(Minghui.org) Mr. Lu Xiangdong of Qingyang City, Gansu Province, served six and a half years for his faith in Falun Gong between 1999 and 2006. He barely survived the brutal physical and mental torture during his over 2,000 days behind bars.
Benefiting from Practicing Falun Gong
Mr. Lu was very interested in spiritual matters and had yearned to practice Buddhism or Taoism since he was a child.
In the spring of 1995, Mr. Lu was passing a curbside book stand when he saw a book glowing with a brilliant golden light for about ten seconds. It was Zhuan Falun, the main book of Falun Gong. Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that teaches people to be kind and to live by Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
Mr. Lu bought the book and read it right away. He was so impressed that he read it several times. The more he read, the more amazed he was. All his questions about life that had confused him for years were answered and he understood them all at once. His worldview underwent a huge change, and his character improved greatly.
After he started to practice Falun Gong, Mr. Lu became very healthy and was free of ailments. He also witnessed miraculous changes in other practitioners. His mother no longer suffered from cervical bone hyperplasia and rheumatoid arthritis after practicing Falun Gong for one month. Some cancer patients recovered. Others, such as corrupt officials and ruffians, became good people and no longer engaged in unlawful activities.
Mr. Lu realized that people who practiced Falun Gong improved not only their physical and mental health but also their moral standards, which meant the country also benefited. Based on this faith, like other practitioners, he introduced Dafa to his relatives, friends, and neighbors so that they could also benefit.
Persecuted in Tongxin County Detention Center
Due to Falun Gong’s sweeping popularity and revival of traditional values that the Chinese Communist Party had sought to destroy, in July 1999 the regime issued orders to eradicate Falun Gong from China.
Mr. Lu and other practitioners overcame tremendous difficulties and went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong. He and fellow practitioner Wang Desheng were arrested when they submitted a statement asserting that Falun Gong benefited, not harmed, the country and the people to the People’s Supreme Procuratorate. They were then taken back to Ningxia and held at the Tongxin County Detention Center.
Mr. Lu was kept in the detention center for 21 months. He was repeatedly beaten by the guards and inmates. On one occasion, guard Luo Yongcun kicked him in the chest and stomach until he became exhausted himself.
Tongxin County Police Department officers interrogated Mr. Lu several times. At that time, many TV stations across the country broadcast false news about Falun Gong practitioners openly renouncing the practice. Because Mr. Lu was the volunteer assistant in Gansu, the police thought he could influence other practitioners and made several attempts to persuade him to record TV programs to denounce Falun Gong. Officer Mian Lilin in particular threatened to get Mr. Lu sentenced if he refused to do the TV programs. Mr. Lu held firm that he’d never renounce or denounce the practice that had benefitted him so much.
Forty days later, a police officer ordered Mr. Lu to sign the arrest warrant. He said, “You could have been released, but now you have to wait for your sentence because you refused to cooperate with us.”
In the spring of 2000, the Tongxin County Procuratorate indicted Mr. Lu and sent his case to Tongxin County Court.
When Mr. Lu appeared in the Wuzhong City Intermediate Court on June 5, 2000, dozens of armed police were posted outside the courthouse. The local TV station recorded the hearing and later broadcast it to demonize Falun Gong.
Lawyer Mr. Ma Hanxue represented Mr. Lu and entered a not guilty plea for him. The lawyer said, “The government has been supporting and promoting Falun Gong since it was introduced to the public in 1992, so why did everything change overnight on July 20, 1999 [when the persecution began]?” The lawyer prepared documents to refute the charges proposed by prosecutor Wang Jianyin, but presiding judge Hao Ming claimed that the documents weren’t relevant to the case and refused to enter them into evidence. The lawyer insisted that the documents were very important for the case, but Hao interrupted him and refused to allow him to speak again.
Mr. Lu testified in his own defense. He said that he shouldn’t be charged for practicing Falun Gong because there was no law that said it was a crime. He added that, while the prosecutor claimed in the indictment that many people died from practicing Falun Gong, based on his own experience, the truth was just the opposite. He not only witnessed many people recover from terminal diseases after practicing Falun Gong, but they also became much better people because of it.
The presiding judge stopped him and signaled the prosecutor to read a newspaper article criticizing Falun Gong before adjourning the hearing.
Not long after the hearing, Mr. Lu was sentenced to three years and six months in prison. He later learned that he was given an additional six months because he shouted “Falun Dafa is good” at the end of the hearing.
Sentenced Again While Still Serving His First Term
While still at the detention center, Mr. Lu found a chance to call his mother in Qingyang City, Gansu Province, in the summer of 2001. He told his mother not to believe the propaganda slandering Falun Gong on TV and encouraged her to continue practicing Falun Gong.
