Forced shock in China over spiritual beliefs

Chris Bond
Yorkshire Post Today
August 24, 2006

Grandmother tortured by Chinese – all for her beliefs

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that once had nearly 100 million followers in China. But since it was banned by the government, thousands of practitioners have been tortured and even killed.

ZHEN is perched on the edge of the sofa. If she sits back you fear her tiny frame may be swallowed up completely.

Listening to the softly-spoken grandmother it is difficult to comprehend how anyone could bring themselves to harm her – but they have.

The 66-year-old claims she’s been beaten, force fed and suffered electro-shock therapy at the hands of the Chinese police – all because of her beliefs.

Zhen is one of the lucky ones, though, she’s alive.

According to the Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) Information Centre, more than 2,300 followers of the meditation practice have been beaten and tortured to death while in detention in China, although Amnesty International believes the numbers imprisoned could run into tens of thousands.

The Chinese authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of brutality and murder and rejected recent, disturbing, reports of “organ harvesting”, but just what is Falun Gong?
The meditation practice, similar to Tai Chi, is based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance and involves a series of controlled exercises. It was introduced in China in 1992 and within seven years had as many as 100 million followers.

Among them was Zhen. Before a friend introduced her to it she claims she suffered various health problems, including anaemia, dermatitis and hepatitis which forced her to retire early. Within a few months of taking up Falun Gong, though, she says her ailments disappeared.

“After six months I became a new person,” she says.

Zhen was not alone in finding Falun Gong a life-changing experience and encouraged other family members to take it up.

But as its popularity soared, the Chinese authorities became increasingly nervous by what they perceived to be a growing cult and in July 1999 Falun Gong was banned from public life.

Since then the communist government has set about systematically eradicating the movement and has reportedly detained thousands of practitioners in “reform” centres where detainees are “rehabilitated”.

Many people, like Zhen, continued to practise Falun Gong and, despite the risks, joined fellow practitioners in Beijing to appeal against the ban only to be arrested.

“They used a lot of methods of torturing us, they beat us up and used electric shock treatment and I was locked up for 22 days,” she says. “They arrested so many there wasn’t enough space so eventually they let go the people who were over 60 and I was allowed out.”

A few days later she was informed she had been secretly sentenced and told the police were coming to arrest her.

“I left my home two hours before the police arrived,” she says. “They left the message that I must come home and be ‘transformed’ (give up Falun Gong], or they would arrest me.”

Along with her husband, she hid with relatives staying for no more than a couple of months in one place until a friend told her about a disused flat where they could stay.
“I learned ways of keeping safe, I dug a hole in the wall behind a shoe rack in the living room and we lived inside the next room.

“This way, if someone came into the flat they would see a layer of dust everywhere and wouldn’t think people were living there,” she says, speaking via an interpreter.
For the next two years they lived in a single room.

“I had to sleep on newspapers on the floor under a quilt, because there was a window and this way if somebody looked in they would just see the empty bed.

“Because the situation was very dangerous I had to gather water drop by drop so this way it would make no noise. Also I could only flush the toilet once a day when other people were asleep.

“We had to keep the windows closed all the time even in the summer when the weather was so hot. In the winter there was no heating and outside the weather was minus 20 degrees.”

Because their pension had been stopped they were forced to survive on what little savings they had.

“We didn’t have any vegetables during this time and because we had so little money we often went hungry. It felt like we had been given a life sentence.”

With the help of friends and relatives, though, the couple were able to buy two passports for £5,000, money raised by selling the family’s flat.

Last October, they escaped to the UK, where their two sons now live, and were granted asylum in May.

But although Zhen, she has changed her name to protect her family, is grateful to have escaped her own nightmare she still has relatives back in China, including one of her two grandchildren.

“I am one of the lucky ones,” she says. “Most of my fellow practitioners who used to practise with me were beaten or killed and some of them disappeared and we don’t know what happened to them.”

It is why she, and a group of fellow practitioners, are travelling throughout the country to raise awareness over the persecution of Falun Gong followers in her homeland.
This persecution has led to claims that Falun Gong practitioners have been used for organ harvesting.

Horrific photographs, reportedly smuggled out of China, show the bruised and battered bodies of alleged victims minus their eyes, with crude stitch marks showing where the organs have been removed.

Last month, Canada’s former Secretary of State David Kilgour and international human rights lawyer, David Matas, published a report into these allegations concluding that they believed large-scale organ removals was still happening.

This has been denied by the Chinese. A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy said there was no persecution of Falun Gong and that stories of organ harvesting were simply propaganda spread by practitioners.

“This is a big lie made by Falun Gong,” he said. “Falun Gong is banned in China and to survive outside China they need to make big lies from time to time.”

Edward McMillan-Scott is vice president of the European Parliament and one of six Euro MPs serving Yorkshire and Humber and has spoken to former Falun Gong prisoners.
He described the treatment of its followers in China as “one of the cruellest religious repressions in human history”.

