Warning: Contains a graphic photo
A mother in her 70s in Central China struggles to cope after the loss of her youngest son during the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa, shortly after having buried her second son less than a year before—both sons were a target for harassment, torture, and imprisonment for many years for refusing to renounce their belief.
In the 21 years of the CCP’s persecution of Falun Dafa, tens of thousands of families in China have been separated, many never to meet again. Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a spiritual practice that consists of slow-moving exercises and meditation, and moral teachings based on truth, compassion, and forbearance.
It became the most popular form of qigong shortly after its public introduction in 1992, as Chinese citizens found in Falun Dafa a practice that not only relieved stress and improved health, but also filled a spiritual void left by the Cultural Revolution, a CCP campaign to systematically destroy ancient traditions and culture.
Xiaomin Chen, the youngest son, died on March 10 at the age of 51, after his release from prison in January, according to a report on the Minghui website, which compiles information and statistics on the persecution against Falun Gong. He was in “critical condition, emaciated, and unable to eat” when he was released.
A Falun Dafa adherent who was held in the same prison said Chen and his brother were “severely tortured there for not renouncing their faith.”
Chen was arrested for the third time on June 6, 2016, and taken to a detention center. He was held for a year before being secretly sentenced to prison in July 2017.
Prior to his latest imprisonment, Chen was detained at a forced labor camp, where he was shocked with electric batons while his hands were tied tightly behind his back and pulled up to his neck as the rope cut “deeply into his flesh.” Chen was tied up in this way for over 30 minutes at a time before the rope was loosened for a while only for the torture process to be repeated.
Chen’s second brother, Shaomin Chen, was arrested the day after Chen and held at the same prison. For refusing to give up his faith, Shaomin was tortured until he lost the ability to take care of himself. He was released on medical bail in 2018 and never regained his health, passing away on May 14, 2019. An autopsy was conducted and both of his lungs were shown to have “completely deteriorated at the time of his death,” according to the Falun Dafa Info Center.
Chen’s eldest brother, Yuemin Chen, died at the age of 48 in 2011, after being tortured and injected with unknown drugs while imprisoned for his faith. “The torture left him paralyzed and he often had intensive back pain after being released, yet the police continued to harass him until his final days.”
Chen’s father was the first in the family to pass away in 2001 in the persecution. The elderly man “endured tremendous stress” and was threatened by the authorities as he worked tirelessly to try “to seek the release of his sons, who were arrested in Beijing for appealing for the right to practice Falun Dafa.”
More than 4,300 Falun Dafa adherents are confirmed to have been killed in the persecution in China, according to Minghui.org. The actual number of deaths is thought to be much higher as thousands of cases remain unconfirmed due to the Chinese regime’s “tight-fisted control over details of the persecution.”