(Minghui.org) A total of 1,040 incidents of Falun Gong practitioners being arrested or harassed for their faith were reported in September and October 2023. Falun Gong is a traditional mind-body cultivation practice that has persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1999.
Among the 614 arrest cases, one took place in 2021, 69 in the first half of 2023, 50 in July 2023, 94 in August 2023, 280 in September 2023 and 121 in October 2023. For the 426 harassment cases, 54 occurred in the first half of 2023, 33 in July 2023, 56 in August 2023, 189 in September 2023 and 94 in October 2023. Due to strict information censorship in China, the persecution cases can’t always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all the information readily available.
The newly-reported cases took place in 25 provinces and 4 centrally-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin). Shandong reported the most combined cases (164) of arrest and harassment, followed by 138 in Heilongjiang, 137 in Hebei, and 104 in Jilin. Fourteen regions saw double-digit cases between 11 and 91. Another eleven regions had single-digit cases between 1 and 9.
A total of 176 targeted practitioners, including 109 of the arrested and 67 of the harassed, were 60 years old or older at the time of their arrests or harassment, with 63 in their 60s, 70 in their 70s, 40 in their 80s and 3 in their 90s.
The practitioners are from all walks of life, and include journalists, teachers, doctors, artists, and engineers.
– Some harassment episodes took place around “sensitive dates,” including the Mid-Autumn Festival (September 29), the 19th Asian Games (September 23 – October 8, 2023), the October 1 national holiday, and the “One Belt One Road” forum held in Beijing in mid-October.
– Authorities across the country organised signature drives to slander Falun Gong, with tens of millions of residents in multiple provinces having signed their names on anti-Falun Gong propaganda materials.
– Practitioners in at least seven provinces were arrested or harassed for posting information about Falun Gong on various social media platforms.
– Two women in their 80s were arrested for talking to people about Falun Gong. One practitioner’s husband, who is blind and relies on her for care, is now in a dire situation with his wife in detention.
– A Hubei resident has been on a hunger strike since her arrest on October 24, 2023 and her life is in danger.
– Another Hubei resident was arrested again after spending 7 years in prison, leaving her mother in her 80s to fend for herself. The elderly father of a Beijing resident is facing a similar situation after his daughter was arrested while visiting him.
– A 51-year-old mother was barred from traveling abroad to seek medical treatment for her paralysed son.
– Having been incarcerated for nearly 13 years, an artist in Beijing was repeatedly harassed in the first half of 2023 before being arrested again in September 2023.
Harassment Around Sensitive Dates
Between September and October 2023, several holidays and major events took place, including the Mid-Autumn Festival (a traditional time of family reunions) on September 29, the 19th Asian Games between September 23 and October 8 in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang province, the October 1 national holiday, and the “One Belt One Road” forum in Beijing on October 17 and 18.
During the so-called “sensitive dates,” the authorities often tighten up monitoring and harassment of Falun Gong practitioners, in order to prevent them from exposing the persecution to the public during these times.
When the son of 66-year-old Ms. Zhao Ya bought a ticket for her to watch a basketball game at the 19th Asian Games in late September 2023, the police from her hometown in Liquan County, Shaanxi Province traveled over 700 miles to her son’s home and arrested her. Since her son went to Hangzhou City for college in 2001 and later landed a job there after graduation, she had never gotten a chance to visit him during the holidays due to the persecution. She and her husband had hoped to spend this Mid-Autumn Festival with her son’s family – only to see their dream dashed.
In Beijing, Mr. Liu Xingdu was harassed by officer Wu Wensheng of the Wulituo Police Station on October 13. Wu threatened him, telling him not to go out to talk to people about Falun Gong. A staffer from the residential committee accompanied Wu and took a photo of Mr. Liu without his consent.
Several practitioners in Daxing District in Beijing who were also harassed reported that the police ordered them not to go to Tiananmen Square or get close to the venue where the “One Belt One Road” forum was held. Several residential committee staffers brought rice, noodles and cooking oil to the practitioners and tried to take pictures of them with these items. They had intended to use the pictures to show how the authorities cared about the practitioners by gifting them those items. All of the practitioners refused to comply with this propaganda stunt.
