(Minghui.org) A total of 1,320 incidents of Falun Gong practitioners being arrested or harassed for their faith were reported in March and April 2023.

Among the 689 arrest cases, 4 took place between 2021 and 2022, and 685 happened in 2023, including 7 in January, 158 in February, 362 in March, and 158 in April. For the 631 harassment cases, 25 were in 2022, and 606 in 2023, including 8 in January, 112 in February, 372 in March, and 114 in April. Due to strict information censorship in China, persecution cases can’t always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all information readily available.

The newly-reported cases took place in 23 provinces and 4 centrally-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin). Jilin reported the most combined cases (268) of arrest and harassment incidents, followed by 214 in Shangdong, 106 in Liaoning, and 102 in Hubei. Sixteen regions had double-digit cases between 10 and 87. Another seven regions had single-digit cases between 1 and 9.

The targeted practitioners came from all walks of life and included a college professor, a government employee, a former music teacher, and an artist. Two hundred and seventeen of the practitioners were 60 or older when they were arrested or harassed, including 55 practitioners in their 60s, 112 practitioners in their 70s, 41 practitioners in their 80s, and 9 practitioners in their 90s.

Compared to 624 total arrest and harassment incidents reported in January and February 2023, the 1,320 cases newly reported in March and April represented a 116% increase. The intensified persecution was triggered by two events deemed sensitive by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – its annual political meetings in March and the 24th anniversary of a peaceful demonstration by 10,000 practitioners that took place on April 25, 1999.

During the so-called “sensitive days,” the authorities often intensified the surveillance and harassment of practitioners, in an attempt to prevent them from exposing the persecution to the public, including talking to people in person, distributing materials, or posting information online.

Some of the targeted practitioners have been arrested many times since the persecution started. One example was a man who had just been released from serving 20 years for tapping into a TV system to broadcast information about Falun Gong. Another example was a woman who once developed a mental disorder in custody as a result of the torture she endured.

Harassment Around Political Sensitive Days

Both of China’s legislative bodies, the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), hold their annual meetings (known as “two sessions”) around the same time every year (though separately). This year’s CPPCC meeting began on March 4, and the NPC meeting started the following day. Falun Gong practitioners across China were harassed prior to the “two sessions.”

In late February, police in Luzhou City, Sichuan Province began to harass local practitioners, including Mr. Shi Bangcai, Ms. Tang Xuzhen, Mr. Deng Shimin, Ms. Li Yulan, and Ms. Peng Gongshu. The police and residential committee staff members were ordered to take photos of the practitioners to prove that they had done their job to “visit” the practitioners. If they couldn’t take the photos, they demanded that practitioners’ family members do so for them.

The officers also ordered the practitioners not to go out or talk to people about Falun Gong during the “two sessions.” Because the police couldn’t find Ms. Peng after she moved, they revoked her ID.

Two practitioners in Hefei City, Anhui Province, Ms. Lu Jinrong, 74, and Ms. Xu Wanzhen, 80, had their homes ransacked on February 24. Both had their Falun Gong books and photos of Falun Gong’s founder confiscated. Ms. Lu was released in the afternoon and Ms. Xu returned home in the evening. The police returned Ms. Xu’s Falun Gong books to her.

In Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, the police harassed local practitioners by coming to their homes in person or calling them. Sometimes they claimed to be conducting a census in order to deceive the practitioners into opening their doors.

Five officers showed up at 84-year-old Mr. Sun Shilian’s home in Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province on March 2. They searched every room and took photos. One officer attempted to take the photo of Falun Gong’s founder displayed in the room but was stopped by Mr. Sun.

Mr. Sun said his many ailments, including cirrhosis, asthma, and gastroenteritis, disappeared after he took up Falun Gong. But because he upheld his faith, he was incarcerated for 15 years and almost died in prison. The police chief, Zhao, ordered him to go to the police station the next morning to answer some questions. Mr. Sun refused to comply.

Four plainclothes officers approached Ms. Zhuang Li, a resident of Rizhao City, Shandong Province, on the morning of March 4, while she was taking a walk in the neighborhood. She urged them not to participate in the persecution and they left shortly after.

A practitioner in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, as well as three elderly practitioners, surnamed Xu, Li, and Wang, in Changchun City, Jilin Province, were also harassed in early March. The police attempted to take their photos, but the practitioners didn’t let them.

