Chinese police have escalated their surveillance of an elderly doctor who once served in a Chinese military hospital.
Gu Xinfang, 75, from Nanjing City in southern China, practices Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a meditation discipline with the fundamental tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Like many other adherents of the practice, Gu noted improved physical and mental well-being after practicing Falun Gong. Arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other ailments she had faded away, according to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that serves as a clearinghouse for information about the persecution of the practice in China.
On Oct. 15, 2015, Gu was arrested by local police officers and members of the local 610 office—a Gestapo-like secret police force established specifically to carry out the persecution of Falun Gong—while on her way to the food market, according to Minghui.org.
The security officers also broke into Gu’s home and confiscated two computers, a printer, a laminator, cash totaling around 17,000 yuan ($2,600), and other personal items.
In 1999, former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide persecution of Falun Gong, believing that the group’s popularity—by 1999, up to 100 million practicing Falun Dafa, according to Western media outlets that quoted Chinese officials—could undermine the Party’s authority.
Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested and imprisoned for their spiritual belief. Gu has been persecuted since 2015.
The Qixia District Court found Gu guilty of filing a criminal complaint to sue former leader Jiang for his persecution of Falun Gong. This was despite a new set of guidelines from the Supreme People’s Court in 2015 that allowed practitioners to name Jiang directly responsible for the abuses they suffered. More than 200,000 Chinese Falun Gong practitioners and their families have filed criminal complaints against Jiang since then, according to Minghui.org.
Gu was detained for 10 months in Nanjing Detention Center. Her then-75-year-old husband was left at home alone.
In July 2016, Gu was released back home, with a court sentence of house arrest for more than two years.
Right before the Communist Party’s important conclave, the 19th National Congress, took place in October 2017, Gu was taken to a local detention center and detained for a month. Dissidents typically face heavier persecution around politically sensitive times such as the 19th National Congress.
On April 1, 2018, police officers and other security agents went to her home and forced her to wear electronic wristbands, leg cuffs, and other electronic monitoring devices. They also told her they had added one more year to her house arrest sentence.
Her total sentence will end on October 15, 2019, when she is almost 80 years old.
More than 4,000 Falun Gong adherents are confirmed to have died as a result of torture and abuse while in custody, although the real number is believed to be much higher due to the difficulty of getting information out of China, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center, the group’s press office. In addition, large numbers of practitioners have been murdered for their organs, which are then used in China’s organ transplantation industry, according to independent researchers.