(Minghui.org) Fifteen deaths of Falun Gong practitioners were reported in January 2023, bringing the total confirmed deaths as of January 31, 2023, to 4,905 since the start of the persecution in July 1999.
Ten of the newly reported deaths happened between July and December 2022, while the remaining cases occurred in January 2023. Due to strict information censorship, the persecution cases can’t always be reported in a timely manner, nor is the information readily available.
The 15 practitioners, including six women, hailed from ten provinces and municipalities. Hebei recorded three cases, followed by Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Shandong with three each. Liaoning, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Beijing, and Shanghai each had one death case.
Except for one practitioner whose age wasn’t known, the deceased practitioners aged between 31 and 81, including three in their 80s. Four died in custody, including a 31-year-old man serving an 8.5-year term. A woman in Hubei died six days after she was released from six-month brainwashing centre detention and a man in Anhui Province passed away due to toxic injection, ten months after he was released.
Among the deceased was a 51-year-old mother, who was shocked to find herself pregnant after a five-month-long hunger strike following her arrest in 2017. She succumbed to the mental and physical distress and passed away in July 2022, five months before her daughter’s fifth birthday.
Below are the details of the 15 death cases. The list of the practitioners can be downloaded here (PDF).
Deaths in Custody or Shortly After Release
Mr. Jiang Yong’s parents were informed of his death on January 23, 2023, the second day of the Chinese New Year. He was 31.
Mr. Jiang, a Changchun City, Jilin Province resident, was serving an 8.5-year term for practicing Falun Gong. Despite his being in critical condition from staging a prolonged hunger strike to protest the persecution, the authorities refused to release him on medical parole, citing that he refused to renounce his faith.
Mr. Jiang was arrested on June 28, 2021 and sentenced to 8.5 years in Gongzhuling Prison for the trumped-up charge of “subverting state power.”
Mr. Jiang held a hunger strike to protest the persecution. The Jilin Provincial Tuberculosis Hospital issued a critical condition notice for him on October 11, 2022. He was later transferred to the Changchun City Police Hospital, where he eventually passed away.
Mr. Jiang’s family frequently went to the Jilin Province Prison Administration Bureau and the prison to demand his release on medical parole, only to be ignored or given the run-around.
Mr. Lai Zhiqiang’s wife waited seven long years, eager to reunite with him, only to learn on January 3, 2023, that he had died two months before his scheduled release from serving a wrongful term for his faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Lai’s wife rushed to Jidong No. 2 Prison in Hebei Province after learning of his death, only to be told that she had to pay 1,000 yuan to see his body. While it’s not clear whether or not she paid the 1,000 yuan, she wasn’t allowed to see his body until the next day.
According to Mr. Lai’s wife, his body was curled up and his face had been injured. Five guards held her back to keep her from getting close to or touching him. They refused to return his body to the family and deceived his daughter into signing a consent form to have his body cremated.
Mr. Lai, of Tangshan City, Hebei Province, was arrested on March 31, 2016, and secretly sentenced to seven years. His elderly mother was so traumatised that she passed away shortly after.
Mr. Lai was first taken to Jidong No.4 Prison on October 17, 2016, and then to Jidong No.2 Prison. He suffered a stroke in 2019 from being tortured in custody, but the prison denied his family’s multiple requests to visit him.
When Mr. Lai’s wife was finally granted a visit in January 2020, she was heartbroken to see that the guards had to carry him out. He could hardly move. He didn’t appear to recognise her and didn’t respond when she cried.
According to an insider, Mr. Lai was held at the prison clinic for nearly six months and was force-fed every day. The guards kept the feeding tube in his stomach. His lips became very dry and cracked. Some of the nurses occasionally used a towel to drip some water into his mouth. He often had tears in his eyes when they did that. He also moved his lips but couldn’t speak.
Mr. Lai’s family demanded medical parole for him. But the prison claimed that they had to wait for their superiors to make the decision. Meanwhile, they charged the family several thousand yuan, claiming to pay Mr. Lai’s medical bills.
