1,178 Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Their Faith in April 2020
(Minghui.org) According to information collected by Minghui.org, the number of Falun Gong practitioners targeted for their faith has been increasing steadily since January this year.
The month of April 2020 recorded 508 practitioners arrested and 670 harassed for their faith, which is a more than three- and seven-fold increase over the respective cases in January. At the time of writing, 220 of the practitioners arrested in April remain in custody.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1999.
After Wuhan was placed on lockdown on January 23, 2020, the coronavirus epidemic finally became known to the public. Falun Gong practitioners soon realized how the CCP has been using the same tactics as in the persecution of Falun Gong to cover up the virus’ spread and the appalling death toll.
As many practitioners stepped up their efforts to expose the CCP's mishandling of the epidemic, they were met with increased arrests and harassment. The persecution was further aggravated in March and continued into April after the lockdown was lifted or eased.
Of note, after the lockdown of Wuhan was lifted on April 8, there was a surge of arrests and harassment of Falun Gong practitioners in Hubei Province, from 6 arrests and 2 harassment cases in March to 43 and 53 in April, respectively.
Another factor contributing to the intensified persecution in April was related to two anniversaries, the “April 25 Appeal” and World Falun Dafa Day, celebrated on and around May 13.
April 25 marks the anniversary of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners peacefully appealing in Beijing in 1999 to seek the release of several practitioners who had been unjustly arrested days before. The annual World Falun Dafa Day, May 13, celebrates Falun Gong’s public introduction in 1992.
Such anniversaries are deemed “politically sensitive” by the CCP, and the authorities often intensify the persecution around these dates in an attempt to prevent practitioners from stepping up their efforts to expose the persecution.
Additionally, the annual CCP political meetings (known as “Two Sessions”) in Beijing – the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – that were postponed from March to May due to the coronavirus outbreak, also prompted the police to harass more practitioners, threatening them not to go out during the period.
A police officer in Beijing revealed that officers were to be awarded 5,000 yuan for each practitioner arrested. An officer in Hubei Province said they had promised 1,000 yuan to anyone who reported a practitioner for talking to people about Falun Gong.
A man in Beijing was harassed while still mourning the recent passing of his wife and father. An 84-year-old woman in Shanghai was monitored around the clock days before the April 25 Appeal anniversary.
Other triggers for practitioners' arrest or harassment in April included practitioners reading the teachings of Falun Gong together or simply attempting to get their detained fellow practitioners released from detention.
The elderly weren’t spared during these latest rounds of persecution, as 9% of the total 1,178 targeted practitioners in April, were 65 or older with the eldest being an 89-year-old in Tianshui City, Gansu Province. An 81-year-old woman in Fushun City, Liaoning Province was forced to live away from home to avoid harassment and arrest.
Practitioners not only faced home raids, arbitrary arrest, detention, imprisonment and torture, many also had their livelihood threatened.
Among the total 1,178 persecution cases reported in April, 314 practitioners had their homes ransacked and 48 were subjected to extortion by the police for a total of 220,250 yuan, averaging 4,588 yuan per person.
After Ms. Liu Yongying, of Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, finally finished two years of imprisonment, the former college lecturer was devastated to learn that she had been fired and her pension revoked.
Mr. Liu Fating, of Xiao County, Anhui Province, who was already in critical condition after years of persecution, passed away two days after the police harassed him on April 30, 2020.
The 1,178 practitioners targeted in April resided in 26 provinces and municipalities. Similar to the previous several months, Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Shandong remain the five provinces with the most severe persecution.
The authorities in several provinces, including Shandong, Jiangxi, Hebei, Liaoning, Guizhou, and Jilin, harassed practitioners on a large scale and held brainwashing sessions in order to force them to renounce their faith.
In Guizhou Province, the authorities issued a “zero out plan,” in an attempt to force every local practitioner to renounce their faith.
It was reported that the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) in Guizhou issued an order to completely “transform” all practitioners between 2020 and 2023. The order was based on Document No. 101 released by the central PLAC in Beijing, titled “On the Issue of Reducing the Number of Falun Gong Practitioners.”
The PLAC, an extra-judiciary agency that oversees state security, the procuratorate, and the courts, has played a central role in the persecution of Falun Gong, including both planning and executing national persecution policies.
In most instances, the police and residential committee members called or visited the practitioners in person. If the practitioners refused to sign the prepared statements to renounce Falun Gong, the officials threatened to send them to brainwashing centers or threatened to prevent their children from finding jobs or going to college. In Liaoning Province, the officials also threatened to take back government-assigned farmlands from some practitioners who are farmers.
Those who practiced Falun Gong before but gave up due to the persecution were also harassed.
Targeted for Spreading Information about the Pandemic
As travel restrictions have gradually eased up across China since March 2020, more Falun Gong practitioners are being arrested for distributing informational materials about the communist regime's persecution of their faith and the cover-up of the epidemic.
