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US Senator Condemns CCP Over Death of Falun Gong Practitioner Beaten and Tortured In Police Custody

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: March 30, 2022
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol January 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. Sen. Scott held the news conference to discuss the partial government shutdown. (Image: Alex Wong via Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has condemned the Chinese communist regime for its persecution of 66-year-old Ji Yunzhi – a Falun Gong practitioner who died in police custody after being arrested for upholding her faith. 

Ms. Ji died on March 21 after being tortured to death in a detention center in Bairin Left Banner of northern China’s Inner Mongolia region. According to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that documents the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Ji was held in detention for 48 days before succumbing to extensive injuries. She is survived by her husband and son, U.S. resident Simon Zhang.

“My heart breaks for Simon and his father dealing with this tragic and senseless loss,” the Florida senator said in a statement posted to his website on March 29.

“Beijing’s gross campaign against Falun Gong practitioners has gone on for far too long, and its latest victim is an innocent woman who was simply living out her beliefs in the face of Communist China’s oppressive authoritarian regime,”

“It is no secret that brutal human rights abuses like this regularly occur in Communist China, and that Xi Jinping’s regime regularly imprisons and tortures innocent people,” Scott said.

Ji Yunzhi with her son Simon Xiaofeng Zhang in an undated picture. (Image: via Sen. Scott’s office)

What is Falun Gong?

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 practice, with its emphasis on its guiding principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, focuses on improvement of the practitioner’s personal character during daily life and through interpersonal and social conflicts. The practice gained enormous popularity, garnering the support of over 100 million Chinese citizens, including countless professionals and even high-ranking Communist Party members. 

In July 1999, the CCP began a massive campaign to eradicate the popular faith, 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. Many adherents have also been subject to relentless harassment, arrests and arbitrary imprisonment.

READ MORE:

Ji Yunzhi: ‘If I die, it will be the result of torture’

According to Minghui, Ms. Ji was first arrested on June 24, 2001 and taken to the Zuoqi Public Security Bureau in Inner Mongolia. While there, she was not allowed to sleep for two nights and was beaten and forced to stand for long hours. 

Ms. Ji was later transferred to the Yuanlinlu Detention Center and was only given corn cakes to eat and forced to do hard labor for over 10 hours everyday. She was prohibited from doing the Falun Gong exercises and if she refused to cooperate, she would be cuffed to a metal bar and beaten. 

While in detention, Ms. Ji was routinely brutally beaten by guards and inmates until she was on the verge of death. “If I die, it will be the result of torture,” she once said to her cellmates. Ms. Ji was then sentenced to do three years of forced labor at a concentration camp and when she refused to sign the conviction papers, guards grabbed her hand and forcefully pressed her thumbprint onto the document.

Endured years of torture and persecution

During Ms. Ji’s time in jail, guards would often shock her with high-voltage electric batons, causing her to develop symptoms of heart disease. Following years of torture and abuse, Ms. Ji developed an irregular heartbeat and would experience chest pain after being released. 

She was also harassed by Chinese authorities numerous times after returning home, including having her home ransacked by police officers on Sept. 9, 2021.

Ms. Ji was once again arrested at her home in Bairin on February 1, 2022 — Chinese New Year. She was taken to the Bairin Left Banner Detention Center, where she went on a hunger strike to protest her arrest. While there, she was force-fed through a nasal tube and beaten for several hours to the point of losing consciousness.

After enduring several days of abuse and torture, the guards sent her to Bairin Emergency Hospital on March 20 when they found her barely able to breathe. Ms. Ji’s family was notified that she was in critical condition, and she passed away the next day in the hospital.