The Chinese authorities’ persecution of Falun Gong remains unabated during the 2016 Mid-Autumn Festival (September 15) holiday season.
A happy month for family reunion for most, September recorded 839 new cases of innocent citizens targeted for their faith in Falun Gong, with 690 arrested and 149 harassed. The vast majority of these cases took place in September, while the remaining happened earlier in 2016.
Due to the communist regime’s censorship of information, the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China cannot always be reported in a timely manner.
Two family members of the 690 arrested practitioners were also taken into custody, including a 6-year-old boy and a man who does not practice Falun Gong. The husband of a practitioner arrested in August 2016 was severely traumatised and passed away in September.
About two-thirds of the arrested remain detained at the time of writing, with 42 of them having been formally arrested and facing indictment for their faith.
One of the 149 harassed practitioners died days after she received a threatening phone call from the police.
Many of the arrested or harassed practitioners had their homes ransacked and valuables taken. The police confiscated a total of 316,330 yuan in cash from 21 practitioners.
Practitioners Targeted All Across China
The arrested practitioners come from 27 provinces and centrally-controlled municipalities across China. Jilin Province topped the list with 98 practitioners arrested, followed by Shandong (95), Sichuan (57), and Liaoning (54). Thirteen other provinces saw double-digit cases of arrests, and the remaining 10 provinces logged single-digit cases.
In addition to the two aforementioned deaths arising from the newly reported cases, five additional deaths concerning practitioners arrested in 2015 or earlier were also reported in September.
Ms. Jiao Guiying, 68, was a resident of Yongchang County, Gansu Province. She had been repeatedly harassed since she filed a criminal complaint last year against former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin for initiating the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.
Most recently, the police made a call to threaten her again in September 2016. She died days later on September 10.
Practitioner’s Husband Dies One Month After Her Arrest
Ms. Tan Jinmei was arrested on August 17, 2016 for practicing Falun Gong. Her husband, who had already been suffering from stroke symptoms, saw his health deteriorate after the police raided the couple’s home. He died about one month later, and Ms. Tan was prohibited from attending his funeral. She is facing indictment for her faith.
Mr. Lu Zhifan, 50, was arrested on May 6, 2016 and died on September 3. The detention centre told his family that “some death row inmates beat him to death.”
Since death row inmates are usually restrained with handcuffs or shackles, Mr. Lu’s family suspects the guards purposefully removed restraints from the inmates and instigated a fatal attack on him.
Ms. Gao Lianzhen was arrested on August 22, 2009 and later sentenced to three years in prison. The Fuxin City, Liaoning Province resident was forced to take unknown pills one month before her scheduled release in August 2012.
Ms. Gao soon developed incontinence, abdominal swelling, and festering in her body. She passed away on September 12, 2016, after more than four years of suffering.
Mudanjiang Man Dies after 15 Years on the Run
Mr. Zhao Lin was a practitioner from Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province. He became wanted after he escaped from a police station 15 years ago. He died on September 13, 2016 at the age of 44.
Mr. Zhao is survived by his wife and their 14-year-old son.
Shandong Man Dies after Long-term Torture
Mr. Liu Yaohua was repeatedly arrested for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. He was once hung up for more than one hour at a local brainwashing centre. The long-term torture ruined his health, and doctors discovered holes in his intestines. His family suspects he was drugged during his detention. He died on September 20, 2016. He was 53.
Mr. Wang was arrested on September 6, 2015 after filing a criminal complaint against former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin for initiating the persecution of Falun Gong that resulted in his two labor camp terms and confiscation of his personal belongings.
The 65-year-old man from Qingzhou City, Shandong Province was still very healthy and in good spirits when his lawyer visited him at the detention centre on August 13, 2016. He suddenly died on September 25. His family suspects foul play.
Police Retaliation Over Criminal Complaint Against Former Communist Party Leader
In addition to the aforementioned Ms. Jiao Guiying, 11 more practitioners were arrested, and 7 more were harassed–also for trying to seek justice against Jiang Zemin.
Mr. Liao Zeguang from Bazhong City, Sichuan Province filed his case against Jiang on June 18, 2015. Less than two months later, the police broke into his home and photographed him without his permission.
Mr. Liao refused to sign a police-prepared statement nullifying his complaint against Jiang. Instead, he wrote, “Punish Jiang Zemin according to the law.”
The police made repeated threats over the next few months to cancel Mr. Liao’s low-income subsidy and expel his children from school before finally arresting him on September 20, 2016. He now remains at Bazhong City Detention Centre.
Many officers violated the law while arresting the practitioners. Some resorted to excessive force, while others blatantly boasted that they were villains.
An Anqiu City resident was assaulted by a police officer after being arrested on September 3 for talking to people about Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhang Guixiu pleaded for the officer to stop, but he yelled in response, “I just enjoy beating Falun Gong [practitioners]!”
Ms. Zhang still had visible bruises on her face and leg after she was released the next day.
Mr. Xia from Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province was hosting guests on September 20 when three plainclothes officers broke in and tried to arrest them. When he demanded to know their identities, and one officer claimed, “Our name is villain!”
The police revealed that they were acting on a tip from Gao Zhiqiang, head of Wopeng Village, who reported that Mr. Xia and his guests planned to read Falun Gong books.
While Mr. Xia wasn’t arrested, all of his guests–Mr. Cai, Mr. Su, and Mr. Xu Zhenbin–were taken into custody. Mr. Cai and Mr. Su were released later that night after they gave in to police pressure and signed a statement promising to renounce Falun Gong.
Mr. Xu was sent to Shuangcheng Detention Centre, where he remains at the time of writing.
Accomplished Professionals Among the Arrested
The arrested or harassed practitioners come from all walks of life, from housewives to retirees to accomplished professionals.
Dr. Feng Shaoyong, who received his doctoral degree from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, was visiting a friend on September 24 when he was arrested and his car impounded.
Mr. Chen Zeqi and Mr. Jiang Rongjin, both 53, were arrested on the same day. Mr. Chen is a software engineer, and Mr. Jiang Rongjin works at the Shenzhen Post Office.
All three men are residents of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. They had been repeatedly arrested and detained in the past for their faith. Mr. Feng and Mr. Chen are now being held at Longgang Detention Centre. It is unclear where Mr. Jiang is detained.
The three Shenzhen practitioners mentioned above are not the only ones arrested on that day by Guangdong police. Another professional in a neighboring city of Dongguan was seized from his home in the wee hours. Mr. Zou Shuwen, a physician from Qingxi People’s Hospital, remains held at Sanzhong Police Station.