Residents of a small town in Liaoning Province were harassed for signing an appeal letter calling for justice for Xu Dawei, a Falun Gong practitioner who was tortured in custody and died 13 days after his release from prison on 16 June, 2009, due to the injuries he sustained while in custody.
In late 2009, 376 villagers from Yingemen Township, Fushun City, Liaoning Province, co-signed the letter. The large number of signatures caught the attention of local authorities. As a result, Xu Dawei's family members, Xu’s attorney Wang Jinglong, and other villagers were harassed and threatened.
At around 9 p.m. on April 7, 2010, the Communist Party Secretary of the village and two policemen went to Xu's younger brother, Xu Youwei's home. They asked Xu Youwei to the Secretary's home for a “casual talk”; the talk was premeditated, however, with three members of China’s political and security apparatus already waiting for his arrival.
Some villagers familiar with the case said that the “casual talk” turned into an interrogation. The officials were aggressive and abrupt. They asked Xu Youwei questions such as: “Who brought the signature form?” “Who was the leader?” “Why did you get others' signatures?”
In a typical move for Party apparatchiks dealing with grassroots dissent , they also said that the following morning they would arrest a number of fellow villagers who signed the appeal letter, “so that the whole village will hate you. We'll see how well you can live in this village then.”
To scare Xu Youwei they also told him that co-signing the appeal letter was against the law, a crime punishable by prison time. Xu asked what law it was, and said, “If your family member was treated this way, would you stand back and not do anything at all?” The police said he was being disobedient and tried to handcuff him. Xu refused to cooperate and after three police tried to handcuff Xu but couldn't, they claimed he was “resisting arrest”, and took him to the police station by force. He didn't return until later that night. Later, his nearly 70-year-old father was also called to answer questions about the appeal letter.
Police then began going from door to door questioning villagers. They asked the same questions, such as “Who was the leader?”, “Why did you sign?” “Did you read the appeal letter?” and “If you were asked to go to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong, would you go?”
A villager said that the police were afraid of the public's support for Falun Gong, even more afraid of a large-scale appeal, and sought to suppress such potential in its nascent form.
Some villagers claimed they overheard the police say that they had received pressure from higher ups, and that the orders came directly from the CCP Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang. This would fit in with the anti-Falun Gong political campaign that has been waged by the Party-state since 1999, which has included wide-scale propaganda, loss of employment and housing, arbitrary arrests, prison and labor camp sentences, torture, and allegations of the harvesting of vital organs whereby the victims are executed.
In addition, the authorities also harassed attorney Wang Jinglong, who represented Xu Dawei's family. They first called him to the Provincial Legal Bureau for a “talk,” then ordered all lawyers in his firm to write self-criticisms—a form of repressive political drama that can be traced back the earliest days of communist organization in China. They threatened to revoke Wang's law license, and forced him to cancel the representation agreement with Xu's family; he was also forced to refund the fees they had paid . On May 26, the Provincial Legal Bureau sent people to his law firm to announce the decision.
When called by an Epoch Times reporter, local police said that the investigation was ordered by the provincial police. They said that the authorities had determined the “nature” of the incident, but would not explain what that “nature” was.