Name: Zhu XiuminChinese Name: 朱秀敏Gender: FemaleAge: 51City: DaqingProvince: HeilongjiangOccupation: Blanket factory workerDate of Death: July 2022Date of Most Recent Arrest: March 21, 2017Most Recent Place of Detention: Qiqihar City Detention Center

Ms. Zhu Xiumin and her husband were both arrested on March 21, 2017, for their shared faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Zhu went on a five-month hunger strike in protest of the arbitrary detention. As she became extremely weak and suffered severe constipation, she was taken to a hospital for a checkup. She was shocked to learn that she was pregnant. She was released two days later.

Her baby girl was born on December 8, 2017. Six days later, her husband was sentenced to three years. Ms. Zhu struggled to care for her baby all by herself while dodging police harassment. She finally reunited with her husband when he was released in March 2020. But the family didn’t spend much time together, as Ms. Zhu succumbed to mental and physical distress and passed away in July 2022, five months before her daughter’s fifth birthday. She was 51.

Prior to Ms. Zhu’s last arrest in 2017, she had been arrested six more times and endured barbaric torture during a seven-year prison sentence.

Ms. Zhu’s newborn baby

Two Decades of Persecution

Ms. Zhu, of Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, used to work for the local blanket factory. She was laid off when the factory suffered financial losses. She took up Falun Gong in October 1998 and changed from a hot-tempered person to someone who was peaceful and considerate.

Arrests in the Early Years of the Persecution

Ms. Zhu went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong on March 18, 2000, less than a year after the persecution started. She was arrested at Tiananmen Square and later taken back to Daqing. The police held her at the Sartu Detention Center for 20 days. She was forced to pay 3,600 yuan to cover the travel cost of the officers who went to Beijing to escort her back.

Ms. Zhu returned to Beijing on April 29, 2000, to appeal for Falun Gong and was arrested at Tiananmen Square again. After she was taken back to Daqing, the authorities first gave her 15 days of detention and later extended it for four more months as she refused to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong. She was extorted another 3,400 yuan.

Ms. Zhu was arrested again months later for doing Falun Gong exercises in public. She was held in a 100-square-meter room with 30 inmates. There was no air conditioning in the crowded room despite the hot weather. Ms. Zhu developed a medical condition and was released.

The Mustard Oil Suffocation Torture

To raise awareness about the persecution, Ms. Zhu worked with other practitioners to tap into the TV signals to play videos refuting the communist regime’s demonizing propaganda against Falun Gong.

Because of that, the then 30-year-old woman was arrested on May 8, 2002, at the Mudanjiang City Train Station and pushed into a police car. The police pushed her head under the car seat and she almost suffocated.

The police chief Zhu cuffed Ms. Zhu to a metal chair, hit her on the head, and threatened to strip her clothes. Given Ms. Zhu’s strong protest, Zhu relented and left.

Two other officers soon came to interrogate Ms. Zhu. They removed her shoes and socks, forcing her to stand barefoot on the concrete ground. Her calves were chained to the legs of the chair, her arms to the sides of the chair, and her hands cuffed together.

One officer folded a rubber tube and whipped Ms. Zhu on her instep, shouting “I’m whipping you until your toenails become black and purple and then fall off.” Ms. Zhu almost fainted due to the pain. Even one second felt like an eternity and was unbearable.

The officer then whipped her legs and body for a long time. He didn’t stop until he became exhausted. He then pointed to the six bottles of mustard oil on the table and said to Ms. Zhu, “We’ve gained much experience in dealing with you guys (Falun Gong practitioners).”

He poured the mustard oil on a piece of cloth, covered Ms. Zhu’s nose with it, and then put two plastic bags over her head. She almost suffocated. Seeing that she almost stopped breathing, the police tore off the plastic bags, poured a cup of cold water into her nose to wash off the mustard oil and she finally began to breathe again.

Torture reenactment: head covered with plastic bags

Sentenced to Seven Years

Ms. Zhu was transferred to the Mudanjiang City No.2 Detention Center on May 10 and then to the Mudanjiang City No.1 Detention Center in June after her arrest was approved. She was sentenced to seven years by the Yangming District Court in October 2002.

