In May 2022, 17 Falun Gong practitioners were reported to have passed away due to the persecution, bringing the total confirmed death cases this year to 81. Of the cases reported in May: 1 practitioner died in 2018, 1 in 2020, 4 in 2021, and 11 in 2022.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body spiritual practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Since its introduction to the public in 1992, countless people have been drawn to its profound principles and benefits. Fearing its growing popularity, the Chinese communist regime launched a nationwide campaign in July 1999 with the intent of eradicating the practice.
The 17 deceased practitioners (8 women, 9 men) came from 11 provinces and municipalities. Liaoning had 6 cases, Beijing had 2, and the remaining regions—including Heilongjiang, Hubei, Hunan, Jilin, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanxi, Anhui, and Hebei—each had 1 case.
Among the 14 practitioners whose ages were known, 9 were in their 50s, 2 in their 60s, and 3 in their 70s. The oldest practitioner was 77-year-old Ms. Shao Guoying from Hubei Province, who died on January 6, 2022.
Three of the practitioners died while in custody, including a woman who died 14 hours after being arrested, a widower who died while serving a 10-year term, and another man who was first declared dead when he was still alive and later indeed died.
Most of the practitioners died after enduring two decades of persecution. One man died a year after serving 19 years in prison for tapping into a TV signal to broadcast programs that debunked the Chinese Communist Party’s hate propaganda against Falun Gong. A math tutor who was sentenced to 2 years when he was still in a coma never regained consciousness and died.
Although one practitioner escaped an arrest, she was found dead weeks later at another practitioner’s home, where she had stayed before. The police stated that her death was unnatural, but they refused to provide any details about it.
Below are summaries of some of the death cases. The complete list of all 81 confirmed death cases between January and May 2022 can be downloaded here (PDF).
Ms. Wang Chaohui, of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, died on December 29, 2021, succumbing to long-term mental and physical distress from being persecuted. She was 53.
Ms. Wang was first arrested in July 1999 when she took her 13-month-old son to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong. She was detained for two weeks and shocked with electric batons. She was arrested again in 2000 for photocopying articles from Minghui.org and was detained for 15 days. To hide from the police, she went into displacement with her son in late 2000.
Ms. Wang was put on the police’s wanted list in August 2008 for hanging up a banner with information about Falun Gong. When she was arrested on September 9, 2009, her 11-year-old son witnessed the whole process, including how the police put a black hood on her head and beat her. The boy was also taken to the police station and detained briefly.
Ms. Wang was later sentenced to four years at the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison. After she developed pleurisy, the doctor gave her unknown drugs, which caused a severe liver condition in her. She was on the verge of death and was released in October 2010. Over the years, she struggled with hepatic ascites, and heart and renal failure, which eventually claimed her life.
In addition to the persecution that she suffered, her family also bore enormous pressure. Both she and her husband lost their jobs. Her parents died one after another between 2003 and 2004. Her son was also traumatized after witnessing the persecution the family endure for so many years.
Ms. Niu Lanyun was arrested in the morning of March 28, 2022. By the evening of that same day police informed her family that she had died.
Ms. Niu had been living away from her home in Datong City, Shanxi Province since early 2021 to avoid being persecuted for practicing Falun Gong. A witness saw her climbing down a rope from her third-floor temporary apartment unit in the Heng’an Residential Area of the same city at around 6 a.m. on March 28. When she got close to the first floor, the rope broke, and she fell. She soon stood up and walked toward the witness.
The witness offered to call an ambulance. Ms. Niu declined, but the witness still made the call. When the ambulance arrived, Ms. Niu refused to get inside. An emergency medical technician tried to drag her into the ambulance. As they struggled, the police showed up. They pushed her into the police car and left.
Shortly after, the police arrested Ms. Niu’s landlord. According to an insider, when the police went inside Ms. Niu’s rented residence, they found fresh dough in her kitchen, suggesting that she might have been preparing breakfast when she was suddenly forced to escape.
At 8 p.m., Ms. Niu’s family received a call from the police, who informed them of her death. They were also asked to confirm Ms. Niu’s identity at the Datong Funeral Home.
The family was still in shock by Ms. Niu’s mysterious death and demanded to know how she had died in police custody.
Mr. Zhang Yaoming, a resident of Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province served 19 years in prison for having intercepted TV signals, broadcasting programs that debunked the propaganda against Falun Gong. When he was released, he was very weak and emaciated. He died a year later, at the age of 59. He is survived by his wife Ms. Fan Fengzhen and their child.