Mr. Lai’s condition further deteriorated in 2020, and he contracted a lung infection in August 2020. He was in a vegetative state and had difficulty breathing. When the prison took him to the hospital, the doctor did a tracheotomy on him but nothing else. The doctor implied that there was not much hope for him to recover.
Despite Mr. Lai’s condition, the prison always kept him shackled with heavy chains. He was brought back to the prison after over a month in the hospital only to be taken back to the hospital on September 9, 2020, even before his trachea was closed.
Mr. Lai’s family kept applying for medical parole for him. The prison claimed that the justice bureau had denied the request. When his family went to the justice bureau themselves to submit the request, they were stopped at the door and not given any chance to talk to anyone.
A resident of Shanghai died in a detention centre on December 24, 2022, while serving a four-year term for her faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Jiang Linying was nearly 70.
Ms. Jiang’s husband received a call from the Baoshan District Detention Centre on the afternoon of December 24 and was told that she was in critical condition and had been taken to the hospital. When he asked what condition she had and which hospital she was taken to, the caller said the information was confidential and denied his request to visit her.
Hours later, another guard called from a cellphone (+86-18100051158) and said Ms. Jiang was having difficulty breathing and that the doctor had issued a critical condition notice for her. The guard still barred the family from visiting her and said it was good enough that they informed the family of her condition. The family was outraged and demanded the prison try its best to save Ms. Jiang’s life.
At 10: 29 p.m., the same guard called from the same cellphone number and told the family that Ms. Jiang had passed away. It’s not clear whether the family had been allowed to see her after her passing.
In addition to her latest sentencing, Ms. Jiang, a retired textile factory worker, had also served two prison terms of 3.5 and 5 years, as well as a labor camp term of one year and three months.
While being incarcerated, Ms. Jiang was subjected to torture, including being injected with drugs to destroy her central nervous system, brutally beaten, forced to stand for prolonged periods of time, forced to sit on a small stool in one position for extended periods of time, denied restroom use, deprived of food, or forced to overeat.
Mr. Di Yongchi’s daughter got a call from the Shenyang No. 1 Prison in Liaoning Province on December 17, 2022, telling her that her father had died after the hospital failed to resuscitate him.
Mr. Di, a 69-year-old retired power plant engineer in Huludao City, Liaoning Province, was serving a seven-year term for practicing Falun Gong. His death came only a year and a half before his term ended.
Mr. Di’s daughter saw his body in the hospital mortuary. She has hired a lawyer to seek justice for her father. Due to the Chinese regime’s strict information censorship, it’s not clear if Mr. Di was subjected to any torture that could have caused his death.
Since the persecution started in 1999, Mr. Di was repeatedly arrested and harassed for upholding his faith. He was arrested in early 2003 and held in a brainwashing centre for several months. He was forced to watch propaganda videos smearing Falun Gong every day. The guards beat and verbally abused him, forced him to stand for long hours and deprived him of sleep.
While he was detained, his wife lived under tremendous stress and suffered a mental breakdown. She often woke up in the middle of the night and shouted, “The police are coming!” Her health declined by the day. She passed away in May 2007.
Ms. Zong Ming, a resident of Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was emaciated and had difficulty talking when she was released after eight months of brainwashing centre detention for her faith in Falun Gong. She passed away on January 1, 2023, six days after she was taken back home by her family.
Ms. Zong was arrested on April 18, 2022, and taken to the Etouwan Brainwashing Centre the next day. When the brainwashing centre staff members ordered her family to pick her up on December 26, 2022, she was already on the verge of death. She was merely skin and bones. Her hair had turned gray, and she had difficulty talking. Her family took her to the hospital on the first day of 2023, but the doctor refused to treat her. She died in the hospital hours later.
Since the Chinese communist regime started to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, the 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to oversee the persecution, has set up brainwashing centres across the country to target Falun Gong practitioners. Under the guise of a “Legal Education Centre” or “Care Centre,” the brainwashing centers function as black jails, where Falun Gong practitioners could be held without term limits and are subjected to all kinds of physical torture, mental manipulation, and involuntary drug administration.
In Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei, the authorities have set up ten new brainwashing centres since 2021 as a part of the “Zero-out” campaign, which targets all practitioners on the government’s blacklist in order to force them to renounce Falun Gong.
A Hefei City, Anhui Province resident lost the ability to talk after he was given toxic injections, one month before he finished serving a prison term for practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Peng Yuxin struggled with failing health since his release and he passed away ten months later in mid-August 2022. He was 55.
Mr. Peng, a former employee of the Anhui Provincial Statistics Bureau, was arrested in his neighborhood on April 24, 2020. Without showing any IDs or search warrant or revealing their names, the police raided his home and confiscated his laptop, two printers, 50 Falun Gong books, and 500 yuan in cash. He was released at around 11 p.m.
Mr. Peng went to the police station in May 2020 to demand the return of his personal items, only to be arrested and held at the Hefei City Detention Centre. He was later secretly sentenced to 1.5 years and ordered to serve time in the same detention centre.
One month before he was released, Mr. Peng was taken out of the detention centre six times and injected with pink liquid each time. By the time he was released on October 23, 2021, he had lost nearly all his ability to talk or organize a coherent speech.
He could only occasionally utter a few words. When asked whether he was given toxic injections, he nodded. His overall cognition had also declined significantly. He was unable to write his address. But when others wrote several addresses, he was able to recognize his home address. Due to his overall situation, it’s unclear whether Mr. Peng suffered other torture while in custody.
Mr. Peng struggled with poor health following his release, especially given that he lived on his own. In mid-August 2022, local Falun Gong practitioners suddenly heard the news of his passing. According to his sister, Mr. Peng’s neighbor reported his death to the police and the autopsy report issued by the Shushan District Police Department stated that he died of a stroke.
Passing of the Elderly
After being arrested 18 times, given four labor camp terms for a total of 5 years and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for practicing Falun Gong, Mr. Liu Erli, a Loudi City, Hunan Province resident, succumbed to the mental, physical and financial persecution and passed away on January 1, 2023. He was 81.
One month before Mr. Liu’s passing, over ten officers broke into his home and attempted to arrest him. They relented upon seeing that he was completely incapacitated.
Ms. Cui Xiuzhen, of Botou City, Hebei Province, was brutally tortured while serving a three-year forced labor camp term for practicing Falun Gong. She was released in 2003 and suffered failing memory, cerebral atrophy, mobility, and speech difficulties for the next decade. She became completely incapacitated and unable to speak in the summer of 2014 and passed away eight years later on January 10, 2023. She was 80.
Since the onset of the persecution, Mr. He Zhenheng, a Botou City, Hebei Province resident, was subjected to repeated arrests and harassment for upholding his faith. He was also forced to do heavy labor without pay during two detentions. The physical and mental distress took a toll on his health. He passed away on November 23, 2022 at age 80. Even after he died, the police still harassed his family and demanded to see his death certificate to verify that he had indeed died.
Deaths After Two Decades of Arrests and Harassment
Ms. Zhu Xiumin, a resident of Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, went on a five-month hunger strike in protest of the arbitrary detention, following her and her husband’s arrests on March 21, 2017. As she became extremely weak and suffered severe constipation, she was taken to a hospital for a checkup. She was shocked to learn that she was pregnant. She was released two days later.
Ms. Zhu’s baby girl was born on December 8, 2017. Six days later, her husband was sentenced to three years. Ms. Zhu struggled to care for her baby all by herself while dodging police harassment. She finally reunited with her husband when he was released in March 2020. But the family didn’t spend much time together, as Ms. Zhu succumbed to mental and physical distress and passed away in July 2022, five months before her daughter’s fifth birthday. She was 51.
Prior to Ms. Zhu’s last arrest in 2017, she had been arrested six more times and endured barbaric torture during a seven-year prison sentence.
A Songyuan City, Jilin Province, woman passed away on October 8, 2022, four years after she finished serving three years in prison and had her pension suspended. Ms. Meng Yan was 74 years old. In addition to the latest three-year sentence, she also served two labor camp terms for a total of four years.
