While China was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, its ruling party, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has continued its persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline also known as Falun Dafa that is based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
Pandemic Didn’t Stop the CCP from Persecuting Falun Gong
According to information collected by Minghui.org, 6,659 practitioners were arrested and 8,576 were harassed in 2020. While the number of arrests remained similar to that of 6,109 the year before, 2020 saw a 2.4-fold increase in harassment cases compared to that of 3,582 in 2019.
Among the total 15,235 practitioners that were targeted in 2020, 3,588 had their homes ransacked and 537 were taken to brainwashing centres.
There were also 622 practitioners sentenced to prison for their faith (some of whom were part of the 6,659 arrested in 2020) and another 83 persecuted to death in 2020, both of which have been covered in detail in separate reports.
Due to the nationwide lockdown after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, January 2020 reported the fewest incidents of persecution. Over the next few months, however, the incidents of persecution steadily increased, with a small peak in April and a bigger peak in July.
The April and July peaks have been a trend over the years, as the authorities often intensify the suppression around two sensitive dates – April 25 and July 20. About 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners staged a peaceful sit-in appeal outside of the National Appeals Office in Beijing on April 25, 1999, and the CCP formally started the persecution of Falun Gong less than three months later, on July 20.
During the lockdown in the first half of 2020, many practitioners were targeted for stepping up their efforts to expose how the CCP has been using similar cover-up tactics used in the persecution to handle the coronavirus outbreak.
One woman in Hunan Province was forced to live away from home after the authorities found out that she had put up posters with QR codes that could connect to overseas websites with uncensored information about the pandemic.
A physician in Ningxia Province was arrested twice, first in March and then in June, for handing out informational materials. Even a nine-year-old girl in Hubei Province wasn’t spared harassment after the police caught her putting up information in her neighborhood.
The Massive “Zero-out” Harassment Campaign
Entering the second half of the year, harassment cases began to outnumber the arrests, due to the nationwide “Zero-out” campaign. Similar to the “knocking on the door” harassment campaign in 2017 and the so-called gang cracking down campaign in 2018 that targeted the practitioners for their faith, the authorities visited every practitioner on the government’s blacklist and attempted to force them to renounce Falun Gong in the new “Zero-out” campaign.
The earliest harassment cases in the “Zero-out” effort that has swept the country were recorded in March 2020 in Guizhou Province. It was reported that the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) in Guizhou issued an order to completely “transform” all practitioners between 2020 and 2023. Their order was based on a document (No. 101) released by the central PLAC in Beijing, titled “On the Issue of Reducing the Number of Falun Gong Practitioners.”
In the persecution of Falun Gong, the PLAC—an extra-judiciary agency that oversees state security, the procuratorate and court system—has played a central role in mediating persecution policy.
The local 610 Office and the PLAC, both tasked with overseeing the persecution, ordered local community officials and police to pressure the practitioners into submission. When challenged, the authorities put the practitioners in brainwashing centres and threatened their family members with the loss of their jobs if they didn’t talk the practitioners into giving up their practice. In Guangdong and Hainan Provinces, the authorities posted 100,000-yuan rewards for reporting a Falun Gong practitioner.
Some police officers harassed the practitioners’ family members and threatened to deny their children a college education in order to turn them against the practitioners.
The harassment further intensified in the last two months of 2020. While an average of 706 incidents per month were reported between March and October, that nearly doubled in November and December, at 1,285 and 1,358, respectively. It also resulted in more practitioners being taken to brainwashing centres in November and December, with the monthly average jumping from 40 in March and October to 110 in the last two months of the year.
The cases of harassment in November and December 2020 represented 5- and 6.7 fold increases over 2019.
The All-around Persecution
Incidents of persecution in 2020 took place in 304 cities in 29 provinces and centrally-controlled municipalities. Hebei topped the list with the most practitioners (2,373) targets, followed by Heilongjiang, Shandong, Jilin, Sichuan, and Liaoning.
The seventh province Hubei, the epicentre of the pandemic, recorded a total of 589 cases. Eighteen other provinces also registered triple-digit persecution cases (from 105 to 480). The remaining four provinces reported between 4 and 87 incidents.
2020 also saw more elderly practitioners being targeted. The 1,188 (7.8%) practitioners older than 65 arrested or harassed in 2020 was double that of 583 in 2019. In the 70 to 80 age group, 419 practitioners were arrested in 2020. Seventeen were in their 90s, with the oldest being 94.
In 2020, many arrested practitioners were brutally tortured and at least six died as a result. One woman died in police custody four days after her arrest on May 13. Another woman died hours after she was arrested on June 18. Two more female practitioners were beaten to death days after their arrests in late June.
Once imprisoned for 11 years, one male practitioner died a month and a half after his arrest in August. Another male practitioner died in October from being tortured in custody, two months after he was seized in a group arrest.
The 15,235 targeted practitioners came from all walks of life, including 320 professionals, such as college professors, high school teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, artists, journalists, interpreters, authors, and dancers.