Ms. Zhu was first held at the training ward after she was taken to the Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison in January 2003. There, she was forced to get up at 4 a.m. to attend daily brainwashing sessions, including reciting prison rules, watching propaganda videos against Falun Gong, and singing songs to praise the Chinese Communist Party. As she refused to cooperate, she was forced to stand in the evening and not allowed to go to bed until 2 a.m.

Forced Labor and Denied Family Visitation

Ms. Zhu was assigned to the fifth ward a month later. She was monitored by four inmates around the clock, who beat and verbally abused her at will. She wasn’t allowed to talk to other Falun Gong practitioners and had to ask for permission before she could do anything. Every night, she had to do a roll call while squatting.

Because she refused to follow the guards’ order, they forbade her from buying daily necessities, meeting with or calling her family. When her family traveled hundreds of miles to visit her, the guards told them that Ms. Zhu refused to meet with them. They were downhearted and didn’t come back again.

Ms. Zhu was also forced to work in the prison’s clothing workshop, usually from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., without pay. If she and others couldn’t finish the daily quota, the guards would force them to work until 12 a.m. or even later.

Freezing Torture, Electric Shocks, and Beating

Four inmates dragged Ms. Zhu into the restroom on October 1, 2003, pressed her against the ground, and beat her. Some stomped on her abdomen and others beat her on the head. Her face was swollen and bruised. She had excruciating pain in her right ribs, especially when she breathed. She was unable to toss and turn in bed for a month.

Ms. Zhu and a few other practitioners refused to do the unpaid labor on November 24, 2003, and were beaten by the inmates. The practitioners had another demonstration in the workshop two days later. The guards dragged her downstairs from the fifth floor and savagely beat her.

In the afternoon, guard Sun Lisong ordered the inmates to remove Ms. Zhu’s winter jacket and forced her to stand outdoors wearing only a thin layer of clothes. The inmates even shivered wearing two jackets. In the evening, Ms. Zhu was taken back inside and forced to sit on a small stool without moving for a few more hours.

Between then and December 2, 2003, the guards carried out a week-long torture session of the practitioners. Every morning at 5 a.m., they took them outdoors (when it’s -4 to -22°F), without allowing them to wear hats, scarves, or gloves. They also pulled up the practitioners’ sleeves to expose their arms. The practitioners were forced to run in laps, while the guards and inmates beat them with bamboo strips or bottles filled with water.

Then the guards ordered the practitioners to stand with their hands on the sides of their pants until 4 p.m. Anyone who moved a little would be kicked in their legs. During that time, they weren’t allowed to eat, drink or use the restroom. By the time they were ordered to go back to their cell, their legs had become so stiff that they couldn’t bend their knees.

After a brief break, the practitioners would start to stand again, until 10 p.m. After that, the practitioners had to squat in the hallway or sit on the tile floor until 2 a.m., before they could go to sleep.

On the morning of November 29, 2003, guard Yang Zifeng beat the practitioners, including Ms. Zhu, with a rubber stick.

Ms. Zhu refused to cooperate with the freezing torture on November 30, 2003. Guard Wu Yanjie shocked her face with electric batons. Two inmates then dragged her outdoors by her collar and she was almost strangled by her clothes.

Guard Tao Shuping ordered Ms. Zhu to squat. When she refused to comply, Tao ordered the inmates to kick Ms. Zhu at the back of her knee. After she fell, the inmate pulled her up and kicked her again. The inmate repeated the kicking many more times. Tao also ordered the inmate to tie Ms. Zhu’s hands behind her back, tape her mouth and leave her sitting in the snow. Tao stepped on and kicked Ms. Zhu’s legs from time to time.

To humiliate Ms. Zhu, Tao instigated the inmates to cut her hair, making it look like a teapot lid. The hair on the back of her head was cut into uneven lengths. The haircut also exposed Ms. Zhu’s ears and head to the freezing temperature.

