Two Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured while detained at a labor camp in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, according to an urgent action issued by Amnesty International on Thursday.
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese regime since 1999.
Wang Xiuqing and her daughter Qin Hailong were sentenced without trial to 18 months of forced labour in November last year. They were arrested after attempting to seek legal redress for the death of Wang’s husband and Qin’s father, Qin Yueming, who died in February 2011 after spending nearly a decade in the Jiamusi Prison in northeastern China.
Qin Yueming’s body was covered with bruises, leading the family to believe that he was tortured to death. But the prison claimed that Qin died of a heart attack, refusing to give them footage from a surveillance camera recording of him before he died.
Wang and her two daughters, Qin Rongqian and Qin Hailong, spoke with officials demanding an investigation into Yueming’s death, but were repeatedly turned down. In May this year, Qin Rongqian circulated a petition asking the authorities to investigate his father’s death, and to release her mother and sister from detention. The petition garnered 15,000 signatures and thumbprints from residents in Heilongjiang Province.
According to Amnesty International, which based its report on accounts from former inmates at the Qianjin Labour Camp, both Wang and Hailong have faced torture. After Rongqian visited her sister on August 3rd, Hailong was beaten with electric batons, punched and kicked, and thrown to the ground. The torture continued until August 17th. Wang told Amnesty that Hailong was tortured because she refused to sign a document renouncing her faith. Huo Shuping and Wu Baoyun, the head and deputy head of the camp’s Number Two Brigade, were actively involved in the maltreatment, Qin Hailong told her sister.
On August 18th, Qin Rongqian visited the camp to see her mother and sister. Officials initially refused to let Rongqian meet her sister Hailong, but was eventually allowed after Rongqian persisted. Rongqian said that she saw scabs on Hailong’s body from the electric shocks. Hailong also had difficulty walking and standing up, and held her waist area with her arm as if in pain.
Amnesty International urged individuals to call on the Chinese authorities to release Wang and Hailong and to ensure that they are not tortured while at the labour camp.