Ninety-six Falun Gong practitioners in China were confirmed to have been persecuted to death for their faith in 2019, bringing the total confirmed death toll to 4,363 over the past 20 years of suppression.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. The peaceful practice has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party regime since July 1999.
The deceased practitioners, 53 of them female, came from all walks of life, and included doctors, college professors, factory managers, bank employees, engineers, and farmers. Their ages ranged from 28 to 87.
Nineteen of the practitioners died while still being held in prisons, detention centers, and police stations. Ms. Guo Zhenxiang, 82, died a few hours after she was arrested on January 11, 2019. Mr. Yang Shengjun passed away nine days following his arrest on August 2, 2019. A 41-year-old woman, Ms. Li Yanjie, fell to her death on December 7, 2019, while trying to escape during her arrest.
Deaths in Custody
Shandong Man Dies in Custody at 45, Family Suspects Psychiatric Abuse and Organ Harvesting.
Mr. He Lifang, a resident of Qingdao City, Shandong Province, died in custody on July 2, 2019, two months after his last arrest for refusing to renounce his faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. He’s family noticed a sewn-up incision on his chest and an open incision on his back. The police first claimed that the incisions were a result of an autopsy, before changing their story to say that a medical examiner would come shortly. No coroner ever showed up.
Mr. He’s loved ones suspect that his organs may have been harvested either while he was still alive or shortly after his death. They also suspect psychiatric abuse as he lost his ability to speak and became unresponsive within just 17 days of his detention.
Mr. He’s passing marked an end to his years of suffering for upholding his belief. The 45-year-old man was repeatedly arrested and tortured – he was once beaten by 17 inmates while in detention. His ID was confiscated, and he was forced to stay away from home for 17 years to avoid further arrest.
The police deceived Mr. He into coming to the police station under the pretext of issuing him an ID card on May 5, 2019. He was arrested upon arrival and later subjected to forced-feeding and possibly psychiatric abuse. His health declined quickly and he was rushed to a hospital on June 30.
Over 200 police officers were dispatched between June 30 and July 3 to block local Falun Gong practitioners and Mr. He’s family members from getting close to the hospital.
Mr. He died on July 2, but his family wasn’t notified until the following day. They were pressured into agreeing to have his body cremated that same day. Over 30 officials and four vans of police officers were present to monitor the cremation process.
Kindergarten Teacher Incarcerated for Her Faith, Dies in Agony
Ms. Luo Dan, a Liuyang City, Hunan Province resident, passed away on December 1, 2019, after suffering years of persecution for her faith in Falun Gong. She was 50.
Ms. Luo had taken up Falun Gong with her parents in October 1997. Because of not renouncing their faith, the family was repeatedly harassed after the onset of the persecution two years later. The kindergarten school where Ms. Luo worked was pressured by the authorities to fire her.
Ms. Luo was arrested in November 2006 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. The police ransacked her home and gave her 1.5 years at Baimalong Forced Labor Camp. She was forced to do unpaid labor and was abused for upholding her faith.
Ms. Luo was arrested again on April 17, 2014, and sentenced to four years in prison on August 25, 2014, without her family’s knowledge.
The prison didn’t allow her father to visit her and forbade her from calling or receiving letters from her father, as retaliation for her not renouncing her faith.
The guards forced Ms. Luo to do unpaid labor and tortured her, including forcing her into a straitjacket and hanging her up for hours. Most of the torture didn’t cause visible external injury but led to severe internal injuries.
The authorities continued to harass Ms. Luo after she was released. To support herself and her father, she found a job in a bookstore in June 2018. Only a few days after Ms. Luo started working, the authorities forced the owner of the bookstore to fire her.
Ms. Luo found another job as a sales associate for a clothing store in August 2018. The police arrested her again and sent her to Laodaohe Brainwashing Center.
Still trying to recover from the abuse-induced health problems sustained during her imprisonment, Ms. Luo fell ill after she was released from the brainwashing center. She became bedridden and emaciated.
She passed away on December 1, 2019, in tremendous pain, leaving behind her 80-year-old father.