A practitioner of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice, who tapped into a television channel in China to broadcast footage exposing the persecution of the practice has died from torture after seven years detention.
Ms. Yang Chunling was a graduate of Liaoning University and an English interpreter by profession. Together with her husband, Yang Benliang, and other practitioners, they tapped into the Liaoyang cable television network on Sept. 5, 2005 to play a video called Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. The video documents the violent history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including its persecution of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice with “Truth-Compassion-Tolerance” as its guiding principles. Information about Falun Gong and the persecution is most intensely censored by the Chinese authorities since former communist party leader Jiang Zemin ordered the eradication of the practice in 1999. By defying the censorship, Ms. Yang paid the ultimate price.
The Falun Gong program inserted into the Liaoyang cable television network aired for 90 minutes, causing a stir among the local people and shock among authorities. Luo Gan, then head of state’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee, oversaw the investigation of the case himself, while Jiang Zemin gave orders to “kill [the perpetrators] without mercy.”
One month later the eight participants were all under arrest. Ms. Yang was arrested on Oct. 13, 2005 in her home in Dalian City, Liaoning Province. During the arrest police viciously beat her and broke her right arm. She was sentenced to seven years in prison and held at Liaoyang Detention Center where she went on a hunger strike, Minghui.org, a website run by Falun Gong practitioners, said in a May 22 report.
A few months after her arrest, Ms. Yang was briefly released on medical parole when her health condition became critical. Arrested again in April 2006, she was again sentenced to seven years and spent most of them at the Liaoning Women’s Prison, also known as Dabei Prison.
During the 2006 Christmas season, the prison demanded that she work, but she refused. An inmate named Zhao Yan pushed Ms. Yang to the ground, breaking her right arm again. Doctors merely applied a splint made from two wooden boards, without setting the broken bone into place. Other mistreatment included days of sleep deprivation, suffocation by having a plastic bag pulled over her head, and being beaten for hours.
Ms. Yang passed away on April 2, 2014, one year after her release, as she couldn’t recover from the injuries she had sustained during detention, the Minghui report said. She was only 40 years old.
Between May 2002 and September 2004, Ms. Yang was previously detained at the notorious Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in Shenyang, Liaoning Province for distributing information materials about Falun Gong.
To force her to renounce Falun Gong she was taken to brainwashing sessions in other labor camps where she was tortured, including sleep deprivation and beatings.
In one extremely painful torture method she was forced to cross her legs on top of each other in what is called the full lotus position, that Falun Gong practitioners assumed during their meditation exercise. Then the brainwashing staff tied her legs tightly with ropes and cuffed her hands behind her back to a radiator for 36 hours. When she was released she couldn’t move, and inmates were ordered to beat her.
Ms. Yang’s husband, Yang Benliang, was also arrested for his involvement in the broadcast and sentenced to 11 years in prison. His mother, Ms. Cao Yuzhen, was arrested when she went to see the couple and was later sentenced to nine years in prison. Neither the husband nor his mother are aware of Ms. Yang’s death as both of them are still in prison.
Ms. Yang’s younger sister, Yang Chunhua, and their mother, Ms. Dong Baoxin, were also Falun Gong practitioners, and both of them have also been detained.
Ms. Dong was arrested twice for talking to people about Falun Gong. The first time was in December 2000 when she was making Falun Gong handouts with her daughters at her home in Dalian. Her daughters escaped arrest, but she was taken to Fushun and sentenced to forced labor, where she was cruelly tortured. She was released on medical parole one month later.
In January 2001 Ms. Dong and her daughters were again arrested. They were confined in an iron cage for 24 hours at the Houjiagou Police Station and later taken to the Drug Rehabilitation Center in the Dalian Law Enforcement Bureau.
Both sisters were sentenced to 2 years at Masanjia Forced Labor Camp. Ms. Dong made many unsuccessful attempts to see her daughters there. Because of constant harassment from local security officers, she decided to move to another city. When her daughters were released in September 2004, their mother’s health was in grave condition. She died in October 2004.
Ms. Yang Chunhua, the sister, is now the only family member left to tell the story of how the Chinese authorities persecuted her family for their faith. She said of her sister: “Although she suffered torture and high-pressure every day, she did not renounce her belief.”
Even under such persecution and torture, she said, her sister treated the criminal inmates who were ordered to torture her with kindness, explaining to them the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. This kindness had an effect.
“There was a convicted murderer who was required to monitor my elder sister. She was hot-tempered and beat others extremely ruthlessly. But after being around my sister for a while, she told my sister, ‘Once I get out of jail, I will not beat others anymore, and I will learn your Falun Gong principles.’”
2002 Changchun Incident
On March 5, 2002 another group of Falun Gong practitioners tapped into the state-run cable TV network in Changchun, Jilin Province, to expose the persecution.
The broadcast lasted for about fifty minutes on eight channels of the Changchun City cable TV network. The incident created shockwaves in the public, and many people learned the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong.
Police carried out a mass arrest in Changchun. About 5,000 practitioners were illegally arrested, detained and suffered physical and mental torment to different extents. During the arrest, at least seven Falun Gong practitioners were beaten to death, and fifteen practitioners were sentenced to between four years and twenty years in prison. Eight of them were tortured to death including Liu Chengjun, a key participant, who died on Dec. 26, 2003. By late October, Liu had become paralyzed from torture and had difficulty speaking.