Seven Heilongjiang Falun Gong Practitioners Imprisoned and Tortured for Their Faith
(Minghui.org) Five Falun Gong practitioners from Suihua, Heilongjiang Province, were arrested in Lanxi County on October 3, 2018, when they handed out information about Falun Gong. Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong is a mind and body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime in China since 1999.
Those arrested were Ms. Zhao Tingting, Mr. Yang Chuanhou, Ms. Wang Fang, Ms. Bai Xia, and Ms. Wang Fuhua. They were interrogated in the Beian Town Police Station and then taken to the Lanxi County Police Department after their personal information was obtained through the use of facial recognition technology. The officers also confiscated from them a car, 3,000 yuan in cash, and personal belongings worth more than 18,000 yuan.
In the Lanxi County Police Department, the five practitioners were separated, taken to individual rooms, and tied to Tiger Benches. The person who interrogated Ms. Zhao was Ding Zhaopeng, the deputy chief who has been very active in taking part in the persecution. He thought that Ms. Zhao, in her 20s, was a student and tried to coax her into “confessing.” When she refused to cooperate, he threatened to spray her with pepper water.
Another officer present slapped Ms. Zhao for noncooperation and threatened to jail her family members for ten years. The interrogation lasted for more than three hours. The other practitioners were also tortured.
A week later, on October 10, 2018, Ms. Song Hongwei was arrested for seeking the release of her husband, Mr. Yang. Ms. Gao Jinshu, who went with Ms. Song to the police station, was also arrested.
Ms. Wu Jinghua was also arrested and taken to the detention center. But her daughter paid the police a huge bail bond and she was released eight days later.
Conditions in Laxi County Detention Center
The police took the practitioners to Lanxi Hospital to have their blood pressures taken and get ultrasounds and ECGs. The women were given pregnancy tests. The police contacted several places to detain the practitioners, but only Lanxi County Detention Center agreed to take them.
Mr. Yang clarified the truth to the officers on the way to the detention center. He was slapped in the face and beaten in the car. Ms. Wang Fuhua was originally denied admission due to high blood pressure, but the detention center eventually relented.
The practitioners were ordered to wear uniforms with a number on it for identification. They resisted, insisting that they were not criminals and that wearing such a uniform was an insult to good people like them.
Guard Lu Feifei operated a small shop inside the detention center. Everyone had to buy high-priced goods from the shop before they were allowed to visit their detained family member.
When the families of Ms. Zhao and Ms. Bai came to visit they were told to deposit 200 yuan for one carton of cigarettes as a gift to the detention center director. They were also overcharged for bread, two bottles of milk, and a few sausages.
It was about midnight when the five practitioners arrived at the detention center. Lu Feifei sold them some food and toiletries for over 100 yuan. No food was allowed to be kept in the cells—the guards who came to search the cells would take it away.
The detention center served only one steamed bun and a bowl of soup per meal. To get rice or noodles, the practitioners had to pay extra. During their ten days in detention, the five practitioners spent a total of 2,000 yuan.
Tortured in Anda City Detention Center
Ms. Gao Jinshu and Ms. Wang Shuhua were later released on bail due to high blood pressure. Ms. Bai Xia was also released on bail after her family paid the police a bail bond.
Ms. Zhao Tingting, Ms. Wang Fang, and Ms. Song Hongwei were transferred to the Anda City Detention Center on October 15, 2018. Mr. Yang remained in Lanxi County Detention Center. On the way to Anda City, Ms. Wang recognized a police officer, who had pretended to be a taxi driver and asked them questions before the practitioners’ arrests.
The women were forced to wear the Anda City Detention Center uniform. For one month, they were not given warm clothes or allowed to wear closed shoes, except slippers, despite the cold weather.
There were three wards in the detention center. The guards instigated the chief inmate of each ward to torment the practitioners.
The practitioners were assigned to No. 12 Ward headed by inmate Chen Dandan, who was given ten years for fraud. The prison let Chen manage the ward, turning a blind eye to her bullying the other inmates in her ward and stealing their money and belongings.
On her first day in the detention center, Ms. Song refused to let the guards take her photo. The guards dragged her to the restroom and doused her with cold water. They also beat and kicked her for a long time. They were so brutal that someone even asked them to stop the beating. The same thing happened the next day. Later, she was made to clean the restroom and was severely beaten.
Beaten for Not Wearing Prison Vest and for Doing the Falun Gong Exercises
In April 2019, Ms. Zhao did the Falun Gong exercises in bed until inmate Chen stopped her. To protest, Ms. Zhao and two other practitioners, Ms. Song and Ms. Wang, did the exercises together without wearing the prison vest. Chen verbally abused them and prohibited them from talking to each other or buying any goods.
On June 25, Chen scolded them for not wearing the prison vest when they were forced to sit on a small stool. Chen beat Ms. Song for not responding to her.
Ms. Zhao struggled and took off the vest several times after Chen forced her to wear it. Chen then held her down and hit her until Ms. Zhao’s mouth bled and her face swelled. Her arms were blue and purple.
On June 29, Ms. Wang was forced to wear heavy shackles for a month for doing the Falun Gong exercises. The shackles were not taken off even when she was sleeping.