Starting in September 2023, the 610 Office in several provinces mobilised teachers in local elementary schools, middle schools, and street committees to send messages to groups of parents, retirees or neighborhoods on WeChat (the dominant social media app in China) to sign a new petition on the “China Anti-Cult Network,” which included a great deal of content slandering Falun Gong. Many parents were forced to sign their names so as not to cause problems with their children’s teachers.
According to a Falun Gong practitioner in Hebei Province, as of October 31, 2023, 14.54 million people in Henan Province has signed the petition, followed by 13.62 million in Hebei and 4.21 million in Shandong. The persecution of Falun Gong is very severe in all three of these provinces compared to other regions in the country.
Also in Shandong Province, the Mengyin County 610 Office organised new brainwashing sessions in October 2023 and mobilised local police and village officials to take the practitioners there for “further education.” Mr. Sheng Defu was working in his farm field on October 24 when five officers suddenly arrested him. He was held at the brainwashing centre, dubbed “Care Center,” for seven days.
Targeted for Speaking Up
While carrying out a relentless propaganda campaign to demonise Falun Gong and justify the persecution, the Chinese communist regime has also been targeting practitioners who speak up, be it talking to people face to face, distributing informational materials, sharing information on the Internet, or even printing information on paper currency. Practitioners’ actions are often met with retaliation by the authorities, resulting in arrests and prison sentences.
Between July and August 2023 alone, seven practitioners in seven different provinces were arrested for posting information about Falun Gong on social media.
Mr. Cheng Qianyue, a farmer in Cao County, Shandong Province, was arrested on July 3, 2023 after the police discovered that he had posted messages reading “Falun Dafa is good and Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good” on Kwai (a TikTok-type social media platform for short videos and trends).
In addition to Mr. Cheng, Ms. Xue Shunrong of Huzhu County, Qinghai Province, Mr. Zhang Jinglong of Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province, and Ms. Qiu Guaixia of Yinchuan City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, were also arrested on July 6, 7 and 11, respectively, for posting information on Kwai. Mr. Zhang and Ms. Qiu were detained for 15 and 7 days, respectively. Ms. Xue is still in custody at the time of writing and facing prosecution.
Mr. Yao Xianmin, 53, a native of Siping City, Jilin Province, has been doing odd jobs in Changchun (the provincial capital) in recent years. He had an account on TikTok, where he used an alias to post Falun Gong information in various forms (videos, poems, etc.) from the perspective of a non-Falun Gong practitioner. It was said he had about 30,000 followers. The Internet police discovered his true identity and arrested him around July 10, 2023. He is currently held at the Zhenlai County Detention Centre in Jilin Province. His family and lawyer have been denied visits with him.
Mr. Tang Zhifei, 41, is a software engineer in Hefei City, Anhui Province. Several police agents broke into his home on August 3, 2023 and arrested him. His young son, only in his underwear at the time, was not allowed to put on any clothes. A policewoman then dropped the boy off at his paternal grandparents’ home, which is nearby.
Mr. Tang’s wife was out of town at the time. She rushed back to Hefei upon learning of the news. When she picked up her son from her parents-in-law’s home, the boy was wearing his grandpa’s clothes.
The police raided Mr. Tang’s home and confiscated his computer, cell phone, house deed, and business license (he co-owns a business with a partner). Before leaving, the police also changed the lock on his door. His wife had no alternative but to take their son to her hometown in Fuyang City, Anhui Province. She had invited her parents-in-law, both retired physicians, to go with her in order for them to avoid police harassment, but they declined because their health wasn’t suitable for travel.
Mr. Tang is currently held at the Changfeng County Detention Centre. The police said they targeted him after discovering that he had been posting Falun Gong informational videos on an overseas social media platform with more than 6,000 views. They threatened to get him sentenced to at least three years.