Ms. Meng, a warehouse keeper, took up Falun Gong in March 1999. In the early years of the persecution, she was repeatedly arrested and given two terms at the Heizuizi Forced Labor Camp.
Due to enormous mental pressure, Ms. Meng was forced to renounce Falun Gong against her will during her first labor camp term. She also developed high blood pressure, suffered constant dizziness, and had difficulty walking. She later regretted renouncing Falun Gong and announced that she was nullifying her statement. The guards beat and kicked her in retaliation.
After confirming that she was indeed suffering from a medical condition, the guards forced her to take unknown drugs. Her term was extended for ten days, as she refused to write thought reports required by the guard.
Ms. Meng was arrested again on July 11, 2008, at her sister-in-law’s birthday party. She sustained a severe injury to her leg during the arrest. She was unable to fall asleep in the detention centre. Without informing her family, the police took her to the Heizuizi Forced Labor Camp for the second time on July 31 that year.
Several officers from the Qian’an County Domestic Security Team went to Ms. Meng’s home on August 19, 2015, with a copy of the criminal complaint she filed against Jiang Zemin. As she refused to open the door, the police smashed her lock and broke in. They confiscated a computer, a mobile phone, a printer, 20 boxes of printing paper, a box of printer ink, a tape recorder, an MP3 player, Falun Gong books, and other assorted items. Her grandson, a middle-schooler, was terrified and his face turned pale.
Ms. Meng tried to explain that suing Jiang was her lawful right as a citizen and that practicing Falun Gong was completely legal, but the officers ignored her. They took her to the Qian’an County Police Department and later to the Songyuan City Detention Centre, where she was detained for eleven and a half months.
Ms. Meng was charged with “using a cult to sabotage law enforcement” and sentenced to three years in prison. Her appeal was denied and she was transferred to Changchun Women’s Prison in August 2016.
All of the Falun Gong practitioners in the prison who refused to give up their practice were forced to sit on small plastic chairs for extended periods every day, which routinely lasted from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Ms. Meng became extremely thin and her buttocks started to fester.
The guards declared that Ms. Meng had hypertension and ordered her to take pills. When Ms. Meng refused, they tried to mix the pills in her food and drink but to no avail. They injected her with an unknown drug at the prison hospital. Ms. Meng was forced to read books that slandered Falun Gong and its founder, and the authorities also attempted to coerce her into renouncing her practice of Falun Gong.
After she was released in 2018, the local Social Security Bureau suspended her pension. Her health continued to decline and she eventually passed away on October 8, 2022.
Ms. Wang Yufang’s colon cancer disappeared after she took up Falun Gong in December 1998, so she was deeply grateful for this ancient mind-body self-improvement practice.
Ms. Wang, a resident of Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province, was harassed many times and arrested six times for upholding her faith. She once lost her memory after being injected with toxic drugs in a detention centre. The ongoing persecution took a toll on her health. She passed away on September 28, 2022. She was 59.
Ms. Wang said in the criminal complaint she filed in 2015 against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution, “Because of the persecution, all of my hair turned gray when I was only in my 40s. The persecution didn’t only bring tremendous mental and physical harm to me but also left my family living in deep distress. While I was in detention, my mother worried about me so much that her health deteriorated and she was hospitalised. My daughter grew up in fear and constantly worried that I might be arrested again.”
By the time Mr. Yu Chunqiang finished serving a 13-year prison sentence on September 20, 2020, the Laiyang City, Shandong Province resident had been plagued with several medical conditions due to the torture he suffered in prison. The ongoing police harassment after he returned home further caused him to continue living in fear and distress. Unable to recover, he passed away two years later on November 1, 2022. He was 66.
Mr. Yu took up Falun Gong in 1999, the same year when the persecution started. On July 4, 2006, a group of 610 Office agents broke into his home and arrested his wife and Ms. Zhao Ruixiang, another practitioner who happened to be visiting them. Both women were savagely beaten at the police station. Mr. Yu’s wife was later given 1.5 years of forced labor and Ms. Zhao was sentenced to 12 years.
