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( Ms. Ouyang Haiyan's gate usually remained closed, so her fellow villagers were surprised to see it wide open at around 10 a.m. on July 19, 2018. They went in to find her lying unconscious in the front yard. Her face was red, and bloody blisters covered her whole body. Her legs and back also seemed to have been injured.

The villagers rushed her to a local hospital, which declined to take her, citing her critical condition. They had no choice but bring her back home. She died later that night.

Upon learning of her passing, the local authorities immediately ordered that her body be cremated the next morning without conducting an autopsy or notifying her immediate family.

Ms. Ouyang's husband, Mr. Yuan Rongyu, had no idea what was unfolding at his home. He is serving one year in prison for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

His late wife, who also practiced Falun Gong, had also been sentenced to prison following their latest arrest on June 4, 2017. Since Ms. Ouyang suffered severe injuries due to beatings by police, she had been ordered to serve her 2.5-year term outside of prison.

The couple is well-known among locals in their hometown of Yuanzhi Village, Wenyang Town, Feicheng City. Mr. Yuan, a veteran, is a talented calligrapher. He never hesitated to lend a hand when fellow villagers asked him to write couplets to celebrate special occasions. His wife used to suffer from stomach problems, heart ailments, and gynecological diseases, but all her symptoms disappeared in just three months into her practice of Falun Gong.

The couple made a living by growing crops and selling fabric. A fabric supplier the couple used before commented that “Falun Gong practitioners are really good people,” after Ms. Ouyang traveled back to his store to return the extra fabric he gave her by mistake the day before.

The couple became targets and were repeatedly arrested after the persecution of Falun Gong began in July 1999.

Mr. Yuan's mother died hours after police broke in around late June 2018 to announce that her son and daughter-in-law had both been sentenced to prison following their latest arrest one year ago.

As Mr. Yuan remains imprisoned, his wife's sudden death remains a mystery.

Prior Arrests

Ms. Ouyang went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong shortly after the persecution began in July 1999. She was arrested and sent back to her hometown. A deputy police chief surnamed Li grabbed her hair so hard that a big chunk of her tresses fell out. She was given 15 days of administrative detention before serving another 37 days of criminal detention.

Ms. Ouyang was given 2.5 years of forced labor on January 24, 2003 and ordered to serve her time outside of the labor camp due to her poor health.

She went to Beijing again on April 24, 2003 to appeal for Falun Gong. After she was brought back to her hometown, the same deputy chief Li greeted her with punches and kicks. Her face turned blue and she bled from her mouth. Despite the brutality, she urged Li to stop beating innocent people like her. She heard him talking to himself at one point, “It's all orders from higher-ups. We have no choice but follow orders.” Li and his policemen eventually stopped beating Ms. Ouyang.

She and her husband were selling fabric at a local fair on December 1, 2003 when police showed up to arrest them. Ms. Ouyang refused to answer the police's questions during interrogation and was brutally beaten. One officer later hung her up by the handcuffs, leaving her feet dangling off the ground. He punched her in the head and poked her face with the tip of an ink pen, leaving many puncture wounds on her face.

Ms. Ouyang didn't remember how long the beatings lasted. She found herself lying on the ground in the local police station's courtyard in the middle of the night. She suddenly smelled alcohol and was terrified to note that her clothes were soaked wet in alcohol.

After months of detention, police decided to send her to Ji'nan Women's Prison without a trial. They drove her there on June 23, 2004, but had to send her back home when the prison declined to admit her due to her poor health.

Prison Sentences Following Latest Arrest

Ms. Ouyang and her husband were home on June 4, 2017 when police broke in and arrested them.

She refused to answer questions while being interrogated at Wenyang Police Station, A group of officers punched her in the head and kicked her on the legs repeatedly.

She suffered severe injuries to her head, legs, and back after two days of beatings. Police released her on bail after she suddenly went into shock. Her husband, in the meantime, was sent to Feicheng Detention Center.

Ms. Ouyang was ordered to report to her local village, Wenyang Police Station and Feicheng City Domestic Security Office on a regular basis. She was also taken to the local hospital for checkups from time to time to see if she was well enough to be returned to custody.

She and her husband were tried in June 2018. Days later, a group of agents descended upon her home to announce that she had been sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 10,000 yuan, and her husband was given 1 year and fined 5,000 yuan. She was ordered to serve time outside of prison.

Her mother-in-law, who lived with her, was so traumatized that she died later that day.

Ms. Ouyang never got better from the injuries she sustained while at the police station. She died on July 19, 2018. The villagers who helped her that day still don't know what could have happened to her that caused her to exhibit the symptoms they observed. They also don't understand why authorities rushed to cremate her body without her husband's consent.

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