Repeatedly arrested, detained, tortured, and harassed since 1999 for refusing to abandon her faith, Ms. Kong Fanying of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province succumbed to her abuse at the hands of the communist regime this July, according to a recent report.
Minghui.org, a website that documents the persecution of Falun Gong, reported Dec. 1 that Ms. Kong, 67, had been arrested or detained at least five times, including thrice in 2000, and once each in the years of 2002 and 2013.
The time she spent behind bars took a tremendous toll on her physical and psychological health, contributing to her untimely death on July 10 following a threatening visit from local police two days earlier.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a Chinese traditional spiritual discipline practiced by tens of millions of people in China and around the world since its introduction to the public in 1992. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began a massive campaign to eradicate the popular faith in July 1999, incarcerating millions of people over the following decades. Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have since died from torture and abuse, with the number still on the rise.
A native of Jiamusi, a city near the Russian border, Kong began to practice Falun Gong in 1995. After the Chinese authorities began mass arrests of Falun Gong adherents, the factory worker joined thousands of others who travelled to Beijing to appeal for their freedom of belief. In June 2000, Kong was arrested by a police officer lying in wait for her at the Jiamusi train station, and spent a month in detention before being released with a fine.
She was arrested twice more in 2000, and placed in detention for refusing to sign a “repentance letter” renouncing Falun Gong or documents promising she would stop travelling to Beijing to protest. While in detention, Kong began a hunger strike, and was released several months later after her husband went into debt to pay an illegal fine demanded by the police.
Almost poisoned in custody
In 2002, Kong was arrested again and began a hunger strike while detained. She was force-fed by inmates under the direction of prison staff, and soon gave up the hunger strike.
“On the afternoon she decided to eat, a doctor surnamed Zhang brought her a bowl of porridge,” Minghui reported. “Zhang said he prepared it especially for her and it had organic grains. While Ms. Kong didn’t eat the porridge, the inmate assigned to monitor her ate it all.”
“Shortly after, that inmate suffered a mental breakdown. Despite the cold weather, she took off her clothes, leaving only her bra, and then sat in the hallway without moving or saying anything. Only then did Ms. Kong realize that the doctor had put a toxic substance in the porridge”
After the multiple detentions and force-feeding, Kong had trouble eating, as many of her teeth were broken. Upon her release in 2002, she was again extorted money by the police.
Ms. Kong moved several times to hide from the police, but authorities would manage to locate her new residences and continue to harass her. Once, in 2007, the police tried to arrest her, but gave up when she refused to open her door.
Many Falun Gong practitioners in China continue to raise awareness about the persecution directed at them and their faith, despite the risk of discovery and severe punishment.
In 2013, while passing out Falun Gong materials, Kong was reported and restrained by a passerby. When the police arrived, she suffered a heart attack.
The detentions, torture, and harrassment took a toll on Kong’s health. In 2020, she’d had a stroke, for which she was hospitalized and left unable to walk.
In June of this year, a CCP secretary secretary surnamed Zhao from the residential committee found her husband and ordered him to sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong in her name. Under duress, the husband signed the document while an officer recorded him.
Again in June, two officers and an unidentified woman found Ms. Kong after she had moved to a new residence. By this point, she was confined to a wheelchair. The police took a photo of her and left.
Ms. Kong was left deeply distressed after this last incident and lost a significant amount of weight. She was taken to the hospital on July 8, where she passed away two days later.
Leo Timm contributed to this report.