To avoid being targeted, Mr. Yu lived away from home to hide from the police. When he returned home on September 21, 2007, to help harvest peanuts, six officers descended on his home, ransacked his place, and took him to the Laiyang City Detention Centre.
Mr. Yu was secretly sentenced to 13 years in 2008. He suffered barbaric torture in the 11th ward in the Shandong Province Prison. He once had a stroke and also developed diabetes and high blood pressure.
The police continued to harass Mr. Yu after he was released on September 20, 2020. He eventually passed away on November 1, 2022.
Three days after Mr. Qin Jing took up Falun Gong, the Beijing resident who had become incapacitated due to gout was back on his feet. He returned to work and resumed a normal life.
After the persecution started, Mr. Qin worked hard to raise awareness about the persecution. He was arrested in October 2010 for putting up Falun Gong posters and subjected to relentless torture while serving a two-year labor camp term.
For filing a criminal complaint in 2015 against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution, Mr. Qin faced constant harassment, especially around major holidays or anniversaries related to Falun Gong. He had never recovered from the complications as a result of the torture he suffered during his labor camp term, and the constant harassment worsened his health. He passed away on December 22, 2022. He was 64.
Shandong Man Dies After Serving Two Labor Camp Terms and Non-stop Harassment
Mr. Shen Lianghua, a Liaocheng City, Shandong Province resident, passed away on November 16, 2022 after enduring two labor camp terms and non-stop harassment for his faith. Even 28 days after his passing, the village secretary still came to harass his family.
Mr. Shen was first arrested in July 2001 while working in the farm. His wife, Ms. Zhao Yueyun, was also arrested hours later and the couple were both held in a local brainwashing centre. Their two children were left without care during their detention. Mr. Shen was released after 20 days. It’s not clear how long Ms. Zhao was detained.
Mr. Shen went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong in late 2001. He was beaten by the police at Tiananmen Square. He was held at the Guan County Detention Centre for ten days after being taken back to Shandong.
Mr. Shen was taken to Wangcun Forced Labor Camp in February 2002. The guards deprived him of sleep, and assigned inmates to watch him 24 hours a day. Whenever Mr. Shen closed his eyes, the inmates used feathers to poke his eyelids or nostrils. This lasted more than a month, but Mr. Shen did not give in. The guards then put him in solitary confinement, removed his shoes, poured water on the floor, and shocked him with electric batons for a week.
After failing to make him give in, the guards stretched his arms apart and handcuffed his arms to the top level of a bunk bed, a torture method known as “Shackled to a Cross.” All of his weight fell onto his wrists.
The police continued to harass Mr. Shen after he was released in September 2004. On the night of February 25, 2008, seven officers broke into his home. They held him down on the floor and beat him. One officer hit him hard with a flashlight and two of his front teeth fell out. They took him to a detention centre and then to Wangcun Forced Labor Camp without notifying his family.
After Mr. Shen was sent to the labor camp, his wife had to take care of the family and their two young children by herself. But agents from the 610 Office continued to harass them. As a result, Ms. Zhao was forced to stay away from home.
When Mr. Shen’s forced labor term expired on May 28, 2009, the police extended his term by one month. When his daughter came to request his release, labor camp officials did not allow her to visit him. She then asked the officials to pass on some clothes to him, but they refused to do that.
Ms. Zhao returned home on June 15, 2011. Hours later, three plainclothes officers arrived in a car without a license plate and broke into her home. They confiscated two computers, one printer, and other personal belongings. Mr. Shen was harvesting wheat in the field and Ms. Zhao was at home alone. The agents arrested her and took her to the Liaocheng Detention Centre.
The police attempted to arrest Mr. Shen two more times, on August 21, 2012, and August 3, 2015, but he wasn’t home when they came.
The police came again on August 5, 2015, and arrested Ms. Zhao. After she managed to escape from the police station, she and Mr. Shen were forced to live away from home for months, leaving their children at home by themselves.
Shortly after Ms. Zhao returned home, the police scaled the fence of their neighbor on April 22, 2016, and broke in again, forcing Ms. Zhao to go into hiding another time. She was later arrested and sentenced to Shandong Province Women’s Prison.
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