Mr. Qin Wei, an artist in Beijing, was harassed at home three times in April before the anniversary of “April 25 Appeal.” The police took his photos and sometimes called him late at night. Another Beijing resident, Mr. He Xingguo, was monitored by the authorities around the clock during both the “two sessions” in March and three days between April 24 and 26.

In Shanghai, a plainclothes officer approached local resident Ms. Pei Shanzhen and demanded to confirm her identity when she went to pay respects to her ancestors during the Tomb Sweeping Festival on April 9, 2023. The residential committee staff members knocked on her door several times on April 22. They said that they were going to monitor her daily life for the next four days, until the April 25 appeal anniversary passed.

Other harassment cases around the “April 25 Appeal” anniversary were also reported in Fuyang City, Anhui Province, and Dezhou City, Shandong Province.

Arrested for Speaking Up for Falun Gong

Arrests of Practitioners in Their 90s

Ms. Meng Zhaoyu, a 94-year-old Beijing resident, was arrested on April 2, 2023, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was interrogated in the police station from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m. the next day.

Another practitioner, Ms. Xiang Deyu, a 90-year-old Suining City, Sichuan Province resident, was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong at a bus station and arrested in early March 2023. The residential committee staff members led the police to her home for a raid. Her Falun Gong books were confiscated.

When taking her back home in the late afternoon, a residential committee staff member showed Ms. Xiang’s photo on his cellphone to the neighborhood security personnel. He said, “We know everything about what she did and when she did it.” Only then did Ms. Xiang realize that she had been under long-term surveillance.

The police and residential committee staff members harassed Ms. Xiang again on April 18, 2023. They attempted to take her photos, but she didn’t let them.

Mother of Ireland Resident After Being Suspected of Distributing Information

Ms. Cen Hua, a retired associate professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, was seized by the police on April 14, 2023, because she was suspected of distributing Falun Gong information. Her 88-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s disease was also taken to the police station and held there briefly.

Ms. Cen’s daughter, Ms. Li Songyuan, who currently lives in Ireland, held a press conference in front of the Chinese Consulate on April 17, 2023, calling for the immediate release of her mother. Mr. Richard Boyd Barrett, a member of one of Ireland’s three political parties, attended the press conference and said he supported Ms. Li’s efforts.

Mr. Barrett said that the persecution of a group of peaceful cultivators highlighted the true and evil nature of the CCP. He demanded that the CCP immediately release Professor Cen Hua and put an immediate end to the brutal persecution of millions of Falun Dafa practitioners.

Press conference in front of the Chinese Consulate in Ireland calling for the immediate release of Beijing Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Cen Hua on April 17

Hubei Government Employee Faces Prosecution for Putting Up Falun Gong Posters

Mr. Fan Jinhe, a government employee from Anlu City, Hubei Province, was arrested on January 26, 2023 for putting up posters about the health benefits of Falun Gong.

The day before Mr. Fan’s arrest, the police ransacked his home and confiscated his computer, printer, and Falun Gong posters. The officers claimed that they saw Mr. Fan putting up the posters in surveillance videos. As Mr. Fan wasn’t home when they came, they left shortly after and returned the next day to arrest him.

Mr. Fan’s arrest was approved on February 24, 2023. The police are now preparing to submit his case to the Procuratorate, accusing him of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.

26-year-old Woman Arrested and Interrogated for Talking to People about Falun Gong

A 26-year-old woman in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province who had taken up Falun Gong not long ago was arrested on February 20, 2023, while talking to people about her faith.

The police tied Ms. Zhang Jue onto a tiger bench torture device, beamed very bright light into her eyes, and interrogated her for the entire night without allowing her to sleep. They took her to the hospital the next day for a physical examination and obtained a blood sample from her against her will. Three officers took her back to where she was arrested and took photos of her to be used as evidence.

Ms. Zhang was released on February 27, after being held at the Yongyang Police Station for seven days.

Torture illustration: Tiger bench

Liaoning Woman Faces Prosecution for Talking to People about Her Faith

Ms. Qi Sumei, a 64-year-old resident of Heishan County, Liaoning Province, was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong at a farmers’ market on March 1, 2023. The police arrested her and took her to the Jinzhou City Detention Center. Due to her high blood pressure, she was denied admission and released on bail.

