A Falun Gong practitioner imprisoned in Harbin’s Daqing Prison died on May 23,
2009 due to abuse in custody, the Falun Dafa Information Centre recently learned.
Mr. Li Min died at the age of 51, after being tortured and denied medical care
when he suffered the symptoms of a stroke.
Li is just one of several family members who have been victims of severe rights
abuses at the hands of the Chinese authorities because of their identity as Falun
Gong practitioners. In 2007, Li’s brother-in-law died in custody at a labour camp
after being tortured. Li’s wife is currently imprisoned in Harbin’s Women’s Prison
and at risk of abuse.
"Falun Gong spread in the 1990s primarily by word of mouth as people saw
their relatives and friends’ health and outlook on life improve. So it was not
uncommon for multiple members of one family to take up the practice," says
Falun Gong spokesperson Erping Zhang. "But that’s also why – ten years into
a brutal persecutory campaign – it is not uncommon for multiple members of a single
family to have been killed, tortured, or imprisoned."
"The story of Li Min and his family is not an exceptional case. Rather, it
is a microcosm of the way in which the CCP’s campaign against Falun Gong has targeted
one of the most fundamental units of Chinese society, making forced separation,
torture, and death a daily reality for millions of families across China."
A father’s death
Li Min, who began practicing Falun Gong in 1998, was arrested from his workplace
– the Finance Bureau of Harbin’s Hulan District – in March 2005. He was subsequently
sentenced to eight years in prison for practicing Falun Gong. He was sent to
the 7th ward of Daqing prison where, according to sources inside China, he was
tortured by guards and his health deteriorated dramatically, causing him to
suffer the symptoms of a stroke.
When his son visited him during the Chinese New Year in February 2009, Li was
unable to walk on his own, but rather had to be carried into the visitation
room. He also had difficulty breathing and talking. Despite his weak condition
and his family’s appeals in April 2009 for him to be released on medical parole,
the prison authorities insisted on keeping him in custody.
In mid-May 2009, Li was transferred to Daqing Hospital. He passed away at 8pm
on May 23 at the age of 51. His death brings the total number of adherents known
to have died as a result of persecution to 3,287. It also reinforces Heilongjiang’s
infamous record as the deadliest province for Falun Gong practitioners – 411
adherents are documented to have died there from abuse since 1999 – as well
as Daqing prison’s notoriety as a venue for systematic and brutal torture (for
previous cases of abuse and death at the prison see: report).
Li’s wife Du Xiuzhi remains in custody at Harbin Women’s Prison. She was arrested
from their home on the same day as him in 2005 and later sentenced to eight
year’s in prison, also for practicing Falun Gong. It is unknown whether she
is aware of her husband’s death.
Death, torture a family affair
Li is not the first in the family to have died as a result of abuse in custody.
His brother-in-law Yu Huaicai, also from Hulan District in Harbin, died on April
22, 2007. Yu was arrested on November 15, 2006 and sentenced without trial to
one year at Changlinzi "re-education through labour" camp. In February
2007, he went on hunger strike to protest his unjust incarceration.
Guards at the camp are reported to have brutally force-fed him – an act commonly
used as a form of torture against adherents rather than as a medical procedure
– causing non-stop bleeding from his mouth and nose. Though his life was in
danger, the camp director refused to release him. His family members saw him
at the labour camp four days before his death, at which time he was unable to
speak. Yu, who was over six feet tall, died at the age of 42, weighing only
Other recent cases of families with multiple members suffering imprisonment
and torture include (the following individuals reside outside of China and are
therefore available for interviews):
Shuangying Zhang: Father sentenced in April 2009 to seven years in prison; over
past decade, mother, aunt, uncle, cousin, and sister-in-law were each jailed
in a labour camp. See New York Daily News article
Bu Dongwei: Former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, released from
over two years in a Beijing labor camp in July 2008; he was previously imprisoned
in labour camp, as was his wife. See: report; For an account of the couple’s
first detention, see: A Love Story of Wind and Rain
Yang Guizheng and Zhang Chungang: Mother and daughter from Liaoning province
who recently received refugee status in the United States; both had been detained
and tortured in labour camps, the latter in the notorious Masanjia camp. See:
Des Moines Register article
Posting date: 15/July/2009
Original article date: 30/June/2009
Category: News from China