Prison were forced to stand still at an air vent for a whole day. The pain from the handcuffs was terrible. Our meals quickly became frozen in the cold. Some practitioners couldn't even get up after they fell to the ground, and they were often injured when they were dragged back to their cells.”

• At Jiamusi Labor Camp in Heilongjiang Province, Mr. Shi Mengchang was stripped of his clothes and forced to stand with his head down and arms raised backwards in front of an air vent when it was -20°C (or -4°F). The guards also beat him and poured cold water over his body.

Torture illustration: “Flying an airplane”

Freezing Hands Beaten with Tree Branches

• In Heilongjiang Women's Prison in winter 2003, Ms. Zhang Yan, in her fifties, was dragged from the fourth floor to the ground floor. Inmates subsequently stripped her of her winter coat and forced her to stand at the back of the prison. In addition, two inmates hit her bare hands with twigs or electric batons whenever she moved.

• At Yushu Detention Center in Jinling Province. Ms Liu Jinfeng, 19, was stripped of her winter coat and left in the snow in February 2000. Meanwhile, a guard beat her swollen hands with a branch.

Freezing in Cold Rooms

The freezing torture was also conducted indoors using ice, fans, air conditioners, and open doors and windows.

• In 2010, Mr. Wang Jijun was put in a 2-by-1-meter solitary cell with no heat in Jidong Prison in Hebei Province. Ice was put in the cell. Six inmates monitored him and limited his sleep to three hours.

• In 2002 at Jiedu Forced Labor Camp in Heilongjiang Province, guards instructed inmates to open all the windows and put ice cubes into practitioners' clothes. Practitioners Wei Jun, Piao Yingjie, Gao Shuyan, Ding Hongjuan, Li Hongxia suffered this torture.

Blown by Fan

• In December 2000, Ms. Fan Shengmei in Sichuan Province was deprived of food and sleep, and shackled to a handrail in the building of the local Domestic Security police for two days. Officers then stripped her of her winter coat and blew cold air at her using a fan.

• In the same building, Ms. Hu Xingyu, in her seventies, was also stripped of her winter coat after she collapsed from abuse. Officers used two fans to blow cold air at Ms. Hu and other practitioners.

• Mr. Sha Litian, in his sixties, was detained at Jianxin Labor Camp in Tianjin. He was stripped of his clothes and exposed to -15°C (5°F) temperatures. Meanwhile, guards opened his cell's door and window and blew cold air in with a fan. The guards also shocked Mr. Sha's mouth and face with electric batons.

Walk-in Freezer

• Guards at the Zhang Shi Labor Camp in Liaoning Province used a cold storage room to freeze Falun Gong practitioners. The temperature was below freezing, and there was a thick layer of frost on the wall. In 2001, Mr. Zhang Zhenwu, Mr. Chen Song, Mr. Zhang Guoyi and Mr. Li Manxin were forced to stand against the wall and were allowed to sleep for only four hours.

Freezing during Sleep

• Ms. Jiang Xinbo, a high school teacher, was tortured and subjected to freezing temperatures during her sleep at Heilongjiang Women's Prison in April 2010. Directed by guards, inmates shackled and hung up Ms. Jiang in a below-freezing room for 17 hours. When she finally got a chance to sleep, her thin quilt was taken away during the night, when the temperature dropped even lower.

Ms. Jiang Xinbo

Freezing with Doors and Windows Open

• During Mr. Zhao Jianshe's nine-year term at Wuxi Prison in Jiangsu Province, inmates opened his cell door and window in the cold winter. His fingers were frozen, turned black, and eventually shed a layer of skin.

• Ms. Hao Peijie, a former employee at a university in Heilongjiang Province, was frozen at Qianjin Labor Camp on March 29, 2013. In only her underwear and with bare feet, she was beaten, bound and left in a freezing room with the door and window opened all day. She was also denied food.

• Following her arrest in 2002, Ms. Zhou Yanbo was held in Tieling Detention Center in Liaoning Province, where her limbs were tied to metal hoops on the floor for a month. The cell window was open, and the outside temperature was as low as -30°C (-22°F). Inmates also stomped on her in that position.

• Mr. Chu Liwen, a farmer, was also subjected to freezing overnight at the Changle Detention Center in Shandong province in the winter of 2001. His was stripped of his clothes and handcuffed to window bars on the top floor of the building. With all the doors and windows open, the guards exposed him to the cold from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. two nights in a row.

Freezing by Air Conditioner

• In December 2012, Ms. Zhang Meijin and Ms. Chensu Fang were taken to Changyi Detention Center in Shandong Province, where they were confined to a room with the air conditioner running while it was -16°C (3°F) outside.

Feet Submerged in Cold Water, Ice, or Snow

• After Ms. Li Ya was taken to Lanzhou Women's Prison in Gansu Province on December 21, 2010, an inmate forced her to wear a pair of thin shoes while working. The inmate intentionally poured cold water on Ms. Li's shoes multiple times. When Ms. Li's feet were injured, an inmate stomped on them to increase her pain.

• Twelve practitioners were arrested in 2001 after holding a banner at Tiananmen Square to protest the persecution of Falun Gong. At Zhuzhuang Police Station in Beijing, officers shackled one practitioner outside, kicked her shoes off, and poured cold water onto her. Once her socks were frozen, officers forced her to stand on a hot furnace and burned her fingers with a cigarette lighter.

Forced to Stand in Cold Water/Ice

• Ms Zhang Benfang was forced to stand in cold water for weeks in Nanjing Brainwashing Center in February 2005. Her toes were chapped and bloody as a result.

• Officials in Guangdong Province forced nine Falun Gong practitioners to stand in inches-deep cold water after they had been on a hunger strike for 6 winter days in 2000. The practitioners were not allowed to sleep or lean against the wall, even after one female practitioner fainted. Days later, their feet and legs were so swollen that their shoes no longer fit.

• On December 9, 2000, Ms. Zheng Quanhua and 7 other practitioners were arrested and beaten by police officers in Zhugou Town, Shandong Province. The officers forced the practitioners to take off their winter coats and sit on the wet ground outside. Their pants froze and stuck to the ground. Two of them were even tied to a tractor and forced to stand in washbasins filled with cold water. Their feet became numb and suffered muscle injury. The pain prevented them from sleeping for over a month.

Feet Submerged in Snow

• Ms. Yang Xiulan from Liaoning Province went to Beijing to petition the central government at the end of 1999. She was detained in Haidian Detention Center, where she was shocked by electric batons and beaten. The guards put her feet in a washbasin filled with snow. Ms. Yang fainted in the process.

• Mr. Li Jiqiu was beaten while tied to a metal chair on December 3, 2004. His hands and feet were swollen and bruised. His feet were put in a washbasin filled with snow, and ice formed quickly. An officer also poured the snow on his collar and waist.

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