Name: Chai CuirongChinese Name: 柴翠荣Gender: FemaleAge: 76City: HolingolProvince: Inner MongoliaOccupation: UnknownDate of Death: December 3, 2023Date of Most Recent Arrest: April 7, 2020Most Recent Place of Detention: Hohhot City Women’s Prison

A 76-year-old woman in Shaerhure Town, Holingol City, Inner Mongolia, died on December 3, 2023, eight months after completing a three-year prison sentence for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.

Ms. Chai Cuirong’s prison sentence stemmed from her arrest on April 7, 2020, when she was distributing Falun Gong informational materials in her hometown of Jarud Banner (which, like Holingol City, is also under the administration of Tongliao City). The Jarud police and their counterparts in Holingol together raided her home and that of another practitioner who happened to stop by her home during the police raid.

Ms. Chai was taken to the Hure Banner Detention Center in Tongliao City and transferred to the Hohhot City Women’s Prison after she was sentenced to three years. The prison guards tortured her and subjected her to intensive brainwashing aimed at forcing her to renounce Falun Gong. Her health quickly declined and she had frequent vaginal bleeding. She was released in April 2023, only to die on December 3 in the same year.

Ms. Chai’s passing capped her decades-long persecution for practicing Falun Gong. Prior to her latest prison sentence, she had been arrested at least ten other times and twice subjected to forced labor. Following her arrest in 2002, her then 61-year-old husband was so devastated that he had a stroke and died shortly afterwards without seeing his wife of 37 years one last time. The couple’s nephew, who lived with them and also practiced Falun Gong, was twice arrested and also implicated every time Ms. Chai was arrested. His uncle’s passing further traumatized him, and he died in 2003.

Taking up Falun Gong

Ms. Chai used to suffer from heart disease, liver disease, anemia, and neurasthenia. For more than ten years, she could sleep for at most only two hours every night due to her neurasthenia. She was groggy and had no energy during the day. To make things worse, she also contracted lupus erythematosus (an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues). She had blood in her urine and was swollen all over. She eventually became bedridden.

Just when she lost hope in life, Ms. Chai encountered Falun Gong in February 1999 and saw all her diseases disappear within less than a month. Once a sullen person, she also became more cheerful, sincere, and kind.

Twice Arrested Within Three Months in 1999 and Given One Year of Forced Labor

Ms. Chai went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong on September 9, 1999. After she returned home, the Holingol City Police Department found out about her trip to Beijing and chief Chen Baowen instructed officers Zheng Mingdao and Zhao Fengyun to arrest her on September 30 of that year. She was held at a local detention center for 28 days.

The Holingol authorities ordered a mass arrest of local Falun Gong practitioners on the night of December 30, 1999. Numerous police officers and government officials suddenly showed up at Ms. Chai’s home that night and filled all eight rooms in the house. Chief Chen questioned if she still practiced Falun Gong and she said yes. He then ordered his subordinates to take her to a local detention center. They raided her home as well.

Her grandson, who was only five at the time, hid in a corner during the police raid. He was so terrified that he froze and didn’t even know how to cry. He suffered from symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder. Whenever he heard the slightest commotion, he shivered non-stop.

Chief Chen and the manager of Shaerhure Town also forced Ms. Chai’s husband, Mr. Xu Zhenfu, to sign a guarantee statement to use his house as a collateral. Chen threatened to seize the house if Ms. Chai kept practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Xu was so terrified that he secretly sold his house (without telling the police) one year later for only a bit over 10,000 yuan, when its market value was more than 800,000 yuan.

Chen later gave Ms. Chai one year of forced labor but allowed her to serve the term outside of a labor camp. He extorted 3,000 yuan from her husband before releasing her.

Both Husband and Nephew Die Following Ms. Chai’s 2002 Arrest

Ms. Chai and her family were sound asleep on the night of March 12, 2002, when more than a dozen officers, including Qin Baoku and Wu Liji, came pounding on their door. Officer Wu kicked open the door and seized her.

