(Minghui.org) The deaths of 25 Falun Gong practitioners as a result of the persecution by the Chinese communist regime were reported in April 2023. 

Six of the deaths took place between 2003 and 2020, another six in 2022, and the remaining thirteen in 2023. Due to strict information censorship in China, deaths can’t always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all information readily available.

The 25 practitioners, including 16 females, hailed from 11 provinces. Hubei reported five cases, followed by four cases each in Hebei and Liaoning. Heilongjiang ranked the fourth with three cases. Hunan and Jilin each had two cases. The remaining five provinces, including Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, and Sichuan, each had one case.

Except three practitioners whose ages were unknown, the other practitioners were between 51 and 92 when they died, including four in their 50s, five in their 60s, ten in their 70s, two in their 80s and one in her 90s.

Three practitioners died while still in custody, including a 72-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman, both serving a seven-year term, and a 64-year-old woman who lost her life six days after she was arrested. Another 80-year-old woman died a few days after she was released from the prison on medical parole.

The persecution also caused unspeakable agony and grief to the deceased practitioners’ families. A six-year-old girl who had lost her mother last year became an orphan after her father died in April 2023. The passing of a 73-year-old woman was preceded by the deaths of her daughter and husband. Two married couples were also among the deceased practitioners confirmed in April 2023.

Below are several selected death cases. The full list of the 25 practitioners whose deaths were reported can be downloaded here (PDF).

Deaths in Custody

Wuhan Woman Dies Six Days after Arrest for Practicing Falun Gong

Ms. Hu Yongxiu, a 64-year-old resident of Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was arrested outside of a hospital on March 30, 2023, while talking to people about the persecution of Falun Gong. Her family confirmed on April 5 that she died that day. Her wake at home was closely monitored by the police. Due to strict information censorship, details about her death aren’t available.

Family Suspects Foul Play in 72-year-old Man’s Sudden Death in Jidong Prison (Graphic Photos in the Linked Article)

Mr. Wang Jian’s family was devastated when a guard at Jidong Prison in Hebei Province called on April 3, 2023, to tell them that Mr. Wang, who was serving a seven-year term for practicing Falun Gong, had died suddenly.

Because Mr. Wang, of Tangshan City, Hebei Province, was still in good health when he had a physical exam on March 2, 2023, and he also appeared to be fine and in good spirits when his family visited him on March 19, his family suspects foul play in his death, especially given that the prison has been withholding information about his condition in his final days.

According to Mr. Wang’s family, a prison guard called them at 11: 58 a.m. on April 3 that Mr. Wang had fallen into a coma. The guard called again at 12:14 p.m. and told them that Mr. Wang had been picked up by an ambulance. When they reached the Nanbao Development Zone Hospital at 1:05 p.m., Mr. Wang had already been pronounced dead. His head was tilted up, and his eyes and mouth were slightly open.

When the family asked the ER doctor what caused his death, he said he wasn’t sure and that it was impossible for him to determine or speculate on it. He said he went with the ambulance to the prison to pick up Mr. Wang. He emphasized that Mr. Wang’s pupils had become dilated and his heart had stopped beating by the time they arrived at the prison.

At 6:50 p.m., a forensic examiner came. He reported that there were large areas of deep bruises around Mr. Wang’s ears and on his back, as well as some bruises on the back of his right hand. There was a circular mark on his chest and some scratches on his back. When the coroner turned his body over, fluid came out of his left ear.

The prison claimed that Mr. Wang died suddenly of a disease, but without specifying what disease it was. They asked the family to provide proof of low income, as they intended to offer them a financial subsidy of between 8,000 and 10,000 yuan.

To the family, the bruises on Mr. Wang’s head and back seemed unusual and not caused by a normal disease. They asked if they were caused by torture or other mistreatment that the prison was trying to hide.

In the surveillance videos provided by the prison, after Mr. Wang fainted and collapsed around noon, it was the inmates that were involved in trying to resuscitate Mr. Wang in the prison. None of them was wearing white coats at first, but then they put them on at some point. It appeared to the family that the inmates didn’t follow medical procedures and were very careless. 

The video also showed that it was a female doctor and a female nurse who came to the prison. But when the family went to the hospital, it was a male doctor who came to talk to them and said he was the doctor who’d gone to the prison in the ambulance to pick up Mr. Wang.

53-year-old Woman Dies in Prison While Serving Seven Years

Ms. Teng Shuli died on January 10, 2023, while serving a seven-year term for practicing Falun Gong. She was 53.

Ms. Teng was arrested on October 12, 2020 and sentenced to seven years with an 80,000-yuan fine on June 2, 2021. After she was taken to the Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison in 2021, she was forced to watch propaganda videos demonizing Falun Gong every day. She was also deprived of sleep and forced to sit on a small stool for extended hours without moving.

