Falun Gong Practitioner Denied Medical Parole Dies in Custody

At around 12 noon on November 20, 2023, Mr. Wang Haiqian, resident of Dazhu County, Sichuan Province, passed away at the Dazhu County Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital at the age of 61. Late at night on October 10, 2023, he was taken to the Dazhu County Justice Bureau in an ambulance by the prison authorities, and then his family members carried him home, according to Weiquanwang, a Chinese human rights website. Mr. Wang had been diagnosed with colon cancer in January 2023, while serving a 7.5-year prison term for practicing Falun Gong.

According to Minghui, Mr. Wang, a former teacher at Chengbei Middle School, was arrested along with 25 other local practitioners for reading Falun Gong books together at a private home in July 2019. Despite his appeals, he was sentenced to a 7.5-year prison term and a 50,000-yuan (approx. 7,000 USD) fine in December 2020.

While Mr. Wang was in prison, his family learned of his deteriorating health in October 2021, with symptoms of liver disease emerging, which his family believes were due to the abuse in prison. Despite their pleas and concerns, prison authorities denied the family’s visitation requests, citing the pandemic as a reason.

Meanwhile, prison authorities delayed the processing of Mr. Wang’s medical parole request. By the time he was released around September 2023, the cancer had metastasized, rendering him unable to eat. Mr. Wang succumbed to his illness just one month after his release.

Mr. Wang’s tragic death comes after decades of persecution for his faith in Falun Gong–the practice he credited for improving his health and moral character. Mr. Wang faced multiple arrests and even nearly died during a two-year forced labor term.

Two Years of Forced Labor

Mr. Wang was first arrested at home on the evening of July 20, 1999, the day the persecution of Falun Gong began. Initially detained for two days, upon his return home, the Domestic Security Office demanded that he write a statement renouncing Falun Gong, threatening detention if he refused to comply. Mr. Wang was among the first of hundreds of local practitioners arrested in his village, each coerced to submit a renunciation statement under the threat of detention.

Mr. Wang sought justice by traveling to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong in November 1999. However, his efforts were in vain as he was promptly arrested and returned to Dazhu County. Subsequently, he found himself in the confines of Chuandong Prison, enduring solitary confinement on a frigid stone stool. Forced to spend entire days reflecting on his alleged mistake, he endured this ordeal with only about one bowl of meal a day.

In January 2000, Mr. Wang was relocated to the Dazhu County Detention Center. On the second day, he and fellow practitioners were bound by guards, adorned with poster boards around their necks, and paraded through town on a truck—an act designed to humiliate and demean them. This event marked a distressing chapter in Mr. Wang’s journey, symbolizing the harsh and degrading treatment meted out to Falun Gong practitioners during that period.

In April 2000, Mr. Wang was given a two-year term at the Dayan Forced Labor Camp, where he endured unpaid labor, including picking cotton, making straw ropes, firecrackers, and light bulbs, growing vegetables, and raising fish. In December 2000, he was forced to wear shorts and remove dead fish from a waist-deep pool. When he finally concluded his illegal reeducation through labor term, his entire body was swollen from the torment, according to Minghui.

Persistent Harassment, Surveillance, and Detention in Reeducation Facilities

Following his release, Mr. Wang continued to be subjected to unwarranted scrutiny and harassment by the police. On one occasion, security forces forcibly entered his home at night, conducting a thorough search. Because of his belief in Falun Gong, he was financially punished by the school he worked at, and his teaching position was taken away, though he continued working there. His family members have been implicated and intimidated, according to Weiquanwang.

In August 2004, Mr. Wang was apprehended by a group of police officers while visiting a recently released practitioner. This led to his month-long detention and subsequent interrogation. A month later, he found himself confined in a brainwashing center, where he remained until January 2005.

The cycle of persecution persisted as Mr. Wang faced another arrest in September 2007, leading to his confinement in a brainwashing center until January 2008.

On November 24, 2010, while walking down the street, a police officer assaulted Mr. Wang, grabbing his hair, dragging him down a flight of stairs, and subsequently detaining him in yet another brainwashing center. His release finally came with the onset of the school’s winter break. These incidents reflect the relentless and prolonged harassment endured by Mr. Wang at the hands of the authorities.

Following his latest arrest, on November 5, 2020, Dazhou City Dazhu County Court remotely tried a group of six individuals, including Mr. Wang. Subsequently, on December 29, 2020, the court issued a first-instance verdict, sentencing the group under the offense of “using a banned religion to undermine law enforcement.” Mr. Wang received a lengthy sentence of 7.5 years in prison along with a fine of 50,000 Chinese yuan (approx. 7,000 USD). The sentence is set to conclude on January 26, 2027.

The remaining five individuals in the group were also unjustly sentenced to varying prison terms ranging from 1.5 to five years. Tragically, on November 20, 2023, Mr. Wang died during his sentence at the Jiazhou Prison in Sichuan.