(Minghui.org) Two residents of Maoming City, Guangdong Province remained detained since their arrests weeks ago for their faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.

Ms. Wang Ying, around 64, accompanied Ms. Tao Yonghong, 63, to visit the latter’s mother, 90-year-old Ms. Ding Jiaxi, on December 13, 2023. As soon as they arrived, more than ten officers from the Guandu Police Station barged in and raided Ms. Ding’s home, before proceeding to search Ms. Tao’s and Ms. Wang’s homes.

The police had been staked outside the home of Ms. Ding, also a Falun Gong practitioner, and knew that her daughter Ms. Tao visited her often. Both Ms. Wang and Ms. Tao were taken to the Guandu Police Station before being transferred to the Maoming City Detention Center, where they remain.

This is not the first time that Ms. Wang and Ms. Tao have been targeted for their faith. 

Ms. Wang was a jade expert and an engineer at Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She served two years of forced labor and three years in prison for practicing Falun Gong. Her employer fired her in May 2011 after she was released from prison. They also reduced her years of service to zero from her pension calculation formula, resulting in her complete loss of retirement benefits.

Ms. Tao is a retiree of Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical Company. She served three years in prison for her faith (2011-2014) and was briefly detained on several occasions. Around June 2022, the local social security office ordered Ms. Tao to pay back more than 102,000 yuan in pension benefits (including about 50,000 yuan of payments issued during her three-year prison term and more than 52,000 yuan in annual benefit increase she received since her prison release). They threatened to suspend her future pension if she did not comply. It is unclear whether she paid the money as ordered. 

Additionally, when Ms. Tao was not in detention, she and her mother faced constant harassment from the authorities. 

Past Persecution of Ms. Wang: 2 Years of Forced Labor, 3 Years of Prison Sentence, Wrongful Termination, and Loss of Pension 

In August 1988, Ms. Wang contracted kidney disease, which eventually developed into uremia at the end of 1994. Just when her life seemed hopeless, she encountered Falun Gong the following year. In just one month, her uremia symptoms disappeared. She also became an even more conscientious worker and an authoritative jade appraiser. At work, the laser Raman spectroscopy analysis tests she was responsible for always turned out accurate results, and she won the title of advanced worker at the Guangzhou Regional Scientific Instrument Collaboration Network several years in a row.

After the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, Ms. Wang became a target. She was given two years of forced labor at the Guangzhou City Women’s Labor Camp in July 2000. 

Officers from the Tianhe District Police Department arrested Ms. Wang in April 2008 and took her to the Tianhe District Detention Center, where the guards kept her handcuffed and shackled for long stretches of time. The Tianhe District Court later sentenced her to three years and she served time at the Guangdong Province Women’s Prison.

On May 6, 2011, not long after Ms. Wang was released from prison, her employer fired her and reduced her years of service to zero, which rendered her with no pension when she reached retirement age three years later. 

On July 22, 2017, Ms. Wang called the inspection team of the central government’s Commission for Discipline Inspection to complain about her wrongful termination and loss of pension, only to be harassed by Wu Min of the local street committee. She had to leave Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong Province) and move in with her grown children in Maoming City. To this day, Ms. Wang has not received a penny of her pension benefits.

Past Persecution of Ms. Tao: Jailed for 3 Years and Multiple Short-term Detentions

Ms. Tao used to suffer from numerous diseases, including stomach problems, migraines, cervical hyperplasia, rhinitis, gum bleeding, breast hyperplasia, heart disease, rheumatism, lower back pain, hemorrhoids, thrombocytopenia, low blood pressure, and frequent colds. She was thin, frail and had a spotted, dark complexion. 

In early 1998, one of her relatives urged Ms. Tao to give Falun Gong a try. She agreed and soon recovered from her symptoms. She has never needed to take any medication since. 

Jailed for 3 Years and Brutally Tortured

Ms. Tao was arrested on June 9, 2011 after being reported for distributing Falun Gong informational materials. The arresting officers from the Zhensheng Police Station put her on criminal detention at the Maoming City First Detention Center the next day and she was issued a formal arrest warrant on July 14 that year.

