Lu Yuanfeng fell into a coma and died just three weeks after he’d been released from a prison in China’s northeast.
Lu had managed to survive three years in Benxi Prison, Liaoning province, but what he was forced to endure had already taken its toll.
When the 63-year-old’s family picked him up from the prison on Nov. 19, he was not the man they once knew. Instead, they found a man unable to properly walk or speak, family members told an investigator from Minghui, a website that documents cases of persecution against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
The family said Lu had suffered a stroke and a bad fall, which damaged his legs two months before his scheduled release, but the prison authorities withheld proper medical attention from him.
His family was also unable to visit him when he was ill. In his entire three years in prison, they were only allowed to visit Lu twice.
After his release, his wife and son had 21 days with him before he died on Dec. 9.
The Minghui investigator looking into Lu’s case learned further details of what he underwent during his imprisonment. It included torture and forced labor.
“He told his loved ones that guards at Benxi Prison beat him, shocked him with electric batons, and forced him to squat for long periods of time,” wrote the Minghui investigator.
Before his death, Lu wrote a complaint against one guard who he said tortured him with an electroshock baton for 45 minutes until he renounced his beliefs. The guard, Jia Changhai, went through three batteries in his baton during the process of electrocuting Lu.
After the electroshock baton torture, Lu was then taped to a chair and left near an open window for two days. This occurred during northwest China’s harsh winter. Lu afterwards required ten days in hospital to recover.
Once he was out of hospital, Lu went on a hunger strike and refused to do hard labor to protest the treatment he had received. This attracted further punishment until he suffered a stroke and injured his legs.
The Minghui investigator said that the prison is one of many in Liaoning Province that has had a history of torturing and mistreating Falun Gong practitioners.
“[The prisons use] various forms of torture on imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners in an attempt to so-called transform them, or force them to renounce their faith,” wrote the investigator who listed other Falun Gong practitioners known to have also been tortured in Benxi Prison.
The reporter outlined the incentives prisons are given to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners.
“The provincial-level Political and Legal Affairs Committee, a non-judicial agency tasked with eradicating Falun Gong, has a longstanding policy to award prisons 20,000 yuan for every practitioner they successfully ‘transform’ and fine them 10,000 yuan for every practitioner they fail to transform,” the investigator wrote.
— Rise-Ascend (@RiseAscend) October 14, 2016
Lu had been sent to prison for possessing a pamphlet that debunked the ruling communist party’s propaganda against the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. Practitioners of Falun Gong, as well as individuals who have shown support, have suffered persecution by the Chinese regime since 1999.
Benxi is one of more than 30 prisoners in the province that imprisons Falun Gong practitioners, the report said.
“According to available statistics, 469 Liaoning residents have been persecuted to death in the past 18 years for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. Many of them were imprisoned and tortured before their deaths,” said the report.
Freedom House: The Battle for China's Spirit
Religious Revival, Repression, and Resistance under Xi Jinping https://t.co/3IGLuIIHaq
— 北风（温云超, Yunchao Wen） (@wenyunchao) July 26, 2017
In 1999, the then communist party leader, Jiang Zemin ordered the persecution of the Falun Gong practice but despite its scale and brutality, the campaign has failed, said a report released last year by U.S.-based Freedom House.
“Millions of people in China continue to practice Falun Gong, including many individuals who took up the discipline after the repression began,” said Freedom House in their report The Battle for China’s Spirit.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese meditation practice that involves five sets of exercises, and moral teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. First taught in China in 1992, there were an estimated 70 million Chinese doing Falun Gong’s gentle calisthenics in parks and public squares by 1999, according to figures provided by the Chinese authorities. Falun Gong sources said there were more than 100 million people who had taken up the practice.