Family and Destitution

Two Siblings Lose Their Mother to Falun Gong Persecution

According to, at 9:30 a.m. on August 8, 2006, 20-year-old Mr. Cao Yang and his 18-year-old sister Ms. Cao Yue held a banner in front of the Jilin City Police Station.

On the one-by-two-meter banner were large characters reading “Injustice” and “Return Our Mother, Return Our Family, Return Our Freedom.”

Their mother, Ms. Zhu Yan, a Falun Gong practitioner from Gangyao, Longtan District, Jilin City had been arrested by local police in October 2005, and was illegally sentenced to one and a half years in a labor camp. Out of desperation from almost a year without their mother and with no financial support, the brother and sister, who did not practice Falun Gong, had come to appeal to the police.

Cao Yang holding a banner calling for the release of his mother in front of the Jilin Police Department.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1999.

Just minutes after the brother and sister raised their banner, a police car pulled up right in front of them. Police Chief Chen Xinzhu stepped out, as officers Li Hongqi and Piao Chenggang emerged from the station.

Walking towards them, the police chief asked why they were there, and then shouted, “Tear up that banner!”

Suddenly officers pounced on the young adults, violently beating and kicking them.

With his mouth and head bleeding, the brother Yang shouted, “Policemen are beating people!” A crowd started to gather around them.

Police Chief Chen then shouted to the crowd, “It’s a Falun Gong issue!” Then yelled at the kids, “What can you do even if we beat you?!” Officers then beat Yang until he collapsed on the ground.

An onlooker shouted, “It’s illegal for police to beat people!”

The chief then grabbed the sister Yue by the hair, repeatedly yanking her so violently that chunks of her hair were pulled out and her clothes ripped. Then he threw her to the ground and stomped her lower back.

Crying on the ground, 18-year-old Yue, with her hand shaking, slowly reached up to take the hand of a nearby officer, and said, “Uncle, don’t you have any conscience? Or a wife and children? If your wife was tortured like our mother, wouldn’t your kids want her back?”

A Mother Dies

Growing up in fear and constantly forced into displacement due to the persecution of their mother’s faith in Falun Gong, Cao Yang and Cao Yue were dealt a heavy blow when their mother, Ms. Zhu Yan, passed away on August 15, 2020. She was 57.

Ms. Zhu, a Jilin City, Jilin Province, resident, took up Falun Gong in August 1998. Because of upholding her faith, she was repeatedly arrested and tortured. She served two labor camp terms and was forced to live away from home at one point to hide from the police. The mental and physical distress from the persecution took a toll on her health and eventually claimed her life.

Ms. Zhu isn’t the only victim in her family who has suffered from the persecution of Falun Gong. After her husband could no longer bear the pressure and divorced her in 2003, her teenage son and daughter struggled to survive while she was incarcerated. Ms. Zhu’s son, Cao Yang, suffered three mental breakdowns from being arrested and tortured several times himself for appealing for his mother.

Arrested for Appealing for Falun Gong in Beijing

Two months after the communist regime ordered the persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Zhu went to Beijing in September 1999 to appeal for the right to practice her faith. She was arrested and sent to the Miyun Prison. The police beat her and forced her to squat or stand for long hours. Several officers kicked her hips and stood on her legs while she was sitting on the ground. 

After Ms. Zhu was sent back to Jilin, she was held in the Kouqian Detention Center for over a month. She was fired by her workplace and fined 500 yuan. Since then, the police put her on the blacklist and constantly harassed her.

Labor Camp Terms

Ms. Zhu was arrested again in 2003 for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was detained in the Jilin City No. 3 Detention Center and later given two years of forced labor. Due to her weak physical condition, the labor camp initially refused to accept her. 

Ms. Zhu was arrested again in November 2005 while walking on the street. The police didn’t inform her family of her arrest and her two children were looking for her everywhere. A month later, Ms. Zhu was given 1.5 years and transferred to the Heizuizi Forced Labor Camp. She was subjected to intensive brainwashing and physical torture, bearing tremendous pressure every day. 

As part of 2008 Beijing Olympics police sweep, on May 12, 2008, authorities unlawfully arrested Ms. Zhu and she was illegally sentenced to another 1.5 years of forced labor.

Beaten Until Mental Breakdown

Lying on the ground bleeding, 18-year-old Yue looked up at the three fierce police officers glaring at her, as a large crowd surrounded them.

She gently held an officer’s hand and asked, “If your wife was tortured like our mother, wouldn’t your kids want her back?”

An onlooker shed tears. The police chief Chen replied, “I’ve treated you two nicely today. I could’ve just put you in jail with your mother.” Then he waved his hand and walked with the other two officers back into the station.

Yue crawled over to her brother, who was unconscious. She held him and cried. Another onlooker called to her, “We’ll be your witnesses whenever you ask for us! We saw everything!”

Sometime later, Yang and Yue’s aunt found them, and took Yang to the hospital to treat his wounds. His mouth was bleeding, his forehead bloody and swollen, and his back and arms were injured.

Scars and bruises on Cao Yang’s arm from the police beating.
Hospital receipt for the cost of treatment to Cao Yang after being attacked by Police Chief Chen.

The police brutality and the constant harassment of Ms. Zhu and her family caused Cao Yang tremendous distress and he suffered several mental breakdowns in the following years.

When their home was confiscated by police and everything, including the propane tank, were taken away, he often shouted in the street, “I no longer have a home!” Seeing this, police took him to a mental hospital. 

He was arrested again on July 31, 2012. Police interrogated him with steel needles, an aggressive dog, and force-fed him spice powder and liquor. After almost dying from torture, he experienced another mental breakdown.

Authorities then illegally sentenced him to five months detention.

Andrew Parker

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