(Minghiu.org) Forty Falun Gong practitioners in Wuhan City, Hubei Province were arrested on September 23, 2019.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

The mass arrest of Falun Gong practitioners took place shortly before the Chinese Communist Party’s 70th National Day on October 1, and the 7th Military World Games held between October 18-27 in Wuhan. The authorities arrested the practitioners to prevent them from protesting against the persecution of their faith during these major events in the city.

Mass Arrest in Wholesale Market

As all legal channels to appeal for Falun Gong have been blocked, practitioners often use creative means, including talking to people face to face at fairs and markets, to inform the public of the persecution of their faith. 

Duoluokou Market is the largest wholesale market in central China. It spans over 1,250 acre and is divided into several sub-markets trading fertilizer, furniture, forest products, produce, groceries, hardware, stationery, and motorcycles. More than 30,000 cars file in and out of the market every day. 

Since the market is such a huge draw for locals and visitors alike, Wuhan practitioners frequent the market every day to talk to shoppers about Falun Gong. In addition, there are two detention facilities near the market, and several Wuhan practitioners have also been going there on a regular basis to seek the release of detained practitioners.

It was reported that several months before the mass arrest, officers from the Duoluokou Market Police Station in Dongxihu District had compiled footage of Falun Gong practitioners recorded on surveillance cameras talking to people or passing out information about Falun Gong in or near Duoluokou Market.

The police printed out the practitioners’ photos and taped each of the photos onto a large bag, which was then used to store items confiscated from each of the arrested practitioners.

The Wuhan City Police Department mobilized over 100 police officers and dispatched them to Duoluokou Market on September 23, 2019. They hid in their vans and sprang out when they spotted practitioners whose photos they had with them. 

More than thirty practitioners were seized at the market, and several others were arrested at home later that day.

The arrested practitioners were first held at the Duoluokou Market Police Station. The officers checked whether they had the practitioners’ information on file. Those who weren’t in the police database were released after several days of detention. But practitioners who were on the blacklist were held in detention for a longer time and had their information and confiscated items sent to their corresponding local police stations, after which they were subjected to further persecution.

Police Abuse Two Elderly Women 

Two elderly female practitioners were subjected to police brutality during the mass arrest.

A group of officers surrounded Ms. Zhao Gaorong, 71, when she was at the market and forced her into a vehicle. They confiscated her personal belongings and interrogated her at the Hongshan Police Department. Ms. Zhao refused to answer their questions. 

The police then ransacked Ms. Zhao's residence and confiscated 1,000 yuan cash and other valuables. One officer threatened to tie her up. When she protested, that officer pushed her down and forced her to squat. The police didn’t provide Ms. Zhao with food and water all day. She had acute stomachache and chest pain as a result. She was released around midnight. 

The oldest practitioner targeted in the mass arrest was 89-year-old Ms. Yu. The police interrogated her and attempted to collect her fingerprints and photo. She strongly protested and refused to cooperate with the interrogation. 

While Ms. Yu was held at the Qiaokou Police Department, the police lied to her family, telling them that she was in a different location. When her family went to the wrong police station, the police went to Ms. Yu’s home with a locksmith, attempting to ransack her home. 

One of Ms. Yu’s family members happened to be at home. He demanded to see a search warrant and refused to let the police enter. 

Ms. Yu was sent home at 1:00 a.m. 

Details of Other Arrests and Detention

In addition to Ms. Zhao and Ms. Yu, Ms. Wu Fengyun and her husband, along with a female practitioner in her 70s, were also released on the day of their arrests.

Ms. Guo Shihui, Ms. Xu Baozhu, Ms. Deng Xiuqin, and Ms. Liang (given name unknown) were released days or weeks later. 

The remaining 33 practitioners have been sent to Etouwan Brainwashing Center in Qiaokou District at the time of writing. 

These practitioners include:

Ms. Wang Hongyu, Wang Minggang, Ms. Zhao Yuxian, Ms. Liu Aiyun, Ms. Zhang Sanmei, Mr. Zhang Fugui, Ms. Zhang Hong, Mr. Wu Quansheng, Mr. Xiao Binhuan, Ms. Xiang and her husband, Luo (given name unknown), Ms. Yin (given name unknown), Xu (given name unknown), Ding (given name unknown), Yu (given name unknown), Gao (given name unknown), Qi (given name unknown), Li (given name unknown), two men with the last name Huang, a man in his 80s, a young couple, and seven other practitioners whose names remain to be investigated.