Mr. Mo Shanyi, a native of Pengxi County, Sichuan Province, was working in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, when the local police approached him on July 20, 2023. They ordered him to relinquish his cell phone and then returned it after a quick examination. The police arrested Mr. Mo on August 7, claiming that his WeChat account had information about Falun Gong. He was also accused of posting information about Falun Gong on TikTok. Mr. Mo was transferred back to Pengxi and held at the Pengxi County Detention Center. He was released on September 14.
Below are additional selected cases.
Persecution of Elderly Practitioners
Ms. Xing Yuqing, an 80-year-old resident of Beijing, has been detained since her arrest on October 1, 2023, after the police spotted her talking to people about Falun Gong. Her husband, who is blind and relies on her for care, is now in a dire situation with his wife in detention.
Prior to her latest ordeal, Ms. Xing, a retired worker, had been targeted for her faith many times over the years. Another recent arrest took place in mid-December 2021, after she was reported by a student for talking to him about Falun Gong. Her home was ransacked, and she was released the same day.
Ms. Xu Lai, 81, from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was arrested at her home on September 7, 2023 and taken to the Etouwan Brainwashing Centre. This is the second time she was taken to the same brainwashing centre this year for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Xu was previously arrested on March 2, 2023, after being reported by a person when she talked to him about Falun Gong at a farmer’s market. The police raided her home and confiscated a laptop, several Falun Gong books and a photo of Falun Gong’s founder. She was held at the Etouwan Brainwashing Centre for an unknown amount of time.
Ms. Xu was previously arrested three times, in 2000, 2001, 2005, and held in two brainwashing centres. During her detention, she was held in isolation and monitored by two people around the clock. An 610 Office agent, Hu Shaobin, often intimidated her. She was also forced to work without pay.
Ms. Miao Shuqing, a 74-year-old resident of Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was seized by six officers on August 11, 2023, while returning from an out-of-town trip. Her family tried to stop her from being taken off the long-distance bus they were riding, but to no avail. The police took her to the Fushun City Detention Centre. They summoned her daughter the next day and ordered the latter to sign a temporary detention notice for Ms. Miao, in preparation to submit her case to the procuratorate.
This is not the first time that Ms. Miao has been targeted for her faith. She was previously jailed on two occasions, and served a total of eight years. During both prison terms, she was brutally tortured. She was often shocked with electric batons for long hours, resulting in incontinence and severe injuries to her body. Even now, Ms. Miao becomes incontinent if she is under pressure. She is blind in her left eye, and her right eye has very limited vision. Her pension was suspended in June 2016, one month after she finished her second prison term.
Ms. Miao’s latest arrest happened not long after she returned home after having been forced to live away from home in August 2022 to avoid the persecution.
Physical Well-being in Jeopardy
Ms. Kong Jiuhong has been on a hunger strike since she was arrested on October 24, 2023. Because Ms. Kong’s husband and child live in a different city, they didn’t find out about her arrest until several days later when her husband returned to their home in Anlu City, Hubei Province. Their front door had been pried open, the garage searched, and Ms. Kong’s computer, printer, and Falun Gong books confiscated. Her husband looked for her everywhere and finally found her at a brainwashing centre.
Ms. Kong’s husband confirmed that she’d started a hunger strike on the day of her arrest to protest the persecution. He demanded her immediate release, but was refused by the Anlu City Police Department.
This isn’t the first time that Ms. Kong, a former textile factory employee, has been targeted for upholding her faith. She was arrested in February 2000 for going to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong. She was taken back to Anlu, detained for two and a half months, and fined 2,000 yuan. She was arrested again in October 2002 and force-fed over 90 times within a month. Ms. Kong’s next arrest was on May 25, 2016, after being reported for talking to villagers about Falun Gong. She was taken to the Hubei Province Brainwashing Centre in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, on June 1 that year and held for an unknown amount of time.
During the forced-feeding, the inmates pried open Ms. Kong’s mouth with a pair of pliers, put a plastic bottle against her tongue and then fastened it by tying a towel across her mouth and head. One person pinched her nose while the rest of them held her hands and feet to prevent her from moving. Then they poured porridge mixed with a large amount of salt into the bottle. They wouldn’t stop to let her breathe until the porridge in the bottle all went into her mouth. Then they poured more food into the bottle and repeated the procedure several times. They didn’t stop until her stomach was visibly bloated and the food almost came up from her stomach into her mouth.