The police confiscated her Falun Gong books and searched everywhere, including clothing pockets and under the sofa. They took her to the Shaerhure Town Police Station, where Chief Chen of the Holingol City Police Department, along with officers Zhao Xiufa, Wan Guoqing, and Zhao Fengyun, were waiting to interrogate her. Zhao Xiufa asked, “Did you put up Falun Gong flyers?” Chen verbally abused her.

Ms. Chai’s husband Mr. Xu followed the police cruiser to the police station and begged to see his wife. His request was denied but he was allowed to stay next door to the interrogation room. He heard his wife being interrogated that night. The next morning, he was allowed to see her before she was taken to a local detention center, and he noted that her eyes were bloodshot.

After returning home, Mr. Xu told other family members that the scene of his wife being dragged into a police car and driven away was forever imprinted in his mind, and pained his heart. He soon had a stroke. Before taking his last breath, he held his son-in-law’s hands tight as if he was going to say something. He couldn’t utter a word but his loved ones all knew what was on his mind. His wife was still being held in the detention center, but he couldn’t see her one last time.

The day of Mr. Xu’s passing, his family strongly requested Ms. Chai’s release. Officers Qin Baoku and Di Tuocai reluctantly obliged. Ms. Chai later said she would never forget that day, April 18, 2002, when her husband of 37 years died.

The couple’s nephew Mr. Xu Yacong lived with them and was never married. He went to Beijing in September 1999 to appeal for Falun Gong and was arrested. He was taken back to Holingol and held in a detention center for one month, during which time he was beaten, insulted, and bullied.

He was arrested again in November 1999 after the police discovered that he had joined other practitioners in signing a petition calling for the United Nations to help stop the persecution of Falun Gong. He was beaten, shocked with electric batons, exposed to the elements, deprived of sleep, and subjected to other forms of abuse. He was released one month later after being extorted of 1,500 yuan. After his uncle’s passing in 2002, he was so devastated that his health quickly declined. He died on March 9, 2003. He was 60 years old.

Given Two Years of Forced Labor Following Arrest in 2004

Ms. Chai was distributing Falun Gong informational materials in her hometown of Jarud Banner one day in March 2004 when a white sedan suddenly pulled up to her. Two people jumped out and snatched the materials in her hand. They photographed her and dragged her into the car.

After she was taken to the Jarud Banner Police Department, one officer whipped out a piece of paper and ordered her to press her fingerprints on it. She refused and he grabbed her hands to press on the paper. Another officer slapped her hard in the face. The next day during interrogation, the same officer slapped her in the face two more times. He also grabbed her collar and held her head down. Ms. Chai was taken to a detention center at noon that day.

The police soon gave Ms. Chai two years of forced labor and took her to the Tumuji Town Labor Camp. She was denied admission because she had become extremely weak due to abuse in the detention center. The police refused to release her and held her in the detention center for some additional time. By the time she was finally released, she had been in detention for a total of four months and ten days.

Another Arrest in 2010

Ms. Chai was arrested outside the Holingol Municipal Government Building on the evening of September 21, 2010. She was taken to the Holingol Police Department before being moved to a detention center. Her home was raided the next day, with the police confiscating her MP3 audio player, portrait of Falun Gong founder, and other valuables. She was released at around 9 a.m. on September 23, 2010.

Held in Brainwashing Center Five Times

In addition to the above-mentioned five arrests, Ms. Chai was also arrested five other times and held at the local brainwashing center for unknown durations each time.

Su Xiuying, director of the local street committee, almost became Ms. Chai’s shadow as she was tasked with monitoring Ms. Chai closely. Each time Ms. Chai was held in the brainwashing center, Su was instructed to watch her there, and she even slept right next to her at night to ensure that Ms. Chai did not get up to do the Falun Gong exercises.

An auxiliary police officer named Wang Liguo was also involved in Ms. Chai’s persecution. When she was not in detention, she was often ordered to report to various police agencies every day. Wang would call Ms. Chai if she did not show up as ordered, and he sometimes even went out to look for her.