Falun Gong Practitioners Drugged in Shandong Women’s Prison
Since 1999, the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong has taken on various forms of physical and mental torture, including the use of psychiatric drugs and toxic substances in attempts to break the will power of Falun Gong practitioners.
Below is a first-hand account of what a Falun Gong practitioner in the Shandong Women’s Prison witnessed when guards or inmates forced or tricked practitioners into consuming toxic drugs.
Openly Drugging Practitioners
Before imprisonment, practitioners were generally healthy. More than 95% of the practitioners were forced to go through physical examinations and were labeled as “having various health problems.” They were forced to take pills, most of which were said to be “blood pressure medicine.”
Ms. Yang Jirong, a 77-year-old neurologist, was imprisoned in 2019 with a 5-year sentence. She was forced to take the so called “blood pressure” medication on the grounds that she had not completely “transformed” or given up her belief in Falun Gong. Afterwards, she suffered from dizziness, memory loss, slow movement, drowsiness, and stomach discomfort.
As an experienced neurologist, Ms. Yang knew that what was given to her was not blood pressure medication, but something that could lead to dementia if overdosed. She expressed her concerns to the prison doctors and to the inmate “nurses” many times that she did not have high blood pressure and that she should stop taking the medicine. But she was told that not cooperating with the “medical treatment” would be the same as failing to “transform” completely.
When Ms. Yang approached the guards, they referred her back to the prison doctors. One time in the name of bringing Ms. Wang for a checkup at a hospital, the inmates “nurses” removed her pants and pushed her down to the ground outdoors, exposing her to the freezing winter weather for over one hour. After returning to her cell, she was forced to take the same dose of the “blood pressure” medication. The prison doctors and inmate “nurses” claimed she had a mental disorder and threatened to increase the dosage. After several years, the once elegant, well-respected neurologist was reduced to a dreadful, deteriorated state.
Ms. Guo Xiuqing, a 70-year-old Falun Gong practitioner from Shouguang City, was imprisoned with a 7-year term, starting in 2018. After an inmate gave her a pill, her face immediately turned pale, and her lips turned purple. Her entire body started shaking. She felt dizzy, vomited, and could no longer stand. Someone then dragged Ms. Xiuqing to the inmate, Li Yujie who handed her another pill and said, “Oh, it seems that drug was so strong that you got poisoned by it. Take this antidote for now and I will give you a less potent pill next time.”
Li was one of several inmate “nurses” in Division 11 of the prison, who had no medical training but was assigned by the guards to dispense medicine, including psychiatric drugs. Li was jailed for child abduction and later released in 2020. While still imprisoned, Li and other inmate “nurses” often forced detained practitioners to take unknown drugs in an attempt to make them give up their belief in Falun Gong.
On May 12, 2020, after Ms. Meng Qingmei cried out “Falun Dafa is good!”, guards put her in solitary confinement. The guards later took her to the hospital for intravenous injections. Inmate Shuang Shuang (from Zibo City, sentenced to five years due to fraud) claimed that the needle was inserted into the wrong place and asked the doctor to pull it out to insert it again. This happened several times. They also asked some other inmates to practice needle insertion on Ms. Meng.
In the end, Ms. Meng’s whole body became extremely swollen. Rescue at Jinan Police Hospital failed, and she died of organ failure.
A Specific Group of Victims
In addition to Ms. Yang, Ms. Guo and Ms. Meng, many other practitioners jailed were drugged in Division 11. The guards arbitrarily labeled approximately 25% of the practitioners as “mentally ill” and forced them to take unlabeled “supplements.”
The practitioners that guards often targeted were usually those who were rarely visited by their families or who didn’t have much money in their commissary accounts. One example was Ms. Zhang Min, a practitioner from Weifang City. Hardly anyone went to visit her, and nobody deposited money into her account. She was one of the victims forced to take “supplements.” She protested out loud that she was normal and did not have any mental illnesses. But the forced drugging continued.
Intentionally Spiking Water Supply
Once released, practitioners were not allowed to take water out of the prison. The guard at the gate would dump all the water from their water bottles. Even some inmates complicit with the persecution did not know why.
It turns out the guards would regularly put nerve-damaging drugs into several large old-style thermoses from which people would pour out hot water into their own mugs. Once the pills dissolved in the hot water, the guards would ask inmates on duty to bring the thermoses to designated cells where Falun Gong practitioners were held. The inmates would tell the practitioners that the thermoses were used by the prison guards and that there was still some hot water left.
Because there wasn’t any hot water to drink in the cells, many practitioners agreed to drink the hot water the inmates offered.