After the forced-feeding, the inmates restrained Ms. Kong on the bed to prevent her from throwing up. When she tried to vomit, the guards threatened to repeat the force-feeding. When she shouted in protest, and the guards ordered the inmates to shut the door to prevent others from hearing her. Sometimes the inmates beat Ms. Kong and poured the leftover food onto her hair or down her collar. Her hair would freeze when the guards exposed her to low temperatures.
Liu Liguang, the head of the detention centre, once said to Ms. Kong, “Aren’t you on a hunger strike? We will play with you until the end.” Another guard, Yue Zhonggui, said, “If you don’t behave, we will force-feed you with spicy water.”
Due to the excessive salt in the porridge, Ms. Kong always felt intense, burning pain in her internal organs after the forced-feeding. Each force-feeding was like an extreme torture session. She often spit out blood afterwards. She was force-fed over 90 times during the month-long detention.
When the guards took Ms. Kong to the Shayang Forced Labor Camp, she was so emaciated and weak that she couldn’t keep her balance. The labor camp refused to admit her, so the guards had to take her back to the detention centre. They made another attempt to get her admitted to the labor camp two weeks later, but the camp still refused to take her due to her elevated heart rate and high blood pressure. She was taken back to the detention centre again and continued to be subjected to beatings and other forms of torture for refusing to renounce Falun Gong.
Ms. Dong Liping, a Haicheng City, Liaoning Province resident, was arrested on July 21, 2023. Her lawyer noted that her physical and mental state declined each time he visited her between August and September.
Ms. Dong told her lawyer that her cellmates beat her on a regular basis and forced her to keep eating even after she was full. The detention center guards turned a blind eye to this abuse.
Ms. Dong was at home on the afternoon of July 21, 2023 when a police captain knocked on the gate of her fence, which encircles her house. He said he could show her his police ID, but she didn’t open the gate. Five other officers then scaled the fence, two from the east side and three from the west side, and jumped into her yard. They yelled for her to toss her house key to them. When she refused, they broke the lock and entered.
The police didn’t answer when Ms. Dong questioned them as to why they broke into a law-abiding citizen’s home. They handcuffed her and at one point held her head down on a bed. Over a period of two hours, the police seized Ms. Dong’s computer, cell phone, Falun Gong books, and other valuables. They took her to the Yingkou City Detention Centre.
The Zhanqian District Procuratorate in Yingkou City issued a formal arrest warrant against Ms. Dong on August 25, 2023.
Ms. Dong’s lawyer visited her at the detention centre on August 28, 2023. She said that she had been on a hunger strike for three days in protest of the persecution. The lawyer noted that she appeared to be very weak.
When the lawyer visited Ms. Dong again on September 6, 2023, he noted that she walked with a limp and was not in a very good mental state. She complained about being beaten and abused by her cellmates on a regular basis. Her cellmates forced her to keep eating when she was already full. The guards did nothing to stop it.
Upon learning of her abuse from the lawyer, Ms. Dong’s family, who had accompanied the lawyer there but were not allowed inside, immediately called the detention centre visitors’ office and requested a meeting with the director. The receptionist said the director was already in a meeting. The family waited outside the detention centre and called again hours later. They were told the director was still in a meeting. They then called the detention centre’s supervising agencies to report the abuse of their loved one.
At around 3 p.m. that day, two people came outside to see Ms. Dong’s family but repeatedly denied that she was ever abused.
The lawyer visited Ms. Dong a third time, on September 25, 2023, and noted that she appeared to be dazed. She said that she’d suffered from incontinence a few days before. She then pointed to her abdomen and said, “I suspect that I have stones here.” Her family was very worried and didn’t know what additional abuse she was subjected to that may have caused her latest symptoms.
Ms. Li Aiping (also known as Li Xiaohong), of Jingshan City, Hubei Province, applied for a passport in mid-May 2023, but her local police department refused to process her application. She was later told that she was on the blacklist of Falun Gong practitioners barred from traveling abroad. She was thus unable to seek better medical treatment overseas for her 25-year-old son, who became disabled from bone tuberculosis (a condition in which the tuberculosis spread beyond the lungs and affects the joints).
