The Persecution of Falun Gong Continues in China Despite Coronavirus Pandemic
(Minghui.org) The Chinese communist regime continues to persecute Falun Gong, while clamping down on coronavirus coverage in China. This past month saw a rise in arrests. According to data collected by Minghui.org, 282 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested, 15 were sentenced, and 113 were harassed for their faith in February 2020.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
After sentencing 193 Falun Gong practitioners in December 2019 and January 2020, the communist regime’s court system slowed down amid the lockdown and travel restrictions implemented across China. Yet, twice as many Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in February 2020 (282) compared to February of last year (140). This year, 132 were in custody at the time of writing. Another 113 practitioners were harassed by the authorities.
Some practitioners were arrested or harassed for encouraging people to take a cue from those who recovered from the coronavirus infection by reciting “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”
Of the 395 practitioners arrested or harassed for their faith in February 2020, 16 were in their 70s and 5 in their 80s. A total of 193 practitioners had their homes ransacked. The authorities extorted a total of 244,234 yuan from 26 practitioners for an average of 9,394 yuan per person.
Eight provinces and municipalities reported double-digit arrests, including Hebei Province (43), Shandong Province (38), Liaoning Province (37), Heilongjiang Province (29), Beijing (21), Jilin (19), Guangdong (16), and Tianjin (16). Fifteen other regions reported single digit arrests.
The 15 practitioners sentenced in February come from six provinces and regions, including Hebei Province (with 5 sentenced), Jilin Province (3), Shandong Province (3), Tianjin (2), Liaoning Province (1) and Shanghai (1). Prison terms ranged from 7 months to 9 years, with an average of 4.27 years.
Cases of harassment in the double-digits were reported in Sichuan Province (27), Shanxi Province (17), Hebei Province (15) and Beijing (11). Fourteen other regions had single digit cases.
Hubei Province, the epicenter of the epidemic, reported 7 arrests and 2 harassment cases.
Three residents of Baoding City, Hebei Province, were sentenced on February 26, 2020, for making gourd carvings bearing messages about Falun Gong.
Mr. Han Junde, 72, was sentenced to 8.5 years. Ms. Li Yanqiu, 68, and Ms. Sun Liying, 42, were both given 8 years.
The three practitioners were arrested on August 30, 2019. The police confiscated their gourd carving machine and ransacked their homes.
Ms. Sun and Ms. Li appeared in the Gaoyang County Court on December 24, 2019. Mr. Han was tried earlier, and the results are yet to be investigated.
Ms. Sun's family decided to appeal the verdict. But due to the coronavirus epidemic in China and the lockdown, the family has no way to get to the court to submit the appeal.
The Ninghe District Court recently sentenced a married couple in Tianjin to heavy terms for their faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Li Jingzhong, a taxi driver, was sentenced to 9 years. His wife, Ms. Dong Shuxiang, was given 7 years.
The couple were arrested on August 24, 2018. The police ransacked their residence and have held them in the Ninghe District Detention Center since.
A married couple in Cang County, Hebei Province, were sentenced to prison for their faith in Falun Gong in February 2020.
Ms. Pang Huixia was sentenced to 7 years, with a 20,000-yuan fine by the Yunhe District Court on February 11, 2020. Her husband, Mr. Zhang Zhenwei, was given a 1-year sentence with a probation of 2 years, as well as a 5,000-yuan fine. Both of them have filed appeals with the Cangzhou City Intermediate Court.
Ms. Pang was arrested on January 15 and Mr. Zhang on February 22, 2019. The Cang County Procuratorate approved their arrests and moved their cases to the Yunhe District Procuratorate.
Mr. Zhang was released on bail on April 17. Ms. Pang remained detained at the Cangzhou City Detention Center.
When Ms. Pang’s lawyer visited her in the detention center on April 28, he noted that her arms were handcuffed behind her back in a painful position, with one arm twisted behind her back to meet the other arm pulled over her shoulder. She told the lawyer that she held a hunger strike to protest the persecution and was tortured and force-fed.
The Yunhe District Procuratorate indicted the couple and moved their cases to the Yunhe District Court on October 21, 2019.
