The Chinese Communist Party has persecuted the spiritual practice of Falun Gong for over 18 years, and the torture and killing of its practitioners continue to be carried out in secrecy in black jails, prisons, and detention centers.
As of Dec. 17, 29 Falun Gong practitioners are confirmed to have died in 2017 due to the persecution, in 15 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shanghai, the northern provinces of Heilongjiang and Liaoning, and the southern provinces of Guangxi and Fujian.
15 died in prison. The remaining 14 died while being illegally held by local Chinese authorities, or harassed in their homes.
As of Dec. 19, the website confirmed that 4,160 practitioners in China have died from the persecution over the last 18 years, although the numbers of those killed for 2017 and for the persecution as a whole are likely to be much higher due to the difficulty of securing sensitive information in China.
Also, the death toll confirmed on Dec. 19 does not count those murdered through having their organs taken from them for use in China’s organ transplantation industry. The harvesting of organs from unwilling victims is done in secret and third parties cannot confirm individual deaths.
The report “An Update to ‘Bloody Harvest’ and ‘The Slaughter’” presents the findings from a “meticulous examination of the transplant programs of hundreds of hospitals in China.” It estimates that between 60,000 and 100,000 transplants have been performed in China each year since 2001, with the primary source of organs being Falun Gong practitioners.
— End Organ Pillaging (@OrganCoalition) January 4, 2017
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, was introduced to the public in 1992. The practice involves slow, meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Many practitioners improved their physical and spiritual well-being, fuelling the discipline’s popularity. By 1999, the number of practitioners grew to 70 million according to a state survey, though practitioners estimate the number to be over 100 million.
In July 1999, then-Party leader Jiang Zemin, out of fear that the discipline’s teachings would put the CCP’s atheist rule in jeopardy, launched a nationwide persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Since then, hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been subjected to torture, brainwashing, and forced labor, according to Minghui.org.
Here are a few of the cases Minghui has documented.
Huo Runzhi, 72, from Nong’an County in northeastern China’s Jilin Province, died on Nov. 14, 2017. She had become mentally unstable and lost her memory since returning home from the hospital belonging to Jilin Women’s Prison in August 2017, according to Minghui.org.
Huo was sentenced to three years imprisonment in 2016, after the local police arrested her for placing Falun Gong materials in public places. While being held in the Jilin Women’s Prison, she was physically and psychologically abused, with bruises all over her body. Many teeth became loose. She was finally taken to the prison’s hospital at the end of April 2017, after suffering from rectal cancer.
Cheng Huaigen, 54, from Tainfu New Area in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, died on May 29, 2017. Cheng was placing banners with words like “The World Needs Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance” in Huayang, a town in Chengdu, when he was kidnapped by police in June 2015, according to Minghui.org.
Cheng was held at a detention center in Shuangliu County. He was put on trial in June 2016, one year later. While held in detention, he was taken to a hospital on several occasions due to physical ailments that the persecution had caused. After the trial, he was detained at a prison in Lushan County.
On May 29, 2017, Cheng’s family got a phone call from the prison, saying that he had already gone into shock. By the time his family arrived, Cheng had already passed away.
Yu Guixiang, 65, from Changchun, the capital of northeastern China’s Jilin Province, was kidnapped by police from the Jiutai District in Changchun, on June 16, 2017, while she was talking to others in public about Falun Gong, according to Minghui.org.
Yu went into shock three days later while being held at the Jiutai detention center. The head of the detention center did not call a doctor or send her to the hospital. She passed away on June 20, 2017. It is not known what kind of persecution she suffered while being held.