In the first half of 2020, 5,313 Falun Gong practitioners were detained or harassed in China, according to a report from Minghui.org, a website that documents the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution campaign of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient Chinese spiritual practice that consists of slow-moving exercises and meditation with an emphasis on incorporating the principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance in everyday life.
Since its introduction in 1992, the practice spread widely in China with around 70 million people practicing by the end of the decade, according to government estimates at the time. Threatened by this popularity, the CCP banned the practice on July 20, 1999, launching an expansive campaign of persecution.
Since then, vast swathes of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained or imprisoned as a result of their faith. Millions of adherents have been detained, and hundreds of thousands have been tortured, according to estimates by the Falun Dafa Information Center.
In the first half of 2020 alone, 2,654 people were detained (1,408 people have since returned home, 2 people escaped), 2,659 were harassed, 77 were sent to brainwashing classes, 1,687 had their homes raided and personal items confiscated, and 48 were forced to leave home, according to Minghui.org.
Among them there were 48 teachers and professors. There are also social elites such as a governmental director, engineer, hospital dean, doctor, regiment-level veteran, accountant, bank cadre, and entrepreneur.
540 of them were over 65, including 6 over 90 years old, 140 between 80 to 90 years old, 278 between 70 to 80 years old, and 116 between 65 to 70 years old.
The CCP extorted a total of over 2.8 million yuan (roughly $409,000) from these victims, of which the police confiscated 2.47 million yuan ($354,000) from practitioners and courts fined them 385,000 yuan ($55,000).
The following are some of the examples.
Woman Dies on Day of Arrest
On the early morning of June 18, more than 30 Falun Gong practitioners were abducted by local police in Tangshan city, Hebei Province. The 68-year old Han Yuqin was one of them.
After 6 p.m. that day, her family was informed by police of her death. When family members saw her body, her hair was disheveled and her nose was bloodied.
According to Minghui.org, she was restrained on an iron chair for long hours while police forced her to sign a document to renounce her faith, but she refused to comply.
In the afternoon, she went to a restroom and fainted on the spot. She died after being rushed to a hospital.
The 55-year-old Xia Mingjin is a resident of Nanchang city, Jiangxi Province, a landlocked province in the east of China.
On the evening of April 3, 2018, Xia Mingjin was violently kidnapped by local police while she was displaying a Falun Gong banner. She was sentenced to 2 years in prison. After she returned home on April 3, 2020, local police and Communist Party cadres continuously visited her and harassed her. On a monthly basis, she was demanded to report to the police, give fingerprints, write reports about her thinking, and provide her shoe size. Whenever she refused to cooperate, a policeman surnamed Tu would call and harass her husband.
Deprived of Retirement Funds
In Nanchang city, Liu Yongying was beaten and fired.
Liu Yongying, a senior lecturer at a Jiangxi social work college, has been imprisoned repeatedly over five years because of her firm belief in Falun Gong. On April 3, 2018, she was again kidnapped by police and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. She was consequently fired from her faculty position and deprived of her retirement funds.
In August 2020, the Southwest Medical University in Luzhou city, Sichuan, withheld the pension of Tang Xuzhen, a retired associate professor of nine years. The 82-year-old cytopathologist has been a target of persecution for her faith.
On June 3, Tang went to the university to demand the recovery of her retirement funds. However, the university called the police and drove her away.
On the evening of June 26, Ren Haifei was kidnapped by local police in Dalian city, Liaoning Province, located in northeast China. Ren has practiced Falun Gong since he was in college. In 2001, he was abducted by the police and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. He was also forced to quit college because of the persecution.
Most recently, police forced their way into his apartment and took roughly 500,000 yuan ($71,400) in cash from his home. The police also located his personal vehicle and robbed another 50,000 yuan ($7,100) in cash stored in his car.
The police have detained Ren in the Yaojia detention center in Dalian. The detention center forbade him from seeing his lawyer, using the current pandemic as the rationale.
Yan Yixue was abducted in 2018 to a brainwashing class run by the Shihezi “detoxification center” in Xinjiang. She was detained for nearly a year and suffered various abuses such as being scolded, shoved, and beaten by the police assistants, according to Minghui.org. As soon as she practiced Falun Gong exercises, the alarm would sound and a group of police assistants would rush in with an iron rod to pull her out and beat her.
At one point, she was locked into an iron chair for nearly half a month, during which she went on a hunger strike in protest.
This year, she was again kidnapped by the police before the CCP’s Two Sessions political meetings on May 21 to 22. She has been missing since then.
Recently, the U.S. State and Treasury departments announced sanctions against Chinese officials for their involvement in human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, where Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups have been detained and tortured.
Those communist officials are Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary for the region; Zhu Hailun, former Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Commission; Wang Mingshan, the Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau; and Huo Liujun, former Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau. The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (akin to police) is also on the list of sanctions.
These officials also participated in the persecution of Falun Gong.