Urgent Appeal: Dozens of Lives at Risk in Daqing Prison as Authorities Systematically Starve Falun Gong Prisoners of Conscience
Falun Dafa Information Center Urges Letters, Calls to Prison as Emaciated Ex-detainee Dies from Abuse
New York – The lives of Falun Gong practitioners held in a prison in Northeast China are in grave danger as authorities ordered in mid-July that they be forbidden from eating. A recent photo of an emaciated practitioner released in December and who died in June highlights the danger facing the 65 adherents still held at Heilongjiang’s Daqing Prison.
The Falun Dafa Information Center is urging members of the global community to contact the prison and demand they unconditionally restore practitioners’ right to eat and immediately release them.
According to multiple reports from inside China, on July 8, 2009, the newly-promoted Deputy Warden of Daqing Prison Li Weilong ordered that all divisions holding Falun Gong practitioners forbid them from going to the canteen and that no one be permitted to bring them food. Li—who eyewitnesses say has himself been known to beat Falun Gong detainees—gave further orders on July 12 to force feed certain practitioners gruel mixed from raw corn flour, water, and large amounts of salt.
Such forced-feedings are routinely conducted by guards with no medical training and as a form of torture rather than nourishment. They are a leading cause of death among Falun Gong practitioners who have been killed in custody. It is unknown at present whether any non-Falun Gong detainees at the prison have also been subject to similar restrictions.
“The responsibility for any practitioners starved or tortured to death in this prison falls not only on Li’s shoulders, but also on the Party leaders who promoted him,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang. “The systematic use of starvation and torture against a population of religious prisoners is an atrocity. The international community must take action to end it immediately.”
Photo and Recent Deaths Highlight Systematic Abuses at Daqing Prison
The current decision to starve Falun Gong detainees in Daqing Prison is the latest in a history of systematic abuses meted out against practitioners held at the facility. In March 2009, the mother of imprisoned practitioner Sun Dianjun visited him and found his hands shaking. When she asked him why, he reportedly said that it was due to starvation as he had been denied food for several days. In June, the Center reported on the death in custody at the prison of 51-year-old Mr. Li Min (??). Li died on May 23, 2009 after being tortured and denied medical care when he suffered the symptoms of a stroke (news)
The Center more recently learned of the death of 43-year-old Mr. Zhu Hongbing (???), who had worked until his arrest in 2001 at the Seventh Oil Extraction Plant under the city’s Petroleum Bureau. Zhu died in his home on June 18, 2009, almost six months after his release from Daqing prison, where he had been held for seven years following a show trial. A photo of Zhu taken after his release from prison and recently obtained by the Center shows his emaciated body. (photo)
As evident from the photo, among the range of abuses suffered by Zhu during his seven years at Daqing prison was deprivation of food. On one occasion, after five days of denying him food, sleep and use of the restroom, the prison authorities reportedly forced a feeding tube in through Mr. Zhu’s nose, down his throat and into his stomach. On another occasion, a guard forced a bowl of milk powder down a tube and into Zhu’s lungs, causing ulceration in his lungs.
“Mr. Zhu’s tragic and premature death highlights the very real and immediate danger facing every Falun Gong practitioner detained in Daqing Prison or anywhere else in China,” says Zhang.
Zhu’s death brings the total number of adherents known to have died as a result of persecution to 3,292. It also reinforces Heilongjiang’s infamous record as the deadliest province for Falun Gong practitioners – at least 413 adherents are documented to have died there from abuse since 1999 – as well as Daqing prison’s notoriety as a venue for systematic and brutal torture (for previous cases of abuse and death at the prison see Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group report).
Punished for Peacefully Resisting “Transformation”
Restoration of the detained practitioners’ right to eat has reportedly been conditioned on their agreeing to wear a prison uniform. Several Falun Gong detainees have recently refused to wear the uniform in an attempt to resist the first stage in the prison’s systematic efforts to “transform” them. “Transformation” is a process by which adherents are forced to recant their faith and remains at the heart of the Communist Party’s campaign against Falun Gong.
“The practitioners’ in Daqing Prison who have decided to resist wearing a uniform have done so based on a clear understanding of what comes next if they do,” says Zhang. “They know that should they acknowledge the legitimacy of their illegal imprisonment, even through the mundane act of putting on a uniform, that this will not be the end of the demands the guards place on them. Rather, it will only be the beginning.”
The various stages of the “transformation” process were well documented in a 2002 Washington Post article (news). Once practitioners are detained in brainwashing classes, labor camps, or prisons, they are pressured – often through brutal torture – to renounce their peaceful faith and declare their loyalty to the Communist Party. Those who agree to sign a renunciation statement – even if they do not truly believe it – find their ordeal does not end there. Rather, it is followed by forced participation in video-recordings for future use in propaganda films and collaboration in the “transformation” of others.
Many practitioners resist “transformation,” taking a principled stance to uphold their faith and not acknowledge their treatment as “criminals,” even in the face of brutality. Some have found that in response to their principled action, would-be abusers have had a change of heart and stopped persecuting them. Other practitioners have been released because the authorities feared their firm faith would undermine efforts to “transform” others. It is in this context that the Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in Daqing Prison have chosen to resist the earliest stages of “transformation.”
“The refusal of these men to wear a uniform is a courageous and compassionate act,” says Zhang. “It is done not only to take a principled stance against unjust imprisonment, but also to protect fellow citizens from the damage that would be done to them if the practitioners cooperated with the brutal campaign.”
