A Linshui County, Sichuan Province resident suddenly died in early April 2020, while serving a seven-year term for his faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999. Mr. Luo Fangxue was 67 years old.
While the prison claimed that Mr. Luo passed away after suffering a stroke, his family suspected that he may have died after being tortured.
According to information received by the Minghui.org website, imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners across China have been subjected to various forms of torture and intensely pressured to renounce their faith.
In Jiazhou Prison, where Mr. Luo was incarcerated, the torture methods are known to include beatings, electric shocks, exposure to the elements, pepper spray, sleep deprivation, and other physical abuses.
Another punishment includes starving the practitioners by limiting their eating time to around 15 seconds. Once the time is up, the practitioner is forced to stand facing a wall. This form of punishment may last for weeks or months.
Practitioners have been tortured to death almost every year at Jiazhou Prison. But as with Mr. Luo’s case, the prison usually tells the practitioner’s family that they died of a stroke or other natural causes, without any further explanation.
Another practitioner, Mr. Chen Guangzhong, died less than six months after he was sent to Jiazhou Prison in February 2017.
According to Mr. Chen’s elder brother, he was informed by the prison in late July 2017 that Mr. Chen was in critical condition and his pupils were dilated. He and a neighbor rushed to the prison hospital, but were not allowed to take a photo or to bring anything into the ward. Seven or eight prison guards were guarding the ward.
Mr. Chen was laying in a bed unconscious. He looked pale and his head had been shaved. He was naked and covered with a piece of cloth. Mr. Chen’s brother called his name and got no response.
A prison guard told him that Mr. Chen had a cerebral hemorrhage, but that it was too late for surgery. Mr. Chen passed away on July 28, 2017.
Recap of Mr. Luo’s Arrest and Sentencing
Since the Chinese Communist Party began to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, Mr. Luo has been repeatedly arrested, and held in brainwashing centres several times for upholding his faith. Despite the persecution, he persisted in practicing Falun Gong and was always in good health.
On July 25, 2014, Mr. Luo and his wife Ms. Li Kunju were arrested in a police sweep of twenty-one local Falun Gong practitioners. The police confiscated their computers, cellphones, and Falun Gong books. Mr. Luo’s paralysed and nearly blind mother, in her 80s, was left at home alone.
The couple and five other practitioners twice appeared in Linshui County Court, first on January 15, and again on September 29, 2015. They were sentenced to prison on October 27, 2016. Both Mr. Luo and Ms. Li were sentenced to seven-year terms. The other five practitioners were sentenced to between three years of probation and three years in prison.
They appealed the verdicts, but the Guang’an Intermediate Court upheld the sentences on April 19, 2017, except for reducing Ms. Zhang Bilan’s three-year probation to two years.
Mr. Luo was sent to Jiazhou Prison and Ms. Li to Longquan Women’s Prison shortly afterward.