The police eavesdropped on their phone conversation. They ransacked Mr. Lu’s home again and confiscated several Falun Gong books. They used the books as evidence to file another case against him with the Wuzhong City Procuratorate.
In the spring of 2002, the presiding judge of Wuzhong City Court sentenced Mr. Lu to an additional three years on the grounds that he “did not repent and continued to incite rumors against the government.” His release date was extended from April 27, 2003, to April 25, 2006.
While many Falun Gong practitioners had their terms extended or were taken to brainwashing centers when their prison terms expired, it was very rare for a second sentence to be imposed before the first sentence ended.
Persecuted in Yinchuan Prison
Mr. Lu was taken to Yinchuan Prison in early July 2001 and then assigned to the Hedong Brick Factory, which was a ward notorious for intense forced labor. The work environment and the living conditions were very bad. In order to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners, several guards tortured them physically and brainwashed them with deception.
The prisoners under 30 were forced to load the kiln and push the heavy brick carts 50 times nonstop every day. Falun Gong practitioners did not get to rest and were required to push more once they reached the goal of 50 carts. The workload increased by the day unless they renounced Falun Gong.
Brief descriptions of the tortures Falun Gong practitioners endured in the prison:
Hard Labor and Standing with Head Against a Wall
While regular prisoners were allowed to take a nap after lunch, Falun Gong practitioners were forced to stand with their heads against the wall under the scorching sun.
They had to keep their feet together and stand about three feet from the wall. Then they leaned their head against the wall with their hands crossed behind their backs so that their head and neck bore their total weight. The torture and the scorching sun made them dizzy and they felt like they could fall down at any time.
When their posture wasn’t quite right, the guards beat and kicked them.
After the standing torture, the practitioners still had to continue pushing the heavy brick carts in the afternoon. When they were too exhausted to continue or pushed the carts too slowly, they were beaten.
After dinner, they might be forced to stand again, sometimes with their hands tied behind their backs.
Many times, just as they were just falling asleep, the guards woke them up and ordered them to gather in the courtyard, where they were beaten, kicked, punched, and shocked with electric batons.
The other inmates, especially those in for drugs or sexual assault, were also instigated to carry out the torture. In addition to beatings, they took turns watching and berating the practitioners.
Mr. Lu was in his 40s at that time. Most people his age weren’t assigned to the hard labor, especially on hot summer days. But he wouldn’t renounce Falun Gong, so he was given a heavy workload. After working for a few days, he suffered severe heatstroke and could not eat or drink. He vomited as soon as he drank. The symptoms lasted several days.
Mr. Lu was very weak and sometimes fell down suddenly. Despite that, he was forced to work, and the guard assigned Zhu Yongfeng, a thief, to watch him. Zhu verbally abused Mr. Lu and hit him with a stick when he slowed down.
Hanging Under the Scorching Sun
On one occasion, Mr. Lu could no longer bear the hard work and collapsed. Inmate Wang Feng ordered him to get up and kicked him on the abdomen when Mr. Lu failed to. He writhed in pain.
Guard Yue Huaining then took him to the top of the kiln, handcuffed him behind his back, and hung him up on a power pole, his feet barely touching the ground. This kind of torture was used exclusively for violent criminals, and the maximum duration was about an hour. But the torture was extended for peaceful practitioners like Mr. Lu.
It was high noon when Mr. Lu was hung up. The sun was blazing. It was so hot above the brick kiln that even the guards couldn’t bear it for even a short time. The burning hot air made Mr. Lu feel as if every one of his cells was in pain.
An hour later, guard Yue told another guard to take Mr. Lu down, because Yue couldn’t bear the heat himself. This came with a condition that Mr. Lu admit he had committed a crime. When Mr. Lu refused, the guard walked away, leaving Mr. Lu hanging.
Watching the sun gradually sink into the west, the pain from head to toe intensified, and a second felt like a year. Mr. Lu endured it second by second. It wasn’t until 8 p.m. when the sun had completely set and all the other inmates had wrapped up work for the day that Yue untied him.
By then, Mr. Lu’s arms were numb and swollen as thick as his legs. The flesh on his left arm had been gouged out by the handcuffs, which left a permanent scar. Four or five years later, his right arm was still numb. The deep groove made by the cuffs is still clearly visible 20 years later.
In addition to the pain, Mr. Lu suffered severe heatstroke. He felt drowsy and had difficulty walking. His arms were temporarily disabled, and he was no longer able to work. He couldn’t even pick up a single brick.
The guards saw it as an opportune time to get Mr. Lu to “transform.” They forced him to push the brick cart and hit him with sticks if he walked slowly. To not interfere with the other prisoners’ work, they made Mr. Lu push the cart around the open space.
