15 other adherents sentenced to camp in one year; many tortured
Ms. Zhu Lijin (left), a 61-year-old mother of New Zealand citizen Salina Wang (right), was sentenced without trial in Tianjin and is at risk of torture.
MELBOURNE – An elderly resident of the city of Tianjin (China), Melbourne’s
Sister City was sentenced earlier this month to over one year in a labor camp
after police found her distributing leaflets about Falun Gong. She is one
of 15 local adherents sentenced in recent months to this particular camp and
is at grave risk of torture, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported.
Ms. Zhu Lijin, a 61-year-old retired government worker and mother of a New
Zealand citizen, was arrested from the streets of Tianjin on February 1, 2009
while distributing information about Falun Gong to passers by. Security agents
then searched her home without a warrant, confiscating computer equipment
and Falun Gong literature. Within less than two weeks, on February 16, her
family was notified that she had been sentenced for one year and three months
without a trial. She is currently being held at Banqiao Women’s "Re-education
through labor" camp.
"How can a lady over 60 years old handing out leaflets be considered
such a threat to the Chinese Community Party? My mother is not a criminal
and she has done nothing wrong," says Zhu’s daughter Salina (Yu) Wang,
a New Zealand citizen currently residing in New York. "She has the right
to follow her belief and she has the right to tell people the truth about
Falun Gong. These are basic human rights guaranteed under China’s constitution
and international law."
This is the first time that Zhu, who took up Falun Gong in 2005, has been
imprisoned. After her arrest, her family was initially denied access to her,
but has been allowed to visit her very briefly since her sentencing. She reportedly
remains in fair physical health, but is already being subjected to efforts
to force her to disavow her beliefs and has complained of insufficient nutrition
at the camp. Should she remain committed to her faith, such efforts at "re-education"
could quickly escalate into severe torture. As one Chinese government adviser
told the Washington Post, "practitioners who are not beaten generally
do not abandon the group".
In particular, former prisoners from Banqiao RTL camp have reported a range
of torture methods used to force adherents to renounce their beliefs, including
shocking with electric batons, solitary confinement, forced-feeding, sexual
abuse, and injection with unidentified psychiatric drugs. The labor camp authorities
are also known to force detainees to work extremely long hours on tasks such
as producing raincoats for export to Korea or sorting dried beans. As a result
of such abuse, several adherents imprisoned there have suffered permanent
mental or physical disability. At least two have been tortured to death.
Most recently, in November 2008, family members of an adherent named Gong
Hui detained at the camp reported that she had been tortured to the verge
of death after long periods of abuse and solitary confinement. She had become
emaciated within just three months of detention there. Gong was arrested on
August 13, during the period of the Olympic Games, and arrived at the labor
camp in September after being given a 15-month sentence.
"This is the time to urgently intervene on Zhu Lijin’s behalf,"
says New York Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Erping Zhang. "The
international community must not wait until news of her being tortured – or
worse – makes its way out of China in order to take action."
Zhu’s detention and sentencing would appear not to be an isolated case, but
rather part of a larger crackdown on Falun Gong adherents in the city of Tianjin
and nationwide that began in the run-up to the Olympics and has continued
as the 10-year anniversary of the persecution approaches.
According to reports received by the Falun Dafa Information Center, at least
15 other female adherents in the city have been sentenced to Banqiao labor
camp since April 2008, most for between 12 and 18 months. The actual number
may be higher and this total does not include Tianjin residents sentenced
to other camps and prisons in the city.
"If 15 adherents have been sentenced to one camp in one city alone,
multiply that by the nearly 300 camps in the country and we’re looking at
a minimum of 4,000 Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to labor camps in the
past year," says Zhang. "No wonder recent interviews with former
detainees by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group indicate that
Falun Gong practitioners make up a huge percentage of the population in these
According to the CHRD study released in early February, "More than half
of our 13 interviewees [mostly petitioners] remarked on the persecution of
Falun Gong practitioners in RTL camps. They said Falun Gong practitioners
make up one of the largest groups of detainees in the camp."
The Falun Dafa Information Center is calling for:
" International media and human rights groups to investigate the case
of Zhu Lijin and the broader trend of multi-year prison and labor camp sentences
being handed down to Falun Gong adherents before and after the Olympic games.
" Foreign government representatives, particularly those from Tianjin’s
sister cities – such as Philadelphia, Dallas, Melbourne, Milan, and Lodz –
to write to their counterparts in Tianjin, urging the immediate and unconditional
release of Zhu Lijin.
Founded in 1999, the Falun Dafa Information Center is a New York-based organization
that documents the rights violations of adherents of Falun Gong (or "Falun
Dafa") taking place in the People’s Republic of China. In July of 1999
China’s autocratic Communist Party launched an unlawful campaign of arrests,
violence, and propaganda with the intent of "eradicating" the apolitical
practice; it is believed certain leaders feared the influence of the practice’
100 million adherents. The campaign has since grown in violence and scope,
with millions having been detained or sent to forced labor camps. The Center
has verified details of over 3,000 deaths and over 63,000 cases of torture
in custody. Falun Gong is a traditional-style Buddha School "qigong"
practice, with roots in the Chinese heritage of cultivating the mind/body
for health and spiritual development.
Posting date: 27/Feb/2009
Original article date: 27/Feb/2008
Category: Media Report