Heilongjiang Teacher Dies Two Months After Prison Release
Ms. Wang Fan, a 54-year-old elementary school teacher from Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province, died on December 31, 2020. This was only two months after Wang had finished serving a two-year prison term, on the charge of distributing Falun Gong materials.
Wang was arrested on October 3, 2018, with four other Falun Gong practitioners. She was first detained at Lanxi Detention Center, where she was punished for refusing to give the police her name. Then she was transferred to Anda City Detention Center, where, for over a month, she was forced to wear heavy shackles around-the-clock. Later, Wang was transferred to the Heilongjiang Women’s Prison and subjected to physical and mental abuse. Consequentially, she suffered from headaches, numbness in her hands, dementia, fainting, and high blood pressure.
Wang returned home in early October of 2020, only to find that she had been fired by her workplace. She was a well-respected and loved teacher who had taught at the Shangzhi Elementary School for 30 years.
On December 30, only two weeks after she started tutoring at a private agency, Wang passed out at home and was taken to the hospital. She was diagnosed with brain stem hemorrhage and passed away the next day.
Arrested in Lanxi County
Wang was arrested in Lanxi County with Ms. Zhao Tingting, Mr. Yang Chuanhou, Ms. Bai Xia, and Ms. Wang Fuhua on October 3, 2018. The five Falun Gong practitioners were interrogated at the Beian Town Police Station. When Wang refused to give them her name, a police officer cuffed her hands behind her back and forced her to stand facing a wall. Then, he continually cursed her and pinched her face viciously.
Another police officer threatened to spray her with pepper water. A third officer hit her several times.
The police later obtained the practitioners’ personal information using facial recognition technology. When interrogated, Wang again refused to answer their questions.
Financial Extortion at Lanxi Detention Center
The Lanxi Detention Center devised many ways to extort money from detainees and their families. When Wang’s son came to visit her, he was asked to pay 1,000 yuan at the gate and to purchase overpriced items at the convenience store owned and operated by the guard, Lu Feifei.
Detainees personal items and food were also frequently taken and eaten by guards and the standard meals provided by the detention center were very poor. To get better food, detainees had to pay extra. For the 12 days Wang was held at the Lanxi Detention Center, her son paid a total of 1,400 yuan while others paid only 500 yuan.
Torture in Anda City Detention Center
As soon as Wang and the four other practitioners were taken to Anda City Detention Center, they were strip-searched. They were given prison uniforms to wear. The uniform included a shirt, a pair of pants, and a vest labeled with the detention center name. Wang refused to wear the vest because of the label. For one month, the guards did not give her warm clothes despite the cold weather.
There were three wards in the detention center. The guards instigated the chief inmate of each ward to torment Falun Gong practitioners. Wang witnessed another practitioner, Ms. Song Hongwei, being tortured by the chief inmate of another ward. On her first day in the detention center, Song refused to let the guards take her photo. The chief inmate and other inmates then dragged her to the restroom and doused her with cold water and beat and kicked her for a long time. The same scenario occurred the next day.
Although Wang was not beaten, she was often humiliated and ridiculed by the chief inmate and other inmates. When Wang refused to bribe them, she was made to clean the restroom for a month. Guards and other inmates mocked and humiliated her whenever they were displeased with her.
One day in June 2019, Wang and another practitioner were seen doing Falun Gong exercises in their cell. Guards put shackles weighing nearly 20 pounds on her as a punishment. She was made to wear them constantly, even while sleeping. With shackles on, she could only move in small steps and could not walk with her back straight. Her legs, thighs, back, and waist were all in pain. She needed several people to help her undress when taking a shower.
After two weeks, a guard told her that she would take the shackles off if Wang agreed not to do Falun Gong exercises anymore. Wang refused and said she did not do anything wrong.
The guards finally took her shackles off after 35 days, when a provincial inspection team was about to visit.
Incarceration at Heilongjiang Women’s Prison
Wang was sentenced to two years in prison in May 2019. After her appeal was denied, she was transferred to Heilongjiang Women’s Prison on October 20, 2019. There are over 300 Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned there for their faith.
Falun Gong practitioners were only allowed to wear the prison-provided uniform. Even in cold weather, they were not allowed to have thicker clothing. Because Wang refused to renounce Falun Gong, she was forced to sit up straight motionlessly on a small stool for more than 18 hours at a time, from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. The stool was narrow and low (approximately 10 inches tall), and it had an uneven surface. When she could not keep sitting on it anymore, an inmate stood in front of her and kept her legs together while another stood behind her and used her knee to keep her back straight. The pressure made her feel that her back was broken.
The inmates then took Wang to a place in the prison where there were no surveillance cameras. They punched her, slapped her, and pinched her face and legs until evening. The next morning, Wang was woken up early to sit on the stool again. By noontime, she felt light-headed. When she tried to move, she fell over. The inmate monitoring her accused her of faking illness. Later in the day, Wang lost control of her hands and feet in the restroom and fell over.
Wang was taken to the prison hospital on a stretcher. Her blood pressure was dangerously high. She was given medicine to lower her blood pressure. Although she was still ridiculed by inmates and guards, they no longer forced her to sit on the small stool or work anymore.
Around May 2020, as the pandemic eased, the prison again started to require inmates to write weekly, monthly, and yearly thought reports on their “transformation.” Wang refused to write any. When inmates threatened Wang with solitary confinement, she replied, “We are good people, and we are being persecuted.” When an inmate kicked her for not sitting in a required position, Wang told her seriously, “It’s against the rules to hit someone.” She refused to follow the unreasonable demands from the guards and inmates assigned to monitor her.
One day when inmates were ordered to read prison regulations aloud; Wang again refused. She was told to sit on a small stool in the corner, but this time she did not comply. Wang instead explained the persecution of Falun Gong and how practitioners were not criminals to the team lead. The team lead agreed that Falun Gong practitioners were innocent.
Wang finally returned home on October 2, 2020. Two months later though, she passed away on December 31, 2020.