As the practitioners drank such hot water laced with drugs over the years during their imprisonment, they gradually developed various symptoms, including drowsiness, fear, and memory loss; stomach bloating and indigestion; inability to wake up, blurred vision, palpitation, suffocation, and psychotic episodes; cold and stiff limbs. One practitioner had stiff limbs and had trouble turning her body during sleep. Three years after she was released from prison, she still did not fully recover her memory. Her family said that she could not remember any of the places that they had visited together. Her legs were also severely swollen.
The guards not only targeted steadfast practitioners, but also those who had already given up Falun Gong under pressure. Fu Guiying, a former practitioner who was highly trusted by the guards, also drank the laced hot water. There was another former practitioner who also drank such hot water and found that the cuts and bruises on her skin didn’t seemed to heal anymore.
Practitioners soon to be released usually had a chance to clean up the lobby. They said that they saw the guards bring their own bottled water to work every day. There were also inmates who had been to the guards’ offices and saw water coolers there. In other words, the guards either drank bottled water or the water from the water cooler. The thermoses were only used to deceive the practitioners into drinking the hot water laced with toxic drugs.
In Division 11 of the Shandong Women’s Prison, drugs used for psychiatric abuse were readily available. But when practitioners indeed became sick, staff would claimed that medication or treatment was unavailable. In one example, a practitioner had severe lower back pain. She had to beg the guards many times before she was allowed to visit the prison hospital. After the doctor found out she hasn’t been “transformed”, he diagnosed, “This is a lumbar disc herniation. There is nothing I can do. You must wait until you are released and get treatment elsewhere.”
Dental care was also used as an excuse for abuse. An elderly practitioner from Shouguang City was detained right after purchasing a denture but before the final adjustment was done. As a result, her denture was loose and kept falling out when she opened her mouth to talk.
According to the prison’s policy, anyone seeking dental care was required to have at least 3,000 yuan in her commissary account and wait for one or two months for an appointment. When it was finally the elderly practitioner’s turn to see the prison doctor, he glued her denture to a good tooth and charged her over 600 yuan for the quick fix. In the following few years, the denture moved around in her mouth, making it even harder for her to brush her teeth. Later, her good tooth became loose, and the entire denture hung in her mouth. She tried to make another appointment to see the doctor again but was refused treatment.
Practitioners suffered other types of physical abuse as well. After being tortured and injured, practitioners faced further abuse and humiliation by inmates. After Ms. Zhao Jihua, already in her 60s, was sent to prison, inmate Jiang Ping was authorized by the guards to beat her up in her cell every day. When the beating sound was too loud, Jiang sometimes dragged Ms. Zhao to a restroom nearby and beat her there severely.
Once during a blood sampling, several inmates beat Ms. Zhao and swore at her. No guards stopped them. Seeing Ms. Zhao not yielding, the guards and doctors instructed inmates to add nerve-damaging drugs in Ms. Zhao’s food. This led to her having a mental disorder, to becoming emaciated and extremely weak.
Ms. Bi Jianhong, a practitioner from Yantai City, went on a hunger strike to protest the abuse. She was dragged to the prison hospital where doctors instructed inmates to force-feed her every day. Every now and then, a doctor would yell, “Whoever has not practiced inserting force-feeding tubes, you can come and practice it!” With no training, some inmates inserted the nasal tube recklessly, causing tremendous pain to Ms. Zhao. There was a practitioner who died after the tube was inserted incorrectly into her lungs.
After the Coronavirus pandemic broke out in late 2019, Division 11 and the prison’s hospital used another tactic to abuse practitioners. In the hot summer, they had elderly practitioners wear thick cotton masks. They later gave out thinner masks, but the strings were so thin that they hurt the ears a lot. The practitioners were also forced to take numerous Coronavirus tests and to get vaccinated. Ms. Yang Xiaoqin, a practitioner in Jining City, refused to get the shots and was kept in solitary confinement until she was released.
Secret Underground Passage
Practitioners held in Division 11 of Shandong Women’s Prison usually had no clue as to where the injured practitioners were taken for “treatments” to be tortured, or how the bodies of those beaten to death were transported out.
Outside of the Division 11 compound is a road. Turning right on that road and then left at the end of it, there are a few large trash cans, not far from which is a metal gate that is usually guarded. Inside the gate is a basement where some practitioners were tortured, with blood splattered on the walls. Some practitioners were beaten to the point of injury, disability, or death. Other than guards or inmates involved in the torture, very few people knew about the secret torture chamber.
Division 11 of Shandong Women’s Prison also has a hidden underground passage that connects with the prison hospital. When practitioners were badly beaten and wounded, they were often moved to the hospital through that secret passage. Some practitioners who were tortured to death were also transferred out through this passage.