“Now these heroes are in immediate and grave danger. We hope that government officials, as well as ordinary citizens around the world – stock brokers, soccer moms, college students – will take ten minutes to write a letter or make a phone call that could save these men’s lives.”
The Falun Dafa Information Center urges:
- International media and human rights groups to further investigate and publicize the plight of the practitioners subjected to starvation and torture at Daqing Prison.
- Elected representatives, particularly from Daqing’s sister cities (Calgary, Canada; Chungju, South Korea), to write to the prison and local authorities to demand the unconditional restoration of detained practitioners’ right to eat and their immediate release.
- Concerned citizens around the world to “adopt” one of the imprisoned practitioners listed below and call the prison or write to its guards urging that individual’s release.
Contact information for Daqing (also known as Hongweixing) Prison:
Ranghu Road, Hongweixing Street
Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, 163159
People’s Republic of China
- Prison Director/Warden, Wang Yongxiang: +86-459-5057999 +86-459-5105087 +86-13199086888
- Li Weilong (Recently promoted Deputy Warden who ordered food deprivation, cell phone): +86-13936903441
- Head of Political Commission, Chen Qingfa: +86-459-5058588 +86-459-4686358 +86-13329491288
- Director of Prison Affairs (responsible for approving family visits) Zhuang Shuben: +86-459-5059073 +86-459-5992988 +86-13009833636
Details of 65 Falun Gong practitioners currently imprisoned at Daqing Prison.
The first division: Mr. Sun Yaomin (??? , from Tieli), Mr. Ren Zhongde (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Liu Xiangchen (??? , from Bin County), Mr. Sui Ximin (??? , from Mulan County), Mr. Yang Chengshan (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Wang Yudong (??? , from Qiqihaer City), a newcomer (name unknown). (Seven practitioners in total)
The second division: Mr. Li Hai (?? , from Daqing), Mr. Li Huifeng (??? , from Qiqihaer), Mr. Wang Jiang (?? , from Harbin), Mr. Zou Guoyan (??? , from Shuangcheng), Mr. Shi Baosheng (??? , from Daqing), Mr. Liu Zhigao (??? , from Daqing), Mr. Su Taiqi (??? , from Wuchang City), Mr. Zhang Kuiwu (??? , Zhang had been imprisoned for a previous offense when he began practicing Falun Gong in the prison prior to July 20, 1999; he was transferred to this division because he would not give up the practice once it was banned.) (Eight practitioners in total)
The third division: Mr. Chen Lei (?? , from Harbin), Mr. Zhao Shifeng (??? , from Zhaoyuan County), Mr. Wu Yanchun (??? ,from Acheng), Mr. Qu Yonghua (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Yin Zhenxiang (??? , from Suihua), Mr. Zhao Xidong (??? , from Harbin), Mr. Zhou Shuzhang (??? , from Tieli), Mr. Deng Qingshan (??? , from Fuyu), Mr. Na Zibo (??? , from Wuchang), Mr. Li Zhiwen (??? , from Qinggang). (Ten practitioners in total)
The fourth division: Mr. Li Zhanbin (??? , from Fangzheng County), Mr. Liu Guifu (??? , from Harbin), Mr. Li Hongkui (??? , from Harbin), Mr. Wu Chunwen (??? , from Shuangcheng), Mr. Li Chao (?? , from Shuangcheng), Mr. Zhai Zhibin (??? , from Daqing). (Six practitioners in total)
The fifth division: Mr. Zhang Jian (?? , from Qiqihaer), Mr. Wang Shusen (??? , from Hegang), Mr. Chen Chunlin (??? , from Anda), Mr. Gong Haiou (??? , from Qiqihaer), Mr. An Xing (?? , from Shuangcheng), Mr. Liu Hongtu (??? , from Tieli), Mr. Liu Pengfei (??? , from Harbin), a newcomer (name unknown). (Eight practitioners in total)
The sixth division: Mr. Zhang Xingye (??? , from Daqing), Mr. Zuo Gang (?? , from Harbin), Mr. Qiu Xuezhi (??? , from Jixi), Mr. Yang Gongxi (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Yu Liangbin (??? , from Suihua). (Five practitioners in total)
The seventh division: Mr. Sun Xinghe (??? , from Daqing), Mr. Song Zhanlin (??? , from Tonghe County), Mr. Sun Dianbin (??? , from Jixi), Mr. Yu Shengquan (??? , from Harbin), Mr. Zhao Shijun (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Huang Tiebo (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Du Deping (??? , from Daqing), Mr. Wang Shoujun (??? , from Harbin). (Eight practitioners in total)
Education Team: Mr. Zhang Zhi (?? , from Anda), Mr. Xu Zhi (?? , from Baiquan County), Mr. Fu Wenchang (??? , from Acheng). (Three practitioners in total)
Service Team: Mr. Zhou Guochen (??? , from Daqing). (One practitioner)
Sick Division: Mr. Wang Hai (??), Mr. Li Wanyue (???), Mr. Zhang Tichao (??? , from Acheng), Mr. Wang Mi (?? , from Jixi), Mr. Wang Yudong. (???, Five practitioners in total)
Division unknown: Mr. Zhang Xingguo (??? , from Suihua), Mr. Liu Zhongquan (??? , from Bin County), Mr. Liu Guoliang (??? , from Harbin), Mr. Dong Xiaodong (??? , from Wuchang City). (Four practitioners in total)