Farmer from Northeast China Dies after 300-Day Torture Ordeal

Sister hears his last words after a year of illegal detention, 'I want to come home'

NEW YORK, November 16, 2001 (Falun Dafa Information Center) – Ju Yajun, a 33-year-old farmer from Heilongjiang province in northeastern China, died after a 300-day ordeal involving prolonged torture, forced feedings, and extreme conditions in a Chinese detention center, sources inside China report. This, all because he refused to renounce his freedom of belief in Falun Gong.

Over 312 practitioner of Falun Gong have died due to abuse by police since Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong began over two years ago, though government officials say that the number is likely well over three times that figure.

Detained and Tortured for Appealing in Beijing

On October 11th, 2000, Mr. Ju Yajun, from Yuquan town of Ahcheng city, in Heilongjiang province, went to Beijing in order to appeal for his right to practice Falun Gong. According to reliable sources, he was arrested and detained at the Ahcheng City Number Two Detention Center.

At the detention center, the warden served Yajun only cornbread for meals, but divided the portion into two, discarding half in order to cause more suffering, according to witnesses. He was not allowed to extend his legs while sleeping, risking beating by guards if he did. The director general of the public security department, Gao Zhong, personally posted a note on the blackboard stating that “Families of Falun Gong practitioners must not visit in the first three months [of detention],” and anything the families sent would not reach their loved ones in the detention center. It is common for a prisoner’s family to provide clothing and personal items to their loved ones in detention, and even sometimes pay for the cost of detention.

According to witnesses, the detention center warden arbitrarily beat anyone he did not like. In one such case, the warden attempted to penalize Ju Yajun and two others, Ren Dezhong and Liu Hongyun, but they refused to comply. The warden then had a bus driver, Gao, beat them, stopping only when the other Falun Gong practitioners reminded him that beating is not allowed by law. These three prisoners were then transferred to female cells, and Ju Yajun was eventually released after three months of torture.

Back into Detention for Forced Reeducation, Forced Feeding

After just over a month at home, the local policemen called Ju Yajun to the Yuquanzheng police substation under the excuse of holding a meeting. After beating and kicking him for some time, they then sent him back to the Ahcheng City Number Two Detention Center.

This time his treatment was even more severe. When the policemen cursed Falun Gong and its founder, Li Hongzhi, Ju Yajun interrupted. For this he was forced into a torture position called “airplane style,” in which the two arms are extended backwards while the body is bent at 90 degrees. The policemen forced him to hold this position for an extended period, beating him if he moved even slightly.

Because Yajun had appealed publicly for Falun Gong, he was given one year in labor education. On July 5, 2000, officials sent him to the Wanjia Labor Camp in Harbin City for an 8-day assembled training. Often “training” means torture, during which guards try to extract a “confession” or “repentance statement” renouncing one’s intent to continue practicing Falun Gong.

Many of those who submit to the treatment and sign statements under duress then issue retractions once they are released. The Falun Gong websites have received tens of thousands of these retractions over the past year alone, which reveals the massive scale of this effort in China. The “6-10 Office,” headed up by Luo Gan and formed for the sole purpose of annihilating Falun Gong, has issued statements urging detention centers throughout China to use any force necessary to “convert” Falun Gong practitioners, and that any deaths from abuse in custody would be officially reported as suicides.

Ju Yajun’s Final Peaceful Appeal

During his time in the Changlinzi Labor Camp, Ju Yajun suffered even more torture and abhorrent conditions. His body began to fester with scabies. Given no other means of peaceful appeal, he began a series of three hunger strikes, the last one beginning on October 8, 2001.

Police force-fed him twice daily during his hunger strike, using a tube inserted through the nose. This procedure is often administered by untrained prison guards, or even other inmates. Many have died from damage to the trachea or lungs during the process.

Adam Montanaro, spokesperson for the New York based Falun Dafa Information Center, remarked on the practice of forced-feeding: “The prison guards are ordered to force-feed any Falun Gong practitioners on hunger strikes – to keep them alive in the hopes that, by prolonging their torture, they may be eventually coerced to abandon their beliefs. This policy is horrifying. Still, these Falun Gong practitioners resort to hunger strikes because it is the only way left for them to protest the injustice while adhering to the principles of non-violence.”

On October 18th, Ju Yajun’s throat swelled up so much that the plastic tube could not be inserted. On the afternoon of October 21st, he was grabbed from the yard and sent to the Changlinzi prison hospital, only to be sent back around 9:00 pm, unconscious. Other prisoners observed needle marks on his arms. Ju Yajun never regained consciousness.

A Matter of Responsibility

Sources in China believe that this type of abuse is premeditated. According to Ju Yajun’s family, on October 19th, the head official from the Changlinzi Labor Camp, someone named “Li”, phoned Ju Yajun’s elder sister, and asked for copies of his identification and household registration. His family pondered the meaning of the request: Why would the labor camp need these documents now, after he had been detained for so long? They refused the request.

Later, because of his sister’s insistence, she was allowed to talk with him on the phone. At that time, Ju Yajun had been on hunger strike for 10 days. He said only one sentence: “Sis, I want to go home.” These would become his final words.

On October 24th, three days after he had lost consciousness, the Changlinzi Labor Camp sent him back to the Yuquanzhen Town Council. They, in turn, forced his family to sign acceptance papers, moved him off the delivery car, and drove away quickly. His family did everything they could to save him. They sent him to Ahcheng City Hospital, and then transferred him to Harbin City Medical School Number Two Hospital. After 36 hours of emergency treatment, Ju Yajun died at 4:18am on October 26th, 2001.

His family appealed to the local officials several times, but their appeals were met with excuses and threats from each level. When reporters called the Changlinzi Labor Camp, they were only told that Ju Yajun was “sent home.” When asked about the cause of death, they were told, “we cannot say.” As of last week, Ju Yajun’s body was still in the mortuary of Ahcheng City Hospital.