Falun Gong Practitioner Cited in Gao Zhisheng Letter Dies from Torture in Custody

61-year-old retired teacher from Shandong dies shortly after release from detention center

NEW YORK—An elderly Falun Gong practitioner, who was cited as a torture victim by prominent attorney Gao Zhisheng in an open letter to China’s leaders, died in January due to injuries incurred in custody. Ms. Liu Lihua (???), 61, is the second of Gao’s interviewees known to have subsequently died from abuse in custody. Gao himself has been “disappeared” by Chinese security forces since February 2009.

Ms. Liu, a retired teacher from Shandong, died on January 28, 2010, after her release in September from a detention center, where she had been severely abused. Police detained her on March 24, 2009 as she was talking about the persecution against Falun Gong in public.

“During the time I was in prison, the guards employed absolutely inhumane means to torture me,” Liu told Gao Zhisheng in 2005, as cited in his open letter to Communist Party leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao urging them to end the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

“Once I was continuously handcuffed for as long as 43 days. With both of my hands cuffed behind my back, I was hung on a metal door and was beaten,” Liu reportedly said (full testimony).

Ms. Liu is the second of Gao’s interviewees whose death due to subsequent abuse in custody the Falun Dafa Information Center has documented. In 2007, Ms. Wang Yuhuan, a well-known Falun Gong adherent from Changchun died in police custody (news). In a December 2005 letter, Gao had detailed sexual assault and electrocution with batons that Wang had been subjected to in a mountain torture chamber outside the city.

“No one who has not personally experienced such pain can imagine how much it hurts,” Wang reportedly said of the abuse at the time.

Since February 2009, Gao’s own whereabouts have remained unknown, with many observers and acquaintances fearing he has been tortured and possibly killed (Washington Post op-ed by Gao’s wife). In recent years, Gao has been featured on the cover of the New York Times and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work protecting and speaking out for the gamut of China’s persecuted citizens, including Falun Gong practitioners. Shortly prior to his abduction, Gao had published a detailed account of severe abuse suffered during a previous detention, including being shocked with electric batons on his genitals (news).

Additional Details on Ms. Liu’s Death

Following Ms. Liu Lihua’s detention in March 2009, the police held her for six months at Yantai City Developing Zone Second Detention Center, where she was severely abused.

Ms. Liu’s husband attempted to visit her on multiple occasions, but was repeatedly denied access to his wife. Ms. Liu was then secretly “sentenced” to five years in a prison camp following a sham trial. She was taken to Jinan City Women’s Prison, but the prison authorities refused to accept her because of her poor physical condition resulting from the abuse suffered at the detention center.

She was therefore released on September 30, 2009. Ms. Liu never recovered from the abuse, however. She died on the evening of January 28, 2010 in the hospital after having collapsed the day before.