The Maonan District Procuratorate indicted Ms. Tao on September 29, 2011 and the Maonan District Court sentenced her to three years on November 10, 2011. Presiding judge Dai Wen, judges Li Weiming and Wu Yuemei, as well as clerk Wu Xiaoting were present during her trial.

Ms. Tao’s appeal was denied by the Maoming City Intermediate Court on January 16, 2012 and she was transferred to the Guangdong Province Women’s Prison on February 10, 2012.

During her eight months of detention at the Maoming City First Detention Center, Ms. Tao was brutalized for refusing to do hard labor without pay. Deputy director Zhong directed three inmates to beat her in a corner without surveillance cameras. She sustained severe internal injuries to her ribs and afterwards had trouble lying in bed due to the pain. 

The inmates also dunked her head into a bucket full of water and splashed water into her ears. Before her internal injuries healed, Zhong ordered Ms. Tao to be shackled for 14 days. She lost about a third of her weight in no time. About two months later, her left ear became infected and oozed pus, causing hearing difficulties. Her weight continued to drop. An inmate commented that she looked like a skeleton.

The torture of Ms. Tao continued after she was admitted to the Guangdong Province Women’s Prison. On more than one occasion, she was deprived of sleep for 24 hours straight. She once became so fatigued that she passed out and struck her head against a wall. Only then did the guards allow her to sleep for the next two nights. Even so, the inmates assigned to watch her still beat her to wake her up from time to time during her sleep. 

During the day, she was forced to watch anti-Falun Gong videos and clean her cell. After lunch, she was forced to wash the dishes used by more than 700 inmates. At night she was forced to either stand or sit on a small bench in a corner without surveillance cameras. Six guards and five big and tall inmates took turns watching her at night. The inmates actively abused her in order to get term reductions. They bragged that they had all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to “deal with her” if she refused to renounce Falun Gong.

One inmate stomped on Ms. Tao’s feet every few minutes. She also twisted her feet to make Ms. Tao suffer even more. 

Inmate Li Yanli pinched Ms. Tao’s thighs once every few minutes, leaving deep bruises. 

When Ms. Tao had to defecate, inmate Li Qiong squatted down to see whether her stool came out.

Inmate Lai Bingmei slapped Ms. Tao in the face but claimed she was being hit first. Guard Min saw what happened from the surveillance camera but he came over to reprimand Ms. Tao, “You dared to beat Lai? I doubt you’d still have the audacity to do so if I had my electric baton with me.”

Min also forced Ms. Tao to do military training as punishment. He and several inmates would follow her and flog her fingers with thin whips. Her hands turned red and swollen from the beatings.

Ms. Tao was not ill, but the guards instructed several inmates to pin her on the ground and pry open her mouth to force-feed her unknown drugs. 

Ms. Tao was only given two minutes to take a shower each time. She had barely taken off her clothes when the roll call bell rang. Guard Min threatened to drag her out naked when he noted she had not come out of the shower yet.

For a period of time, the guards gave Ms. Tao very little food and no water to drink. They also did not allow her to shower or use the restroom.

From June to September each year, Ms. Tao was held in a small room without air conditioning or electric fans. Because she was denied restroom use, she had to relieve herself in her pants. The guards did not allow her to change clothes. She was not allowed to go to bed until 3 a.m. She was so tired that she fell asleep in her soiled pants. The guards still did not allow her to change clothes the next morning unless she said, “I am a criminal and I now request to change my pants.”

In order to force Ms. Tao to renounce Falun Gong, the guards resorted to various tactics to try to break her physically and mentally. The long-term torture caused her feet to swell terribly. She had constant ringing in her left ear. Her entire body hurt. She had diarrhea once every two days. 

15 Days of Criminal Detention in 2015

At around 10 a.m. one day in May 2015, more than two dozens officers, led by Zhou Wen from the Maonan District Domestic Security Office, broke into Ms. Tao’s mother’s – Ms. Ding’s – home. About ten more officers joined the first group during the raid, including the chief of the Maonan District Police Department.

They confiscated a newly purchased laptop worth more than 2,000 yuan, several hundred yuan in cash, scissors, an iron, hair dryer and other valuables.