A 25-year-old photographer who had just taken up Falun Gong not long ago was arrested for distributing Falun Gong flyers. A 77-year-old woman was arrested after being recorded on a bus for talking to people about Falun Gong. Others were arrested for studying the Falun Gong teachings together.
Other than harassment, there were dozens of groups arrests reported throughout the year, including 18 practitioners in Jieyang City, Guangdong Province, arrested on June 14; over 10 practitioners in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, arrested on July 26; 21 practitioners in Changsha City, Hunan Province, arrested on October 27; and over 80 practitioners in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province, arrested between December 11 and 13.
Notably, three of the practitioners arrested in Xi’an on July 26 were in their 80s, four were in their late 70s, and one was around 60.
A large family in Kunming City, Yunnan Province were arrested twice in seven days around the Mid-Autumn Festival on October 1, which is a traditional holiday for family reunions.
In addition to the arrests and torture in custody, many practitioners had their day-to-day lives disrupted, as well as personal safety, business, and health compromised.
One engineer fired from his job due to his faith was denied housing and forced into displacement shortly after he was released from a two-year term. A retired physician is still detained in custody even though she has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
In some cases, it’s not only the practitioners themselves that were targeted for their faith, but their family members, who were also harassed, arrested, and interrogated. One practitioner’s four-year-old grandson was denied admission to kindergarten because she refused to renounce Falun Gong.
One woman’s son was held hostage in the police station after she escaped arrest and another practitioner’s son’s clinic was forcibly shut down after she refused to sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong.
Having grown up witnessing the persecution of his parents, a young man was devastated to lose his father to the persecution, following his latest arrest with his mother. Now the young man is seeking justice for his mother, who has remained in custody since and faces prison time.
Some practitioners have suffered decade-long incarceration and torture before being targeted for their faith again. A woman in Yinchuan City, Ningxia Province, was arrested again after having been detained for 13 years. Another man in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province, who has spent 15 years in detention, was arrested in a police sweep in mid-December.
A total of 7,284,097.56 yuan was extorted or confiscated from 401 practitioners during their arrests, averaging 18,165 yuan per person. Another 161 practitioners had their pensions suspended in 2020.
Most of them were forced to pay back pensions that they had received during their imprisonment because of their faith, even though neither the Labor Law nor the Social Insurance Law of China stipulates that pensions should be suspended while serving a sentence.
When an injured Ms. Zhang Wenqing returned home in June after serving four years in prison for her faith in Falun Gong, the Fushun City, Liaoning Province resident was devastated to learn that her father had passed away a year before. She was dealt another heavy blow when she discovered that her 27 years of service had been cleared by her employer, resulting in no pension benefits. Now the 52-year-old former music teacher, who lives with her mother in her 80s, is facing tremendous financial difficulty to make ends meet.
Mr. Ren Haifei of Dalian City, Liaoning Province, had 500,000 yuan in cash and computer supplies worth more than 200,000 yuan confiscated from him during his arrest on June 26. He developed heart and kidney failure after being abused in custody.
Ms. Zhao Xiqing, 85, from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was arrested at home on July 14. The police ransacked her home and confiscated her savings of 250,000 yuan in cash. Although she was released the next day, the police refused to return the money to her.
The persecution of elderly practitioners was especially rampant in 2020. Despite their advanced age, some were still beaten and abused after being arrested.
Physical Abuse and Held Incommunicado Detention
When 80-year-old Ms. Chen Guifen held her copy of Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong, tightly to her chest during her arrest on August 14, 2020, the police grabbed the Pengzhou City, Sichuan Province, woman’s hands and feet, dragged her to the police car, and took her to the police station. She was released at around 6 p.m. Two weeks later, her hands still had marks where the officers pinched her.
After 74-year-old Mr. Lei Zhengxia of Chongqing was arrested at his daughter’s home in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province on September 4, 2020, a police officer pushed him into a corner of the interrogation room, punched him in the chest, hit his neck with the edge of his hand, and slammed his head against the wall. Another officer attempted to strike Mr. Lei’s legs with his knees, but Mr. Lei’s wife, who was arrested with him, stopped the officer.
Ms. Zhao Fenglan, 82, of Benxi City, Liaoning Province, was arrested at home on June 21, 2020. As she was having trouble walking and talking, the police forcibly carried her downstairs. At the police station, the police put her in a chair and carried her upstairs to the interrogation room.
The police interrogated Ms. Zhao from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They claimed that they had attempted to look for her at home, but couldn’t find her. They accused her of violating conditions of her bail from a previous arrest and put her on the wanted list. Ms. Zhao was terrified by the interrogation and she remained very weak after she was taken home later that day.
Ms. Yan Yixue, 90, of Shihezi City, Xinjiang Province, was arrested prior to the CCP’s political conference on May 22 and held in incommunicado detention until early August. She was emaciated and had severe back pain when she was released.
