9,470 Falun Gong Practitioners Reported Arrested or Harassed for Their Faith in First Half of 2021
Based on an original report from Minghui.org
In the first half of 2021, 3,291 Falun Gong practitioners were reported arrested and 6,179 harassed for their faith.
The 3,291 reported arrests include 660 cases that took place in 2020 and 2,631 cases in 2021. The 6,179 harassment incidents break down to 7 cases in 2016, 1,122 in 2020, and 5,050 in 2021. The additional cases in 2020 bring the total targeted practitioners last year from 15,235 to 17,017 (7,319 arrests and 9,698 harassment).
Among the 9,470 targeted practitioners, 1,384 had their homes ransacked. One hundred and fifty-two practitioners had a total of 1,942,553 yuan and 20,000 USD in cash confiscated, averaging 142,292 yuan per person.
Another 113 practitioners have had their pensions suspended by the authorities, with the excuse that since they were serving time for their faith they were not entitled to any retirement benefit during their imprisonment (although there is no such stipulation in Chinese labor law).
At the time of writing, 2,042 of the arrested practitioners remain in custody. Another 78 have been forced to live away from home to avoid further persecution and possible arrest.
Surge in Harassments
Compared to the updated 3,213 arrests and 3,054 harassments confirmed in the first half of 2020, the 2,631 arrests in the first half of 2021 saw slight a reduction, but the 5,050 cases of harassment showed harassment up by 65%, compared to the same period last year.
Most of the increases in harassment took place in the months of April (1,561) and May (1,447), which were almost twice that of the same months a year before. This is a result of the continuation of the “Zero-out” harassment campaign carried over from last year, as well as the intensified persecution around the “sensitive dates” of April 25—the anniversary of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners appealing in 1999 outside the central government compound for the right to practice their faith—and May 13—the anniversary of Falun Gong’s introduction to the public—to prevent practitioners from speaking out about the persecution. The “Safety July 1” campaign prior to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) centennial anniversary was another date which intensified harassment of practitioners.
Comparing the available data of arrests and harassment that have taken place in the past three years, April and July (anniversaries marking the onset of the persecution) have always been peak months with the most persecution cases. What is new in 2020 were the huge peaks in November and December. Similar peaks were also observed in the number of practitioners being sentenced for their faith in the last two months of last year, likely a result of the “Zero-out” campaign.
The 9,470 targeted practitioners come from 264 cities in 30 provinces. Hebei (1,556), Shandong (1,293), Heilongjiang (998), Liaoning (795) and Sichuan (767) are the five provinces with the most cases. Fifteen other regions registered three-digit cases ranging from 129 to 718. Seven more provinces had double-digit cases and three had single-digit cases.
A total of 347 of the arrested and 425 of the harassed practitioners reported in the first half of 2021 were 65 or older.
The oldest practitioner harassed was 94.
Below are individual cases detailing the persecution.
Deaths in Custody
Arrests in 2021 have led to known deaths of two practitioners.
Mr. Li Xianxi of Anyang City, Henan Province, went out to buy food around 5 p.m. on May 11, 2021, and was arrested for talking to people about Falun Gong. He was handcuffed and shackled for doing the Falun Gong exercises at the local detention center.
On the morning of June 13, Li’s family was informed that the small shop owner in his 50s had died the day before. According to those who saw his body, he was emaciated. His head was swollen, and there were injuries to his back and knees.
Mr. Sun Pijin, of Mengyin County, Shandong Province, died one day after he was arrested while working on his family farm on June 17, 2021.
The police claimed that Sun refused to do the coronavirus test at the hospital. They said that he jumped from the building and died instantly. When Sun’s family saw his body at the funeral home, he was leaking brain fluid, one of his eyeballs was missing, and his abdomen was sunken.
As Sun’s wife, Ms. Yu Zaihua, died six years ago in the persecution, their daughter, who is being held in custody, has become an orphan.
Another devastating impact of the persecution is on practitioners’ families. The separation of parents from their young children, the detention of a family’s sole provider, or the incarceration of practitioners caring for elderly parents, have all caused tremendous distress to Falun Gong practitioners’ families.
For seeking the release of her mother, Ms. Wang Meiqi and her two aunts were twice arrested, on December 21, 2021 and April 19, 2021, respectively. As Wang, a college senior, was scheduled to take the graduate school entrance exam between December 26 and 27, she had to request special permission to take the exams and then return to finish serving the detention. After her mother, Ms. Zhang Qiaolei, was sentenced to 7.5 years with a fine of 10,000 yuan, Wang and one of her aunts is also facing prosecution.
The detention of Mr. Dai Xuebing, a 49-year-old logistics company owner and the sole provider in his family, left his four-year-old son, his wife, who is in poor health, and elderly parents in their 80s in deep despair.
The police began to follow and harass Dai in January 2021, after he had a phone conversation with a Falun Gong practitioner who was looking for a job in Changsha, Hunan Province. Following Dai’s arrest on May 30, the police said to his wife that he had been recorded by a surveillance camera distributing Falun Gong materials. Those who were with him were also arrested and are facing prison sentences.
Throughout the 22 years of persecution, some practitioners have been repeatedly arrested and detained for their faith.
Mr. Chen Yan, a Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province resident, was arrested on April 23, 2021 after being reported by a child’s grandfather for talking to the child about Falun Gong. Prior to his latest arrest, the 59-year-old former employee of the Shuangyashan Mining Bureau Second Construction Company has served two labor camp terms and a prison term, for a total of nine years. While serving time, Chen was constantly abused and tortured. He was hung up by his wrists, held in solitary confinement, had his four limbs tied up in a spread-eagle position, was shocked with electric batons, had his legs forcibly pulled apart in a split, and was brutally force-fed.
Six months after Ms. Zuo Xiuyun was released from serving five years, she was arrested again on June 19, 2021. This is the sixth time that the Fujian Province resident has been arrested for her faith. Four of her previous arrests have resulted in prison sentences, for three years, six years, three and a half years, and five years, respectively. She also lost her job as a kindergarten teacher and was divorced by her husband in 2003.
Her brother, Mr. Zuo Fusheng, a veteran, has served two labor camp terms for a total of three years and eight months, as well as a six-year prison term. He was once hung up by his wrists and beaten for six hours in the prison, causing him to become blind in one eye. His wife also divorced him to avoid being implicated in the persecution.
When the two siblings were imprisoned, their mother passed away on April 25, 2015, less than two months before Ms. Zuo was released from her third prison term.