Psychiatric Torture of Falun Gong Practitioners Widespread, Says UN Submission

Chinese delegate to Human Rights Council tries to silence testimony on Falun Gong

New York—A report submitted last week to the United Nations torture expert and subsequent statements made during the 13th session of the Human Rights Council highlighted the severity and scale of psychiatric torture used against Falun Gong practitioners in China. Such torture routinely includes the administering of chemical substances that cause damage to the central nervous system.

“Because I moved my legs to refuse the injection, they pierced the needle into my flesh and rotated it. The pain was so unbearable that I banged my head against the wall.”
Ms. Fang Siyi, former prisoner of conscience

The San Diego-based Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group (FGHRWG) submitted last Tuesday a detailed compilation of 1,089 incidents of Falun Gong practitioners who were subjected to various forms of psychiatric abuse, causing hallucinations, severe pain, paralysis, and sometimes death.

In addition to hospitals participating in the use of psychiatric drugs against Falun Gong adherents, practitioners are also regularly injected with drugs in “re-education through labor” and prison camps. The report was submitted to the mandates of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, and others.

“Failing to break the will of Falun Gong practitioners with physical torture, the Chinese authorities have escalated the use of nerve damaging chemicals to directly destroy their capacity to hold thoughts and [act according to their] conscience,” said Shizhong Chen, a representative of the FGHRWG and the UN Association of San Diego, during a press conference last week to publicize the submission of the cases to the United Nations.

“This horrifying, mind-destroying psychiatric torture has caused hundreds to become insane. This is the crime we are here to condemn, and it is the crime we are here to ask the world to help to stop.”

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented the psychiatric abuse of Falun Gong practitioners in China in recent years. It is an extension of a practice that has been used for decades against those who hold views that do not accord with those of the Chinese Communist Party.

Much groundbreaking work in exposing such abuses has been carried out by Robin Munro drawing on hospitals' own documentation of cases. In his 2006 book, China’s Psychiatric Inquisition: Dissent, Psychiatry and the Law in Post-1949 China, Munro dedicates a chapter to the issue of psychiatric persecution of the Falun Gong in China (for more information, see here).

In its public statements, the FGHRWG emphasized the need for the international medical community to respond appropriately to the abuse of psychiatry on such a scale.  

“We have identified doctors who have used the skills they learned to do things that run completely counter to the ethics of their profession,” said Chen. “We ask the world to first of all ban these doctors for knowingly participating in such a crime.”

“Secondly, in our report, we have listed over 200 hospitals that have participated in this psychiatric torture. We will ask reputable journals to disallow publications from these hospitals. We must make sure that the individuals, including doctors who participate in such torture and the presidents of the hospitals, are held personally accountable for what they have done.”

Chinese Delegate Tries to Silence Testimony

In an unusual incident that drew significant attention during last Monday’s session of the Human Rights Council, the Chinese regime’s representatives went to extensive efforts to block Mr. Chen’s opportunity to testify before the body.

The Chinese delegation raised several objections to block the testimony, causing over one hour’s delay. Finally, a member of the United States delegation, calling the shenanigans unreasonable, groundless, and a waste of everyone’s time, urged the proceedings to continue. (watch interruption online part 1 / part 2) Mr. Chen was able to read his statement, which subsequently generated substantial interest among both government and non-governmental attendees at the session (full testimony).

Victims of Abuse Relay Experiences to UN Experts

Also attending the Human Rights Council session were five Falun Gong practitioners who had personally been jailed and subjected to torture, including psychiatric abuse. The victims relayed their experiences in meetings with UN experts and at a press conference publicizing the submission of the report on psychiatric torture.

“In April of 2001, officials from the Jilin State Security Bureau, the 610 Office, and Army [unit] 465 arrested me secretly and took me to [the facilities of] Army [unit] 465, where they tortured me constantly with drugs,” Ms. Fang Siyi, currently a refugee in Finland, said during Tuesday’s press conference.

“Five military doctors pinned me down to a bed with my arms and legs stretched out. Then they injected my arms and feet with drugs. After the injections, I felt bloated, cold, and severe pain [flowed] throughout my whole body. Immediately my left toe started to turn dark purple. Because I moved my legs to refuse the injection, they pierced the needle into my flesh and rotated it. The pain was so unbearable that I banged my head against the wall.”

“After my family learned that I was arrested, the officers from the 610 Office and the doctors became worried. They were afraid that my family would see how severely I had been persecuted…, so they began injecting me other drugs,” said Fang. “The purple in my legs began to fade, but the hallucinations continued and I suffered vertigo and blurred vision. I remained so weak I couldn’t walk.”