Ms. Zhou Shanhui, a 73-year-old Pengzhou City, Sichuan Province, woman was also detained incommunicado following her 13th arrest for practicing Falun Gong on September 8, 2020.
In addition to physical abuse, another devastating tactic used to persecute elderly practitioners was the suspension of their pensions.
Ms. You Xiuying, 76, from Shanghai received a notice from the Social Security Office in late November 2020 to report to them within five days with documents of her previous imprisonment for practicing Falun Gong. The notice warned that her pension would be stopped if she failed to come on time to verify her one-year prison sentence in 2016.
Knowing that the five-day deadline was only an excuse and that the authorities might just suspend her pension whether she showed up or not, Ms. You still went to the social security office. She told them, “I am facing an assembly line of persecution. You illegally arrested me, illegally sentenced me, and now you are going to illegally take away my pension.”
Despite Ms. You’s appeal, the social security office staff insisted that they had to follow their supervisor’s orders and suspended her pension.
While there have been many instances of practitioners having their pensions suspended to pay back the funds they received while serving time, Ms. You is the second confirmed case in recent months in which the social security office suspended the person’s pension simply because they had been sentenced for their faith in the past.
Another practitioner, Mr. Yang Hejiang, 82, from Suining City, Sichuan Province, has had his pension withheld since September 2020.
In the case of Ms. Wei Xiuying, even though she won the lawsuit against her local social security bureau for withholding her pension, the bureau still refused to resume her payments. Instead, they kept harassing her and pressing her to return the over 100,000 yuan she had received during her wrongful prison term for practicing Falun Gong. She is now faced with even more pressure after the local court sided with the bureau and froze her bank account in order to force her to repay the amount.
Impact of the Persecution on Families
For many of the elderly practitioners, they and their spouses rely on each other to manage day-to-day. When they are arrested or harassed for their faith, their family members face tremendous difficulties.
Ms. Chen Lanzhi, 85, from Jinan City, Shandong Province, was arrested on February 20, 2020, after she gave a young man a booklet about Falun Gong. The police ransacked her home and confiscated her books and other personal items.
Although Ms. Chen was released the same day, her husband was terrified by the police raid and soon fell ill. He was bedridden for a few months and passed away around September 2020.
Mr. Cheng Defu, a 73-year-old veteran in Chongqing, was repeatedly slapped in the face and had two of his teeth knocked out and his arm injured after he was arrested on March 7, 2020. The police submitted his case to the prosecutor, who indicted him. Two days before his meeting with the judge on December 3, the police arrested his wife and threatened her to leave him. Fearful of being implicated, she went back to where lived before she married, leaving Mr. Cheng struggling to care for himself on his own.
Ms. Cao Yueling, 40, and her mother, Ms. Chen Yan, 71, were sentenced to prison for their shared faith in Falun Gong two years apart, in 2016 and 2018, respectively. On May 10, 2020, 18 months after Ms. Cao returned home, Ms. Chen was released. Only three months later, Ms. Cao was arrested again on her way to visit her sons. For seeking her daughter’s release, Ms. Chen was arrested again on September 21. Now her 78-year-old husband is on his own, struggling to care for himself.
More Family Tragedies and the Impact of Persecution on Children
When the CCP ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, they didn’t only target the estimated 100-million practitioners, but also their family members.
In the past 22 years, while many of the practitioners were arrested, tortured and imprisoned themselves, their families also endured unspeakable agony and pain. Some of them later chose to leave the practitioners, some saw their health deteriorated due to the pressure, and some others stood up for justice and supported their loved ones in upholding their faith.
After Ms. Jin Min from Jilin City, Jilin Province, was arrested on September 11 for talking to a taxi driver about Falun Gong. Her father, in his 80s, went around town asking about her, only to be given run-arounds and denied a visit to her.
Ms. Bu Rumei’s father, who lived with Ms. Bu, was so terrified when the police came to ransack their place on April 16, 2020, that his terminal illness took a turn for the worse and he died a month later. Although Ms. Bu of Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province, was released the next day, the authorities kept harassing her. Her 12-year-old younger daughter once said to a prosecutor who came to ask them questions, “My mom didn’t do anything wrong, nor has she harmed anyone. I couldn’t take it if you sentence my mom.”
The police broke into Ms. Yu Aili’s home at around 6 a.m. on July 15, 2020, and arrested her. Ms. Yu’s arrest and subsequent detention caused tremendous difficulty for her husband, who is bedridden after suffering a stroke years ago.
Ms. Yu wasn’t the only one in her family who has been targeted for her faith. Both her mother, Ms. Liang Deqin, and her sister, Ms. Yu Aiji, have been persecuted. After the elderly Ms. Liang was released after an arrest in 2015, she was so terrified that she collapsed whenever she heard footsteps in the hallway or a knock on the door.