Ms. Xu Jinfeng, a Dalian City, Liaoning Province resident, was arrested on April 2 after the police saw her putting up posters about Falun Gong. They ransacked her home and confiscated Falun Gong books. The police took her fingerprints and a blood sample. Although they released Ms. Xu on the day of her arrest, they threatened to detain her for 15 days once the epidemic is over.
On April 7, Mr. Huang Qiangsheng, 52 and owner of a construction company in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, was arrested and his home was ransacked. The police put him on criminal detention the next day at the Guangzhou City No. 2 Detention Center. Mr. Huang’s mother, who is in her 80s, is so worried about him that she is unable to eat or sleep. She is calling for her son's immediate release.
In Xinji City, Hebei Province, Ms. Wang (whose first name remains to be investigated), in her 80s, was arrested on April 10, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. The police extorted 4,000 yuan from her family before releasing her.
Mr. Sun Zhiwen, a Yongji County, Jilin Province resident, who was first arrested on February 4, 2020, was taken back into custody on April 22 and held at the Yongji County Detention Center.
Two days before his re-arrest, the police sought Mr. Sun at his workplace and brought him to the Yongji County Court. The court staff attempted to force him to sign some paperwork, but he refused to comply. Mr. Sun's family has been denied visits with him.
Ms. Dai Qingping, a Changsha City, Hunan Province resident, has been forced to live away from home since April 18, 2020 to avoid arrest.
The authorities targeted Ms. Dai after suspecting her of putting up posters on a busy commercial street with QR codes leading to overseas media reports of the communist regime's cover-up of the pandemic.
Six officers from the Pozi Street Police Station broke into Ms. Dai’s home and attempted to arrest her on the evening of April 18, 2020. As she happened to not be at home, the police ransacked the place and threatened to arrest her husband. They later relented after her husband told them that he had high blood pressure and a heart condition.
The police also harassed Ms. Dai’s sister and several other practitioners in the district, in their attempts to find her.
Harassed Prior to the “Two Sessions” Meetings in Beijing
Many Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing were harassed on a large scale since April, prior to the CCP’s “Two Sessions” meetings beginning on May 22, 2020.
The police ransacked most of the practitioners’ homes, interrogated them and forced them to fill out questionnaires about whether they still practiced Falun Gong or if they’ve signed any statements to renounce their faith before.
Because local detention centers have refused to admit practitioners due to the pandemic, most of the practitioners have been released on bail. Some were forced to leave Beijing and aren’t allowed to come back before the end of the “Two Sessions” meetings.
Ms. Zhou Suxia and her son, Mr. Liu Kuo, were arrested on the morning of April 24. The police confiscated their Falun Gong-related materials (books and flyers) and interrogated them at the Houshayu Police Station. The mother and son were taken to the Shunyi Detention Center on April 26, 2020.
Four police officers broke into the home of 84-year-old Ms. Li Xiuzhi on April 24. As Ms. Li wasn’t home, the police searched the place and confiscated Falun Gong books, computers, and other personal belongings.
After Ms. Li returned, the police attempted to take her to the police station but relented after her family’s strong protest.
Ms. Yang Wanxin was harassed by four officers on April 25. They asked Ms. Yang if she still practiced Falun Gong and threatened her, ordering her to not go out to distribute materials about Falun Gong. Two officers stayed outside of Ms. Yang’s apartment and followed her when she went out to do grocery shopping.
Mr. Yang Yuliang and his 24-year-old daughter Ms. Yang Dandan, were taken into custody on April 27, 2020 and detained for several days.
Mr. Yang’s arrests came only five days after his wife, Ms. Gao Yan passed away after suffering decades of persecution. The couple were at one time forced to live away from home for ten years. Only two days after they returned, the police arrested the couple and gave them each two years of forced labor.
While detained, the couple were subjected to barbaric torture and brainwashing aimed at forcing them to give up Falun Gong. Mr. Yang suffered multiple organ failure and Ms. Gao developed persistent high blood pressure and an endocrine disorder.
The authorities continued to harass the couple after they were released, which eventually led to Ms. Gao’s tragic early death at the age of 49.
Only two weeks before Ms. Gao’s death, Mr. Yang’s father passed away on April 7.
Death after Harassment
Mr. Liu Fating, a Xiao County farmer in Anhui Province, passed away on May 2, 2020, two days after he was harassed by the authorities. The police harassed Mr. Liu despite his being in critical condition due to lung cancer.
Mr. Liu suffered a stroke after he was whipped, starved and forced to do intensive labor following his arrest on November 17, 2015. Despite having already become incapacitated, he was ordered to serve a 3.5-year prison term, which completely ruined his health. He left the prison in January 2019 with a walking stick and often coughed up blood.
