(Minghui.org) Ms. Li Mei would have been 51 years old had she not been killed 23 years ago on February 1, 2001 by the authorities in Anhui Province Women’s Forced Labor Camp.

Ms. Li Mei

Ms. Li, of Hefei City, Anhui Province, was the first Falun Gong practitioner in Hefei City who died in the persecution started by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999. She was healthy and lively when she was put in the forced labor camp in June 2000. Seven months later, her internal organs ruptured and she fell unconscious due to savage beatings by the guards.

Instead of rushing her to a hospital, the authorities took her to a funeral home. The police informed her family that she had committed suicide by jumping off a building, and died at 6 a.m. on February 1, 2001. When her sister touched her body that evening, 15 hours after she had allegedly died, her body was still warm. Her family believed that the authorities rushed her to the funeral home while she was still alive. The authorities denied her family’s request to further examine her body for the cause of her death, and quickly cremated her. She had just turned 28 years old when she died.

Based on the information received by the Minghui.org website, on the day Ms. Li was to be cremated, many high-level officials were present at the funeral home, including Wang Zhaoyao, the then deputy governor of Anhui Province; head of the Provincial Department of Public Security; head of the Provincial Department of Justice; head of the Provincial Bureau of Forced Labor Education; and heads of the Anhui Provincial and Hefei City 610 Offices. The local government officials also threatened the family members not to disclose details regarding her death to anyone.

Her sister, Ms. Li Jun, nonetheless exposed the Ms. Li Mei’s tragic death online. She was arrested on October 2, 2001 and died less than three months later, in early December 2001. The authorities claimed that she died of severe hepatitis. But her family said she had been very healthy before her arrest, and they suspected that she was murdered for exposing her sister’s death.

Yet the sisters’ deaths weren’t the end of the tragedy the family went through. Ms. Li Jun’s husband, Mr. Wu Xing, went missing after he went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong sometime between 2004 and 2005. His family never heard back from him. Wang Guangxuan, the former head of the Heping Road Police Station in Yaohai District, Hefei, and a police officer surnamed Zhou, once revealed to Mr. Wu’s family that he died in Beijing, but without providing more details.

Cellmate in Forced Labor Camp Recalls Ms. Li Mei’s Suffering

The following is the cellmate’s recollection of what happened to Ms. Li Mei in the Hefei City Women’s Forced Labor Camp:

Li was quiet, gentle, poised, and pretty with clear eyes and fair skin. She didn’t talk much. But despite her young age, she appeared to be more mature than most others of her age.

In order to force Li to renounce her faith the guards instigated the inmates and former practitioners to torture her. These collaborators actively participated in her persecution to earn extra merits and reduced sentencing. Once she was placed under strict management, two inmates, including a drug dealer and a murderer, watched her closely to prevent her from doing the Falun Gong exercises.

At one point Li tried to escape from the camp and failed. After the failed attempt, the inmates watched her even more closely, and the guards talked to her for hours every day. She subsequently became even quieter.

One time a collaborator made fun of her, saying, “She is so young and foolish. She refused to live a comfortable life and chose to be here to suffer. If she renounced her faith, she could have gone home and practiced however she wanted. Look at how thin she is, and she still went on a hunger strike. She insists on doing the exercises and I had to stop her from doing so, otherwise the guards would punish me.” Li just smiled it off.

While Li was on a hunger strike, an inmate tried to persuade her to eat, saying that she looked unhealthy. She remained determined, and joked that many inmates ate three meals a day and still looked unhealthy.

Li asked to work with former practitioners one day and the guard approved it, thinking that she might be considering renouncing her faith. On the contrary, through the former practitioners she learned and memorized the latest article from the founder of Falun Gong, and shared some of her thoughts. The guard quickly put her in solitary confinement so that she had no access to the Falun Gong teachings. She was also denied family visits and often berated and yelled at.

A guard told us on the morning of February 1, 2001, that Li had jumped off a building and committed suicide. No one could think of any reason why she would do so, and had doubts. She seemed clear-headed at the time, and was due to be released soon.

Many signs have indicated to us that Li did not die from suicide. In a week the authorities mobilized a large police force to the funeral home and cremated her body without her family’s consent.

Repeated Past Arrests

Ms. Li’s parents both began practicing Falun Gong in 1996. Her father, Mr. Li Jiading, retired from the Hengtong Machinery Company in Hefei City, and her mother, Ms. Qiu Jiazhen, was a music teacher at Xingzhi School in the city. The Li sisters took up Falun Gong in 1998. Ms. Li Mei also worked for Hengtong Machinery Company, and her sister Ms. Li Jun worked for the Dongshi Food Bureau. Ms. Li’s brother-in-law, Mr. Wu Xing, was also a practitioner and worked as a reporter at a Hefei City Television Station.