Ms. Yu Aiji was sentenced to three years on January 21, 2016. Her father suffered a stroke after learning about her sentencing and passed away. Only one week later, her husband divorced her to avoid being implicated in the persecution and he took sole possession of all of their property. Ms. Yu was dealt another blow when, not long after her divorce, her employer informed her that she had been fired. She began to suffer depression and remains withdrawn since her release. She is unable to interact with people or work.
While adults have trouble coping, their children do not remain unscathed.
After three residents of Shihezi City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, were arrested and taken to a brainwashing centre in November 2020, their families and children were left in dire straits.
The police harassed Ms. Zhan Ying’s daughter, Ms. Zou Xiaoyu, who had also been arrested and detained for her shared faith in the past. The younger woman was beaten and forced to stand for long hours during her detention in a brainwashing centre. Unable to bear the pressure, she inflicted harm on herself several times. She was unable to move and became mute for a period of time. Although she gradually recovered after being released, she would still become mute, shake involuntarily, and feel weakness in her legs when she was distressed.
After the arrests of Ms. Wang Xiaoying and her husband Mr. Bao Feng, their child went to the police station at 9 p.m. to look for the father, but was stonewalled. The child burst into tears and stayed at the police station until 2 a.m. The police had to take the child home to pack up clothes for the couple. The child often had nightmares about the arrests and woke up crying.
Ms. Yu Minghui, a fashion designer who currently resides in the U.K., grew up witnessing the persecution of her parents. Her father, Mr. Yu Zonghai, a librarian, was sentenced to 15 years in 2001 for hanging up a banner that said “Falun Dafa is good.” Her mother, Ms. Wang Meihong, a senior engineer at Heilongjiang Geological Exploration Institute, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2003 and tortured relentlessly before being arrested again on November 23.
While Mr. Huang Zhufeng, a former engineer in Maoming City, Guangdong Province, is still detained and faces prosecution for his faith, the authorities forced his landlord to terminate the family’s rental lease and ordered his wife, Ms. Xie Yuezhen, and their 15-year-old son to move out in a few days. Now their son, a ninth grader, refuses to go to school anymore.
In another incident, the police stuffed Mr. Kong Lingpo’s ten-year-old grandson into their cruiser and ordered him to tell them how to get to his uncle’s (Mr. Kong’s younger son’s) house. The young boy was traumatised by the experience.
Below are snapshots of more arrests and instances of harassment.
Cases of Harassment in the Zero-out Campaign
Cutting off Practitioners’ Power and Water As Punishment
Four officials in Jiansanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province, broke into Ms. Liu Shiyin’s home on August 30, 2020, with one of them videotaping everything. They ordered her to sign the statements to renounce Falun Gong. They left when she refused to comply but came back two days later to pressure her again. She refused to open the door. To punish her, they shut off her water and power.
Two officers came back on September 3 and again on 4. They threatened to have her daughter fired from her job if Ms. Liu did not sign the statement. They also threatened to suspend her pension. At that time, someone in a car parked down the street from where she lived every day monitored her all the time.
Turning Practitioners’ Families Against Them
The local authorities many times harassed Ms. Ma Guizhen from Lingwu City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. She refused to sign the guarantee statement no matter how many times they tried. They threatened to confiscate her farmland and her rental apartment and take her grandson out of school. She still turned them down. The authorities then went to her family members and made the same threats.
His livelihood threatened, Ms. Ma’s son and her younger brother went to her workplace on October 25, 2020, and tried to coerce her into signing the statement. When she refused, they berated and beat her. They grabbed her hand, bent her fingers back, and put her fingerprint on the prepared statement, almost breaking that finger.
Husband Files for Divorce to Avoid Being Implicated
Beginning in November 2020 a local secretary called Ms. Zhang Xuanwen frequently, demanding that she sign the renouncing statements. Song Yuliang, deputy secretary of Hepan Town in Baiyin City, Gansu Province, threatened Ms. Zhang with her teaching job. Song also threatened to suspend her husband’s pay and take their children’s jobs away.
When Ms. Zhang told Song that practicing Falun Gong was her constitutional right and that he shouldn’t slander her belief, Song called Ms. Zhang’s husband. He ordered her husband to force her to renounce her faith by whatever means or risk losing his salary.
Song then called Ms. Zhang’s daughter and asked for information on her employer. He also talked to Ms. Zhang’s son and terrorised him. In the next few days, the entire family pressured Ms. Zhang and tried to talk her out of the practice.
Fearing being implicated himself, Ms. Zhang’s husband divorced her.
Officials and police harassed practitioners in Cangzhou City, Hebei Province, by appearing at their houses every day and did not leave until late at night in September 2020. They sometimes stayed until after midnight. The local chief and secretary ordered their subordinates to “go to the practitioners’ homes like going to work every day until they guarantee they will not practice.”
Bai Hongjian, secretary of Shijia Village, and four others went to Ms. Zhang Zhaoying’s home on September 22, 2020. Bai told Ms. Zhang, 78, that the statements were ready and she just needed to put her fingerprints on them. She refused and wouldn’t let them videotape her at home. The authorities called her son and ordered him to persuade his mother to sign. She didn’t give in to the pressure.