Ms. Li, 51, and her husband, Mr. Zhou Qing, around 53, have been repeatedly persecuted for practicing Falun Gong during the 24-year-long persecution. Their son Minghui was only one year old when the Chinese Communist Party launched the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999. During his first eight years, his father Mr. Zhou, was seldom home. Instead, he was either detained in various facilities for practicing Falun Gong or he was in hiding to avoid arrest. Because Minghui hadn’t seen his father for years, he worried that he may no longer recognise him. At one point, both of his parents were incarcerated. When he saw other children with their parents, he wept and told his grandmother, “I want a daddy and a mommy. Can you buy one for me?”
Minghui was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis around 2019 when he was about 21. The condition became so severe that he had difficulty breathing and walking. He couldn’t get proper treatment, because his family kept having to move to avoid police harassment.
His parents eventually decided to move back to their hometown in Jingshan City, Hubei Province, in mid-2020. The family didn’t stay together though, as Mr. Zhou and Ms. Li didn’t want their son to live on the run with his severe medical condition. Ms. Li’s parents offered to take in Minghui. The young man became paralysed not long after he returned to Jingshan and he had a major operation on his spine. He nearly died during the surgery.
When the police in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, where the couple stayed earlier, couldn’t find Mr. Zhou or Ms. Li, they traveled over 600 miles to Hubei Province in June 2021 to harass Minghui while he was still bedridden and recovering from surgery. After the police left at 10 p.m., his grandfather was unable to sleep that night. He fell the next day and ended up in a wheelchair. Yet the Guiyang police continued to call and harass him and his grandson.
Due to the relentless harassment and pressure from the police, Minghui was never able to fully recover from the surgery. His back hurts when he tries to straighten it. He cannot stand for more than 20 minutes at a time. His mother wanted to take him abroad for better treatment, but she could not get a passport.
Ms. Zhang Guangjie, a 60-year-old resident of Jingmen City, Hubei Province remains in detention following her arrest on September 23, 2023 for her faith in Falun Gong. Her mother, in her 80s, who lives with her, was terrified by the arrest and now struggles to care for herself.
This is not the first time that Ms. Zhang, a retiree of Jingmen Petroleum Company, has been targeted for her faith. She was sentenced to four years following an arrest in 2001 and another three years following her arrest in 2016. She served both terms at the Hubei Province Women’s Prison (located in the capital city of Wuhan) and was brutally tortured. Unable to bear the pressure of the persecution, her husband divorced her. Her father also passed away after living in fear for years.
Ms. Zhang’s employer suspended her pension during her second prison term, citing a new policy barring retirees from receiving their pensions (even though there is no such stipulation in China’s labor law or social insurance law).
Ms. Gao Weiping, a Beijing resident, has been held in the Shunyi District Detention Centre since her arrest on September 14, 2023. Her father, in his 80s, witnessed his daughter’s arrest at his own home. He had been suffering from poor health and Ms. Gao visited him often to take care of him. The elderly man was devastated by his daughter’s arrest and has lost his appetite.
Due to the information censorship in China, details about Ms. Gao’s current situation aren’t fully known.
Upon finding out that Ms. Zhao Ya’s son bought a ticket for her to watch a basketball game at the 19th Asian Games in late September 2023, the police from her hometown traveled over 700 miles to her son’s home and arrested her.
Ms. Zhao, a 66-year-old resident of Liquan County, Shaanxi Province, traveled with her husband to Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province in August 2023 to visit their son. Since her son went to Hangzhou City for college in 2001 and later landed a job there after graduation, Ms. Zhao had never gotten a chance to visit him during the holidays, as she was either busy caring for her parents-in-law (who have passed away in recent years at 93 and 86, respectively) or she was unjustly detained for practicing Falun Gong. She and her husband had hoped to spend the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival with her son’s family – only to see their dream dashed.
