Lu Yuanfeng fell into a coma and died just three weeks after he’d been released from a prison in China’s northeast. He 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 November 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 December 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.
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.
Lu Yuanfeng is not the only Falun Gong practitioner tortured to death or severely injured in Benxi Prison.
Cheng Yuanlong was sent home on August 20, 2007, when the guards saw he was on the verge of death. He died six months later at the age of 38.
Zhan Dajun became extremely weak and disoriented after long-term torture at Benxi Prison. He died of a stroke not long after he was released in August 2008. He was 53.
Sun Zhanguo was slammed to the ground on October 15, 2016, and showered with punches and kicks. Guard Jia then shocked him with electric batons for about 30 minutes.
Hu Guojian became vegetative in just 22 days of his admission to Benxi Prison. After brain surgery and still in a coma, he was taken back to prison to finish his term.
Zhou Lin had his arms and legs taped to a chair for three days straight. He was not allowed to move or doze off. A group of inmates took turns feeding him and catching his waste with a bucket. They also forced him to watch propaganda videos slandering Falun Gong.
Guard Chen Geng repeatedly shocked Meng Xianguang’s genitals with an electric baton and kept laughing when he shook in pain. Chen also ordered inmates to pour cold water on Meng and beat him with plastic plumbing pipes.
Liu Defu was beaten so badly that he needed 21 stitches on his head. He had high blood pressure but was still forced to do hard labor.
The list goes on. We wondered why Benxi Prison treats imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners so brutally. The answer lies in a province-wide incentive system of funds earmarked for “Special Tasks.”
Benxi is one of more than 30 prisons in Liaoning Province that are used to imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
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.
According to our investigation, the Liaoning Province Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) designed an incentive system for every level of the PLAC, judicial bureau, and prison administration bureau. The system is dubbed a “special task project” and requires earmarked funds from every city’s general tax revenues. The funds are used to reward prisons for “transforming” practitioners. Those who fail to force practitioners to renounce Falun Gong will be punished.
Toward the end of each year, every prison is required to tally how many practitioners they have “transformed” during the year. As such, prisons often launch an intensive round of abuse at the end of every year in hopes of forcing more practitioners to give up their belief.
Benxi Prison has been very active in carrying out the special task project. The city of Benxi reported 14 billion yuan of general tax revenue in 2014, but that figure dropped to 5.4 billion yuan in 2015. Even so, the municipal government still appropriates funds to reward Benxi Prison for “transforming” Falun Gong practitioners.
Liaoning has the lowest GDP among all provinces in China, yet it remains at or near the top of the list for the number of Falun Gong practitioners arrested and tortured every year.
We urge Liaoning officials at every level to stop the persecution of Falun Gong and to release imprisoned practitioners.
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.
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