After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Mr. Liu stayed in the hospital and received chemotherapy for a few months. As soon as he returned home, agents from the Xiao County 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong, harassed him and attempted to force him to renounce his faith. His condition worsened in the next few months due to the mental pressure.
On April 30, 2020, 610 Office agents harassed Mr. Liu again, although he was in and out of consciousness and on the verge of death. The officers intimidated his family and took Mr. Liu's cellphone to check whether he had contacted any Falun Gong practitioners recently. Mr. Liu passed away on May 2, 2020, at the age of 74.
Five Shanwei City, Guangdong Province residents were arrested on April 9, 2020 while studying Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong, at Mr. Zhuang Xiachang’s home.
Mr. Zhuang and three of his guests, including Mr. Huang Shengwei, Mr. Wu Yiguo and Mr. Zeng Shaolan, were put on criminal detention. His fourth guest, Mr. Chen Xianzhen, was released on bail due to poor health.
The police took Mr. Huang’s key and ransacked his home when no one was around. His wife’s valuables, including more than a dozen pieces of gold jewelry, 7,500 yuan in cash, computers and bank cards, were missing after the police raid.
Mr. Huang’s family reported the incident to the police, who denied having taken the valuables and refused to investigate the apparent burglary.
Mr. Huang’s wife is five months pregnant. As she miscarried once before, her family is very worried about her and the couple's unborn baby.
Six Falun Gong practitioners in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province were arrested for seeking the release of a local practitioner who was detained for distributing information about their faith. Five of the practitioners were given ten days of detention.
Ms. Zhang Jun, 67, went to the nearby town of Xinglong to distribute informational materials about Falun Gong on the evening of April 9, 2020. She was arrested after being followed by an officer.
Yang Chunlai, head of the police station, ordered his officers to search for Ms. Zhang around town. They arrested her and impounded her car.
Ms. Zhang’s family and six Falun Gong practitioners went to the police station the following afternoon to seek her release. Although the police agreed to release Ms. Zhang, they arrested the six practitioners and confiscated the minivan they had borrowed from a friend. The police searched the van and found some Falun Gong materials.
The police slapped the driver, Mr. Sun Tienong, in the face so hard that he collapsed and was extremely dizzy afterwards.
When Mr. Li Yan tried to stop the police from beating Mr. Sun, the officers dragged him to a room without surveillance cameras and beat him. They handcuffed him and held him to the ground. One officer stepped on his face and head. Another one kicked him in the back.
After a practitioner surnamed Zhang (no relation to Ms. Zhang Jun) was released around noon, the other five practitioners, including Mr. Sun, Mr. Li, Ms. Yu Shufan, Ms. Gao Yabin, and Ms. Xu Shufeng, remained in custody and were interrogated.
Yang threatened the practitioners , telling them to never again come to Xinglong Town to distribute Falun Gong materials. He also made the threat that the practitioners’ children and grandchildren may be implicated and punished if they exposed the persecution to the international community or if they published the officers’ phone numbers online (many practitioners outside of China are calling the police and urging them not to participate in the persecution).
The police refused to return the two cars confiscated from Ms. Zhang and Mr. Sun. When Mr. Sun’s friend and owner of the minivan went to the police station to demand the return of the vehicle, he was himself arrested, even though he doesn’t practice Falun Gong.
A woman in her 60s has been held incommunicado for weeks after she was arrested for practicing Falun Gong. Her daughter, who was arrested along with her, was traumatized by the police.
Ms. Shang Qin, of Maanshan City, Anhui Province, was at her daughter’s shop on April 25, 2020, when a dozen plainclothes officers broke in and arrested her. The police also arrested Ms. Shang’s daughter when she tried to prevent them from taking her mother away. The younger woman’s hands were handcuffed behind her back, and she and her mother were taken to the Huoli Police Station.
The police put Ms. Shang in criminal detention the following day and transferred her to a detention facility. Her family has since received no updates about her. One officer claimed that they had been planning to arrest Ms. Shang for some time, and had been monitoring her prior to the arrest.
When Ms. Shang’s daughter was released on April 26, the police threatened her not to disclose her mother’s persecution to the Minghui website, or they would arrest her again.
After she returned to the home she shared with her mother, she found that the police had searched the place and confiscated her mother’s Falun Gong books. The daughter’s shop had also been ransacked and two of her computers and a printer were missing.
The younger woman was so traumatized by the arrest that she was unable to sleep for two weeks. She has been living in fear and exhibiting symptoms of panic attacks. She hasn't been able to work normally since her release.
Ms. Yu, 81, of Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was arrested on April 2, 2020, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was taken to the Gebu Police Station and forced her to put her fingerprints on the interrogation record.
The police ransacked Ms. Yu's home that afternoon and confiscated Falun Gong books and other materials. They then brought her back to the police station and interrogated her for several more hours before letting her go around 10 p.m.
