By a Clearwisdom correspondent in Gansu Province, China
Name: Zhao Li (赵丽)
Occupation: Drycleaning Store Owner
Date of Most Recent Arrest: June 25, 2007
Most Recent Place of Detention: Lanzhou Women’s Prison (兰州女子监狱)
Persecution Suffered: Sleep deprivation, forced labor, brainwashing, illegal sentencing, beatings, imprisonment, torture, fired from workplace, home ransacked, interrogation, detention, denial of restroom use, denied visitation
(Clearwisdom.net) In June 2007, Ms. Zhao Li, a Falun Gong practitioner from Lanzhou, Gansu Province, was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for practicing Falun Gong and having materials containing facts about Falun Gong. She faced four years of torture at Gansu Provincial Women’s Prison until August 2010.
Ms. Zhao Li is a 48-year-old Falun Gong practitioner that used to own a drycleaning store in Qilihe District, Lanzhou, Gansu Province. She started practicing Falun Gong at the beginning of 1998 when a relative from her home town brought her Falun Gong books and the videotapes of Falun Gong lectures given by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, as well as Falun Gong’s exercise music tape. At first, she just tried it out. She felt great instantly and began practicing Falun Gong exercises seriously. Next she watched the video and felt everything Mr. Li said was about becoming better people. She made up her mind to start practicing Falun Gong. As she continued to practice Falun Gong, she benefitted both physically and spiritually. She felt an instant improvement in her mood.
While Ms. Zhao devoted herself to introducing Falun Gong to more people, the Chinese Communist regime began its persecution against Falun Gong on July 20, 1999. Government agenices, neighborhood comittees and police stations began to check on Falun Gong practitioners in their areas and exerted pressue on them to give up their belief in Falun Gong.
In August 1999, two police officers from the Qilihe Police Sub-bureau showed up at Ms. Zhao’s home. They tried to pressure her into renouncing Falun Gong. When she refused, they tried to reason with her, “Why don’t you stop practicing Falun Gong outside of your home? It is just the same to practice inside of your home.” Finally Ms. Zhao gave in and signed a guarantee to practice Falun Gong only at home. The police officers also confiscated her Falun Gong music tapes. Since that day the residence commitee had people posted at her door to monitor her actions daily.
Meanwhile her husband was threatened to make Zhao give up practicing Falun Gong or lose his job at the Electricity Plant at Gansu Province. Ms. Zhao received threats from the plant’s Security Divison that she would either give up Falun Gong or be sent to Xiguoyuan Detention Center. For a few years Ms. Zhao would not be able to read any Falun Gong books. She could only afford to practice Falun Gong exercises occassionally.
At the end of 2004, Ms. Zhao, after receiving financial help from her friends and relatives, opened a drycleaning store to make ends meet.
Arrested and Tortured
On June 25, 2007, Ms. Liu Yanrong and Ms. Zhang Chunlian, two Falun Gong practitioners, were distributing materials containing important facts about Falun Gong at Xujiashan Forest Park when the park security reported them to the police, which resulted in their arrest. The police took them to Qilihe Police Sub-bureau. Next the police attempted to ransack Ms. Liu Yanrong’s home. Just as soon as the police arrived at the door when Ms. Zhao Li had just stepped in. Ms. Zhao locked the police outside, refusing to let them in.
At around 9 p.m., the Qilihe Police Sub-bureau called the SWAT for backup. A SWAT team in camouflage uniform with AK-47s arrived at the scene. They descended from the rooftop, climbed down to the balcony and smashed the window to break in. Once inside, two SWAT police officers tackled Ms. Zhao, held her on the bed and wrapped her head with a garment. A SWAT officer commented, “There is only one person. Why did they call so many of us in?”
Next the police hancuffed her behind her back and took her into a police car. She was taken to the Domestic Security Division on the 9th floor of the Qilihe Police Sub-bureau. She was immediately chained to a “Tiger Bench” where she faced interrogation. When she refused to cooperate, the police had two male police officers and two people from the neighborhood committee to watch her.
Torture Re-enactment: Tiger Bench
Early the following morning, the police transferred her to the Lanzhou City Police Department handcuffed and shackled. Once again Ms. Zhao was chained to a “Tiger Bench” where she faced another round of interrogation that lasted 3 days. Meanwhile, the Lanzhou City Police Department ransacked her home and drycleaning store and confiscated all the materials containing facts about Falun Gong, her PC, a copier, two paper cutters, two staplers, as well as equipment required to install satellite dishes. They did not produce any receipt listing the confiscated items. On the evening of June 28, the Domestic Security Division from Lanzhou City Police Department took her to Lanzhou No. 1 Detention Center (AKA Jiuzhou Detention Center) where she was incarcerated. No one was available to tend to her drycleaning store, so her mother had to sell the store worth 40,000 yuan at the price of 4,000 yuan.