The mental and physical torment took a toll on Ms. Teng’s health. She ate very little and became emaciated. She also developed a tumor in her abdomen, which caused severe bleeding while defecating.

Ms. Teng was so weak that she was bedridden. She couldn’t get up even when the guards came to inspect the cell. Her cellmates feared that she might die at any time. She was later found to have late-stage liver and rectal cancer.

Ms. Teng’s husband was denied visits with her despite his repeated requests. The prison also denied his request to have her released on medical parole, even when she was on the verge of death.

Family Tragedies

Six-year-old Girl Orphaned in the Persecution of Falun Gong

Having lost her mother in July 2022, a six-year-old girl Lily (alias) recently became an orphan when her father also died in April 2023.

Even before she was born, Lily’s suffering had already started in her mother’s womb. Not knowing she was pregnant, Ms. Zhu Xiumin held a five-month-long hunger strike to protest the arbitrary detention and torture of her for practicing Falun Gong. It was a miracle that her pregnancy remained viable throughout her ordeals and she delivered her baby Lily on December 8, 2017. 

Only six days after her birthday, Lily’s father, Mr. Wang Yudong, was sentenced to three years for his faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Zhu struggled to care for Lily all by herself while dodging police harassment. 

When Mr. Wang was released in March 2020, he struggled with mobility and speech impairment due to a stroke he had in prison. With continued police harassment, the family still couldn’t stay together. Ms. Zhu took Lily back home in 2021 to live with Mr. Wang, while she remained on the run herself. 

Mr. Wang’s worst nightmare came true when someone called and told him about Ms. Zhu’s passing in July 2022. Despite the fact that he tried hard to provide love and care for his little daughter, who had never lived a day without the fear and pressure of the persecution since she was born, the physical and mental trauma that he had endured over the years was beyond what he could withstand. He died in his sleep on April 9, 2023. No matter how desperately his little girl called him, he never woke up. Both he and Ms. Zhu were 51 when they died.

Mr. Wang Yudong

Mr. Wang Yudong and his family

Mr. Wang’s daughter

Mr. Wang’s daughter shortly after birth

Husband and Wife Pass Away Three Months Apart

When Mr. Gao Zhencai was released on January 2, 2023, after serving a 3.5-year term for his faith in Falun Gong, he was emaciated, nearly blind and incapacitated. His wife, Ms. Xu Suqin, was not home to greet him as she had passed away a month earlier, due to the mental distress from the persecution.

Mr. Gao died in less than two months on February 26. He was 71.

Ms. Xu and Mr. Gao were residents of Tangshan City, Hebei Province. Ms. Xu used to suffer from severe psoriasis. She tried various treatments, but to no avail. In 2009, she began to practice Falun Gong and soon recovered. Mr. Gao was impressed by Falun Gong’s health benefits. He also took up the practice in October 2013, when he struggled with severe back pain, which didn’t see any improvement after one month of hospitalization. In addition to regaining his health, he also changed from a hot-tempered person to someone who was considerate and eager to help.

Mr. Gao was arrested at home on July 3, 2019. The Lubei District Court sentenced him to 3.5 years in the Jidong Prison on November 11, 2020.

Following Mr. Gao’s arrest, Ms. Xu frequented the police station to clarify the facts about Falun Gong and seek his release. The police promised to release him in a month if he cooperated with them and provided them with the information they wanted. But instead of seeing him released, Ms. Xu received his arrest warrant.

The couple’s daughter also went to the police station to seek justice for her father. The police threatened to arrest her and her mother. She was held at the police station and interrogated for a day.

After that, the police and residential committee staff members constantly harassed Ms. Xu and ordered her to sign statements to renounce Falun Gong. When she refused to comply, the police attempted to force her daughter, who doesn’t practice Falun Gong, to sign it on her behalf.

In addition to the harassment, the authorities also instigated Ms. Xu’s neighbors to monitor her. Sometimes they followed her when she went out. When her friends came to visit her and bring food to her, her neighbors would come to her home and threatened that her friends weren’t allowed to come anymore.

Due to the mental distress, Ms. Xu began to suffer persistent fever and systemic edema. She gradually lost the ability to care for herself and passed away in mid-November 2022.

Deaths of Another Married Couple in Early 2023

Since the Chinese Communist Party began to persecute Falun Gong in July 1999, a married couple in Wuhan City, Hubei Province had been repeatedly targeted for upholding their faith. They were arrested more than ten times in total and detained in lockups and brainwashing centers. The husband served eight years in prison and saw his pension suspended years later. He and his wife passed away one after another in early 2023. They are survived by a son who has a mental disability and is unable to care for himself.

Husband’s Persecution

Before Mr. Liu Shuisheng took up Falun Gong in April 1996, he had been bedridden for years due to lumbar disc herniation, osteoarthritis and severe rheumatoid arthritis. After only six months of practicing Falun Gong, he was back on his feet.