After the Chinese Communist Party started its persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Li Mei and four other practitioners went to petition the central government in Beijing, in November 1999. She was arrested in Beijing, escorted back to Hefei, and detained in a brainwashing center for 15 days.

As soon as Ms. Li was released, she undertook another journey to Beijing. Her sister and three other family members later joined her. All five were arrested in Beijing and transferred back to Hefei City. They were detained in the Hefei City Detention Center and later taken to a brainwashing center.

Ms. Li was arrested yet another time and detained for 15 days in April 2000 for doing the Falun Gong exercises in public. After her release, she went to to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong again.

Imprisoned and Tortured for Making a Banner

Ms. Li was reported to the police while on her way to Beijing, by a shop owner, for ordering a banner bearing information about Falun Gong. She went on a hunger strike after being transferred to a brainwashing center in Hefei City. Nine days later, she was put in Anhui Province Women’s Forced Labor Camp with no due process. In the forced labor camp, Ms. Li was tortured and watched around the clock by other prisoners.

Ms. Li’s mother and sister went to visit her on January 26, 2001, during the Chinese New Year, but the visit was denied by an officer. Her sister questioned the officer and suspected that the prison had tortured her and didn’t want them to see how terribly she had suffered. The officer insisted that Ms. Li was being closely monitored and that no one could visit her.

The authorities informed Ms. Li’s father four days later, on January 30, that she was dying. When her family got to the No. 105 People’s Liberation Army Hospital, a doctor told them that she had a brain injury and organ failure, and that her vital signs were weak. Her family was only allowed to see her from afar with their hands bound by police. Her face was swollen, and blood was oozing out of her eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. A piece of cloth was wrapped around her neck, and she was covered from the neck down.

Her family was put under house arrest after the visit, and later released after rigorous protest.

Body Still Warm After Sitting 15 Hours at Funeral Home in Winter

The authorities sent a police vehicle on February 1, and took Ms. Li’s family to a funeral home. An officer told her family that she died at six o’clock that morning, and that she had committed suicide by jumping from a building. The officer added that she should be immediately cremated. Her mother questioned, “Wasn’t she closely watched every day? How could she jump from a building?” When the family demanded that a coroner perform a medical examination to find out the true cause of her death, the officer threatened that they wouldn’t be allowed to see her body if they tried to take photographs, audio, or video of her. In order to see her body for the last time, the family agreed.

Her sister bought new clothes to put on her. While changing the clothes at around 9 p.m., her sister was shocked to discover that her body was still warm, despite having been left in the cold winter weather for 15 hours.

Her sister screamed, “Why would you cremate her!? She’s still warm!” The other family members touched the body and also felt the warmth. A female officer reached out her hand to touch the body and immediately retracted her hand, looking horrified. Her voice trembled, “It IS warm!” As she spoke, all the officers went to another room.

Ms. Li’s sister and other family members took this opportunity to closely examine her body. They found a two-inch-long fresh stitch under her chin. Her abdomen had several cigarette-butt-sized spots. Tears came down the families’ faces, as they realized that she had been taken to the funeral home before she died. While crying, her father yelled, “Instead of reviving her, you put her in a funeral home. You have no conscience!” Several officers stood on the side and sneered at the family.

Around the same time, the governor of Anhui Province ordered dozens of police vehicles to block all roads to the funeral home.

Older Sister Dies After Exposing Her Story, and Brother-in-law Missing

As soon as her sister went home, she wrote down how Ms. Li was detained and the wounds and scars they had found on her body at the funeral home. She posted the information online to reveal the crimes committed by the Chinese Communist Party against Falun Gong. She and her husband quickly left Hefei for Shanghai to avoid retaliation by the authorities.

During the APEC Meeting in Shanghai in October 2001, the police did a door-to-door search for dissidents to ensure that no one would cause trouble and expose the regime’s human rights violations during the meeting. Ms. Li Jun and her husband were arrested on October 2.

The family soon heard that the Ms. Li Jun was hospitalized with severe hepatitis. Ms. Li Jun had always been in good heath, and her family did not believe that she could quickly become critically ill under normal circumstances. The police in Shanghai transferred her to the Hefei City Infectious Disease Hospital on November 3. She passed away on December 4, two months after her arrest. Her mother and husband were still being incarcerated at the time.

Ms. Li Jun’s husband went to Beijing to appeal around 2004, and then disappeared without a trace.