The couple appeared in court on December 27 and their lawyer entered a not guilty plea for them. The more than 1,000 copies of The Ultimate Goal Of Communism, a book shedding light on the origin and nature of communism, had been confiscated from their home and were included as evidence against them.
Arrests and Incidents of Harassment
Since the novel coronavirus broke out in China, several stories have been published on Minghui.org about people making full recoveries from pneumonia-like symptoms after reciting “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”
Inspired by such stories, Falun Gong practitioners in China are putting up posters with messages encouraging people to recite these powerful phrases.
While many Chinese are receptive to the message and have thanked practitioners for thinking of them during the epidemic, the police in Yongji County, Jilin Province, arrested a local practitioner, Mr. Sun Zhiwen, on February 4, 2020, after seeing him on surveillance cameras putting up posters.
Zhang Bo, head of the Yongji County 610 Office, brought Mr. Sun to the Chengbei Police Station and then ransacked his home. All of his Falun Gong books were confiscated.
Mr. Sun was released later that evening, but the police sent the video of him putting up the posters and the clips of his home being ransacked to many local residents’ cellphones. In order to slander Falun Gong, they claimed he was putting up “reactionary slogans.”
A 71-year-old woman in Jilin City, Jilin Province, was arrested on February 16, 2020, after being reported for putting up a poster encouraging people to say “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”
Beijinglu Police Station officers interrogated Ms. Zhang Junying, demanding to know where she got the posters. She refused to answer.
Because the local detention centers weren’t admitting anyone during the coronavirus epidemic, the officers held Ms. Zhang in the police station for two days and extorted 1,000 yuan from her family before sending her home on February 18. The officers searched every room in her home before they left. They claimed that they would return the 1,000 yuan after the epidemic is over.
Police officers in Guilin City, Guangxi Province, knocked on the door of Mr. Xie Jianxin and his wife, Ms. Zhao Renyuan, in the middle of the night on February 5, 2020, and claimed they had to “take their temperatures.”
Mr. Xie sent a text to a relative about the situation and said he hadn’t opened the door. When the relative saw the text the next morning and called Mr. Xie, Mr. Xie and his wife had already been arrested.
The couple’s family called officer Yan at the Qixing Police Station on February 8 to inquire about their case. Yan said that the two were arrested for handing out Falun Gong materials, but he refused to reveal any other information.
When the couple’s family called the Qixing Police Station a week later to ask about them, the officer who answered refused to provide further information and told them to wait for official notification.
Only when the family complained about not knowing where to send clothes to their loved ones did the officer reveal that the couple was being held in the Jinjiling Road No. 2 Detention Center.
Ms. Zhang Qiaolei, 49, a Tonghua City, Jilin Province, resident, was out walking around 1 p.m. on February 27, 2020, when she was stopped by a man on a bicycle. Another man stood behind her.
The two men held Ms. Zhang down on the ground, snatched her purse, and then took her to the Kuaida Police Station. Her right thumb and arm were injured during the violent arrest.
At the station, several officers interrogated Ms. Zhang and attempted to force her to admit to having distributed informational materials about Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhang refused to comply. The police said, “It’s hard for us to remove the adhesive posters you Falun Gong people put up. Since we haven’t found out who did it, we will just blame everything on you, if you don’t cooperate with us.”
While one group of officers was interrogating Ms. Zhang, two dozen others ransacked her home with the keys they’d taken from her.
Ms. Zhang’s daughter, a college student who was at home alone, was terrified by the raid. The officers searched their place for more than three hours and confiscated Ms. Zhang’s Falun Gong books, computer, and more than 3,000 yuan in cash.
Around 8 a.m. the next day, the Tonghua County Police Department dispatched officers to bring Ms. Zhang in handcuffs to a busy shopping street.
They attempted to force her to admit that she had put up or distributed Falun Gong materials at several locations on the street. When she refused to answer, the officers videotaped her in one location and then blamed her for having put up materials there.
Ms. Zhang tried to keep from being videotaped, but the officers surrounded her with cameras. When many people came over to watch the commotion, Ms. Zhang shouted to the crowd, “Falun Dafa is good! Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance is good!” The police took her away.
