NEW YORK -- Falun Gong practitioner Cai Fuchen (蔡福臣), a government employee from Jilin province, died in police custody in mid-September after spending eight of the last ten years as a prisoner of conscience.
Mr. Cai last spoke with family members on September 5th, 2010, and reported that his condition was deteriorating. Prolonged torture and abuse had left Mr. Cai weak and emaciated, and he was under constant surveillance. Approximately ten days later, the family was told that Mr. Cai was dead. Prison authorities claimed he had jumped from a third-storey window—an assertion commonly associated with attempts to cover up deaths caused by torture or ill-treatment.
Mr. Cai, a father in his 40s, was abducted by security forces on May 26, 2004, while he and five others were working to create literature about the persecution of Falun Gong. Upon taking him into custody, police beat Mr. Cai, badly injuring his legs. In August, 2005, he was "sentenced" to ten years at the Gongzhuling Prison in Jilin province. Because he practiced Falun Gong meditation in public, Mr. Cai previously spend two years in a labor camp from 2000 - 2002.
Over the course of the eight years he spent imprisoned, Mr. Cai reportedly suffered from repeated torture as authorities attempted to force him to denounce his faith in Falun Gong. According to the accounts of witnesses and family members, during his time at Gongzhuling Prison Mr. Cai had been hung up by his wrists, deprived of sleep, held in solitary confinement, and shocked with electric batons. Criminal inmates were directed to keep constant watch over Mr. Cai, and prevented him from having contact with others.
A Family Torn Apart
After Mr. Cai's abduction in 2004, his elderly father went to a local government appeals office to request the release of his son. Instead, the father was taken into police custody himself. He never saw his son again, and died in 2005.
Due to repeated harassment and a suspension of the family’s pay, Mr. Cai’s wife, Zhang Yanhong, has been forced into hiding to avoid being persecuted herself. Their teenage son was also subject to harassment by authorities, who followed him to and from school. He is now in the care of extended family, but has dropped out of school, unable to cope with the harassment.
"Cai Fuchen spent most of a decade as a prisoner of conscience during the prime of his life, and his family was torn apart," says Levi Browde, executive director of the Falun Dafa Information Center. "Considering there are tens of millions of Chinese citizens practicing Falun Gong and the stories of their families are similar to Mr. Cai's, it becomes clear just how devastating the Communist Party's campaign against Falun Gong has been for the Chinese people."