After many days of this torture, Mr. Lu’s endurance had reached its limit. He was groggy and suddenly had an idea: “I can write something like quitting the practice to fool them and not say anything about Master Li, the founder of Falun Gong.”
Mr. Lu wrote a so-called “repentance statement” on August 4, 2001. In the middle of the night, he lay in bed and regretted that he had written such a statement. He went to see the guards the next morning and asked to have his statement back. Guard Yue faulted him for not criticizing Falun Gong in the statement and ordered him to write something “deeper.” He also refused to give the statement back to Mr. Lu, despite his repeated pleas.
Shackling in Confinement Room
On August 23, 2001, a temporary platform was put up at Hedong Brick Factory to hold a criticism meeting. Mr. Lu was the target. He was pulled up to the platform.
The leader of the prison 610 Office Peng Jianxin started the criticism meeting. He accused Mr. Lu of “resisting reform, threatening the government, and being stubborn.” Several inmates gave shorter speeches and shouted slogans against him. While they were criticizing Mr. Lu, a violent wind suddenly blew up and the sky momentarily was dark.
Peng and other guards ended the criticism meeting in haste. They escorted Mr. Lu to the confinement room and put the heaviest shackles on him. Mr. Lu was held there for about a month and a half. Amazingly, when he was let out of that room, they no longer made him push the brick cart. They assigned him to do relatively easy work.
The confinement room was very small and dark with a toilet and a plank for a bed Those held there were generally given two meals and one glass of water a day. Most inmates would be confined for seven days at the most. But Mr. Lu was locked up many times from the fall of 2001 to the summer of 2002, for a total of at least two months.
The tactics used to persecute Falun Gong practitioners in Yinchuan Prison constantly changed, and hard labor in the brick factory was just one of them. When the brick factory was shut down in the winter, all the inmates were taken back to the prison. The practitioners were isolated in different wards so that they would not be able to see each other.
Each practitioner was assigned to live with 13 other inmates in one room. The inmates closely monitored them around the clock in two-hour shifts. They treated the practitioners as formidable enemies and recorded the practitioners’ detailed activities, including when they ate and how long they used the restroom.
There was a prisoner called Qian Wanxi, who had been a teacher and was sentenced for sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl. He was very active in slandering Falun Gong and monitoring the practitioners. He claimed that he was highly educated and always wore a hypocritical smile. He spied on the practitioners to find their weaknesses.
For more than a month, guard Yue arranged for Qian to work alongside Mr. Lu. Mr. Lu clarified the truth to him several times, but he refused to listen. One time in the winter, Mr. Lu passed a lecture of Falun Gong to another practitioner through an inmate. Qian reported it to the guards. As a result, Mr. Lu and that practitioner were both locked up in the confinement room.
Doing Falun Gong Exercises in the Prison
As a way to protest the persecution, Mr. Lu started to do Falun Gong exercises in the spring of 2002.
One night, as soon as he started to do the exercises, the inmates surrounded him. They held his arms and legs and pressed him against the bed. After a while, they loosened their grip and went back to bed. Mr. Lu started to do the exercises again and the inmates all jumped out of their beds and held him.
The inmates reported the incident to the guards the following morning. As a result, Mr. Lu was locked up in the confinement room, where he continued to do the exercises.
Seven days later, the guard came to release Mr. Lu asked him if he would still do the exercises once he returned to his room. When he said yes, the guard kept him in the confinement.
Mr. Lu continued to do Falun Gong exercises in solitary confinement. Finally, the inmates got tired of reporting him and left him alone. Instead of stopping him from doing the exercises, they just recorded when he did them and for how long.
Transferred to Huinong Prison
Mr. Lu was transferred to Huinong Prison in July 2002 for intensified persecution aimed at forcing him to renounce Falun Gong. The Huinong Prison guards were known for their brutality. A few months before Mr. Lu was taken there, an inmate was beaten to death by a guard in front of a crowd.
The guards deceived the inmates, telling them that Mr. Lu was very dangerous, and ordered them to be on guard against him at all times. They also selected three inmates to work as a team to monitor him around the clock.
Mr. Lu soon realized that most of the inmates looked at him with hostility, and no one dared to talk to him except for the three inmates assigned to monitor him.
Huinong Prison is located on a farm, and the prisoners were forced to do the farm work for over ten hours a day. They ate their lunch in the field. Every inmate had to work very fast, and anyone who fell behind would be beaten or not allowed to have lunch.
Most of the prisoners were in their 20s and 30s. Mr. Lu was forced to do the farm work as soon as he arrived. Due to his age, he had difficulty with the hard physical labor, so he was frequently beaten and berated and not allowed to eat lunch.
Mr. Lu was also often locked up in the confinement room because he did the Falun Gong exercises.