On one occasion when Ms. Song refused to memorize the prison rules, an inmate poured cold water over her head, one bucket after another, until she shivered so much she almost suffocated. The cold water caused issues with her neck and she was unable to keep her head up for days.
After a year of such mistreatment, Ms. Song had scabies, leg pain, and heart palpitations that woke her up at night. She was frightfully skinny due to poor nutrition and fainted several times from weakness.
Anytime a new prisoner received a deposit from their family, the detention center deducted 490 yuan to pay for a physical exam and a uniform, as well as their cash cards. Inmate Chen often used other detainees’ cards or told them to buy food for her.
The food there was very expensive. One watermelon cost 100 yuan, baked duck, 500 yuan. And many things had to be purchased in bulk. One detainee paid for yogurt in the spring but hadn’t received it by when she was released in the fall. Others saw 1,000 yuan missing from their accounts, but didn’t know how.
Ms. Song was discriminated against and abused because her family did not send her any money—her husband was also arbitrarily detained. She was often verbally abused and forced to clean the toilets and wash rags.
Torture in Heilongjiang Women's Prison
On May 24, 2019, these seven practitioners were sentenced to prison by the Anda City Court. Mr. Yang, Ms. Wang Fang, Ms. Wang Fuhua, Ms. Bai, and Ms. Zhao were each sentenced to two years in prison. Ms. Song was sentenced to one year and a half years. Ms. Gao Jinshu, who’d had severe high blood pressure since her arrest, was given one year in prison.
The six women were admitted to Heilongjiang Women's Prison on October 29, 2019.
On their first day in prison, the women had to list all their clothes, including underwear and socks. Every item of clothing, except bras and underwear, had to have the word “Criminal” printed on it in bold colors.
The prison also arranged “five-person guarantee teams” for the practitioners. Of the five detainees that made up one team, at least three of them had to go to the restroom together at night so that they could watch each other. Everyone would be punished for any wrongdoing done by one person. Four inmates watched Ms. Zhao in turn.
Sitting on a Small Stool
Newly-arrived practitioners such as Ms. Zhao and others had to attend the brainwashing sessions designed to force them to renounce Falun Gong. If they refused to comply, the practitioners would be forced to sit up straight motionlessly on a small stool for more than 18 hours (from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.) at a stretch. The stool was narrow and very low (only about 25 centimeters high) with an uneven surface. By the end of the day, the person would be in pain all over.
Ms. Zhao was forced to sit on the stool for nine days in a row. She was not allowed to wear thick cotton pants to protect her buttocks, so they blistered and festered. The inmates kept her awake and verbally abused her at the same time. They forced her to watch videos that slandered Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhao refused to be “transformed.” She was slapped in the face by criminal inmates. They wrote words that slandered Falun Gong on paper and stuck the papers on her many times. They also wrote defamatory words on her clothes with a marker.
Ms. Zhao worked in a kindergarten. Kind, cheerful, and calm, she loved her job, and the kids and their parents loved her. She weighed over 100 pounds before her arrest. After two years of persecution, she weighed less than 90 pounds when she was released on October 2, 2020.
Other Forms of Torture Used in Heilongjiang Women's Prison
Other practitioners were also tortured in Heilongjiang Women's Prison.
Ms. Yu Guirong of Anda City resisted being “transformed” and was abused physically and mentally. One time, four or five inmates hung a large banner with slanderous words on her and beat her until another practitioner called the guards to stop them. On another occasion, Ms. Yu was not allowed to sleep after roll call.
Mathematics teacher Ms. Sui Guilan of Jixi City was detained in the ward across from Ms. Zhao's. She was strictly watched. She was forced to sit on a small stool in the yard for over 70 days because she refused to sign the threestatements. Four inmates instigated by the guards beat her whenever they felt like it. Sometimes they tortured her in the middle of the night. They also tried to force-feed her feces.
Ms. Deng Shumei is a 65-year old resident of Yilan. She was admitted to the prison in early June of 2019. As soon as she arrived, an inmate kicked her in the head and knocked her down on the ground. Ms. Deng was gagged with a rag to stop her from talking to people about Falun Gong. She was also forced to sit on a small stool for nearly two months.
Ms. Cai Weihua of Harbin was sent to this prison in April 2020. She was brutally beaten by four inmates. They tried to force her to sign the guarantee statement.
Ms. An Xianping from Daqing has been imprisoned since December 2019. She has resisted being “transformed” and refused to write the required report or sign any statement.
Ms. Cui Fenglan of Harbin, 62, was sentenced to 15 years. She was severely abused when she arrived. She was often tortured and deprived of sleep for refusing to cooperate with the guards.
Persecution During the Pandemic
The prison received three batches of new prisoners during the pandemic this year, including 64 people on June 11, more than 90 on August 18, and 111 on September 29.
It has been confirmed that four of those admitted in August were Falun Gong practitioners. One of them was Ms. Ma Junqing, who is in her 40s.
Ms. Ma went on a hunger strike to protest the persecution. She was force-fed once a day in the beginning and then twice a day. She refused to be “transformed.”