After 8 p.m., one of the officials grabbed Ms. Zhang’s hand, pressed her finger on an ink pad, and put her fingerprint on the papers. They then left.
80-year-old Woman Subjected to Brainwashing and Beatings
Ms. Li Guilan, 80, in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, retired from the Research Institute of Flight Control of Lanzhou Aeronautics and Space Administration. Starting in August 2020, local authorities constantly harassed her at home or ordered other community officials to show up at her door. They went to her house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m daily. They questioned and photographed all her guests.
The authorities broke the lock on Ms. Li’s door and ransacked her place. They even went to Shanghai to threaten her grandchildren in an attempt to force them to talk to their grandmother out of practicing.
One time the authorities took Ms. Li to an empty room and forced her to watch videos slandering Falun Gong from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. They turned up the volume as loud as it would go and pried her eyes open and forced her to watch. When she struggled, they took turns pinching and punching her. She was punched in the head and fell on the ground. They had a nurse look at her and she had hypertension and heart problems. Without treating her, they rushed her to a temple to brainwash her.
Since November 2020, the authorities in Tianjin have been harassing Ms. Meng Xianzhen. They kept knocking on her door or calling her, threatening to take her back into custody if she refused to renounce Falun Gong.
In addition to the “Zero-out” campaign, the authorities also targeted Ms. Meng in an attempt to prevent her from exposing the torture death of her husband, Mr. Yang Yuyong, who also practiced Falun Gong.
Both Mr. Yang and Ms. Meng were arrested on December 7, 2016, and taken to the Wuqing District Detention Centre. Mr. Yang went on a hunger strike and was put on a torture device, all the while being handcuffed and chained with heavy shackles. The guards beat him with bamboo sticks until his buttocks bled. They also ordered the inmates to beat and sexually assault him, including pinching his genitals and biting his nipples. Less than eight months after his arrest, Mr. Yang died in custody on July 11, 2017. His body was black and blue and had traces of bamboo sticks under his toenails.
After enduring six and a half years of imprisonment and torture, a former orthopedic surgeon was arrested again on April 8, 2020, for spreading information about Falun Gong.
Dr. Li Lizhuang of Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, was targeted in a group arrest of 11 between April 7 and 8 by officers in Daqing, a city about 100 miles from Harbin.
Dr. Li, 47, graduated from Harbin Medical University in 1995 and took up Falun Gong that same year. Because of his excellent professional skills, he soon became an orthopedic surgeon at Harbin Medical University’s First Affiliated Hospital. He was known for always going the extra mile to help his patients. One of his patients didn’t have any money but desperately needed surgery. Dr. Li paid for the pre-surgery blood test and operation, about 1,000 yuan in total, when his monthly salary at the time was 300 yuan.
After the communist regime started the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, Dr. Li was repeatedly arrested and had his home ransacked for upholding his faith. He served two labor camp terms and one prison term, for a total of six and a half years. He suffered appalling torture and sexual assault in custody.
After his release, Dr. Li was devastated to learn that the hospital had fired him. Unable to find a job at another hospital, he was reduced to selling clothes on the street.
During the years Dr. Li was incarcerated, his parents were under tremendous stress. They traveled to the labor camp or prison to visit him every month. Worried that their son was being tortured, his father developed depression and his mother lost about 45 pounds in just a few months. She often had to take sleeping pills in order to fall asleep. Her hair quickly turned gray and she developed high blood pressure. She fainted many times.
Having lost her husband to the persecution of Falun Gong, an artist in Beijing, who had previously been twice imprisoned, was arrested again on July 19, 2020, for her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Xu Na’s arrest came only one day before the 21st anniversary of the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong. The police ransacked her home on July 20, 2020, and confiscated all of her digital devices and cameras. Her elderly father is now on his own at home and has not been told where Ms. Xu is being detained.
Born into a family of artists in 1968, Ms. Xu is an award-winning artist herself. Her husband, Mr. Yu Zhou, an alumnus of the prestigious Beijing University, was a musician and proficient in several languages.
After the communist regime ordered the persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Xu was arrested in July 2001 for providing shelter to out-of-town practitioners who came to Beijing to appeal for their faith. She was sentenced to five years in November 2001 and served time in Beijing Women’s Prison, where she was put in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep, not allowed to take showers, and denied family visits.
Ms. Xu and Mr. Yu were arrested on January 26, 2008, on their way home after a performance. Mr. Yu died in custody 11 days later on February 6, at the age of 42. Ms. Xu was sentenced to three years on November 25, 2008.
Mr. Ma Zhenyu was still monitored after he finished serving three years for mailing information about Falun Dafa to CCP leaders. Mr. Ma, a former engineer at the Ministry of Information Industry of China, was released from Suzhou Prison in Jiangsu Province on September 19, 2020, and taken back to his hometown in Nanjing in the same province. He now lives in a residence assigned by the police and under intense surveillance.
