Widow Finds Hope in Practicing Falun Gong—Then Jailed for 12 Years for Her Faith
(Minghui.org) A widow with a myriad of health problems struggled to make a living by selling fruit. Her life was beyond miserable until she started practicing Falun Gong in 1995. Ms. Dong Lingui’s new, content life was shattered when the Chinese Communist Party started to persecute Falun Gong in July 1999.
Ms. Dong, 70, from Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province, was repeatedly arrested for upholding her faith in Falun Gong. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2002 and brutally tortured. She recently submitted an article to the Minghui website summarizing what she has endured.
The following is her own testimony.
* * *
My husband died of illness in 1992, leaving me with nothing but debt. I was 43 years old. I had no place to live, and it was a struggle just to find shelter. In addition to the mental stress, I developed many health problems, including atherosclerosis, heart disease, gallstones, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
I nevertheless had to work hard to make a living, which only worsened my health. I often wondered why I had to suffer so much.
In April 1995, someone introduced me to Falun Gong, a cultivation practice also known as Falun Dafa. I began to read its main teachings in the book Zhuan Falun and came to understand that the sufferings in our lives are not accidental. By assimilating ourselves to Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, we can gain good health and spiritual enlightenment. As I continued to read the book and do the exercises, my ailments disappeared and my improved moral standards filled me with happiness every day.
Multiple Arrests in a Few Short Years
Former communist leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Gong in July 1999, filling the airwaves with massive defamatory propaganda. I joined other practitioners in going to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong.
Before I was able to call out “Falun Dafa is good” at Tiananmen Square, Beijing police arrested me and took me to Fengtai Stadium. Along with many other practitioners detained there, I was forced to stay out under the burning sun for an entire day while being verbally abused and beaten. I did not eat or drink for 36 hours straight. As I was being taken back by the authorities, I managed to escape and return home.
I made a few more trips to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong and was taken to detention centers a total of four times. When I went to Tiananmen Square again, plainclothes officers beat me and put me in a police van. Police officers from my area came and took me back to the Jiamusi Detention Center for three months. They fed us chicken feed and cornbread mixed with rat droppings. Over 30 people had to squeeze onto a large brick bed at night. I was also beaten and force-fed.
To let more people know the truth about Falun Gong, I decided to go to Beijing again. By getting up early and working as a street vendor, I saved enough money for the trip. Once again, I was arrested, beaten, and taken to the Jiamusi Liaison Office in Beijing. After I was taken back to the Jiamusi Detention Center, the guards and inmates beat me and verbally abused me.
Because I went on a hunger strike to protest, I was force-fed with a long tube that went through my nose to my stomach, which was left in place day after day. It was extremely painful. The guards also restrained me on the floor with my limbs pulled apart.
One time in the detention center, I was almost near death. To avoid being held responsible, detention center officials took me to a labor camp “for three years.” Noticing my life-threatening condition, the labor camp officials refused to admit me and I returned home.
After paying my rent one month, I saw that I had enough money for another trip, so I went to Beijing again. On Tiananmen Square, I held up a banner reading “Falun Dafa is Good.” The police arrested practitioners near me, so I held up another banner. It read, “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is Good.” About eight plainclothes officers came at me at once, kicking and hitting me, and dragging me into a police van.
Many of us were arrested that day, so the police took us to a place about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. They said that the Beijing prisons, labor camps, and detention centers had reached full capacity. We did not give them our names. In the middle of the night, they took us to a rural area in Hebei and released us.
Three Solitary Confinements in Prison
When I was out on January 8, 2002, the police arrested me and hit me hard on my head. I was sentenced to 12 years and transferred to Heilongjiang Women’s Prison in September 2002.
Officer Wang Yali forced me to squat down to beat and humiliate me. Xiao Linqiang from the 610 Office also beat me, attempting to force me to write statements renouncing my belief. Xiao slapped me in the face 20 times and put me in solitary confinement.
Besides making us do military drills, the guards forced us to jump like frogs. Anyone who refused to comply was shocked with electric batons. They left us out in the sun for 12 hours a day and then subjected us to the “flying a plane” torture, where we had to lower our heads and bend over while stretching our arms up and back for a long time. We were only allowed two hours of sleep per night. They tortured us, attempting to force us to give up our belief.
I was later sent to another ward where Yang Hua was in charge. We were forced to run under the burning sun for 12 hours a day, then squat and “fly a plane” at night. This went on for 12 days in a row. When I couldn’t continue, they let me sleep for two hours. By then, I had a severe headache and dizziness and often stumbled. I was put in solitary confinement and force-fed again.
A month after I was admitted to the prison, officer Wang Yali, who was in charge of solitary confinement, ordered Lin, a male officer, to beat and interrogate practitioners. Already drunk, Lin punched me in the head and knocked me out. When I regained consciousness later, I found that several of my teeth had fallen out. In the end, I had only eight left. The guards later tied me to a metal chair, and Zhang Shufan, who’d been convicted of murder, covered my nose and mouth. When she saw that I had stopped breathing, she pulled me out of solitary confinement.
When I regained consciousness the following day, several inmates thought I had died. I knew that, even though I survived miraculously, many practitioners had died like that in prison.
After some time I was transferred to another ward that Zheng Jie was in charge of. It was a freezing cold winter and I was forced to sit on the cold concrete floor for eight months. We were given only half a steamed bun per meal. Despite the extreme cold in northeast China, I was given a basin of cold water every night in which to bathe out in the open. We were frozen to the bone. All this to force us to renounce our belief.
Because I had broken no law, I refused to follow the prison rules and was put in solitary confinement for a third time. Once again, I barely survived.
The situation was even worse in the ward where Zhao Yingling was in charge. We had to get up at 5:00 a.m. and sit on a small stool, motionless, until midnight. Our bedding was left outdoors to get as cold as possible. Zhao kept to the routine every day with no exceptions, especially on snowy days. Our bedding was like ice, making the idea of going to sleep a terrible prospect.
Burned with an Electric Heater
One day, Zhao said it was too cold, so she brought in an electric heater to keep me “warm.”
The inmates removed all my clothes and held the heater against my face and chest to burn me. I could hear the sizzling sound and it hurt terribly. Zhao also instigated inmates to beat me at will, sometimes with batons, and sometimes knocking me out.
As a result of being burned, my chest was injured and so were my eyes. I cannot see clearly even now.
Inside the prison I was kept in solitary confinement multiple times, for several years in total. When I went on hunger strikes to protest, I was force-fed with wine, which made me vomit blood. They also hung us up, handcuffed our hands behind our backs, and chained us to the floor.
The force-feeding was brutal. A handful of cornflour was added to hot water and fed to us raw. A guard said that force-feeding that to someone for 60 days could destroy them. After 60 days, some of us practitioners were in a life-threatening condition and thus carried out of solitary confinement.
I was not moved out for 72 days. By then, I often had blood in my stool. Our digestive systems were damaged by the force-feeding. Because they used wine, our stomachs were injured and I often vomited blood.