A 59-year-old woman who suffered over 20 different tortures during 10 years of imprisonment and frequent harassment at her home for her religious beliefs passed away on March 12, according to a report on Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website recording the persecution of the Buddha-school practice Falun Gong in China.
Wang Sumei, from Shenyang City of northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, died one day after her son took her from the home of her sister.
During her last 33 months, Wang’s sister had been her carer after her husband deserted her. Ten years of imprisonment left the 56-year-old woman with an emaciated body, blurry vision, loose teeth, and grey hair. Wang could not go out alone, according to the report, as she had almost lost her eyesight.
At 4:30 a.m. on July 21, 2008, police from Shenbei New District of Shenyang City broke into her house and detained Wang citing a need to ensure “social stability” in the capital city, according to an earlier 2008 report on her situation.
Cases recorded on Minghui.org revealed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had ordered officers to arrest Falun Gong practitioners throughout China ahead of the 2008 Olympics.
Since July 1999, the CCP launched a systematic campaign to eradicate Falun Gong due to its popularity. Introduced to Chinese people in 1992, Falun Gong drew 70 to 100 million practitioners by the end of the century surpassing the membership of the party.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual self-improvement system consisting of a set of qigong exercises and moral teachings based on the universal values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Meanwhile, the CCP promotes materialism and atheism in Chinese society, and has suppressed independent religious practices since the beginning of its rule.
Wang began to practice Falun Gong in 1998. By following the principle of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in her daily life, people who know Wang said she became happier than ever before. She used to suffer from migraines, gynecological problems, and other ailments. After a month’s practice, her physical discomforts disappeared.
But in December 2008, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison due to her beliefs.
Forced Labor and Torture
According to the report, Wang’s first eight days of torture included being forced to stand in a basin filled with freezing water. Other inmates were tasked with changing the water to make sure it was cold enough.
She was then incarcerated for three months from March 3, 2009, in Liaoning Women’s Prison.
Every day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, Wang did forced labor, making sweaters as part of Division 8 in the prison. After the 12 hours of labor, she was not allowed to rest until 1 a.m., as the police punished her to stand. She was given one meal a day, with only a little food.
Inmates were encouraged to beat her—they didn’t need a reason—even as she was doing the assigned labor. They would pinch her thighs for five to six minutes, the report said. Her face was often swollen due to slaps from other inmates. Once, one inmate counted as another one slapped her 27 times.
Persecution Tactics: Threats, Coercion
The report also detailed the torture methods used against Wang to break her morale, in the hopes of having her renounce her faith.
In one tactic, guards would confine individual Falun Gong practitioners with two other cellmates who were told they would be tortured if the practitioner refused to renounce their faith or tried to practise the Falun Gong exercises. Under such pressure, many inmates would often monitor, abuse, beat, and even participate in the torture of Falun Gong practitioners.
In Wang’s case, her fellow cellmates participated in waterboarding her in a barrel. They would hold her head underwater and pull it out just before she suffocated. Wang recalled one time when they did this to her ten times before she lost consciousness.
Wang also said the guards told her cellmates they could earn points or have their sentence reduced if they helped in efforts to break her down.
“If we can’t manage you, we will have our points deducted, and we can have our term reduce,” Wang recalled one cellmate saying.
Because Wang wouldn’t renounce her faith, her guards changed cellmates frequently and used different methods to torture her. One cellmate often pushed her teeth while another kept her mouth open. This left her with no visible injuries, but her teeth were loose in her gums.
To prevent Wang from doing the Falun Gong exercises, they handcuffed her from behind with one arm crossed over the shoulder, even while she was to have her meals and while she was sleeping.
Another method was to handcuff her to a bed. Once, she was tied to a bed every night for a month. Her cellmates were told not to talk to her. When she shouted, “Falun Dafa is good,” they sealed her mouth with tape.
When Wang still didn’t renounce her faith, her guards tried solitary confinement. She was isolated in a cell is the size of one bed, which was damp and cold in the winter, with only a small window near the ceiling. Wang was kept in such a cell many times.
She recalled one experience in the cell, where with her two hands cuffed behind her back, she was unable to eat, so she started a hunger strike. Three days later, her guards sent her to the hospital where she was tied to a bed 24 hours and force-fed for 42 days.
Every second was torture—torture for the body and spirit, Wang told Minghui before her death. “Ten years of persecution is beyond description,” she said.
Melanie Sun contributed to this report.