The police intimidated Mr. Ma’s family, including his mother, who is in her 80s, and told them not to contact his wife. They also intimidated local Falun Dafa practitioners and ordered them not to contact or visit Mr. Ma, threatening them with arrest if they did so.
Mr. Ma’s wife, Ms. Zhang Yuhua, former Department Chair of the Russian Nanjing Normal University, now lives in the U.S. She met with President Trump at the White House in July 2019 and told him how the CCP has persecuted her husband. Given her active efforts to raise awareness of the persecution of Mr. Ma, the authorities in China are trying to prevent her from contacting him.
After Mr. Xu Yongqing, an electrical engineer in Shanghai, was released from serving a two-year term on November 28, 2019, he was fired from his job. Unable to afford the rent on his apartment, which increased threefold since January, he moved in late April.
It didn’t take long for the police who have been harassing him to find his new address. On July 31, Mr. Xu noticed a white car outside of his new rental home, its two occupants staring at him. Five days later, on August 4, his landlord asked him to move out in a week, claiming that the village committee had a new development plan for his house. His landlord kept pressuring Mr. Xu to move and promised to compensate him to cover his moving expenses.
Not wanting the police to know his plans, Mr. Xu asked one of his friends to help him find a new place to live. Not long after he revealed his new address to his landlord, who turned out to be a retired police officer, his friend was harassed by the police and threatened not to help Mr. Xu with his housing. Other officers harassed Mr. Xu himself weeks later.
When Mr. Xu returned to his hometown in Zhejiang Province to visit his mother during the Mid-Autumn Festival on October 1, his landlord moved all of his belongings to the village warehouse, even though he had paid the October rent in full.
Mr. Zha Zhuolin, a 57-year-old police officer in Yuzhou City, Henan Province, was fired from his job on August 19, 2020, for practicing Falun Gong. He was due to retire in two years.
Mr. Zha joined the army when he was 19. He served in the army for the next 17 years and won many awards before becoming a police officer in 1999. He worked very hard and cracked many difficult cases involving drug trafficking, murder, and robbery.
Due to years of hard work, he developed many ailments, including high blood pressure, migraines, a frozen shoulder, and a herniated disc. When his rhinitis was bad, he couldn’t sleep. He was often exhausted from standing to question suspects. He sought many forms of treatment, but none of them did much good.
With no hope in sight, he decided to give Falun Gong a try in 2013. To his surprise, all of his symptoms soon disappeared and he returned to good health.
Mr. Zha strove to live by Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. He stopped taking bribes and putting himself above others. While investigating a fight involving a drunk, the person verbally abused and almost hit him. Some of Mr. Zha’s colleagues lost their patience and were about to lock the person up. But Mr. Zha remained calm and peacefully resolved the issue. Those who witnessed the incident were impressed by his demeanor, as many police officers in China are known to be violent and corrupt.
In 2015, two years after Mr. Zha took up Falun Gong, he filed a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the Chinese communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.
Because of his complaint, he was given a warning and never again given a bonus, which would have amounted to over 100,000 yuan by 2020. He was also ordered to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong, but he refused to comply.
His supervisor often talked to him and threatened Mr. Zha with the loss of both his and his wife’s jobs to try to persuade him to give up practicing Falun Gong. The supervisor once said to him, “You are a police officer. You are different [from the general public]. The first rule for a police officer is to be loyal to the Party.”
Because Mr. Zha insisted that he wouldn’t give up Falun Gong, he was fired from his job.
Arbitrary Arrests and Police Violence
Heilongjiang Internist Beaten to Death (Graphic photo in the linked article)
Ms. Wang Shukun, a 66-year-old physician in Haining City, Heilongjiang Province, died on July 2, 2020, a few days after the police beat her for hours in the hospital where she worked.
Ms. Wang was called into the hospital after months of staying home due to the coronavirus. She thought she was being called back to work but was in fact sought by the police.
The police attempted to force her to write statements renouncing Falun Gong and to acknowledge that her husband also practices Falun Gong when he never did. When Ms. Wang refused to sign the statements, the officers beat her for hours until she begged them to stop and let her go home.
Ms. Wang suffered sharp pain in her leg and had to crawl up the stairs to get back to her apartment. Her husband noticed she had bruises all over, her kneecaps were broken, and she was soaked in sweat.
Ms. Wang suffered a stroke on the afternoon of July 1. She was very dizzy and felt like throwing up. She passed away around 4:25 a.m. on July 2. Her body was cremated on July 4.
When Ms. Wu Yuying returned home after being out for a few hours on November 21, 2020, her key wouldn’t open the door. While the Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province, resident kept trying the lock, several police officers came up behind her and opened the door. She looked in and saw that they had broken into her home and raided it while nobody was around.