Kindness Dissolves Hatred
Despite how he was treated by the guards and prisoners, Mr. Lu responded to their abuse with peace and calm. He was friendly with the inmates, who gradually changed their attitude about him after realizing that Mr. Lu was not like what the guards said he was.
Mr. Lu took this opportunity to tell the inmates the facts about Falun Gong. Because of his continued efforts, more and more inmates understood the facts. They also realized that the propaganda that defamed Falun Gong on TV was all fake.
Some inmates started to admire the practitioners. They chatted with each other and all agreed that Falun Gong practitioners were good people. Even the guards changed their attitude. One guard assigned by the 610 Office to “transform” Mr. Lu even argued with his captain and was transferred. His successor no longer kept his eyes on Mr. Lu. Even the warden was touched by the courage of practitioners to write letters and praised them for having strong backbones.
Mr. Lu had to fill out a form required by the 610 Office every month. One of the items was about Falun Gong. He always wrote, “Falun Gong is a profound spiritual practice in the Buddha school, which would bring tremendous benefits to its practitioners.”
The quality of the food in the prison was very poor, and the miserly portions dished out by the guards in charge of the kitchen made it much worse. The inmates were only allowed meat a week, and much of the meat was consumed by those who worked in the kitchen. They all tried to improve this situation.
One day, there was a meeting. One of the guards made an unprecedented announcement. He said, “The prison will take measures to improve the food management problems. You can select a trusted representative to supervise in the kitchen to ensure the quality of the food.”
The prisoners were all excited about the news. After chatting among themselves for a while, one prisoner said loudly, “We select Mr. Lu.”
The guard refused to accept the nomination, saying that his superior would not allow any practitioner to be elected. The inmates argued that Mr. Lu would be the only person to care about others and not keep the food for himself. But the guards still turned them down.
A month after Mr. Lu was released from the prison, the inmates wrote him a letter to make sure he’d returned home safely.
In addition to how some of the inmates changed, some of the guards also began to secretly help the practitioners and sometimes stopped the inmates from beating them.
Family Members Suffer
In June 2001, several agents from the 610 Office in Qingyang City broke into Mr. Lu’s home. They ransacked it, arrested his wife Ms. Xu Huixia, and took her to the Litong District Detention Center in Wuzhong City. When Mr. Lu’s mother tried to stop them from taking Ms. Xu away, the police threatened to take her to a public plaza and execute her.
Ms. Xu was held in the Litong District Detention Center until April 2002 and given three years’ probation. She was later arrested a few more times during Mr. Lu’s prison term. The police verbally abused her, beat her, and burned her face with cigarette butts. To try to force her to stop practicing Falun Gong, the police once threatened that they would ban her son from attending college.
Mr. Lu’s mother was in her 70s at that time. The arrests of her son and daughter-in-law left her with no income even though she had to take care of her three grandchildren, all in middle school. Despite the family’s plight, the 610 Office personnel frequently ransacked their home and threatened the elderly woman and the three children.
Mr. Lu’s younger sister was also arrested for practicing Falun Gong. She was detained and severely beaten. When she was in the labor camp, her three children, like Mr. Lu’s children, had no one to take care of them. They were lonely and taunted in school and elsewhere. They were left with serious mental scars.
Mr. Lu used to own a wedding photo studio, a very successful business because of his good quality and excellent service. When Mr. Lu was arrested and detained, the police officers from Tongxin County Domestic Security Office often went to harass the employees, sometimes arresting them or sealing the door.
An employee surnamed Jia was in a key position—he developed the photos. The police forced him to go back to his hometown, so the studio was unable to maintain its normal operations. The manager later asked Jia to come back to work. While operating the machine, Jia looked out the door constantly for fear of being caught by the police.
When the police broke in one day, they saw Jia still working there and took him to the police station in his hometown. Later, the police simply shut down the studio, causing Mr. Lu’s family great financial losses.
Family Members Fight for His Release
In Ningxia, many Falun Gong practitioners who refused to renounce Falun Gong were taken directly from prisons to brainwashing centers to continue the “transformation” persecution after their terms expired.
To prevent Mr. Lu from being taken to the brainwashing center, ten of his relatives gathered in front of the prison on April 24, 2006, the day before his release date.
Early on the morning of April 25, just as the prison started to work, Mr. Lu’s family members asked the chief of the 3 Ward where Mr. Lu was detained to start the release procedure. The ward chief said that they had to ask the superior for instructions because Mr. Lu was a Falun Gong practitioner.
Mr. Lu’s wife, his brother, and his sister followed the ward chief closely and persistently requested his release. The ward chief spent the entire morning calling his supervisor. Due to his family’s persistence, Mr. Lu finally left the prison around noon and returned home safely.
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