The Tory MEP also believes there must now be an international inquiry into the allegations of brutality and organ harvesting.

Until this happens human rights campaigners fear that Falun Gong practitioners will continue to be persecuted.

It might be an emerging super power, but in the People’s Republic of China it seems not even grandmothers are safe.

Comments (4)

bobby fletcherAugust 28th, 2006 at 3:49 pm

I have been following the Falun Gong story since March. I researched this matter after being given a flyer in Chinatown – and I have found many things wrong with this allegation.

In my humble opinion Falun Gong’s actions not only discredited their own cause, they also unnecessarily detracted from honest examination of China’s human rights record.

FLG’s nefarious indictment muddles the rational discussion of issues such as China’s legal reform, and Chinese society’s moral and ethical standards on dignity and treatment of the condemned, or even death penalty crossing the cultural divide.

In that spirit, I would like to bring to your attention some contrarian facts surrounding Falun Gong’s recent media activity:

(all citations are at the end)

- Mr. Mike Stekeetee of The Australian had reported in April US congressional investigation finding the allegation a gross exaggeration. An US Congressional Executive Committee on China (CECC) brief subsquently commented on veracity of Falun Gong’s claim of genocide.

- US State Department investigated and found the allegation not credible.

- Harry Wu, director of Laogai Research Foundation in DC, investigated the allegation and found the witness unreliable

- Melbourn Australia-based dissident Mr. Zhang HeTse has come forward and supported Harry Wu’s finding, while pointing out FLG’s phone call evidence is fake.

- The hospital Falun Gong accused in reality is a joint venture with a company affaliated with the Malaysian government. Malay officials have documented prior year visit, and the facility has been open to public for years.

- Mr. David Kilgour, author of a Canadian FLG report and a long time prosecutor, ignored obvious misrepresentation of evidence in his own report that used autopsy photo as evidence or organ harvesting.

Specifically, Kilgour report Appendix 12, Case 1, involving Mr. Wang Bin. Even according to Falun Gong’s own evidence, an autopsy was performed as part of Mr. Wang’s murder investigation held by local authority.

However, Kilgour report ignored the misrepresentation and recoreded it as evidence of organ removal, ommitting the fact organ removal by medical examiner during autopsy is routine.

In reality the photo proves the opposit is true.

- Mr. Kilgour can not divorce himself from the fact his report is sponsored by a Falun Gong group in Washington DC that is evidentely political.

In conclusion, while China’s human rights record should be examined, writing allegory of “Schindler’s List” is not the way.

If we in the west can not be precise with our accusation, only resort of nefarious political indictment and sensational fabrication. Why should anyone take what we say seriousely?


- US State Department Investigation:

- Translation of Harry Wu’s open letter regarding his investigation of Falun Gong’s accusation:

- Comment by Mr. Zhang Hetse on Harry Wu’s open letter (untranslated):

- Congressional Executive Committee on China brief commented on the reliability of the Kilgour report:

- Malaysian government document on Sujiatun hospital visit:

- Kilgour Report, Appendix 12 Case 1, Mr. Wang Bin from a 2000 FAlun Gong article:

(Additional references available in my blog:

JuliAugust 28th, 2006 at 6:23 pm


Thanks for your very interesting comments…I’ll look at all of these documents later tonight.

Your comment got caught up in the spam catcher because of all the URLs. If what you say is true, you make an exceptionally valid point that false allegations divert attention from real human rights abuses.

Thanks again,


JuliAugust 28th, 2006 at 6:28 pm

Bobby, have you contacted Mental Disability Rights International on this? They do a lot of research into international human rights abuses. If you’ve got time, you might email Laurie Ahern, who is associate director there, and see if they’ve looked into it at all, or if they have plans to do so. I know Laurie from when she used to be with NARPA and she’s really passionate and dedicated to international issues.

I did a quick check of their website and found no mention of Falun Gong.

MDRI website:

mason stormNovember 9th, 2010 at 7:47 pm

This is ridiculous that no mainstream news agencies are covering this. People are being tortured and killed each day and websites like or don’t even have one article that aims to bring these issues to light. They’d rather run stories like “zebra escapes from local zoo” along with 10 min of home video cam footage of a man chasing a zebra around through his neighborhood. Wtf is wrong with them? The only explanation that I can think of is that all of the News Corp Rupert Murdoch owned media outlets aren’t trying to prevent public awareness about this in order to preserve america’s “Relation$” with china. Our media is on a fast track to becoming as censored as theirs… have you seen what their routers look like there? They actually have a built in “content filter” that is attached to the circuit (wireless internet circuit board pics). It’s just incomprehensible that the only word about this getting out is through pamphlets being passed around at colleges from escaped victims or on non-mainstream news sites such as this. At the rate we’re going, this could be happening in America right now and we would still have not one clue about what is going on.

Leave a comment

Your comment:

Subscribe without commenting