Ms. Qi went to the Heishan County Domestic Security Office on March 21, 2023, and tried to persuade its head Wang Zhen to no longer participate in the persecution. Wang refused to listen and attempted to take her to the Linghai City Procuratorate. Ms. Qi held tightly to the chair she was sitting on in the Domestic Security office and the officers couldn’t move her. After one hour of standoff, they let her go home.

Wang and a few officers from the Procuratorate went to Ms. Qi’s home on March 27, and ordered her to go with them to the police station to answer some questions. Ms. Qi refused to let them in. Her son, who was visiting her and her husband, said to the police that his father, a stroke patient, was trembling after being terrified by them and that they would be held responsible if his condition worsened due to the mental pressure. The police soon left.

Two clerks from the Linghai City Court came with the police to Ms. Qi’s home on April 3. They told her that she had been indicted. Her son signed her indictment for her.

Ms. Qi said to them, “I didn’t violate any law.”

“After the judge sentences you, you will be the criminal,” the court clerks said to her and then left.

Hebei Woman Arrested After Two Years of Displacement, Faces Prosecution in Nearby Province

While Ms. Ma Xiujuan was walking down the street in Nanying Town, Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province on April 1, 2023, the 52-year-old woman was suddenly arrested by the police, who claimed that she looked like a Falun Gong practitioner on their wanted list.

The police looked it up and found that she was indeed the one wanted by the Xinzhou City Procuratorate in the nearby Shanxi Province. They contacted the police in Xinzhou, who came on April 4 and took her there.

Ms. Ma’s ordeal stemmed from an earlier arrest on November 21, 2019 by the police in Yuanping City, Shanxi Province, which is under the jurisdiction of Xinzhou. Four months prior to her arrest, her parents, who live in Yuanping, were arrested, along with ten other practitioners. Suspecting that Ms. Ma worked with these practitioners in raising awareness about the persecution, the police also arrested her.

Ms. Ma was held at the Xinzhou City Detention Center, and released on bail after 37 days. In late 2020, Guo Zhihong, the former head of the Yuanping City Domestic Security Office, submitted her case to the Xinfu District Procuratorate in Xinzhou City.

Ms. Ma hired a lawyer to represent her. But prosecutor Hou Xuming gave the lawyer a hard time and didn’t allow him to review her case documents.

After approving Ms. Ma’s arrest in May 2021, Hou ordered her to answer some questions at the Procuratorate, and threatened to sentence her if she didn’t show up.

To avoid being sentenced, Ms. Ma stayed away from home and was then put on the wanted list by the Procuratorate.

Four officers in Shijiazhuang broke into the home of Ms. Ma’s 90-year-old mother-in-law one day at 3 a.m. in July 2022 to look for her. The officers claimed that they were asked by the police in Xinzhou to look for Ms. Ma. The entire family was deeply terrified.

When the family reported the persecution to Minghui.org, the police in Xinzhou threatened them and accused them of “colluding with foreign anti-China forces.”

Non-stop Persecution

Shanghai Woman Arrested a Sixth Time for Her Faith

A Shanghai resident about to board a train was stopped by railroad police and had her bag searched on April 4, 2023. The police arrested Ms. Ying Yu after discovering a flash-drive with information about Falun Gong. Her home was ransacked later in the day and she has since been held at the Changning District Detention Center.

Ms. Ying Yu

This is the sixth time that Ms. Ying, around 50, has been arrested for her faith in Falun Gong. Shortly after the onset of the persecution in 1999, Ms. Ying was arrested for going to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong and given a two-year labor camp term.

Ms. Ying traveled with her mother, Ms. Jin Yuehua, to Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province on June 2, 2006 to visit a relative. She left her purse on the train. When she remembered it, the train attendant had already turned the purse in to the police, who upon finding Falun Gong materials in it, arrested Ms. Ying when she returned to the train station looking for her purse.

The Guangzhou railroad police informed their counterpart in Shanghai, who then came and escorted Ms. Yang and her mother back, and detained them at the Putuo District Detention Center. Meanwhile, more than ten officers ransacked Ms. Ying’s home and confiscated her computer and Falun Gong books.

Both women were later taken to the Shanghai Legal Education School (a brainwashing center in disguise) and held there for three months. The police and residential committee staff members continued to harass them after they were released. Ms. Ying’s employer was also pressured to fire her. Just as Ms. Ying found a new job, the police harassed her new employer again and forced them to dismiss her.