One officer flashed a piece of paper in front of Ms. Wu and claimed it was the search warrant. Before Ms. Wu had a chance to read it, the officer put it back and searched her home again.
Her Falun Gong books, photos of Falun Gong’s founder, a computer, a printer, four cellphones, a few memory cards, and media players were confiscated. The 69-year-old woman was so traumatised that her heart was pounding and her hands were shaking.
Following her latest arrest, Ms. Wu was taken to Songlin Police Station first, then to a hospital for a physical, and back to the police station. The police tried to deceive her into signing her name on a piece of blank paper but she realised their intent and tore it up.
The police called her family to come to the police station later in the day and told them that she would be detained for ten days. They also called her daughter, who was working out of town, with her cellphone and complained about her filing complaints to protest the persecution.
After the police received Ms. Wu’s physical examination report, they took her to the local detention centre, which refused to accept her because she had not passed the physical.
Ms. Wu was taken back to the police station and later released. The police gave her new keys for her home before she left. They said they had to replace the lock after they damaged her lock when they were prying the door open.
Two women from Baoding City, Hebei Province, were arrested on December 3, 2020, for distributing information about Falun Gong. The police interrogated Ms. Yin Shufen, 61, and Ms. Tian Yanhong, 56, without their legal counsel present. When the practitioners refused to answer the questions, officer Li shouted, “Throw them into the cages!”
The women were tested for Covid-19 at one hospital, before being taken to another hospital to have their blood and heart tested. Because they refused to cooperate during the tests, Li ordered the officers to be strict with them. Following his instructions, the police held the women up and then dropped them onto stretchers to be wheeled to different rooms for their tests.
In officer Li’s words, “Let’s not beat them and cause external injuries. Just drop them onto the gurneys like that and it won’t cause any visible injuries.” When a doctor asked the police to go slower while pushing the gurneys over a door threshold, they responded, “The bumpier the ride, the better! They [referring to the two practitioners] are not afraid of bumpy rides!”
Li also told to get a medical resident to draw Ms. Yin’s blood. He and his officers held her arms down and covered her face with her shirt. They told the doctor to draw extra blood from her and not to help stop the bleeding.
The doctor stabbed Ms. Tian’s arm three times to draw her blood. Her arm was still bruised days later. When the officer threw her onto the stretcher, she felt dizzy and almost fainted.
Returning from the hospital, the officers dragged the women out of the car, down to a basement, and onto metal chairs. They were shackled to the chairs and tortured. As a result of the torture, Ms. Yin began to retch uncontrollably and Ms. Tian couldn’t stop the spasms in her arms.
Accusing them of acting, an officer dragged Ms. Tian by her shirt and threw her at the basement entrance. Her shirt was pulled up all the way over her head, leaving her topless, laying on the cold floor, until a village official came along and helped her up.
When the practitioners later asked to use the restroom, the officers dragged them to a yard and forced them to relieve themselves in front of six male officers.
After three days of detention, on December 6, Ms. Tian began to have spasms and vomit blood. Ms. Yin also vomited blood. That afternoon the police informed the practitioners’ families to pick them up at the detention centre.
Ms. Li Yuqiong from Suining City, Sichuan Province, was spotted giving out Falun Gong literature by a plainclothes officer on August 20, 2020. Zhenjiangsi Police Station officers arrested her.
They interrogated her at the police station and confiscated her literature and cash. Because Ms. Li refused to answer questions, the officers tried to use facial recognition technology to find out her identity. They struck her and held her head down as she struggled before they could finally scan her face. After the police retrieved Ms. Li’s information and address, they summoned her husband to the police station and interrogated and photographed him.
The same afternoon, five officers ransacked her home and confiscated more than 30 Falun Gong books, an MP3 player, and some bills with information about Falun Gong stamped on them––a creative way for Falun Gong practitioners to get around information censorship in China to raise awareness about the persecution of their faith.
At 10 p.m. the police took her to a hospital for an exam and to have her blood drawn. She was held the city detention centre for 10 days and released on August 30, 2020.
Mr. Ding Yuming, Ms. He Yurong, and Ms. Ren, of Huailai County, Hebei Province, were out walking on July 14, 2020, when they were arrested and taken straight to a brainwashing centre. While Ms. He and Ms. Ren were released shortly after, Mr. Ding remained in custody.
The brainwashing centre staff searched Mr. Ding and confiscated his 100 yuan in cash, keys, and cellphone. They didn’t give him any bedding for five days, starved him, and refused to let him take a shower. When he refused to watch propaganda videos that slandered Falun Gong, the staff beat him and hit his head and body with their shoes.
Mr. Ding was put in solitary confinement for shouting “Falun Dafa is good” when the brainwashing centre director came for a visit. The staff there threatened to kill him if he “caused more trouble for them.” His daughter wasn’t allowed to visit him.
After repeated abuse, Mr. Ding became seriously ill and was hospitalised on July 22. It’s not clear where he is being detained.