The police ordered Ms. Yu to report back to the police station the next day. Concerned that she would be arrested again, she has gone into hiding since.
Six Women, Mostly in Their 80s, Harassed and Face Prosecution
Six Maanshan City, Anhui Province residents between 77 and 86 years of age were harassed and had their homes ransacked between April 24 and 25, 2020.
Ms. Xie Kuaiji, 84, wasn’t taken into custody due to her family's protest. The other five practitioners, including Ms. Zhou Chunying, 86; Ms. Wang Suhua, 84; Ms. Shen Xuemei, 84; Ms. Chen Xiufang, 83; and Ms. Ji Yinzhu, 77, were brought to the local police station and interrogated.
The police said that they had been monitoring the practitioners since March 2020 after videotaping them distributing Falun Gong materials. They questioned the practitioners about where they got the materials.
Although the five practitioners were sent home in the evening, the police ordered them back to the police station the next day for another round of interrogation. The police are now preparing to submit their cases to the procuratorate.
A resident of Yantai City, Shandong Province was summoned to the local Wuning Police Station on April 24, 2020 and told that he was being given one year of “bail pending trial,” which requires him to report to the police whenever he is summoned, and forbids him from leaving his home district of Mouping.
Not long after Mr. Wang Junheng returned home, three officers showed up and confiscated his two cellphones and a computer.
The police have been harassing Mr. Wang since last August, after finding that he posted the messages “Falun Dafa is good; Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good” on a public wall. The police have also called Mr. Wang’s son and harassed the younger man, leaving the family unable to live a normal life.
Mr. Wang, 70, suffered poor health for most of his life. He developed rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 14, but after trying many treatments, none offered any improvement. He developed depression due to his physical condition. He sometimes passed out while driving. His health worsened over time and he also developed diabetes.
In his 60s, Mr. Wang was introduced to Falun Gong, and his health soon recovered. He is very grateful for the practice and tries to share the information with others so that they can benefit from it as well. For this reason, he is now targeted by the police.
Job Terminated and Pension Revoked
Having barely survived a two-year prison term for her faith in Falun Gong, Ms. Liu Yongying almost collapsed upon finding out that she had been fired by her school and her pension had been revoked.
Ms. Liu, 57, was a senior lecturer at Jiangxi Civil Administration School in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province. She was arrested around midnight on April 3, 2018. The police broke into her home and confiscated her computer and printer.
The officers kept Ms. Liu shackled to a chair in the basement of the Qingshanhu Police Department and interrogated her for nearly 40 hours. Officer Chen Liming struck her on the head and kicked her knees.
Ms. Liu appeared in the Xihu District Court three times between June and August 2018 and was sentenced to two years in prison with a 5,000-yuan fine in October 2018.
During the two years that Ms. Liu was imprisoned at the Nanchang No. 1 Detention Center, she was first forced to sleep on the bare concrete floor. In the filthy and humid prison environment, she developed extremely itchy rashes on her body.
Because of the rash, Ms. Liu was discriminated against and humiliated by her cellmates, who then forced her to sleep by the toilet and didn’t allow her to use chairs shared by others.
To survive the winter, Ms. Liu had bought heavy bedding. But in the summer, the guards refused to provide her with storage space to put the bedding away. Sleeping on thick beddings in a room with no air-conditioning or fans, Ms. Liu was so hot and sweaty that she was unable to sleep at night.
When Ms. Liu was finally released on April 3, 2020, her son almost couldn’t recognize her – she was emaciated and her eyes had dulled. She had also lost many teeth.
Upon returning home, Ms. Liu’s husband told her that the 610 Office had forced her school to fire her in May 2018, only one month after her arrest. The school leaders were also forced to make self-criticism speeches in front of the entire school and all school staff’s annual bonus was withheld. They were also forced to denounce Falun Gong and promise to distance themselves from it.
Ms. Liu went to the provincial social security office (SSO) in mid-April 2020 to file the application to receive her retirement pension, as she had reached retirement age in September 2018. The receptionist told her that they couldn’t find her profile in the system and asked her to consult her local social security office.
Her local SSO told her that her school didn’t participate in the social security program until after 2014 when a major social security reform took place. Her school, however, stopped making contributions to her account after her arrest in 2018. As such, she had only about 3.5 years of contributions, when the reform requires a minimum of 15 years of contributions before one qualifies for pension benefits.
The SSO staff told Ms. Liu that if she would like to receive a pension through the social security program, she would have to make up the missed contribution of 11.5 years. If she chose to pay the contribution on an annual basis, she would have to wait until 2031, when she would be nearly 70, to qualify for pension benefits. Or she could pay the remaining required contribution of 120,000 yuan in one lump sum in order to receive a monthly payment of 1,000 yuan starting now.