Award-winning artist Ms. Xu Na was arrested in Beijing on July 19. It was the third time she has been arrested, all for the same reason: She practices Falun Gong.
The arrest occurred just one day before the 21st anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banning Falun Gong. Peaceful and apolitical, Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese meditation practice that includes gentle exercises and teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Gong flourishes and is welcomed in more than 100 countries.
The day after the arrest, police ransacked her home, confiscating all of her digital devices and cameras, according to Minghui.org, a multi-lingual website that features first-hand information about Falun Gong and its persecution. Now Xu’s elderly father is alone at home, and has not been informed of his daughter’s whereabouts.
Ms. Xu, 52, comes from a family of artists. Her father was a painter in the Chinese Artists Association and her mother taught at the Jilin Province Art Academy. Xu herself won an award at the Chinese Young Artists Oil Painting Exhibit in 1998.
Widowed by Persecution
Xu was married to Yu Zhou, a talented artist and musician, who performed with a folk music band, Xiaojuan and the Valley Folks. He was accomplished in the four traditional Chinese arts, namely, musical instruments, the game of Go, Chinese calligraphy, and painting.
The couple was stopped by police conducting an “Olympics check” on Jan. 26, 2008, on their way back home after a performance. When police discovered they both practiced Falun Gong, they arrested them and detained them in the Tongzhou District Detention Center. The couple was separated, and Ms. Xu never saw her husband again.
Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to all kinds of maltreatment when detained, limited only by the discretion of the notorious 610 Office. Mr. Yu was tortured to death on Feb. 6, 2008, Chinese New Year’s Eve that year. He was 42.
His wife was not allowed by the detention center to attend his funeral.
Ms. Xu was sentenced to three years in prison on Nov. 25, 2008 by the Chongwen District Court in Beijing. The trial was a formality with a foregone conclusion, with results pre-determined by the 610 Office, so it took only a few minutes.
Previously, Ms. Xu was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison in 2001. She and her husband had opened up their apartment to other practitioners who traveled to Beijing to appeal for justice for Falun Gong, and for this she lost five years of her life.
Xu experienced solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, intense labor for long hours, being forced to remain in snow for lengthy periods of time, being tied up in excruciatingly painful positions, and other torture. She went on hunger strike for one period of her incarceration. She was released in 2006.
There is little news about Falun Gong inside China in recent years, leading some Chinese and some international observers to think that the persecution has eased off, or even to forget about the persecution. While other human rights violations by the CCP regime make international news now—rightfully so—the persecution of Falun Gong quietly continues unabated for millions of people, as evidenced by reports on Minghui.org.
In 2020, the widowed Ms. Xu has been thrust back into the regime’s detention and torture mechanisms for a third time, with an unknown fate.