On September 24, 2023, six people suddenly showed up at her son’s home. They were agents from the Chengguan Town Police Station, the Chengguan Town Government and the local village committee in Ms. Zhao’s hometown. They had driven more than 700 miles to Hangzhou after discovering that her son had purchased a ticket for her to watch a basketball game at the 19th Asian Games (held in Hangzhou from September 23 to October 8, 2023).
The six people said their job was to take Ms. Zhao back to Shaanxi Province. Her husband had just had eye surgery and their son begged the agents not to take his mother away. He offered to return the basketball ticket, but the agents insisted that Ms. Zhao return to Shaanxi or they’d turn her case over to the Hangzhou police for the latter to monitor her.
On September 26, three of the six Shaanxi agents, including officer Ma and two villagers, escorted Ms. Zhao and her husband onto a Shaanxi-bound flight.
At 8:00 p.m. on October 1, an officer from the Chengguan Town Police Station called Ms. Zhao’s husband and questioned him as to when he and Ms. Zhao had gone to Hangzhou and when they’d returned to Shaanxi. Ms. Zhao’s husband refused to talk to them, because the authorities had gone to Hangzhou to bring them back and the police should already have known the whole situation.
Repeatedly Persecuted for Their Faith
Less than three months after Ms. Li Guihua finished serving four years for practicing Falun Gong, the 69-year-old retired lumber mill worker was arrested again for practicing her faith.
Ms. Li, a Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province resident, was arrested at her home by officers from the Songlin Police Station on September 15, 2023. When her daughter returned to their shared residence after work, she noticed that the place had been searched. She soon received a call from Ms. Li, who said that she’d been given 15 days of detention.
The younger woman was phoned by the police two days later and was told that Ms. Li had been put on criminal detention and transferred to a detention centre. She was asked to deliver some clothes to her mother. It’s not clear whether Ms. Li has been released at the time of writing.
Ms. Li was previously arrested on June 20, 2019, for talking to people about Falun Gong. The Xiangyang District Court sentenced her to four years on December 18, 2019, for “undermining law enforcement with a cult organisation,” the standard pretext used by the CCP to imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
Ms. Li appealed the verdict, only to be turned down seven months later. She developed dangerously high blood pressure and a heart condition after 13 months in the Jiamusi City Detention Centre. The detention center provided some medical treatment, but she did not improve. Her family filed a medical parole request on her behalf with the Jiamusi City Intermediate Court, but the court did not approve it and ordered the bailiffs to take her to the Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison. She served the full term and was released on June 20, 2023.
Because Ms. Li’s pension was suspended during her four-year term, she now struggles to make a living. It’s also not clear whether her pension was reinstated at the time of this report.
Artist Mr. Qin Wei was arrested at his home in Beijing on September 7, 2023. He was detained at the Haidian District Detention Centre for over a month and released in late October.
In the five months leading up to his latest arrest, the police harassed Mr. Qin three times before the anniversary of the “April 25 Appeal,” a peaceful demonstration by 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners that took place on April 25, 1999. The police photographed him and called him late at night.
Mr. Qin, 62, was a graduate from the Decorative Painting Department of the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts. He landed a job at a publishing house after he graduated but later quit to teach art at the Bayi Middle School in Haidian District, so that he could have more time during the winter and summer breaks to focus on his artwork. After he began practicing Falun Gong, he gained a deeper understanding about life and the universe, which helped him to create pure and positive artworks.
Because Mr. Qin remained firm in his faith after the communist regime ordered the persecution in 1999, he was repeatedly arrested in the past 24 years. He served two labor camp terms, two prison terms, as well as multiple detentions, totaling nearly 13 years.
Ms. Xia Mingjin, 58, of Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, was arrested on September 19, 2023 for talking to people about Falun Gong. She has been held at the Nanchang City First Detention Centre since.
This is not the first time that Ms. Xia has been targeted for her faith in Falun Gong. She was given one year of forced labor in 2011 and sentenced to two years following her arrest in 2018. After she was released from prison in 2020, she still faced constant harassment from the police. Prior to her latest arrest, she was held at a brainwashing centre for ten days in June 2021.
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