Former Orthopedic Surgeon Maintains his Faith While Enduring Relentless Torture during Ten-Year Prison Sentence
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
In Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China, for practicing Falun Gong, a 49-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, Mr. Li Lizhuang was imprisoned in February 2022 with a ten-year sentence.
During the first three months in prison Mr. Li was subjected to constant beatings, electric shocks, and sleep deprivation, among many other forms of torture.
Mr. Li Lizhuang had been arrested in April 2020. The Ranghulu District Court sentenced him to ten years and eight months with an 80,000-yuan fine in late 2021. He was convicted for having more than 80,000 phone numbers saved in his address book, and for calling four officers and playing recorded voice messages about Falun Gong.
Ordered to Write Statement Renouncing Falun Gong
On February 17, 2022 Mr. Li was taken to the Hulan Prison and assigned to the training ward. The first day there, Mr. Li was verbally abused by the inmate, Wu Jianjia who tried to force him to squat.
As Mr. Li did not comply, Wu and other inmates dragged him to the warehouse facing the guards’ office where there were no surveillance cameras. Several inmates knocked him down. Wu shocked him with electric batons and sprayed spicy water into his eyes. Mr. Li had difficulty breathing and had burning pain on his face and neck. He kept shedding tears for hours.
The next day, guard Geng Hongtao tried to coerce Mr. Li to write a statement renouncing Falun Gong. Mr. Li refused to write the statement, maintaining that it’s his freedom of belief to practice Falun Gong. Consequently, Geng shocked Mr. Li with electric batons.
Two days later, inmate Wu shocked Mr. Li with electric batons again on his head, neck, chest, hands, knees and private parts. Wu sprayed spicy water onto his private parts, inner thighs, buttocks, anus, face and eyes. Mr. Li shed several layers of skin due to the torture.
After another two days, guard Geng ordered the inmates to bring Mr. Li to his office. As Mr. Li refused to report his name, inmate Song Fei stomped on his stomach. Mr. Li stepped back and fell to the ground. As Mr. Li maintained that he would not renounce his faith, Geng shocked him with electric batons.
Sleep Deprivation and Electric Shocks
When Mr. Li returned to his cell he found four inmates, Li Wanlong, Lu Baoxiang, Li Guodong and Wang Qingkun waiting for him. They were assigned to monitor him around the clock to prevent him from falling asleep. As soon as he closed his eyes, they would shake him to wake him up. Mr. Li tried to explain the facts about Falun Gong and how the communist regime spread propaganda to demonize it, but the inmates refused to listen.
As Mr. Li became extremely sleepy, he couldn’t keep his eyes open, even when the inmates kept beating him. The inmate, Li Wanlong beat him the hardest. Mr. Li woke up the next morning to find many bruises on his body.
Two to three times every day for two hours, the inmate Wu would shock Mr. Li with electric batons and spray spicy water on him.
While Mr. Li remained firm in his faith, another inmate Chen Mingfei also tortured him. One day Chen asked Mr. Li if he knew how to do “the plaza dance.” Mr. Li said he didn’t. Then Chen ordered him to stand in the water and shocked him with electric batons. While Mr. Li kept jumping due to the shocks, Chen laughed sadistically. The torture was repeated in the afternoon and evening.
Mr. Li was also tortured with food. He was either rationed small amounts of food or forced to each excessive amounts of food, several meals in a row.
A few days later, maintaining his faith, Mr. Li again refused to write a statement, and he urged Geng not to follow the persecution policy, as justice would prevail one day.
Two New Guards
On the next day, Mr. Li was brought to the guards’ office. This time, a young guard in his 30s surnamed Qian asked about Mr. Li’s age and profession Qian pointed a long electric baton at him and said, “You’d better write the renouncing statement to spare yourself from some torture. We have all kinds of methods to deal with you. If you don’t write it, we will keep you here without assigning you to the regular ward.”
Inmates Chen and Wu later took Mr. Li to the warehouse and again shocked him with electric batons and sprayed him with spicy water. About half an hour later, another guard, Xia Ming, in his 50s, arrived and guard Qian and the inmates.
Xia sat down with Mr. Li and tried to persuade him to convert to Buddhism. Mr. Li said that many Buddhist abbots are members of the communist party and are corrupt. But Falun Gong is a righteous practice and his 27 years of practicing it proves it. Unable to change Mr. Li’s mind, Xia left.
For the next few months, inmates Chen and Wu continued torturing Mr. Li every day. Chen began to prick him with needles around his body. Chen would insult Falun Gong and its founder, and also ordered other inmates to do the same together with him.
He again forced Mr. Li to stand in the water and shocked him with the electric baton. Then he poured cold water over Mr. Li’s pants and socks, when the temperature was below freezing.
Another inmate from a different team once suggested Chen and Wu whip Mr. Li with thick PVC pipes. When the wound was about to heal, they would whip him again and repeat the torture every few days. He said many Falun Gong practitioners in his team gave in after such torture. Wu whipped Mr. Li on his buttocks with a PVC pipe, and then switched to using electric batons again.
One night, two guards, Lyu Yunlei and another one surnamed Yin, arrived. Lyu beat Mr. Li on his head and face and kicked him. “The communist party has been providing you with food and clothes, yet you are against it,” Lyu shouted at him.
Mr. Li tried to argue that the communist party itself is a cult by deceiving and persecuting its own people.
Lyu was infuriated, shouting, “I’m a member of the communist party. How dare you call it a cult!”
To please the guards, Wu shocked Mr. Li with electric batons all over his body. The scars were still visible ten months later. The torture lasted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
When Mr. Li was carried back into the cell, his face, neck, and chest were severely swollen. His blood pressure also dropped to 100/60 mmHg. Fearing that he might die from the torture, the inmates began to allow him to sleep at night. But they continued insulting him from time to time. Sometimes they spit phlegm, chewed peanuts or melon seeds onto his face.
Two weeks later, inmate Luo Yanjun accused Mr. Li of doing the Falun Gong meditation when he was just sitting on his bed. Luo and others dragged him to the ground and beat his head with their shoes. He had blurred vision in the left eye for two weeks. Luo also stuffed his stinky socks into Mr. Li’s mouth, almost suffocating him.
Afterwards, Luo threatened to wrap Mr. Li with a blanket and tie him up. He said he had tortured other inmates with this method, who complied as a result. Mr. Li called the guards and they eventually stopped Luo, fearing that he might torture Mr. Li to death.
Later, inmates Li Wanlong began to have blood in his stool and Li Guodong came down with acute appendicitis. Wu was given seven days in solitary confinement for beating another inmate. With only inmates Luo and Wang left to monitor Mr. Li, the torture has become less severe, but continues.