Ms. Ying’s mother was arrested again on February 22, 2008 when she was watching the Shen Yun Performing Arts broadcast by New Tang Dynasty TV at home with ten other elderly practitioners. The police broke in and took all the practitioners to the Putuo District Detention Center. Most were detained for several months.

Ms. Ying’s next arrest was on May 25, 2008. Her home was ransacked and she was held at the Putuo District Detention Center for a month before being released on bail.

Ms. Ying was arrested again weeks later on July 16, 2008. The police accused her of writing to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, about the human rights violations in China, especially the persecution of her family. As the Beijing Olympics were about to start in three weeks, the police said that her writing the letter was a serious matter. She was detained for a month and released on August 15.

Several plainclothes officers broke into Ms. Ying’s home at 7 a.m. on April 18, 2017 and arrested her. With a blank search warrant, they raided her place. She was first held in a detention center and later transferred to a brainwashing center. Kept in the dark of her whereabouts, her mother, who was in her 80s, frequented the police station to demand her release. The police refused to release her with the excuse that she hadn’t renounced Falun Gong.

Once Incarcerated for 17 Years, Hunan Man Arrested Again for Practicing Falun Gong

Having served one labor camp term and two prison terms totaling 17 years, a Xiangtan City, Hunan Province resident was arrested again for his faith in Falun Gong.

Several officers broke into Mr. Yang Shiyi’s home on February 20, 2023 and took him to the Xiangtan City Detention Center. The police called his son the next day and asked him to deliver some clothes to his father. They also claimed that Mr. Yang and five other practitioners put up banners bearing information about Falun Gong and that they managed to catch him (while the other five practitioners escaped). But Mr. Yang denied having ever put up the alleged banners.

Mr. Yang became interested in spiritual practice since he was young. He traveled across the country to look for a righteous practice but didn’t find it. When Falun Gong was introduced to the public in 1992, he was drawn to its profound teaching and entered the practice. His mother, a former nun who was forced to get married during the communist regime’s political campaign, felt very happy for him.

After the persecution started, Mr. Yang spent very limited time with his family due to repeated arrests and incarceration. When he was not in detention, he and his family also faced non-stop harassment from the authorities.

Mr. Yang was given a 1.5-year term at Xinkaipu Forced Labor Camp following an arrest for talking to people about Falun Gong in 2000. He was arrested again in March 2003 for distributing Falun Gong materials and sentenced to eight years in Wangling Prison. He was held at a brainwashing center for a month after another arrest on September 27, 2011. His next arrest was on January 14, 2013, for passing out Falun Gong materials, resulting in a 7.5-year sentence at the Wangling Prison. His mother was heartbroken and passed away a year later.

When Mr. Yang was released in July 2020, he took on the responsibility of caring for his 98-year-old father and son who has a mental disorder.

Mr. Yang’s father broke his hip and became bedridden in early 2022. Mr. Yang cleaned him and cooked for him, without seeking help from his brother and sister-in-law. Two months after his father passed away, Mr. Yang was arrested again for his faith.

Gansu Man Harassed Constantly After Serving 20 Years for His Faith

When Mr. Wei Junren finally returned home on August 13, 2022, after serving 20 years for tapping into cable TV to expose the Chinese Communist Party’s defamatory propaganda against Falun Gong, he was devastated to see his collapsed house.

With nowhere to go, the 54-year-old resident of Jingchuan County, Gansu Province, had to stay in his brother’s home for a few days. However, the police located him and continued to harass him at his brother’s place.

Hiding from the police to avoid the harassment became a new norm in Mr. Wei’s life. Also because of the harassment, no employers dared to keep him, so he was forced to frequently change jobs.

During the early days of Mr. Wei’s prison term, his wife entrusted his parents to help care for their two young boys while she worked in Lanzhou (the capital city of Gansu Province) to support the whole family. But due to accidental gas poisoning, she passed away on January 19, 2006.

Mr. Wei’s two boys both dropped out of school at about 15 years old and left home to make a living.

His elderly parents passed away one after the other in 2020, before he was released.

Mr. Wei was arrested in August 2002, for his brave act of raising awareness about the persecution, and sentenced to 20 years. Another twelve practitioners were also convicted and given prison terms ranging from 7 to 20 years. Two practitioners died as a result of torture in the prison.

Authorities Continue to Harass Elderly Woman Suffering Torture-Induced Mental Disorder

Ms. Li Zhongfang, a resident of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, developed a mental disorder after being given toxic drugs while serving a 3.5-year prison term for practicing Falun Gong. Her condition never improved after she was released in early 2021, and she still struggles to care for herself. Nonetheless, the authorities continue to constantly harass her and intimidate her daughter.