When the Chinese Communist Party announced its decision to persecute Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, all state-controlled media was filled with propaganda programs demonizing the spiritual practice. Overnight, approximately 100 million Falun Gong practitioners became the top enemy of the state.
To expose the facts about Falun Gong, Mr. Zhang, a middle school math teacher, and four other practitioners risked their lives by tapping into a local TV signal on April 20, 2002 and played a 20-minute video refuting the Tiananmen Self-immolation hoax that defamed Falun Gong. (Evidence here.) Zhang Xingfu, the Party secretary of Hegang City, was infuriated. He ordered police to arrest the practitioners involved, claiming, “Even if you arrest 1,000 wrong people, you can’t miss a single one who did it!”
In a few days, more than 500 local Falun Gong practitioners in Hegang City were arrested. Mr. Zhang and Ms. Fan were arrested in the middle of the night on April 24 at a relative’s home. Three other practitioners were also arrested shortly after.
The Gongnong District Court handed down heavy terms to the four practitioners in October 2002: Mr. Zhang got the longest term of 19 years and the other three were given 13 to 18 years. The fifth practitioner who initially escaped, was arrested on September 7, 2005 and sentenced to 17 years in 2006.
Mr. Zhang was first held at the Harbin No.3 Prison and then transferred to the Tailai Prison on June 30, 2014. The prison authorities promised a 2,000-yuan reward to the head of each ward and a 1,000-yuan reward to each of the guards if any ward was able to successfully force all the practitioners in the ward to renounce Falun Gong. Any warden or guard that failed to achieve the 100% transformation rate would face pay deduction, demotion or even job termination. Communist officials ordered the guards to use whatever torture methods necessary to break the practitioners’ will.
The practitioners were often hung up by their handcuffs or tied up to a stretching torture instrument. They weren’t allowed to sleep at night. When they dozed off, the guards would pour cold water over them. Sometimes they were hung up and placed under the scorching sun (when the temperature was over 104°F). Some were placed in a three-foot-deep pit for days, with their limbs tied up. The guards also put two steel balls underneath a practitioner’s buttocks for seven days. In addition to the torture, the practitioners were also forced to do hard labor without pay.
Mr. Zhang developed severe anemia, a skin disease, and hemorrhoids because of the torture. Although he was released on medical parole at one point, he was taken back to prison on August 17, 2015.
When his term ended on April 23, 2021, instead of informing his family to pick him up, the prison authorities handed him to officials of the Hegang City Political and Legal Affairs Committee, 610 Office and Hongjun Police Station. They took him to the Hongjun Police Station and forced his family to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong on his behalf, before allowing him to go home.
Due to the severe damage to his health after the lengthy prison term and non-stop torture, Mr. Zhang never recovered and died in early April 2022.
Mr. Ding Guochen was still in a coma when he was sentenced to two years for practicing Falun Gong. The math tutor from Dalian City, Liaoning Province died two months later, on April 30, 2022. He was 51 years old.
Mr. Ding and his wife Ms. Yan Qinghua were arrested during a police sweep across the province on July 11, 2019. The group arrest came as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s effort to “maintain stability” ahead of its 70th anniversary of taking power in China.
Ms. Yan was released later that day, but Mr. Ding was taken to the Jinzhou Detention Center in the evening. He held a four-week-long hunger strike to protest the arbitrary detention and was force-fed. He lost his hearing and had a stroke. He was then released on bail on October 19, 2019.
Mr. Ding resumed practicing Falun Gong upon returning home. He regained some of his mobility, but his hearing was impaired.
While Mr. Ding was still detained, Ms. Yan went to the local police station to demand his release. Officer Li once grabbed her neck and pushed her into a room for interrogation. When she returned on September 10, 2019, the same officer pulled her hair and pushed her around. Much of her hair fell out as a result. The police also threatened to arrest her two children when they reached 18 years of age.
Mr. Ding had another stroke on January 27, 2021 and fell into a coma. He never regained consciousness and remained in a vegetative state. Despite his condition, the Jinzhou District Court delivered the couple’s wrongful convictions on February 23. Mr. Ding was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan. Ms. Yan was given three and a half years and fined 8,000 yuan.