The next day at the detention center, Ms. Zhao faced the tortore of “Tiger Bench” for 3 consecutive days and 3 nights. In the end her limbs became stiff and she had difficulty walking. Ten days later Ms. Zhao bled profusely and lost consiciousness. She was sent to Dashaping Forced Labor Hospital in Lanzhou City where she was chained to the bed with prison inmates taking turns monitoring her around the clock. She was not allowed to speak to anyone else. She was not allowed to practice Falun Gong exercises. She was not allowed to make any contact with the outside world. There was even a monitor installed in the bathroom. The police would monitor her via security cameras around the clock. She was kept in the hospital for 18 days before she was taken back to Lanzhou City No. 1 Detention Center.
In May 2008, the warden named Guo ordered Ms. Zhao to memorize the prison rules. Ms. Zhao refused to comply [because she did not violate any law to practice Falun Gong.] As a result, she was ordered to clean the corridor. Due to the long periods of torture in prison, Ms. Zhao was extremely frail. She felt weak in the knees and lost consciousness. Since then she was not able to walk freely. She had to use the wall for support to walk slowly. She was even too weak to hold the cup when she tried to fill it with water.
Meanwhile, the Qilihe Police Sub-bureau sent officers to her neighborhood and interviewed her neighbors. During an interrogation, they told her, “We have checked on you. All of your neighbors sing high praises of you.” Ms. Zhao responded, “Then why do you lock up such a good person like me here?” The police said, “It is out of our hands. It is what we do.”
Tortured at Gansu Women’s Prison
On December 12, 2007, Ms. Zhao was tried at Qilihe Courthouse because Mao Wenbo from Qilihe Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted her. She was sentenced to four years in prison and Ms. Liu Yanrong was sentenced to three.
At around 5 p.m., July 16, 2008, Ms. Zhao was sent to Lanzhou Women’s Prison. She was immediately taken to the “Cult Division”. A guard named Sun Liwei ordered two prison inmates to strip Ms. Zhao naked for a security check. When they saw Ms. Zhao walking with difficulty, they commented, “She is acting. Make her climb up to the upper bunk.” She fell to the ground during her first attempt because she didn’t have enough strength. Then they finally gave up. There were about 20 other Falun Gong practitioners incarcerated at the “Cult Division”, including Ms. Wei Zhouxiang, Ms. Zhao Changju, Ms. Zhang Yuxia, Ms. Yan Ping and others.
Some common tortures used at the “Cult Division” included forced brainwashing. Every morning Falun Gong practitioners were made to watch hate propaganda against Falun Gong. In the afternoon they were made to write reports on what they thought about the video. If they should refuse, they would be deprived of sleep. If the report did not meet their approval, the Falun Gong practitioner would be made to write it over and over again until it did. They were also made to recite the prison rules daily and sing songs to praise the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from time to time. If a Falun Gong practitioner refused to recite the prison rules or sing the CCP songs, they would face verbal or physical attacks from prison inmates. Sometimes the practitioner would be taken to the bathroom where she would be beaten up by five prison inmates. When Falun Gong practitioners sat down and took a break, prison inmates were ordered to watch them and make sure they could only look ahead and they would not speak.
In addition, Falun Gong practitioners were denied the use of the bathroom. Sometimes Falun Gong practitioners had no choice but to excrete in their pants. Many Falun Gong practitioners developed urinary infection because they were forced to hold their bladder. For two long months, Ms. Zhao was not allowed to get a fresh change of clothes and was denied water for 4 days. In the cold winter of Gansu Province, she was only allowed to use cold water to bathe. Prison inmates who were drug addicts, financial frauds and murderers were enticed to torture Falun Gong practitioners in exchange for a prison term reduction. Some of such prison inmates included Yan Feng, Tong Hua and Xian Deying. The “Cult Division” was led by Zhu Hong.
Ms. Zhao faced cruel tortures at the “Cult Division” for seven months until she was transferred to No.2 Ward of the prison on April 20, 2009. Other Falun Gong practitioners known to be locked in the same area included Ms. Xie Hongying and Ms. Tang Qiong. There, Falun Gong practitioners were made to perform slave labor to make apparel. On August 6, 2010, Ms. Zhao was finally released. That day the Qilihe Police Sub-bureau, Wangjiabao Police Station, the neighborhood office and the secretary of the community Wu Xingying picked her up from prison and took her to Wangjiabao Police Station where they made a record of her.
However, Ms. Zhao had to report “what was on her mind” every month until June 24, 2011.
Qilihe Court in Lanzhou:
Address: 63 Xiaoxihu East Street, Lanzhou 730050
Zhang Helin, Presiding Judge: +86-931-2660685
Zhao Xinmin, Assistant Presiding Judge: +86-931-2660306
Xu Yongsheng, Deputy Presiding Judge: +86-931-2666441
Jin Jie, Deputy Presiding Judge: +86-931-2668908
Jiang Qinglian, Deputy Presiding Judge: +86-931-2664235
Yanjiaping Street Committee in Qilihe District: +86-931-2932010, +86-931-2932012
Chinese version available at 兰州法轮功学员赵丽遭四年冤狱折磨