Because he remained steadfast in Falun Gong after the persecution started, he was arrested four times and detained in brainwashing centers. His home was ransacked three times. 

The Dongxihu District Court sentenced Mr. Liu to eight years in December 2003 for printing informational materials about Falun Gong in his temporary residence. At the Fanjiatai Prison, he was forced to pull weeds, carry bricks, clean industrial trash, and make embroidery crafts. At night, he was forced to watch the state-run media’s propaganda-filled news reports. Surveillance cameras were everywhere in the prison and the practitioners’ daily activities were monitored.

On the evening of March 9, 2011, the day before Mr. Liu’s scheduled release, he was taken to the Erdaopeng Brainwashing Center. As he still refused to renounce Falun Gong after 20 days, he was transferred to the Hubei Province Brainwashing Center on March 29. Due to the beating and drug administration in the prison and the brainwashing center, his hair was completely gray when he was finally allowed to return home. His teeth were also loose and he had difficulty walking or doing anything.

In March 2010, while he was still in prison, his former workplace, the 812 Public Security Equipment Factory, processed his retirement and he had been receiving a 3,500-yuan monthly payment since. But in July 2019, the Jianghan District Social Security Bureau, which had been in charge of issuing all pension payments after a recent reform, suddenly stopped his pension. 

The social security bureau claimed that Mr. Liu wasn’t entitled to any pension payments because he had been sentenced before, although no Chinese labor law has such a stipulation. They also demanded that Mr. Liu pay back the over 300,000 yuan pension he had received in the past ten years. It’s not clear whether he complied.

Wife’s Persecution

Ms. Hu Mingxiu used to work for the Wuhan Renfu Pharmaceutical Company. After witnessing the miraculous recovery of her husband from practicing Falun Gong, she also took up the practice. 

Ms. Hu went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong in October 1999 and was arrested. After she was taken back to Wuhan, she was held in a metal cage with several other practitioners. They sat on the ground for a day, without being given any food or water. For the next 15 days, she spent the day in the police station writing thought reports and was taken to a community clinic in the evening.

The police knocked at her door at around 2 a.m. one day in March 2000 and deceived her into going with them to the police station. Without providing any reason, they gave her one month of detention, followed by two months at the Erdaopeng Brainwashing Center.

Both Ms. Hu and Mr. Liu were arrested on the same day in early 2001 and taken to the Erdaopeng Brainwashing Center. Their Falun Gong books, lecture audiotapes and photo of Falun Gong’s founder were confiscated. Ms. Hu’s mother was traumatized by their arrests and detention. She fell ill and passed away in August that year.

After Mr. Liu was forced to live away from home in July 2002, Ms. Hu applied for early retirement and stayed home to care for their son.

On April 2, 2003, one month after Mr. Liu’s last arrest, Ms. Hu was also arrested at home. She was held at the Erdaopeng Brainwashing Center for 23 days, where she was deprived of sleep and forced to listen to audio programs that slandered Falun Gong. The guards also ordered her to curse people and provide information about other practitioners. 

When both Mr. Liu and Ms. Hu were detained, their son was taken to the hospital.

After Mr. Liu was sentenced, Ms. Hu frequented the prison, but her visitation request was never granted, because she also practiced Falun Gong.

Ms. Hu was arrested again on the evening of May 26, 2008. The residential committee staff members threatened her not to go out to promote Falun Gong since the Beijing Olympics were to be held in three months. She was taken to the Erdaopeng Brainwashing Center and held there until June 7. Her son was sent to a nursing home during this period.

Persecution of the Elderly

80-year-old Woman in Critical Condition While Imprisoned, Dies Days After Being Released on Medical Parole

Ms. Li Guibin, a Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, resident, was sentenced to four years at the age of 76 for practicing Falun Gong. In mid-April 2023, two years after she was taken to the Hebei Province Women’s Prison, her son was informed by the prison that she was dying. He rushed to the prison and took her to a hospital in Shijiazhuang (where the prison is located) after the prison agreed to release her on medical parole. 

After two days of treatment, Ms. Li was taken back home (about 370 miles from Shijiazhuang) and admitted to a local hospital. She died shortly after on April 16. She was 80. According to someone who saw her body, she was merely skin and bones after two years of imprisonment. 

Ms. Li was arrested on April 27, 2018 while studying Falun Gong teachings with three other Falun Gong practitioners. As she failed to pass the physical examination required for detention, the police released her and put her under house arrest. She was arrested again two more times, on August 20 and again on December 27, 2018. Each time, she was interrogated and released. As she refused to sign the interrogation records, the police signed the paperwork for her against her will.

Due to the constant harassment, Ms. Li developed symptoms of a stroke. She was unable to talk and had difficulty walking for a period of time.