The police suspected Ms. Tao of distributing Falun Gong materials and they raided her mother’s home because they knew she often stayed there for days at a time. They gave her 15 days of criminal detention at the Maoming City First Detention Center. 

Held in Custody for 23 Hours in 2016

Six people, including director Xu Yue’e and deputy directors Liang Yamei and Xu Yaqiu from the Shita Neighborhood Committee, as well as director Deng Huizhen and deputy directors Wu Fuquan and Zhou Hong from the Qiaobei Neighborhood Committee, showed up at Ms. Tao’s mother’s, Ms. Ding’s, home at 4:30 p.m. on September 12, 2016.

They claimed they were there to see if Ms. Ding had renewed her senior citizens’ certificate (which comes with benefits for seniors, such as free bus rides). One of them took out her phone to take pictures. Ms. Tao, who was with her mother, stopped the woman. They then left.

Three hours later, Ms. Tao needed to run some errands. When she stepped out of her mother’s apartment building, she saw around twenty people from the two neighborhood committees outside. Four of them swarmed her and asked her some random questions to stop her from leaving. About twenty minutes later, two officers (with badge numbers 224656 and 050080) from the Guandu Police Station arrived. Then a woman from the Guandu Street Office came over and asked Ms. Tao to go to the police station to answer some questions. She promised her that the police would let her go home as soon as everything was done.

Ms. Tao believed the woman and got into the police cruiser. No one ever asked her questions and she was held at the police station for 23 hours, during which time director Feng and others from the neighborhood committees watched her. Neither they nor the police ever provided any legal basis for keeping her there. 

15 Days of Administrative Detention in 2019

One day in October 2019, Ms. Tao went to the Maoming Railway Station and lost her wallet. A railway worker found the wallet and saw a few Falun Gong amulets in it. When he saw Ms. Tao looking for her wallet, he seized her and took her to the Railway Police Station. 

At 2:30 that afternoon, her mother’s house was raided by Li Jie of the Maonan District Domestic Security Office, deputy chief Pan of the Railway Police Station, more than a dozen officers from the Guandu Police Station, and staffers from the Shita Neighborhood Committee. They seized some cash and valuables. 

Ms. Tao was given 15 days of administrative detention at the Maoming City Second Detention Center.

Another 15 Days of Administrative Detention in 2020

Ms. Tao was arrested at 3 p.m. on August 24, 2020 and given 15 days of administrative detention at the Maoming City Second Detention. The Maonan District Police Department, the Guandu Police Station, and the Gaotie Police Station were responsible for her arrest. 

Endless Harassment of Ms. Tao and Her Mother

Ms. Ding lives alone, so her youngest child, Ms. Tao, visited her often and sometimes stayed with her for days. They both faced endless harassment from the authorities. Below are harassment episodes from recent years that did not result in Ms. Tao’s arrest.

Numerous Harassment Episodes in October 2017

Before the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, from October 16 to 23, 2017, the Shita Neighborhood Committee came to harass Ms. Tao at least once a day, sometimes twice a day. She was living with her mother during that period. The harassers took pictures of her with their phones. Once, Ms. Tao and her mother were having lunch, when two people from the Shita Neighborhood Committee came to harass them.

Another time at 10:30 p.m., two men in plainclothes came. One was waiting on the third floor, and the other knocked on the door. Ms. Ding had already gone to sleep and she was awoken by the loud pounding on the door. They said they were from the Guandu Police Station, and they’d come to check on her. 

There were at least 12 other episodes of harassment in October 2017. They also called Ms. Tao’s husband when they could not find her at her mother’s house. 

One Harassment Episode Each in 2018 and 2019

Deputy directors Xu Yaqiu and Liang Yamei from the Shita Neighborhood Committee, led two staffers to harass Ms. Ding at home at 3:30 p.m. on June 11, 2018. They claimed to be doing a welfare check. Ms. Tao told them that her mother had been healthy for twenty years thanks to Falun Gong. They left.

