Amnesty International (AI) first began researching and reporting on the persecution of Falun Gong in the days immediately following the ban on the practice on July 20, 1999. Since that time, abuses against Falun Gong practitioners have been a regular feature of the China section of AI’s annual report. Thanks to multiple Urgent Actions that have been issued for adherents in imminent danger of being tortured, thousands of AI members have written to the Chinese authorities on behalf of practitioners and in several instances, contributed to better treatment or early release.
In a special report on torture in 2001, AI highlighted the systematic use of torture by security agents in a nation-wide effort to force citizens to abandon the traditional Chinese practice. More recently, AI has featured Bu Dongwei, a practitioner serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in a Beijing labor camp, as one of the prisoners of conscience whose release it is calling for ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.
2010 Annual Report “The severe and systematic 10-year campaign against Falun Gong continued…Former RTL prisoners reported that Falun Gong constituted one of the largest groups of prisoners…The government campaign against Falun Gong intensified, with sweeping detentions, unfair trials leading to long sentences, enforced disappearances and deaths in detention following torture and ill-treatment.”
2009 Annual Report “Falun Gong practitioners were among those most harshly persecuted by the government. In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, thousands were reported to have been arrested, with hundreds imprisoned or assigned to Re-education through Labour camps and other forms of administrative detention where they were at risk of torture and other ill-treatment sometimes leading to death.”
2008 Annual Report Falun Gong practitioners were at particularly high risk of torture and other ill-treatment in detention….During the year over 100 Falun Gong practitioners were reported to have died in detention or shortly after release as a result of torture, denial of food or medical treatment, and other forms of ill-treatment.”
General Amnesty International Description of Persecution against Falun Gong (compiled from recent Urgent Actions):
“Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that gained large numbers of adherents in China during the 1990s. […I]n July 1999, the government outlawed the group and launched a long-term campaign of intimidation and persecution, directed by a special organization called the 610 Office.
Tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arbitrarily detained since the spiritual movement was banned […]. Those accused of being Falun Gong leaders or organizers have been jailed. Others have been held in psychiatric hospitals, but the vast majority have been held in Re-education Through Labour facilities, a form of punitive administrative detention in which people can be deprived of their liberty without trial for up to four years.
The crackdown on Falun Gong intensified in the lead-up to the Olympics. Falun Gong sources reported over 8000 arrests of Falun Gong practitioners nationwide during this period, and say that in 2008 over 100 died in custody or shortly after being released, due to torture, starvation and lack of medical treatment.”
Urgent Actions and Appeal Cases for Falun Gong practitioners
Ouyang Wen (f): Urgent Action: China: Medical concern/fear of torture or other ill-treatment (2 March 2009) “Falun Gong practitioner Ouyang Wen began a two-year term of Re-education Through Labour (RTL) in June 2008. While in custody her eyesight began to deteriorate, to the point where she is now almost blind, but she has been given no medical treatment. She was arrested without a warrant at her home in Beijing in May 2008, and sent to RTL, after she had been in custody for a month, for “hiding Falun Gong propaganda materials” in her home….This is the third time Ouyang Wen has been persecuted for her religious beliefs.”
“Shortly after her [previous] release Ouyang Wen resumed practicing Falun Gong and declared on a Falun Gong website that she regretted signing the letter [to denounce the practice] and had been coerced into doing so. Fearing the government would punish her for this; she fled her home and became destitute. She travelled for the next six years, only occasionally visiting her family at home. Her arrest on 14 May 2008 was a result of her visiting home to celebrate her daughter’s 17th birthday.”
Urgent Action: China: Fear of torture (3 November 2008): “Falun Gong practitioner Chen Zhenping was arrested without a warrant on 9 July at her home in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan province. Her family have not been allowed to visit her, and it is unclear where she is now held. She is in grave danger of torture.”
“On 25 January 2008, Xu Na and her folk musician husband Yu Zhou were detained after a routine search, during which the Beijing police discovered they were carrying Falun Gong materials. Yu Zhou died in detention 11 days after being taken into police custody.”
Bu Dongwei(m) Amnesty International featured Bu, who was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in a Beijing labor camp, as one of the prisoners of conscience whose release it was calling for ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games. Thanks to the international pressure, Bu was released early. He subsequently traveled to the United States, where he currently resides with his wife and daughter.
Wei Liangyue and wife Du Yongjing Urgent Action: China: Fear of torture and other ill-treatment (26 March 2009) “Human rights lawyer Wei Liangyue and his wife Du Yongjing were detained on 28 February in the city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, reportedly for attending a Falun Gong meeting. They are currently held at Nangang District Detention Centre in Harbin. … Amnesty International believes they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.”
China: Further Information on Fear of torture and other ill-treatment (31 March 2009) “Human rights lawyer Wei Liangyue and his wife Du Yongjing have been released and returned home after 30 days of detention. Both were released on bail on 30 March pending further investigation. Wei Liangyue remains under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” and Du Yongjing is still under suspicion of “using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law”…. Wei Liangyue believes that international attention and pressure contributed to him and his wife’s temporary release, and would like to thank those who have taken actions for them.”