Disappearances of Falun Gong Practitioners
Chapter 6, 2010 Annual Report
An unknown number of Falun Gong practitioners have disappeared since the persecution began, as new cases continued to be reported throughout 2009. In many cases, when families attempt to report missing relatives, the authorities respond that they have no responsibility to search for missing Falun Gong adherents.
In addition to the over 3,300 Falun Gong adherents who are documented to have died as a result of persecution in China, thousands of individuals have also disappeared since the persecution began (reports of disappeared from 2006–2008 alone totaled 1,300). The cases of missing individuals vary greatly in age and occupation of the victim, as well as geographic region and time of disappearance.
The circumstances under which adherents go missing in China vary. They include scenarios where the adherent leaves home to run errands and never returns, is arrested and disappears after being taken into custody, or flees home in order to avoid persecution and is never seen or heard from again. A significant portion of those who disappeared between 1999 to 2001 were reported missing after they traveled to Beijing to peacefully appeal for Falun Gong, and never returned home.
As noted in investigations concerning the possible forced organ extraction from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, “disappeared” practitioners—particularly those in their 20s, 30s and 40s—are considered to be the most vulnerable to such treatment. There is also speculation, based on interviews with Falun Gong refugees and anecdotal accounts from China, that many missing practitioners may have been sent to large labor camps in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and other interior provinces, though the full details of such facilities have been difficult to verify.
Below is a small sampling of cases of Falun Gong adherents who went missing in 2009.
Ms. Feng Huimin, 28, last seen June 22, 2009:
Ms. Feng Huimin is originally from Lingyuan city in Liaoning province, but was living in Zhejiang province at the time of her disappearance. She was employed in Hangzhou by the Zhejiang Province Environmental Monitoring Station. On the evening of June 22, 2009, police apprehended Ms. Feng while she was distributing literature about the persecution of Falun Gong. As of year’s end, she had not been seen or heard from since.
Mr. Jiang Tong, 38, last seen June 13, 2009:
Mr. Jiang is a Falun Gong adherent from Shanghai who was imprisoned at Tilanqiao Prison from 2001 to 2009, during which time he was reportedly tortured severely. Due to injuries sustained during torture sessions at Tilanqiao prison, Mr. Jiang’s physical condition upon his release was poor. Shortly after his release, Mr. Jiang again disappeared on June 13, 2009.
Ms. Li Xiuqing, reported missing January 19, 2009:
Ms. Li Xiuqing is a Falun Gong practitioner in her late 50s to early 60s, originally from Sanhe city in Hebei province. She and her husband relocated to Beijing in 2007.
Less than two weeks before the Beijing Olympics began, on July 26, 2008, security agents made a forced entry into Ms. Li’s home and abducted her. On August 2, 2008, she was sentenced to two years in a labor camp, but was held for several more months at the Beijing Dispatch Center in Daxing County. On January 19, 2009, Ms. Li’s family was preparing to visit her at the Dispatch Center, but received a phone call informing them that she had been transferred. The family was not told where she had been transferred to, but they have reason to believe she may have been sent to a labor camp in Inner Mongolia (Falun Gong adherents arrested in Beijing but who are not registered Beijing residents are often reported to have been sent to Inner Mongolia or other interior provinces.).
Below is a small sampling of cases of Falun Gong adherents who went missing prior to 2009, but whose whereabouts remained unknown at year’s end.
Mr. Li Guangwei, 75, last seen July 25, 2005:
Mr. Li is a retired primary school teacher and an accomplished painter and calligrapher from Jiangxi province. Prior to his disappearance in 2005, Mr. Li had distributed information about the persecution of Falun Gong to acquaintances in the arts community. Security agents responded to such actions by monitoring and harassing him. Shortly before his disappearance, Mr. Li frequently expressed to his family that he was afraid to leave the house lest he be arrested.
At approximately 9 a.m. on July 25, 2005, Mr. Li told his family he was going for a walk, and that he would be back shortly. He never returned home.
Mr. Li’s wife and children reported his disappearance to several different police departments. None of the departments responded in an effective manner or undertook efforts to investigate Mr. Li’s whereabouts. Rather, security agents allegedly threatened Mr. Li’s daughter, urging her not to “get into trouble” by searching for her father.
Ms. Tang Shirong, 70, last seen September 2005:
Ms. Tang Shirong, a Falun Gong practitioner from the Jingkou township in Chongqing, has been missing for over four years. One evening in early September 2005, Ms. Tang went out to post leaflets exposing human rights abuses committed against Falun Gong practitioners by local authorities. The following day, Ms. Tang’s posters were seen throughout the neighborhood, but she had disappeared.
Ms. Tang’s family reported her missing to the Jingkou Town Police Station and the nearby Tongjiaxi Town Police Station, Beibei District. Officers at both police stations denied arresting Ms. Tang and stated that they had no obligation to search for a missing Falun Gong practitioner.
Ms. Zhang Yunhe, 37, last seen May 2001:
Zhang Yunhe and her husband, Zou Songtao, were both Falun Gong practitioners living in Qingdao city. On November 3, 2000, Mr. Zou was tortured to death at Wangcun labor camp in Zibo city at the age of 28.
Not long thereafter, in May 2001, Ms. Zhang was forced to leave home to avoid arrest, leaving the couple’s infant daughter in the care of her grandparents. Ms. Zhang has not been seen or heard from since.
Ms. Zhang’s family reports hearing rumors that she was sent to the Qingdao City Dashan Detention Center in February 2002, but they were unable to confirm this information. Upon visiting or calling the detention center, family members have been told either that Ms. Zhang is not a prisoner there, or that she is an enemy of the Communist Party. Ms. Zhang would be turning 37 this year.