Ms. Shan Jining of Yinchuan City, Ningxia Province, was arrested on August 22, 2020, and held a hunger strike for six days at Yinchuan Detention Centre to protest the persecution. Her family burst into tears upon learning about her situation, especially her mother in her 80s.
This isn’t the first time that Ms. Shan has been targeted for her faith. She was given a three-year forced labor camp term in 1999 and and three more years in 2004 and sentenced to prison for four years in 2009 and three years in 2015.
Her husband, Mr. Wang Desheng, was sentenced to four years in prison in 1999 and eight years in 2005. He is still serving a 13-year term during Ms. Shan’s latest arrest.
Having spent 15 years in detention during the past 21 years, Mr. Jiang Yunjing of Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province, was arrested again in a police sweep in mid-December 2020.
The police found a satellite dish when they ransacked Mr. Jiang’s home. They then took him to the hospital for a checkup and collected a sample of his blood. He is being detained in the Hegang City Detention Centre and the police threatened to sentence him to prison again.
Before his latest arrest, Mr. Jiang, 52, has been given two years of forced labor and sentenced to 13 years in prison for upholding his belief in Falun Gong. His father suffered a stroke due to the anxiety and fear from the persecution and died in 2001.
Mr. Jiang was 35 and his son was only seven when he was sentenced to prison in 2003. His imprisonment caused his family endless pain. He spent the golden years of his life in prison and his son grew up without father’s care.
Nearly 30 officers broke into 74-year-old Mr. Zhang Xingyu’s home at around 7:00 a.m. on September 29, 2020, in Kunming City, Yunnan Province, and arrested him and nine of his family members, including his 2- and 5-year-old granddaughters.
The 10 were taken to two police stations and interrogated overnight. They were released at around 10:00 p.m. the next day after paying the police a 3,000-yuan bail bond.
The police also ransacked Mr. Zhang and his sons’ homes and confiscated their Falun Gong books and photos of Falun Gong’s founder. No search warrants or other legal documents were shown during the raids.
Besides Mr. Zhang, the other nine arrested were: Mr. Zhang Furong, his oldest son; Mr. Zhang Fujia, his third son; Mr. Zhang Fubing, his fourth son; Mr. Zhang Fucheng, his sixth son, and his wife Ms. Li Xiancui; Mr. Zhang Fugong, his seventh son; Mr. Wang Chaoping, his son-in-law; and his two granddaughters, Wang Tingru, five years old, and Zhang Nongci, two years old.
The arrests happened just days before the Mid-Autumn Festival on October 1 – a traditional holiday for family reunions. The family remained very quiet and were in low spirits during the holiday season.
Mr. Zhang’s third son, Mr. Zhang Fujia, was especially traumatised by the arrest and became withdrawn and fearful after returning home.
Before the family had recovered, the police returned early on the morning of October 5 and arrested everyone except the elder Mr. Zhang’s daughter-in-law and granddaughters. Those seven people were then taken to a brainwashing centre and forced to watch propaganda videos that slandered Falun Gong, including the Tiananmen self-immolation hoax. They were released late in the evening and returned home at around midnight.
In a coordinated police sweep in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, 25 Falun Gong practitioners and three of their family members were arrested on September 22, 2020; two more practitioners were arrested the next day. Another eight practitioners were harassed within days of the arrests.
It’s reported that Hao Weifu, the deputy director of the Heilongjiang PLAC, ordered the arrests. The police arrested the practitioners according to a list of names. They also received an unknown amount of bonus pay for arresting each practitioner. Most practitioners who remain in custody are detained at the Harbin No. 4 Detention Centre.
In the past few years, the police in Harbin have conducted several group arrests of local practitioners, including 20 practitioners on October 9, 2017; 72 practitioners on November 9, 2018; 17 practitioners on September 11, 2019; and 11 practitioners between April 7 and 8, 2020.
The Heilongjiang Provincial Public Security Department established a command centre in Harbin to persecute Falun Gong in early 2019. The goal of the centre was to monitor and collect information about how Falun Gong practitioners disseminate information about their faith.
Yang Bo, the head of the Heilongjiang Province Domestic Security Division, is in charge of the centre. It’s reported that he has recruited over 100 staff members and received funding from the central government of up to 10 million yuan.
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- Brutality Against Falun Gong in 2020 amidst Ongoing Persecution by Communist Regime
- Examples of Falun Gong Practitioners Near Death Due to Relentless Torture in Custody
- 83 Falun Gong Practitioners Die in 2020 As a Result of the Persecution of Their Faith
- 622 Falun Gong Practitioners in China Sentenced for Their Faith in 2020
- 2,038 Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Their Faith in November 2020
- In October 2020, 1,077 Falun Gong Practitioners Were Targeted for Their Faith
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- 5,313 Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Their Faith in First Half of 2020
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- 1,178 Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Their Faith in April 2020
- 747 Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Their Faith in March 2020
- The Persecution of Falun Gong Continues in China Despite Coronavirus Pandemic
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