In late September 2022, the first day after a two-week COVID lockdown in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province was lifted, Ms. Li’s daughter went out, only to be stopped by a police officer and a residential committee staff member who demanded to meet with her mother. After she rejected them, they followed her for a long way. When she returned in the evening, the same two people, along with two more residential committee staff members, were still standing outside her home. They didn’t leave until midnight.

For the next few days, the police and residential committee officials kept calling Ms. Li’s daughter. The police also attempted to find out Ms. Li’s address through the property management of her daughter’s subdivision.

As the police insisted that they find Ms. Li, her daughter asked them what they wanted after all, with Ms. Li already suffering a mental disorder. One officer said he knew about Ms. Li’s situation, but he had to see her in person and ask her to sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong, per an order from above.

Ms. Li’s daughter later confirmed that Yin Shunyao, a member of the Chengdu City Political and Legal Affairs Committee and director of the Xinjin Brainwashing Center, ordered a special task force to target every local Falun Gong practitioner and force them to sign statements to renounce Falun Gong. One officer revealed that they had started to collect information about Ms. Li and her daughter last year.

To avoid further police harassment, Ms. Li’s daughter moved to a different neighborhood.

When Ms. Li’s daughter went to visit her on October 2, 2022, she noticed a young man looking into Ms. Li’s apartment unit. She looked around and saw a futon in the hallway near the elevator. When she walked downstairs, the man also followed her.

Ms. Li’s daughter learned that many of the neighbors complained about the man staying in the hallway. Several residents saw him smoking there in the middle of the night. When they asked him what he was doing there, he waved his hand and said it was none of their business. Many of the residents also reported that strangers frequently knocked on their doors with all kinds of excuses. They felt very unsafe and nervous. But when they complained to the property management, they never received any response.

Involuntary Drug Administration in Custody

Ms. Li was arrested on August 1, 2017 while buying groceries. She held a hunger strike at the Chengdu City Detention Center to protest the persecution and was force-fed. According to an insider, the guards added a large amount of white powder to the food she was given.

Ms. Li was later taken to the Qingyang District Hospital affiliated with the detention center. The guards kept her handcuffed and shackled to the bed. She was given constant IV drips, yet the nurses refused to disclose what was in it.

Ms. Li appeared to be very weak when she stood trial in the Qingyang District Court on April 10, 2018. Her body was trembling and her lips were twitching. It took her a long time to respond to one question, yet she couldn’t talk clearly or fully express herself.

Ms. Li was later sentenced to 3.5 years and taken to the Sichuan Province Women’s Prison in Chengdu City on July 2, 2018. She was subjected to various kinds of torture and beatings. The guards didn’t allow her family to visit her.

When she was taken to the Third Ward in the prison on July 11, 2018, the inmates forced her to wear a prison uniform and cut her hair. She was held in room 412, where Falun Gong practitioners who refused to renounce their faith were tortured. The inmates beat her throughout the night until early morning.

The guards then began to force Ms. Li to take psychiatric drugs, with the excuse that she was mentally disoriented. They even tried to force her family to take her for a psychiatric evaluation and persuade her to cooperate and take the drugs. Her family refused to comply. They argued that she was perfectly healthy before being arrested, and asked why she suffered the condition while in custody. If she was indeed sick, the prison should release her on medical parole so she could recover. Yet the authorities rejected their parole request, with the excuse that the procedure was difficult to complete.

According to an insider, Ms. Li was forced to take the unknown drugs twice a day, every day for two years. The prison also monitored whether she swallowed the drugs through surveillance cameras. By September 2018, only two months after she was taken to the prison, she had already developed a serious mental condition. She would lie in bed drooling and spitting and was often in a daze. Her eyes were dull, and she was also emaciated and weak.

For the first few days after Ms. Li was released in early 2021, her condition was relatively stable. Her family suspected that she was given tranquilizers. As time went by, she became manic and sometimes locked herself in the room. She was unable to distinguish day from night. She occasionally uttered a few words about the torture she was subjected to in the prison. But she appeared to be extremely nervous and sensitive when her family asked her about the toxic drugs.

Related report:

Reported in January and February 2023: 624 Falun Gong Practitioners Arrested or Harassed for Their Faith