After the haircut, an inmate whipped Ms. Zhu’s hands that were tied behind her back with a bamboo stick, including on her palms, the back of her hands, and around her fingers. Ms. Zhu’s hands were severely deformed and her nails were all broken. Her fingers were so swollen that she couldn’t bend them. The pain was excruciating.

With Ms. Zhu still sitting in the snow, guard Sun Lisong sat in a chair in front of her and then stepped on her lap. Ms. Zhu lost her balance and almost fell backward. Sun then pushed her shoulder with a bamboo rod, until she fell. Sun kept her feet on Ms. Zhu’s leg, saying that it would warm her up. The guards left Ms. Zhu in the snow for a day. In the evening, she was brought back into the prison building and forced to sit on the ground in the hallway until 2 a.m.

By the end of the week-long freezing torture, Ms. Zhu and other practitioners’ bodies were all covered with severe injuries.

On December 5, 2003, guard Sun ordered the inmates to strip Ms. Zhu off her winter jacket and took her outdoors for the freezing torture again. During the time, the inmates verbally abused her and beat her. One of them kicked her beneath her left breast. Her breast became swollen and she couldn’t breathe normally or make turns during sleep until a month later.

When Ms. Zhu was released on May 9, 2009, she said she didn’t expect herself to have been able to survive the seven-year-long hellish torture.

Having Hunger Strike to Protest the Last Arrest and Force-fed Psychiatric Drugs

Ms. Zhu and her husband, Mr. Wang Yudong, went to Qiqihar City on March 21, 2017, to visit her parents-in-law. While visiting another practitioner Ms. Liu Mingying, they were seized by the police, not knowing that the police had been there to arrest Ms. Liu.

The police forced Ms. Zhu to take them to their home for a search. The police broke in with a master key but didn’t find anything related to Falun Gong. The next evening, the police took Ms. Zhu and her husband to separate rooms for interrogation. She heard the police beating and verbally abusing her husband. One officer slapped Ms. Zhu in the face, hit her forehead, and stomped on her leg. Seeing that she remained unmoved, they went back to the other room to beat her husband.

The police kept the couple in metal chairs overnight and interrogated them again on the third day, before taking them to the detention center.

Ms. Zhu held a hunger strike to protest the persecution on March 27, 2017. The guards handcuffed and shackled her. The handcuffs and shackles were also chained together, leaving her unable to sit or lie down. She relied on the inmates in her room for care, who often beat and verbally abused her.

As the inmates had to monitor Ms. Zhu and couldn’t sleep, they retaliated by removing her bedding and forcing her to sleep on the bare board. Three of them pressed on her, who was already emaciated and weak, and said they wanted to kill her.

The guards later added psychiatric drugs into the food they force-fed Ms. Zhu, which made her eyes and face swollen, her tongue numb, and her feeling extremely thirsty.

After Ms. Zhu was transferred to another cell, the guards forced her to sit on a bare bedboard and hit her against the wall. She had pain all over her body and often felt dizzy. She fell twice while using the restroom.

Due to the long-term hunger strike, Ms. Zhu suffered severe constipation. She was then taken to a hospital. During the physical examination, she was shocked to find that she was pregnant. It was a miracle that her unborn baby survived the five-month ordeal. Due to her pregnancy, she was released two days later.

Upon returning home, Ms. Zhu suffered from severe anemia, swelling, and pain all over her body resulting from long-term malnutrition. Despite the unimaginable physical, mental, and financial struggles, she frequented different government agencies to seek justice for her husband.

In a prenatal checkup, her baby was found to have a nuchal cord, which prompted Ms. Zhu to have a C-section on December 8, 2017, six days before her husband was sentenced to three years. It was only seven years after he got out of prison in 2011 from another ten-year imprisonment, also for his faith in Falun Gong.

Without any income, Ms. Zhu struggled to care for the baby herself, while constantly fearing police harassment. Her days only got better when Mr. Wang was released in March 2020. But the distress from the past two decades of persecution had already taken a toll on her health. She eventually passed away in July 2022, five months before her daughter’s fifth birthday.

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