Around 9 a.m., the police brought Ms. Zhang to her home, along with the items confiscated from her. They put the items back into her home one by one, and videotaped her standing with each item.
Ms. Zhang was taken back to the police station around 11 a.m. and released at 1 p.m. after paying a 3,000-yuan bail bond.
Police Burn Man’s Face and Hand with Cigarette during Interrogation
Mr. Yang Tingxian, a Pingxiang City, Jiangxi Province, resident in his 60s, was arrested on February 26, 2020, after being reported for talking to the officers on duty at the entrance of his neighborhood about Falun Gong.
Six officers from the Hongshan Police Station asked him where he got the pamphlets about Falun Gong. Mr. Yang refused to answer and only said he distributed them to benefit others.
During the interrogation the police burned Mr. Yang’s face and hands with cigarettes, causing burns and blisters. They tortured him for more than two hours and released him in the evening.
Hubei Residents Targeted
Although all of Hubei Province, the epicenter of the epidemic, is still on lockdown, many Falun Gong practitioners are still working hard to expose the persecution of their faith.
Ms. Zheng Xunxiu, 72, of Macheng City, Hubei Province, was arrested on February 12, 2020, for passing out materials about Falun Gong. Since her release later that evening, she has stayed away from home in order to avoid further persecution. Her family is very worried about her.
Also on February 12, 2020, Ms. Liu Jiqing, another practitioner in Macheng City, was arrested for distributing Falun Gong materials. She was held in detention for seven days.
Mr. Lin Xianghua, a resident of Wuhan in his 70s, was arrested on February 14, 2020, for passing out Falun Gong materials. He was taken to the Hanshuiqiao Street Police Station, where the police took his photo and a blood sample. He was released later that evening.
As the authorities further restrict information amid the coronavirus outbreak, several Falun Gong practitioners were targeted for sending out information or talking to people about the situation on their cellphones.
Mr. Zhang Zhongping of Mengyin County, Shandong Province, was arrested on February 15, 2020, for sending a message to a friend suggesting that he recite “Falun Dafa is good” to stay safe from the coronavirus. He was detained for eight days.
A practitioner in Tianjin had her cellphone service suspended after she called her relatives and told them about the phrase “Falun Dafa is good.”
She contacted her carrier but was told that this was a “political issue” and her cellphone service would be suspended permanently.
Police to Shandong Woman: “You Are Not Allowed to Talk about How Many People Have Died from the Wuhan Coronavirus”
Ms. Zou Huaxiang of Weihai City, Shandong Province, was arrested on February 25, 2020, after she was reported for telling a young man that some people have recovered from the coronavirus by reciting “Falun Dafa is good.”
Three plainclothes officers wearing masks took her to the police station. They verbally abused her and would not let her speak. They also collected a blood sample against her will and said she wasn’t “allowed to talk about how many people have died from the Wuhan coronavirus.”
Ms. Zou was released later that day. The police showed up at her home the next day and confiscated her Falun Gong books and materials.
Police Extort 40,000 Yuan from Shandong Woman’s Family
Ms. Sun Mixiang of Juancheng City, Shandong Province, was arrested on February 8, 2020, for giving out Falun Gong materials. The police ransacked her home and confiscated her Falun Gong books and materials.
Because local detention centers refused to admit Ms. Sun due to the coronavirus outbreak, the police had to send her home. They extorted 40,000 yuan from her family.
Hebei Police Ransack Couple's Home to “Investigate the Coronavirus Epidemic”
In Zhuolu County, Hebei Province, Ms. Kang Zhenglan’s husband received a call from his landlord on February 24, 2020. His landlord said that the police were there to investigate the coronavirus epidemic and he was asked to return home immediately to answer the police’s questions.
Ms. Kang’s husband rushed home, where the police ordered him to open the door for them. One of the officers was holding a crowbar. The officers confiscated the couple’s computer, printer, and Falun Gong materials.
The police were going to arrest the man, who is in his 70s, but relented after their presence so upset him that he passed out. He was ordered to report to the police station to answer questions the next day.