The Changli County Court sentenced Ms. Li to four years in prison with a 10,000-yuan fine. She was taken back into custody at the Qinhuangdao Detention Center on November 18, 2020 and transferred to the prison in May 2021. 

After Losing Her Daughter and Husband, 73-year-old Woman Also Dies Due to the Persecution of Falun Gong

After the tragic deaths of her daughter and husband years ago, Ms. Xiang Huaixiang, a retired bank employee in Chenzhou City, Hunan Province, also died on April 2, 2023, due to the persecution of Falun Gong. She was 73.

Ms. Xiang Huaixiang

Ms. Xiang’s only daughter, Ms. Chen Lijuan, was arrested in 2000 while doing the Falun Gong exercises at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. She was around 20 years old at the time and still a college student. The police went to Beijing and took her back to Chenzhou. She became mentally disordered due to the torture in custody. She was released on bail and sent to a mental hospital in July 2000. However, her condition worsened and she died in November 2004.

Following Ms. Xiang’s third and last arrest on July 19, 2010, her husband, Mr. Chen Zhiqiang, frequented the Suxian District Court to demand her release, only to be intimidated by the court staff members. Due to the mental distress, he developed liver cancer. He applied several times to have Ms. Xiang released to care for him but was always denied. Mr. Chen later died at home by himself. His body was only discovered after it began to fester and the decomposition was smelled by his neighbors.

Ms. Xiang appeared in Suxian District Court four times between November 5, 2010, and April 7, 2011 and was sentenced to seven years in Hunan Province Women’s Prison.

When she was released on July 18, 2017, she was devastated to find out that her pension had been suspended since September 2014. She repeatedly appealed to her former employer and the provincial social security bureau but to no avail.

Her employer further demanded that she return the more than 90,000 yuan of pension benefits she received between September 2010 and September 2014. As she did not have money to meet the demand, her employer deducted money from her pension account since August 2017 (one month after she was released). They said they’d issue her a subsidy to cover the minimum living expenses after recouping the entire amount of 90,000 yuan in nine years, but they would not restore her retirement benefits. The mental and financial distress eventually claimed her life, and she passed away on April 2, 2023.

78-year-old Woman Released from Prison in Critical Condition, Dies Three Months Later

Ms. Fu Fazhi was released on the verge of death in October 2022, one month before her four-year prison term for practicing Falun Gong was about to expire. She passed away three months later in January 2023. She was 78.

Ms. Fu, of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was arrested on November 22, 2018 and was later sentenced to four years by the Xindu District Court. She was still very healthy and full of energy when she was taken to the Sichuan Province Women’s Prison. It’s not clear what torture she suffered, which eventually claimed her life.

This wasn’t the only time that Ms. Fu was sentenced for her faith. She was previously arrested on the evening of March 10, 2009. As she refused to renounce Falun Gong, the authorities brought her three sons to the detention center and forced them to kneel in front of her, crying and begging her to write the statement renouncing Falun Gong. She refused to give in despite the pressure.

Ms. Fu was sentenced to three years four months later. She appealed at the Chengdu City Intermediate Court, but the judge held a secret hearing and announced to uphold her original verdict.

Older Woman Dies of Strokes Induced by Prison Sentence and Non-stop Police Harassment

Ms. Zhang Guiyun was repeatedly harassed after she finished serving one year in prison for practicing Falun Gong. The mental distress caused her to suffer several strokes. She passed away on January 16, 2023. She was 73.

Ms. Zhang Guiyun

Ms. Zhang, a native of Qiqihar City, Heilongjiang Province, was arrested three times between 1999 and 2000. She was given a forced labor camp term, but was released 14 days later due to her health. 

Ms. Zhang was arrested again in 2001 and detained for two weeks. After she was released, the authorities arranged for four people to watch her around the clock in two shifts for two more weeks. For the next few months, the police kept harassing the family and tried to force their landlord to evict them. They also forbid others from renting properties to them.

To avoid the harassment, Ms. Zhang moved to Anshan City, Liaoning Province. She and her husband were financially strapped after her husband’s former employer stopped making pension payments to him due to its poor financial performance. Consumed by anxiety, her husband passed away in 2004. Ms. Zhang went back to Qiqihar to apply for a low-income subsidy but was denied any benefits.

The police began to harass Ms. Zhang and monitor her daily activities since August 2018. She was tried in the Lishan District Court on May 28 and June 24, 2019 and later sentenced to one year. The police continued to harass her after she was released. Due to the mental distress, she suffered a stroke on January 27, 2021, and had several more strokes later. Unable to afford any medical intervention, she passed away on January 16, 2023.

Related reports:

25 Falun Gong Practitioner Deaths Due to Persecution Reported in March 2023

19 Falun Gong Practitioner Deaths Due to Persecution Reported in February 2023

15 Falun Gong Practitioner Deaths Due to Persecution Reported in January 2023