(Minghui.org) A 76-year-old woman has been mentally and physically tormented because of her belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline currently persecuted in China.

Ms. Zhao Yulan was tried twice for practicing Falun Gong and served a total of nine and a half years in prison. This November her employer suspended her pension because she was incarcerated. She now has no source of income.

Ms. Zhao worked for the Bureau of Mines in Fushun City before she retired. She used to have vertigo, an inflamed trachea, hemorrhoids, bloody stool, and arthritis, among other chronic ailments. In 1997 an acquaintance introduced her to Falun Gong after seeing her suffering. She became a practitioner and her health problems soon disappeared.

Arrested and Tried for Her Faith

Ms. Zhao went to Beijing to protest when the government started the persecution of Falun Gong. She was arrested and transferred home in December 2001. She was held in Fushun Detention Center and was later tortured in Fushun Forced Labor Camp.

Ms. Zhao was arrested again in February 2003 for telling people about Falun Gong. Suzigou Police Station officers ransacked her home and confiscated her Falun Gong literature, along with cash and personal belongings.

She was officially arrested on April 4 and indicted on May 29 for “using a cult to undermine law enforcement," a standard accusation used by the Chinese communist regime against Falun Gong practitioners. The Dongzhou Court judge gave her a five-year sentence. Ms. Zhao’s family was kept in the dark about her trial and sentencing.

Five Years of Torture in Liaoning Women’s Prison

Ms. Zhao was transferred to Liaoning Women’s Prison in August 2003. The guards were give bonuses for making Falun Gong practitioners renounce their faith, so they forced practitioners to watch videos or read books that slandered Falun Gong, had other prisoners watch them around the clock so that they couldn’t do the exercises, and tortured them.

A prisoner who watched Ms. Zhao was near the end of her term, and the prison authorities would not release her because Ms. Zhao refused to renounce Falun Gong. Ms. Zhao felt sorry for her and her 3-year-old at home, and signed a statement to renounce her faith. She later voided that statement.

She was punished by being made to stand still for three days. Her legs became severely swollen. After that, the guards made her package cotton swabs all day every day until her release on February 28, 2008.

Second Arrest and More Prison Time

Ms. Zhao was arrested again in March 2012 for telling others about the wrongful persecution. Dongzhou Police Department officers ransacked her home and confiscated her belongings. She was detained until she was officially arrested on April 5.

The prosecutor indicted her using the same charge as in 2003. She was once again tried in secret, without legal representation or the presence of her family. Ms. Zhao defended herself during the two-hour trial, although the judge frequently interrupted her. The Dongzhou Court sentenced her to four and a half years in prison on July 26, 2012.

Ms. Zhao was put in Liaoning Women’s Prison on October 23. When she refused to denounce Falun Gong, the guards took away her blanket. They made her stand still for 72 hours straight and had two prisoners watch her closely for months before putting her to work. She had to make winter coats for long hours every day.

Son Passes Away Because of Her Persecution

While Ms. Zhao was in prison, the authorities told her son to send them money to pay for her necessities. They also had him pay for their meals. To avoid the constant extortion and harassment, her son left home. His health deteriorated because of the stress, and he developed kidney problems.

He was mentally distressed each time he visited Ms. Zhao in prison and saw her suffering. His kidney problem worsened and he needed dialysis. He spent all their money and sold the house to pay for it. He died in June 2016 at the age 47.

Financially Drained after Pension Suspended

Three months after her son died, Ms. Zhao was released. She didn’t have a home to go back to and rented a place. A year later, in November 2017, her former employer informed her that she should not have claimed her pension while she was imprisoned. She would have to return all the pension funds she received during the 4.5 years for her pension to be re-instated.

Ms. Zhao is in dire financial straits. The weather is bitter cold in northeast China and she can’t afford the heat and the rent.