The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued amid the pandemic.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice composed of meditative exercises and teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice grew to between 70 million and 100 million adherents by 1999, according to China’s official estimates at the time.
The communist regime, fearing that the growing movement would threaten its rule, launched a systematic elimination campaign against adherents of the practice in July 1999.
The blatant violations of religious freedom and human rights continue to this day.
On Jan. 12, Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China, published the latest statistics based on its investigations.
The report also states that 622 practitioners were sentenced for their faith, 537 were forced to attend political "education" classes, and 3,588 had their homes searched by authorities.
More than 8,000 others received some form of harassment by police, such as officers visiting their homes, confiscating Falun Gong books and materials, or monitoring their activities.
Of those persecuted, 1,188 were seniors over the age of 65, including 17 over the age of 90.
Jilin Teacher Sentenced for Writing Letter to CCP PremierSong Yanqun, a teacher from Shulan, Jilin Province, started practicing Falun Gong in August 1996.
After Song opened the door, Dong questioned Song about a letter she wrote to the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, and told her she was being arrested. Song was taken into custody that evening.
Song’s father went to the police station to seek her release and spoke of the physical ailments and mental trauma that her daughter still suffered as a result of her previous decade-long imprisonment.
Following her first arrest on Nov. 24, 2003, Song was sentenced to 12 years in prison. During her incarceration, beatings, force-feeding, and injection of unknown drugs put her on the verge of death, according to Minghui.org. She weighed only about 66 pounds when she was released on medical parole on Jan. 20, 2014.
Song’s sister, Song Bing, who was arrested on the same day and sentenced to 14 years, contracted tuberculosis in prison and was denied proper treatment for months until she was in critical condition. She never recovered from her health problems and died on July 30, 2009.
Song’s father told police that his daughter wrote appeal letters every day to alleviate the mental trauma. The police expressed sympathy but could do nothing about the situation. They said the order to arrest came from above, Song’s father told Minghui.org.
Orthopedic Surgeon Arrested Again After Years of Torture and ImprisonmentLi Lizhuang, a Falun Gong adherent and former orthopedic surgeon at the First Hospital of Harbin Medical University in northeastern China, was re-arrested on April 8, 2020. He was detained at the Zhaozhou Detention Center in nearby Daqing.
The hospital fired Li during his incarceration. After being released from prison, he couldn’t find another job as a doctor and resorted to selling clothes on the street.
He was arrested again in March 2008 and sentenced to one more year at the labor camp. Combining the two labor camp terms and one prison sentence, Li endured a total of 6 1/2 years of torture.
Practitioners Beaten and ThreatenedOn April 10, 2020, six Falun Gong practitioners went to the Xinglong township police station in Wuchang, northeastern China, to request the release of a fellow practitioner taken into custody the night before.
Two of the practitioners, Yu Shufan and Li Yan, spoke with the police chief, Yang Chunlai, in an attempt to explain the background about Falun Gong and why the CCP decided to launch its persecution. The police chief became infuriated upon learning that the two were Falun Gong adherents, swore at them, and pushed them out of the police station.
After the six left, police followed and stopped their car, searched the vehicle, and took them back to the police station, according to Minghui.org.
At the police station, officers repeatedly slapped Sun Tienong, another Falun Gong adherent in the group, until he couldn't move. Also, several cops dragged Li into an unmonitored room and brutally beat him, according to Minghui.org.
US SanctionsOn Dec. 10, 2020, Human Rights Day, the U.S. State Department sanctioned 17 foreign officials for their human rights violations, including Huang Yuanxiong, head of the Wucun police station in Xiamen located on the eastern coast of China.
This designation, which bars Huang from entering the United States, also applies to Huang’s wife. It marked the first time the United States has penalized a Chinese official for persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.
“The world cannot stand idly by as the [People’s Republic of China] government perpetrates horrific and systematic abuses against people in China, including violating the internationally recognized right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief,” Pompeo said.