Prisoner of Conscience Cao Dongs Wife Writes Open Letter Detailing Official Torture, Family Harassment and Lack of Due Process
The following is the translation of a letter written by Yang Xiaojing and dated April 8, 2008. Yang remains in mainland China to date.
I am the wife of Cao Dong, a Falun Gong practitioner from Beijing. On May 21, 2006, Cao Dong met with Edward McMillan-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and told him about the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Two hours after the meeting, Cao Dong was arrested by State Security agents. Before Chinese New Year’s Eve [in 2007], Cao Dong was sentenced to five years in prison. His defense lawyer said that the only “evidence” used to sentence him was a false oral confession.
During the latter part of May 2007, Cao Dong was sent to Tianshui Prison in Gansu Province. Since the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue was being held in Europe at that time, his lawyer told me that his original sentence was unchanged and the ruling was kept secret. Nobody told me where my husband had been sent. The court officials told Cao Dong’s parents that they had been “criticized” and could not be told anything. Cao Dong’s lawyer was under a lot of pressure so he suggested that the parents go to the local police department to inquire [as to their son’s whereabouts].
In January of this year, Cao Dong overcame many difficulties and was able to send out an appeal letter from within the prison. Actually, right after his meeting with Edward McMillan-Scott, he was arrested and detained in the Beijing Security Bureau Detention Center. He was handcuffed to a chair for more than a month. The cruel torture caused massive hemorrhaging in his stomach. Since Mr. McMillan-Scott gave a lecture in Hong Kong about China’s human rights, officials from the State Security Bureau cursed my husband as a “traitor.”
One month later, because my husband refused to “admit his guilt,” the police went to his parents. They deceived his parents by telling them that Cao Dong had committed a big crime and his sentence would be reduced only if he cooperated. Not only did the police fail to tell them the truth about Cao Dong being arrested for meeting with overseas officials who were only concerned about China’s human rights [situation] and the fact that he didn’t do anything illegal, they also threatened his parents. His elderly parents begged Cao Dong with tears in their eyes, and asked him to cooperate with the police to provide them with a false confession. They also said that they would die in front of him if he refused to do so. The State Security Bureau officials recorded this scene and sent the video to Cao Dong to further threaten him. They told him that if he refused to cooperate, they would arrest all of his friends listed in his address book that they had seized. At the same time, they promised him that he would be released if he cooperated. This was how the false confession was forcibly obtained. On the basis of the confession, as well as Cao Dong’s meeting with Mr. McMillan-Scott having caused the critics of China’s human rights [record] to [negatively] affect China’s reputation, he was sentenced to five years in prison.
In May of 2007, Cao Dong was secretly sent to the Tianshui Prison in Gansu Province. This prison is the headquarters for persecuting Falun Gong in Gansu Province. All the practitioners in the province who refused to renounce Falun Gong were sent there for concentrated persecution. Liu Zhirong, a practitioner who intercepted TV signals to broadcast a Falun Gong truth-clarification video, was tortured to death within a month of detention here. Those practitioners who refused to renounce Falun Gong were tortured in various ways: sleep deprivation, brainwashing, deprivation of their normal rights (such as taking breaks, purchasing daily necessities, family visits or writing to family members). Cao Dong was being pressured to “obey the law,” which meant stating that he approved of his sentence, or in other words, admitting that telling people the truth is a crime. Cao Dong refused to accept his sentence and we are trying to file an appeal.
As his wife, I started to look for a defense lawyer for him in August, 2007… I consulted Lawyer Li Heping. He told me that this kind of case would bring a lot of pressure to whoever agreed to take it on, and it was better to hire two lawyers. At the end of September 2007, Lawyer Li Heping was beaten up by police for several hours. All the materials that I gave him were taken away. Practitioners Ms. Zhuang Yanhong and Ms. Xiang Guilan, who accompanied me during my visits to consult with lawyers, were arrested and sentenced to forced labor. My home was ransacked. Although the police didn’t find any Falun Gong materials, they still took me away to a hotel. They interrogated me and asked me if I still practiced Falun Gong, or if I participated in any “illegal activities.” Liu Yugang, a section chief in the Dongcheng District Police Department, told me that they would detain Cao Dong in Gansu Province and me in Beijing. They would not allow the two of us to see each other. It was obvious that they have been covering up Cao Dong’s case, and all the regular legal procedures were blocked.
Recently, during my trip to Gansu Province, the police still continued their surveillance of me. Our friend Xu Na was released from prison in 2006 after a five-year sentence. Last year, local police asked her to guarantee not to talk to any foreigners during the Olympic games. On January 26, 2008, Xu Na and her husband, Yu Zhou were arrested. On February 6, 2008, Yu Zhou was tortured to death at the age of 42. I heard that many practitioners in Beijing were arrested for only one reason — to guarantee that foreign visitors do not run into anyone who would tell them the facts.
I hope that the international community will pay attention to the situation of Falun Gong practitioners detained in the Tianshui Prison. I also hope that other related organizations will come to this prison to investigate the human rights status of detained Falun Gong practitioners and the cause of Liu Zhirong’s death.
Cao Dong’s address:
P. O. Box #100, Education Department
Tianshui City, Gansu Province, 741000