The persecution against Falun Gong, which started in July 1999, has been ongoing for 21 years. In 2020 alone, at least 83 practitioners lost their lives due to the suppression of their faith, and 21 of them passed away while in custody.
The tragedy is beyond numbers. The surviving families of these deceased practitioners remain grief-stricken, still mourning the loss of their loved ones.
Coming from all walks of life, these deceased practitioners were innocent and peaceful. And their only “crime” was striving to become better people by following Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
Mr. Wang Fengchen and Ms. Leng Xiuxia, for example, were both teachers at Lindian County No. 1 Middle School, the best secondary school in Lindian County in Heilongjiang Province. Mr. Wang taught geology and students loved how he was able to turn dry class materials into lively stories. Ms. Leng was also very capable and several departments wanted her. In the end, school officials appointed her as the treasurer because they trusted her the most.
The couple credited Falun Gong with enabling them to have better work ethics and improving their moral character. Both suffered tremendously for their faith after the persecution began in 1999. When they were detained in October 2000, their 7-year-old daughter was left unattended.
During the 2017 New Year, police in Daqing City found some banners reading “Falun Dafa is good” and “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.” Under pressure from Heilongjiang Police Department, Lindian police arrested Mr. Wang and Ms. Leng along with three other practitioners on January 18, 2017. The police also ransacked the practitioners’ homes and confiscated their valuables, including Mr. Wang’s car. During interrogation, the police tortured them for “evidence” to charge them.
During a trial in October 2017, both Mr. Wang and Ms. Leng were sentenced to four years in prison and fined 30,000 yuan. Mr. Wang was sent to Hulan Prison and Ms. Leng to Heilongjiang Women’s prison. On May 31, 2020, the couple's family was notified that Mr. Wang had been coughing for two months due to pneumonia. They requested medical parole, which was denied. Mr. Wang’s condition deteriorated in July and he died on August 9, while his wife Ms. Leng was still in prison.
What happened to Mr. Wang and Ms. Leng was only one of the countless tragic stories. The 83 practitioners who died this year came from 20 provinces or province-level cities in China.
Ms. Lan Lihua, a practitioner from Shenyang City in Liaoning Province, was arrested when giving away calendars bearing messages about Falun Gong. She was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months. While serving time in Liaoning Women’s Prison, she was infected with hepatitis B. She died at age 49 on April 23, 2020.
Ms. Xiao Yongfen and her husband, residents in Dehui City, Jilin Province, were arrested in September 2017. Because of poor health, Ms. Xiao was sent home to remain under house arrest. She was arrested again in July 2018 and sentenced to seven years in Jilin Women’s Prison. She died in the prison on January 31, 2020, with authorities claiming that she died after falling in the shower. Her family noted that her face was swollen and red, inconsistent with fall injuries. The prison officials cremated her body the following day.
Mr. Bian Qunlian, of Chengde City, Hebei Province, was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to 8 years in prison. After being arrested again in 2016, he was sentenced to a 6-year term and admitted to Jidong Prison. He was tortured until he was in a life-threatening condition. The prison released him on August 9, 2020, and he died four days later, on August 12.
Ms. Li Ling was a practitioner from Penglai City, Shandong Province. When she returned home with some Falun Gong materials on June 28, 2020, Zhangjiacun Village Party Secretary Xiang Demao led five paramilitary soldiers to arrest her. They took her to an empty house for interrogation. Ms. Li refused to reveal from whom she got the booklets. Yu Desheng and Yu Deshui, two of the paramilitary soldiers, tried to beat her into submission. Some of her teeth fell out and her mouth was injured as a result of the brutal beatings. There was a contusion of her left rib cage and she had bruises all over. According to an elderly villager who was asked to watch over her, one of the soldiers also poked Ms. Li hard on the chest with a stick.
Ms. Li still refused to give up her practice or answer questions. One of her perpetrators brought her outside the house to “fix her up.” He kicked her so hard that she lost her balance and hit her hip on a rock outside the door. It later started to rain, and he forced her to stand in the rain for a long period of time. She went on a hunger strike to protest the abuse. Ms. Li was rushed to a private clinic on July 13 for emergency medical care and was pronounced dead.
Stop the Persecution
The suppression of Falun Gong was launched by former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin in July 1999. According to data from the Minghui.org website, as of July 10, 2019, 86,050 practitioners had been arrested, 28,143 sent to labor camps, and 17,963 imprisoned at one point or another. In addition, 18,838 practitioners had once been held at brainwashing centers and 809 had been kept at mental hospitals. Altogether, Minghui reported 518,940 incidents of Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted for their faith, with 4,595 confirmed deaths.
Through consistent efforts from practitioners, the international community has begun to recognize the serious human rights abuse in China and started to take action.
The U.S. Department of State announced on December 7, 2020 the sanctioning of fourteen Chinese Communist Party officials for human rights violations. The sanctions include blocking their assets in the U.S., prohibiting U.S. persons from dealing with them, and barring them and their immediate family members from entering the U.S.
The sanction list covers all fourteen vice chairpersons of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), including Wang Chen, Cao Jianming, Zhang Chunxian, Shen Yueyue, Ji Bingxuan, Arken Imirbaki, Wan Exiang, Chen Zhu, Wang Dongming, Padma Choling, Ding Zhongli, Hao Mingjin, Cai Dafeng, and Wu Weihua.
Several days before Human Rights Day on December 10, Falun Gong practitioners in 29 countries submitted a list of human rights perpetrators to their respective governments, requesting that these nations sanction the listed perpetrators and their family members with visa restrictions, and freeze their assets, because of their involvement in the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
The 29 countries include the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States), 18 nations in the European Union (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia), and 6 additional nations (Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Mexico).
Among this list are some Central Committee-level officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They include Han Zheng (Politburo Standing Committee member), Guo Shengkun (secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission), Zhou Qiang (president of the Supreme Court), Liu Jinguo (deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection), and Fu Zhenghua (deputy director of Committee for Social and Legal Affairs in Political Consultative Conference).
Progress has also been made by the European governments. On December 7, the European Union (EU) officials agreed to adopt a framework styled after the “Magnitsky Act” to “target individuals, entities and bodies … responsible for, involved in, or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide.”
“Today’s decision emphasizes that the promotion and protection of human rights remain a cornerstone and priority of EU external action, and reflects the EU’s determination to address serious human rights violations and abuses,” the EU Council said in a statement.
On December 10, Human Rights Day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against 17 foreign government officials for human rights violations. One of the sanctioned is Chief Huang Yuanxiong of the Xiamen Public Security Bureau Wucun Police Station in Fujian Province, China, for his involvement in the “gross violations of human rights” of Falun Gong practitioners.
“Promoting and advancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms continues to be a top priority for the United States,” stated Pompeo in the announcement, “On this Human Rights Day, the United States proudly reaffirms its commitment to using every appropriate tool and authority available to draw attention to violations and abuses of human rights no matter where or when they occur, and to promote accountability for those responsible for those violations and abuses.”
Pompeo later tweeted, “Together, we will ensure corrupt actors and human rights abusers will have no refuge within our jurisdictions.”
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