At one point, three staff members of the Jinzhou District Court went to the couple’s home to verify Mr. Ding’s health. Ms. Yan pointed to the man, who was in a coma and on oxygen, and said, “He has ended up like this due to the persecution. See for yourself. We can’t afford to have him treated in the hospital, so I have to take care of him at home.”
Seeing the dire situation of the family, the court staff members said to her, “You can stay home to take care of him.”
Ms. Yan spent all of the family’s savings on Mr. Ding’s medical treatment and borrowed more from their relatives and friends. Now living in a destitute situation, she also struggles to cope with the void left by Mr. Ding’s passing and caring for their two children.
During the past 23 years of the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Wu Daxing of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, was repeatedly arrested and harassed.
While serving a three-year term between 2007 and 2009, he endured severe torture. He was whipped with a leather belt, punched in the face and stomped on, subjected to electric shocks for hours, and forced to sitting on a stool with a ridged surface. In addition to the physical torture, he was also forced to do intensive labor without pay, as well as being verbally abused and forced to watch videos smearing Falun Gong.
After he was released on December 13, 2009, he struggled to recover.
Fearing being targeted again, he moved in 2010, but the police found him shortly after. When an officer knocked on his door one day at 7 p.m., he jumped out of the window and escaped. The police then harassed his son at school to try to find out where he was. The boy, then in elementary school, had to stop going to school for several months. The police harassment continued over the years.
Mr. Wu’s arrest in 2007 dealt such a heavy blow to his mother that she suddenly became blind. Although he tried to provide good care to her after being released, her health continued to decline, and she later died. Her passing and the police harassment distressed Mr. Wu greatly. He decided to move again in 2019, but the police still managed to find him and began to harass him again.
Every time he was harassed, Mr. Wu was distressed evern more. His health deteriorated further, and he developed a severe heart condition. He died on February 4, 2021. He was only 52.
Ms. Kuang Changyun, a Hengyang City, Hunan Province resident, died on March 6, 2022, as a result of the persecution of her faith in Falun Gong. She was 68.
After the persecution began, Ms. Kuang was arrested at least ten times. Her home was ransacked seven times. She was given a one-year labor camp term in 2000 and had her term extended for a year for not renouncing Falun Gong. She was held in solitary confinement and forced to sit on a small stool. The guards also ordered the inmates to torture her.
Even when her extended term expired in 2002, the authorities still refused to release her but took her to the Nanyue Detention Center, where she was kept for another six months. After she was released, she went to Changsha to visit her uncle and stayed there for five days. When she returned home, she was shocked to see her residence turned upside down. Agents of the 610 Office then arrested her, with the excuse that she went out of town without getting their permission. She was held at the Nanyue Detention Center for nearly two weeks. She held a hunger strike for a week to protest the detention.
The authorities continued to monitor her daily life since, and they didn’t allow her to move out of town to look for a job. To better monitor her, Yue Donghua, the director of the 610 Office, arranged for her to work as a city janitor. She was ordered to work every day without any vacation and was only paid 250 yuan a month. If she had to take one day off, then her salary would be deducted.
The persecution took a toll on Ms. Kuang’s health. She died on March 6, 2022. She was 68.
Mr. Wang Lianyi of Beijing suddenly dropped dead in his front yard on April 25, 2022. As he didn’t answer his brother’s call for two days, his brother scaled Mr. Wang’s fence to get into his home and found his body. He was 56.
Only a day before Mr. Wang’s death, he was still looking for a lawyer to represent his wife, Ms. Lang Dongyue, who was arrested on December 14, 2021, for practicing Falun Gong and is now facing trial.
Having endured repeated arrests and harassment himself, Mr. Wang was terrified at the sight of the two police cars parked in front of the law firm and he collapsed on the street. After a long break, he gathered his strength and walked into the law firm with his friend. He told the lawyer that he was a farmer and wasn’t doing well financially, but he was willing to do everything he could to rescue his wife. He died the next day even before the lawyer got back to him.
In the earlier years of the persecution, Mr. Wang was given a labor camp term in 2002. He was detained for 14, seven, and 15 days following his arrests on May 5, 2016, October 21, 2016, and May 19, 2017, respectively.
For demanding his wife’s release, Mr. Wang was arrested again on July 19, 2017, and held at a detention center for a month, followed by fourteen days at a brainwashing center.
The police continued to harass the couple afterward, including arresting him at his daughter’s wedding on March 22, 2018.
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