(Minghui.org) Having served two prison terms totaling 9.5 years, an 80-year-old woman was sentenced to another 3 years in October 2020 for her faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Zhao Yulan was recently taken to the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison to serve time.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Zhao worked for the Bureau of Mines in Fushun City, Liaoning Province before she retired. She took up Falun Gong in 1997 and many of her ailments, including vertigo, an inflamed trachea, hemorrhoids, bloody stool, and arthritis, soon disappeared.

Forced Labor Camp Following First Arrest 

After the communist regime began to persecute Falun Gong, Ms. Zhao went to Beijing to appeal in November 2001 and was arrested. She was interrogated in a police station in Beijing, before being taken back to Fushun. She was first held at the Lizigou Police Station and then transferred to the Fushun City Detention Center.

After one week of detention, Ms. Zhao was taken to the Fushun Forced Labor Camp, where she was forced to sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong. She was released three months later.

Sentenced to Five Years in 2003

Ms. Zhao was arrested again at home on February 28, 2003. The police snatched her keys and ransacked her home. Her Falun Gong books, materials, and some valuable property and cash were taken away. As she refused to disclose where she got her Falun Gong books from, the police kicked her and threw her against a wall. Her face and hands swelled immediately. Before leaving, an officer named Guan Yong said to her, “If you still don’t confess tomorrow, I will tear you to pieces.” 

At night, the police handcuffed her hands and ankles to a metal chair. Several officers on night duty who were assigned to watch her played Mahjong on the side.

The next day, the police continued to interrogate Ms. Zhao. An officer ordered her to squat, but she was unable to do so. She was taken to the Shizilou Detention Center in the evening. 

Ms. Zhao was put on criminal detention on March 1. The detention center guards forced her to sit on a small stool without moving from morning to evening. When she wasn't undergoing the sitting torture, Ms. Zhao was forced to do unpaid labor.

The steamed bun she was given to eat each day was only half-cooked and had mold on it. The soup was mostly plain water with a few slices of radish. Only when the higher-ups came to inspect the detention center did the quality of the food improve. 

Ms. Zhao shared a bed in a small room with over 30 detainees. Everyone could only sleep on their sides.

The Dongzhou District Procuratorate approved her arrest on April 4 and indicted her on May 29. She was charged with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to frame and criminalize Falun Gong practitioners. 

Ms. Zhao appeared in the Dongzhou Court on June 27, 2003 and was sentenced to five years. She wasn’t allowed to defend herself during the trial or appeal the verdict. 

Tortured in Liaoning Women’s Prison

Ms. Zhao was transferred to the Liaoning Women’s Prison on August 17, 2003. Days later, the guards arranged a team of three inmates to monitor her, even when she was sleeping or using the restroom. She wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. They forced her to watch videos slandering Falun Gong. When she refused to renounce Falun Gong, they forced her to stand during the day for seven straight days.

In March 2004, in another round of persecution aimed to force her to give up Falun Gong, two inmates took turns reading slanderous material to her every day. They also tortured her by forcing her to stand every day for two weeks.

The guards again tried to force Ms. Zhao to renounce Falun Gong in August 2004. When she remained unswayed, the guards lost their temper and lashed out at her.

She was released on February 28, 2008.

Jailed for 4.5 Years between 2012 and 2016 

Ms. Zhao was arrested again on March 26, 2012 for telling others about the persecution. The police ransacked her home and confiscated her belongings. She was put on criminal detention at the Fushun Detention Center and her arrest was approved on April 5. 

The prosecutor indicted Ms. Zhao using the same charge as in 2003. She was once again tried in secret in a dark room without lights. She didn’t have 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 the Liaoning Province 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 Mother's Persecution

While Ms. Zhao was held in the detention center, the local police and street committee staffers told her son to send them money to pay for his mother's necessities in prison. They also had him pay for their meals. To avoid the constant extortion and harassment, her son often stayed away from home, sometimes spending the night in the park. 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 also had blood in his stool. He spent all their money and sold the house to pay for the medical treatment. 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.

Unable to afford fuel for heat, Ms. Zhao struggled to survive the long and cold winter in northeast China. 

To seek justice for herself, she visited various government agencies and sent out letters about her situation. On March 6, 2018, a supervisor at her previous workplace called her and asked her not to appeal anymore as they had decided to give her 1,600 yuan each month to cover her basic living needs. 

Third Prison Sentence: Three Years

Ms. Zhao was arrested again on April 18, 2019 with another practitioner Ms. Jia Naizhi. The police waited outside her apartment and arrested both women as soon as they stepped out. 

After one day of interrogation at the police station, they were transferred to the Nangou Detention Center the next evening. Although Ms. Zhao was released on bail on the ninth day after she developed a medical condition, she was arrested again on October 5, 2019. After another year of detention, she was sentenced to the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison for the third time.

Related reports:

Fushun City, Liaoning Province: Ten Falun Gong Practitioners Detained for Raising Awareness about Their Faith

After 9.5 Years in Prison, 79-Year-Old Woman Arrested Twice in Six Months for Her Faith

Elderly Woman’s Pension Revoked after 10 Years in Prison for Her Faith

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution