Falun Gong News Bulletin: October 14, 2011
Monitoring Falun Gong-related Developments in China and Beyond
“We look forward to seeing that Zhou Xiangyang is released, and that those who applied the ‘floor anchor’ torture in Gangbei Prison are investigated and dealt with according to law.”
– From a petition signed by 1,500 people in a city near Tianjin in August 2011 calling for the release of a local Falun Gong practitioner.
- Four new Falun Gong deaths recorded in September, one within ten days of detention
- 28 practitioners sent for forced conversion at Chongqing summer resort
- Urgent Appeal: Only surviving member of team that aired uncensored programs in Changchun on verge of death
- 1,500 sign petition for Falun Gong practitioner’s release from Tianjin prison
- Falun Gong restores health to young lymphoma cancer patient
- Thugs in Thailand assault elderly Falun Gong protestor, break arm
Photos smuggled from China and Vietnam September-October 2011
This photo gallery features 13 photos smuggled from China and Vietnam in September and October 2011 and obtained by the Falun Dafa Information Center. The images, sent abroad via the internet at great risk to the senders, provide a unique first-hand glimpse at both the suffering of Falun Gong practitioners and the resistance to the violent campaign against them. Included among the images are photographs of persecution victims, public appeals by family members of victims, scenes of show trials, and evidence of a brainwashing center held at a vacation resort. In addition to images from China, also included are photos from Vietnam, where the local Falun Gong community is facing escalating harassment due to Chinese Communist Party pressure on the Vietnamese authorities.
DEATHS FROM TORTURE
At least four additional Falun Gong practitioners died from abuse between August and September 2011, according to reports compiled by the Falun Dafa Information Center. Two of the victims died in custody, including one woman who was killed within only ten days of being abducted and sent to a brainwashing center. One of the other victims was a young woman, only 24 years old, who died after being subjected to over a year of abuse in custody. These cases bring to 53 the total number of deaths known to have occurred since January. The following is a list of the known victims, though given the difficulty of obtaining information, the actual death toll is surely higher. A more detailed account of each case, and photo of the victim where available, is provided at the corresponding link.
- Ms. Wang Mingrong, 53, from Sichuan, was a former head nurse at a hospital in Chengdu. She was abducted in early September and sent to Xinjin Brainwashing Center. Ten days later, on September 17, 2011, her family was informed that she had died; a witness saw bruises on her body.
- Ms. Wang Yujie, 24, from Hubei, died on September 3, 2011 after being severely tortured for over a year at a labor camp and brainwashing center in the Wuhan area.
- Mr. Fan Zhenguo, 50, was the director of a retirement home in Liaoning. After being abducted in July 2008 and sent illegally to Panjin prison for an eight year term, he died in custody on September 11, 2011.
- Ms. Xie Zhiying, 52, was a tax bureau employee in Xinjiang. After being abused at mental hospitals and a labor camp for five years, she was placed under tight house arrest and police surveillance in 2004. Since then, she had been deprived almost entirely of visitation from family and friends. She died on August 6, 2011 under unclear circumstances.
TORTURE, DETENTIONS, & OTHER ABUSES
Sichuan judge sends seven Falun Gong practitioners to prison after mockery of a trial
On August 26, 2011, a group trial of seven Falun Gong practitioners was held at the Wuhou District Court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. At the end of the hearing, all of the practitioners were sent to prison camps for terms ranging from two to seven years. The seven had all worked at one time at a shop called Chengdu Computer City. On July 21, 2009, officers from Tiaosanta Police Station broke into the shop and abducted five employees, then went to the homes of two former employees and took them into custody. Details relayed from individuals inside China close to the case portray a mockery of justice and series of manipulations by judges, police, and Communist Party officials that violate Chinese and international law. These included holding the practitioners in custody for two years before bringing them to court, torturing them in detention, the police fabricating evidence, and their hired lawyers not being notified of the court date. The Falun Dafa Information Center urges human rights groups to investigate the details of the case and call for their immediate and unconditional release. Several of the seven had already been detained previously for practicing Falun Gong and were severely tortured in custody.
* For a detailed description of the case and names of the seven prisoners of conscience, see here.
* For photos taken outside the courtroom, as well as of one of the practitioners with his family, see this week’s photo gallery.
In recent weeks and months, the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in Chongqing has intensified under the direction of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) head Bo Xilai. As part of this initiative, the authorities have set up over a dozen brainwashing centers for holding Falun Gong practitioners and trying to force them to renounce their beliefs. The Falun Dafa Information Center recently received news that from June to early August, CCP officials in the Nan’an district of Chongqing held such a session at a summer vacation hotel, called the Nandi Resort (????). Translated more literally as the Southern Emperor Mountain Village, the resort is described on Chinese travel websites as being in the beautiful Southern Mountain area of Chongqing and home to 34 rooms with the capacity to hold 80 people (see links below).
At least 28 local residents who practice Falun Gong were abducted and held there. Under the leadership of the Nan’an district CCP political-legal committee, personnel from the public security system, as well as individuals with science and technology backgrounds, forced practitioners to watch anti-Falun Gong videos daily, supplemented by “heart to heart talks” aimed at forcing them to renounce their faith. Each staff member was reportedly rewarded with large sums of money, drawn from a special fund allocated by the CCP for this task. One report indicated that each local brainwashing session was granted a budget of one million yuan (about $US 150,000). It is unclear yet how much psychological abuse was supplemented by physical torture, but the latter is routine at CCP-run brainwashing centers. Like “black jails” used to house petitioners, this incident is a typical example of how hotels and other civilian venues are transformed into makeshift, extralegal detention centers for the purposes of detaining Falun Gong practitioners.
The resort’s address is 112 Nanshan Park Road, Nan’an, Chongqing, China 400065. Its phone number is +86-23-62463385 or +86-23-62479195.
* Posting on Chinese-language travel website
* Posting on English-language travel website (includes photo of building)
* FDIC News Bulletin: “Bo Xilai intensifies Falun Gong crackdown in Chongqing”
MEDIA & INTERNET FREEDOM
In March 2002, several residents of the northeastern city of Changchun tapped into Chinese state-controlled media and aired footage exposing the persecution of Falun Gong and debunking Communist Party propaganda. As reported by the Falun Dafa Information Center and relayed in a detailed investigation by researcher Ethan Guttmann, all of the individuals involved in the extraordinary act of nonviolent resistance were detained. Nearly all have since been tortured to death, the most recent one in May 2010. The only surviving member of the team, Mr. Sun Changjun, 35, is currently being held at Jilin Prison after being sentenced in a sham trial to 17 years in prison in 2002. According to sources inside China, his health has deteriorated badly due to torture. He is suffering from severe tuberculosis, is emaciated, and on the verge of death. However, prison authorities refuse to release him on medical parole. The Falun Dafa Information Center calls on the international community to pressure the Chinese government to release Sun immediately.
Son of Falun Gong practitioners sent to labor camp after complaining online of being denied college entry
Mr. Liu Xiaolin is the son of two Falun Gong practitioners from Shouguang city in Shandong province. Although he scored high on the National College Entrance Exam, Communist Party officials and agents of the local 610 Office reportedly barred him from entering college because of his parents’ faith. While visiting the home of Ms. Liu Guangying, a relative and also a Falun Gong practitioner, Mr. Liu complained about his unfair treatment on a local website. The comment was apparently detected by internet monitors because officers from Hualong Town Police Station went to Ms. Liu’s home shortly afterwards, beat her and took her into custody. Meanwhile, they went to Mr. Liu’s uncle’s home and abducted him. On September 9, 2011, Mr. Liu was sent to a re-education through labor camp for one year. After his detention, his parents Mr. Liu Zonggang and Ms. Sui Qiaohong fled their home to avoid arrest. They attempted to return home several weeks later, on September 21, but the authorities were waiting for them. They were immediately detained and taken to Shouguang Detention Center. The Falun Dafa Information Center is continuing to investigate the family’s situation.
Trial postponed for Falun Gong radio broadcasters in Vietnam, but broader intimidation escalates
The trial of two Falun Gong practitioners in Vietnam, scheduled to take place on October 6, was postponed at the last minute, apparently due to international pressure. Mr. Vu Duc Trung, a 30-year-old CEO of a high-tech company, and his 35-year-old brother-in-law Mr. Le Van Thanh were scheduled to stand trial in Hanoi for broadcasting uncensored radio programs to China following a request from Beijing to crackdown. The pair remain in custody and could be tried at any time. Reporters without Borders and Freedom House both issued alerts the day before the scheduled trial criticizing the hearing. The trial came amidst a broader escalation of Vietnamese authorities’ intimidation and abuse of the local Falun Gong community in recent months. For example, on August 31, 2011, three practitioners in Long An were carried away by police without a warrant while doing the Falun Gong exercises in Three Precinct Park. In custody, police used cigarettes to burn one man’s hand and nose (see photo) and confiscated the practitioners’ cell phones and car keys. Such harassment began intensifying in mid-2010 after Chinese officials sent a diplomatic memo to Vietnam urging that the “activities of Falun Gong individuals in the Vietnam territory must be attacked and stopped.”
* FDIC, “Urgent Appeal: Vietnam Must Halt Falun Gong Intimidation, Upcoming Trial,” Sept. 29, 2011.
* FDIC, “Urgent Appeal Update: Falun Gong Trial in Vietnam Postponed, but Dozens Detained at Chinese Consulate,” Oct. 6, 2011.
* Reporters without Borders, “Two citizen journalists facing jail sentences for operating pirate radio,” Oct. 5, 2011.
* Freedom House, “Bowing to Chinese Pressure, Vietnam Places Falun Gong Radio Broadcasters on Trial,” Oct. 5, 2011.
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Prominent human rights lawyer reveals details of abduction
Jiang Tianyong, a prominent Chinese lawyer who defended over twenty Falun Gong practitioners, was abducted by Chinese security agents in February and held incommunicado for 60 days. After months of silence following his release, he recently spoke to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, relaying details of his ordeal. Jiang reported being badly beaten for two nights, being forced to sit motionless for 15 hours a day, and having his interrogators scream “You are not a human being!” Jiang said he was forced to sign pledges before his release promising to report back the details of any human rights related activities or meetings he encountered. He explained that his fear of getting others in trouble was the reason for his low profile since his release. Though he has started posting comments on his Chinese microblog and Twitter account, he says he hasn’t fully recovered from the fear drilled into him during his abduction. Jiang is one of dozens of Chinese lawyers who in recent years have defied Communist Party directives, intimidation, and in some cases torture, to defend Falun Gong practitioners in an effort to end the persecution and guarantee freedom of belief for all Chinese people. Gao Zhisheng, the most well known of them, was abducted in April 2010 and has not been heard from since.
Hebei woman sent to labor camp after trying to seek justice for detained brother
On July 10, 2011, Mr. Tong Ruiqing (???), a Falun Gong practitioner from Handan in Hebei Province, was abducted off the street by police in Nanle County when going to buy fruit. He was subsequently sentenced to one year in a re-education through labor (RTL) camp. His sister, Ms. Tong Cunshu (???), hired an attorney to try and challenge his arbitrary detention. On September 2, 2011, she and the lawyer went to Nanle County Police department to appeal for her brother’s release. After the attorney completed some paperwork, the pair planned to go to the detention center to visit Mr. Tong. However, soon after they left the building, police stopped them, pulled the two into a police vehicle and took them back to the station. Ms. Tong, herself a Falun Gong practitioner who had previously been imprisoned for five years because of her faith, was then taken to Daming County Detention Center. According to sources inside China, she was later sentenced to a labor camp and taken on September 20 to Shijiazhuang Women’s RTL camp.
On August 12, 2011, over 1,500 people from Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province signed a petition titled “How Will You Treat This Public Opinion.” It calls on the authorities to release Mr. Zhou Xiangyang (???), 38, a Falun Gong practitioner being held at Binhai Prison in Tianjin (formerly Gangbei Prison). In 2003, Mr. Zhou, a railway engineer, was abducted and sentenced after a sham trial to nine years in prison for practicing Falun Gong. At the time, he was engaged to Ms. Li Shanshan. Over the following years, as Zhao’s health deteriorated due to torture, Li and Zhao’s mother worked tirelessly to appeal to the authorities for his release. In 2006, Li was herself sent to a labor camp for 15 months for “inciting subversion” because of her efforts on Zhou’s behalf.
In July 2009, several United Nations human rights experts issued an urgent appeal on Zhou’s behalf. On July 28, 2009, he was released from prison on medical parole, weighing only 86 lbs. By practicing the Falun Gong exercises and studying its teachings, Zhou quickly began regaining his health and weight. In October 2009, he and Li were finally married. They managed to open a little shop. However, in March 2011, police suddenly abducted Zhou and took him back to prison to complete his earlier sentence. According to family members, he has been tortured even more severely than in previous detentions, causing his condition to again deteriorate. He is very weak, suffers from chest pain, and has blood in his urine. Word of his plight spread in Zhou’s hometown via the internet and open letters authored by his wife and mother. In response, over 1,500 local residents signed their names and thumbprints to a petition calling for his release. Zhou’s family members have also hired a lawyer from Beijing to file a complaint against the prison authorities for torturing him.
* United Nations Urgent Appeal for Zhou Xiangyang from 2009, available here (scroll down).
* For image of petition and photos of Zhou and his wife, see this week’s photo gallery.
* First person account by Zhou’s wife Li Shanshan detailing the full saga of their persecution
Elderly mother in Heilongjiang holds sign in public seeking help for comatose son
On September 13, 2011, police in Fujin, Heilongiang Province abducted Mr. Li Shaotie (???) and another Falun Gong practitioner who were distributing materials related to the practice and human rights abuses suffered by practitioners. They were reportedly taken to a detention center and severely tortured, causing Li to fall into a coma. He was then sent to the emergency room at Fujin Hospital, but police refused to fully release him into his family’s care. In response, on September 20 and 21, his 90-year-old mother and other relatives decided to stand in front of the police station with a sign explaining Li’s inhumane treatment and demanding justice. Passersby began to take note and express their sympathy. Photos taken at the scene show uniformed and plainclothes police videotaping Li’s mother and then confiscating her sign. With assistance from others, she reportedly wrote an appeal letter and distributed over one hundred copies to members of the public. Despite provisions of Chinese law prohibiting torture and requiring the punishment of perpetrators, impunity is the norm in Falun Gong cases. Under such circumstances, Falun Gong practitioners and their family members have discovered over the years that an alternative avenue for pressuring police to follow Chinese law is to expose their crimes locally. The embarrassment of being known in their community as a torturer often prompts them to treat residents who practice Falun Gong more humanely.
* For a photo of Li’s mother holding the sign calling for his release, see this week’s photo gallery.
LIVING FALUN GONG
In 2008, 25-year-old Huang Shan was diagnosed with late-term lymphoma—a form of cancer. After weeks of undergoing chemotherapy, and suffering from the sickness and weakness that comes with it, Huang was introduced to Falun Gong. Upon taking up the practice, his health quickly improved. Huang was soon able to stop the chemotherapy sessions, and within three months, a visit to the doctor revealed that the cancer was gone.
Click here to read Huang’s story.
Hong Kong authorities announce restrictions on Falun Gong displays
Banners and display boards related to Falun Gong and the persecution in China have become a fixture of Hong Kong tourist spots over the past 12 years. At these venues, local practitioners speak with Hong Kong residents, Chinese tourists and others about rights abuses in China while trying to help them see through the CCP’s misinformation about Falun Gong. According to Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners, however, on September 2, staff from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) issued notices to different sites where practitioners have displays, including in front of the Liaison Office to Beijing (the central government’s representation in Hong Kong), saying they will soon begin demanding that the information be removed. The FEHD cited an ordinance usually applied to commercial activities, but now being applying to non-commercial, human rights-related actions. They said that violators could be fined $US 47 daily and up to $US 1,565 total. At one site, the FEHD staff cited the reason for the intensified enforcement being upcoming district council elections. For the moment, practitioners have refused to remove their materials. Instead, they have been visiting offices to explain their position and urge that the previous application of the ordinance, used for the past 12 years and which allows for freedom of expression, be adopted again. Several prodemocracy members of the legislature and the director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor advocacy group also expressed their concerns at the new restrictions.
In an incident fitting into a pattern of escalating efforts by the CCP to suppress Falun Gong activities in Southeast Asia, an elderly Falun Gong practitioner was attacked by thugs on October 7 while quietly appealing in front of the Chinese embassy in Bangkok. Ms. Lin Cai, 72, was meditating opposite the embassy when two men dressed in black reportedly assaulted her. One man tore down the banners and the other hit her right arm with a metal bat then punched her in the abdomen. One of the men reportedly said “I will teach you a lesson about displaying banners,” then the pair grabbed the banners, which displayed messages like “Falun Dafa is Good” or “The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t equal China.” They fled on a motorbike that had no license plate. According to Ms. Lin, displaying such banners is legal in Thailand and she had a permit from the police to protest at that location, strengthening the possibility that the attackers were CCP-hired thugs. Indeed, a Thai police officer on duty nearby assisted her in reporting the incident to the local police precinct and urged her to go to the hospital.
* The Epoch Times, “72-Year-Old Protester Attacked Before Bangkok’s Chinese Embassy,” October 12, 2011.
Falun Gong refugee in South Korea still detained, facing possible deportation
A Chinese couple who practice Falun Gong and live in South Korea continue to face potential deportation to China, though they remain in South Korea at the moment. Mr. Jin Jingzhe, the husband, is still in detention at a center for foreign migrants, increasing the risk that his deportation could be carried out quickly. Should they be returned to China, the pair would be at high risk of illegal imprisonment, torture, and death. The couple had applied for asylum and their application was rejected, part of a pattern in recent years in South Korea, which has deported at least 10 Falun Gong practitioners to China since 2009. At a Congressional hearing on human rights in North Korea on September 20, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who chaired the session, added a comment regarding Falun Gong refugees in South Korea, stating: “South Korea should find the appropriate means within the South Korean legal system and international conventions on torture and refugees that it has ratified to permit these Falun Gong practitioners to remain in South Korea.” The Falun Dafa Information Center urges the South Korean authorities to immediately release Mr. Jin from custody, while seeking a solution to his case along the lines outlined by Congressman Smith and others.
* The Epoch Times, “Another Congressman Urges S. Korea to Cease Falun Gong Deportations,” Sept. 25, 2011.
* FDIC, “Urgent Appeal: South Korea Must Cease Deporting Falun Gong Practitioners to China,” Sept. 12, 2011.
* Wall Street Journal Blog, “Protests grow over deportations of Falun Gong practitioners,” Sept. 20, 2011.
Since 1999, the Chinese Communist Party has carried out a widespread, brutal campaign of persecution to eradicate Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual and qigong practice, whose adherents in China still number in the tens of millions. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese who practice Falun Gong remain in captivity, rendering them the single largest group of prisoners of conscience in China (article). The United Nations, Amnesty International, Chinese human rights lawyers, and Western media have documented Falun Gong torture and deaths at the hands of Chinese officials (reports). In its annual report released in early 2011, Amnesty International stated that Falun Gong practitioners who refused to renounce their beliefs “are typically tortured until they co-operate; many die in detention or shortly after release.” The Communist Party’s campaign and its implementation are in violation of Chinese law and, contrary to common reporting, Falun Gong was not banned as an “evil cult.” (analysis)