Xu and Liang knocked on Ms. Ding’s door at 3:15 p.m. on January 15, 2019. They brought in a document and ordered her and Ms. Tao to sign. Both refused to comply.

Harassment in the Name of Welfare Check and Census in 2020

Deputy director Liang from the Shita Neighborhood Committee and a man who was the director of the local Stability Maintenance Office came to Ms. Ding’s home at 10:30 a.m. on May 29, 2020, when Ms. Ding and Ms. Tao were having a late breakfast. Liang said they were there to visit the elderly Ms. Ding and the man said they came to see whether Ms. Ding had renewed her senior citizens’ certificate. Ms. Tao said that her mother could go to their office to do the renewal and that they did not need them to bother them at home. They then left.

At 9 p.m. on August 24, 2020, deputy directors Liang and Xu of the Shita Neighborhood Committee came to Ms. Ding’s house to “conduct a census.” After checking her household registration book, they asked if she still practiced Falun Gong. They then asked the names of her oldest daughter and her son-in-law. Ms. Ding refused to answer, as that was not part of the census. They left. 

Neighbors Condemn Harassment of Ms. Ding in 2021

On March 2, 2021, deputy director Xu of the Shita Neighborhood Committee came to Ms. Ding’s apartment building and asked her neighbors about her. Three days later, Xu came to harass Ms. Ding, using the excuse of checking the status of the renewal of her senior citizen’s certificate. 

Ms. Ding learned from two of her neighbors that Xu had actually talked to them outside the apartment building before going up to her home. Xu asked the two neighbors if they had seen her shopping for groceries and whether her daughter Ms. Tao had visited her. The neighbors found Xu’s questions odd and replied that it was normal for a daughter to visit her mother. They condemned her for harassing Ms. Ding. 

One night at the end of November 2021, two groups of people from the Guandu Street Office, the Shita Neighborhood Committee, and the Qiaobei Neighborhood Committee harassed both Ms. Ding and Ms. Tao at their respective homes using the census as an excuse. 

About one month later, Ms. Ding and Ms. Tao both noticed people monitoring them outside their homes. There were also two high-resolution cameras installed on the gate of Ms. Ding’s apartment complex. 

Three Harassment Episodes in 2022

At around 4 p.m. on April 21, 2022, someone saw a police officer and a female neighborhood committee member at the door of Ms. Ding’s home. The woman knocked on the door and left when no one answered.

Around 5:00 p.m. on December 16, 2022, a middle-aged man was spotted outside Ms. Ding’s apartment building. He pretended to be looking at his phone. 

At around 10 a.m. on December 18, 2022, deputy director Liang of the Shita Neighborhood Committee knocked on Ms. Ding’s door with a piece of paper in her hand. Ms. Tao, who was with her mother, opened the door. The man who accompanied Liang said he needed to see Ms. Ding. 

Ms. Tao demanded to know his identity and he replied he was from the Guandu Street Office, also surnamed Liang. Director Liang wanted to take a picture of Ms. Tao but Ms. Tao stopped her. 

Liang said that the higher-up sent them there. Ms. Tao took pictures of him. He became nervous and offered to treat her and her mother to tea. 

Harassment in 2023 Preceding Ms. Tao’s Latest Arrest

At around 10 a.m. on February 17, 2023, a tall man knocked on Ms. Ding’s door. He was about fifty years old and wearing glasses. He took a photo of the door and knocked on it for a long time before leaving. Outside the apartment building, a short and yellow-haired woman was seen monitoring the entrance to Ms. Ding’s apartment building. 

After the tall man came downstairs, he monitored everyone who entered or exited Ms. Ding’s apartment building. There was a camera in the courtyard recording everyone coming out of the apartment building, with another camera facing outside to record anyone entering the building. Opposite the gate of the apartment complex, there was a middle-aged man in light green clothes monitoring the pedestrians in the courtyard. Ms. Tao suspected they were personnel from the Shita Neighborhood Committee and the Guandu Street Office who were monitoring her and her mother.

In early February 2023, Ms. Tao’s son received a call from the police, asking where she lived. On February 13, her husband received another call from the police, again asking where she was. Her husband said he did not know and told the police not to bother him.

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