(Minghui.org) Ms. Zhao Hongjun of Chaoyang City, Liaoning Province, 65, was one of more than 200,000 Falun Gong practitioners who filed criminal complaints against former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin.

When Jiang was in office, he ordered the unprecedented attack on Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese mind and body practice, in July 1999. In the persecution that has continued to this day, countless practitioners have been arrested, imprisoned, tortured or even had their vital organs extracted for transplant while they were still alive. Thousands of practitioners are confirmed to have died as a result of the persecution, though the actual death toll is likely much higher due to the regime’s information blockade.

Upon finding out about Ms. Zhao’s criminal complaint, the police arrested her on November 9, 2015, which resulted in the authorities giving her a four-year sentence.

While she was suffering persecution in prison, her pension was deprived. She has been having financial difficulties since her release in November 2019.

Course of Life Changed After Taking Up Falun Gong

Prior to practicing Falun Gong, Ms. Zhao was tormented by a long list of illnesses, including back and leg pain, allergies, dizziness and headaches, frozen shoulder, cervical spine enlargement, breast enlargement, and a uterine fibroid. The uterine fibroid grew to be a size of tennis ball and bled long-term. Due to blood loss, she had severe insomnia and sometimes could not sleep all night. The doctor told her that she had to have an operation to remove it. The physical pain made her lose confidence in life.

One day in 1996, her cousin suggested she try qigong practice. So she went to a small park one morning and joined a qigong group. She followed their movements and she had a fairly good sleep that night. She later learned that it was Falun Gong. To her surprise, all her illnesses went away in less than a month of practice. Her face became rosy and she was full of energy.

She became a completely new person, happy and full of confidence. Since then, she embarked on the path of cultivation, following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in her life and always considering others first. At home, she respected her parents-in-law, kindly treated other relatives and built harmonious relationships with everyone.

Arrest and Speedy Sentence of Four Year Prison Term

Three years after Ms. Zhao took up Falun Gong, the persecution began. Although she wasn’t arrested, she lived in fear every day. 

In 2015, with a tidal wave of lawsuits against Jiang, Ms. Zhao participated in the effort to bring Jiang to justice. 

On November 9, 2015, the authorities in Chaoyang dispatched thousands of police officers to carry out a mass arrest of practitioners who had sued Jiang. 

Over a dozen police officers surrounded Ms. Zhao's home and arrested her. More than twenty police officers went to her home later in the day to ransack it. They threatened her husband to be cooperative, or else they would also arrest him. The officers confiscated color printers, computers, mobile hard drives, flash drives, photo paper and other office supplies that her son used for his daycare business. No confiscation list was provided.

Later, Ms. Zhao was taken to Chaoyang City Detention Center. As she refused to cooperate with the medical examination, the officers cursed, shoved, and kicked her.

With an order from Jian Biao, the then party secretary of Chaoyang to prosecute Falun Gong practitioners who had filed lawsuits against Jiang “strictly, harshly, and speedily,” Ms. Zhao was sentenced to four years with a 2,000-yuan fine by the Shuangta District Court 6.5 months later. 

Persecution in Prison

Ms. Zhao was transferred to Liaoning Province Women’s Prison with handcuffs and shackles on May 24, 2016. During the admission physical examination, it was discovered that she had gynecological problems and heart disease. She was forced to pay 400 yuan for a prescription, but she never received the medicine.

She was forced to do labor work throughout her terms. Two inmates monitored her at her cell after work, and forced her to sit on a small plastic stool every night until 9:50 p.m., ten minutes before bed time. The guards also ordered other inmates in her cell to threatened her to make her more obedient. 

The inmates often barred her from using the toilet. She once fainted and fell heavily, leaving large bruises on her head, arms, left shoulder and lower back, after being denied restroom use for an extended period of time. 

She and other Falun Gong practitioners were not given enough food for their meals, nor were they allowed to buy food in the prison store. They sometimes were so hungry that they went through food containers to search for leftover vegetable leaves or soup.

Ms. Zhao was also not allowed to wash herself or do her laundry. Her clothes became moldy and smelly. The guards also didn’t allow her to buy daily necessities either, such as towels, basins, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, or toilet paper. She was not given any bedding at first and had to sleep on bare bed boards. She later borrowed a set of old bedding. 

All of this torture and mistreatment were aimed at making the imprisoned practitioners renounce Falun Gong. When the practitioners upheld their faith, all inmates in their team were implicated. They were all forced to sit on the boards with the practitioners after returning to their cells after work, and were not allowed to do their normal activities, including bathing, watching TV, or shopping in the market. Since these activities were the most essential part of the inmates' lives, they bore hatred toward the practitioners. 

Ms. Zhao's teammates resented her. Some cursed her; some became so angry that they threatened to beat her; some even knelt down in front of her and begged her to renounce Falun Gong. 

Ms. Zhao was released on November 8, 2019, only to find that the Chaoyang City Social Security Bureau had suspended her pension during her four years of imprisonment. Her family is not well off and has been living under financial constraint due to the suspension of her pension.

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution