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The authorities in the former Soviet Union employed political psychiatry against a wide range of different types of people: political dissidents, religious sectarians and spiritual nonconformists, ethnic nationalists, labor rights activists, and Jewish people seeking emigration to Israel, among others. In China, the principal known target of such treatment since 1949 has been political activists of various kinds, together with a variety of people accused of "disturbing public order," such as petitioners, complainants, "whistleblowers" and "litigious maniacs." Our current lack of detailed information on individual cases does not, however, necessarily mean that people of other types and categories, similar to those seen in the former Soviet case, have not also been subjected to compulsory psychiatric treatment and hospitalization in China. For example, several cases of Chinese labor activists being dealt with in this manner have just recently come to light. Since the latter part of 1999, however, it has become abundantly clear that religious sectarians now also form a major target of politically repressive psychiatry in China.241

In April 1999, a hitherto obscure though numerically large spiritual community in China calling itself the Falun Dafa (Great Wheel of Buddha's Law) or Falun Gong (Cultivation of the Wheel of the Law)242 staged an unannounced peaceful protest demonstration outside Zhongnanhai, the main Communist Party leadership compound in central Beijing. According to reports, more than 10,000 practitioners from the group, whose devotional activities center on the practice of a traditional form of Chinese physical and mental exercises known as qigong, took part in the silent, day-long vigil.243 The source of their dissatisfaction was an escalating campaign of official criticism of the Falun Gong movement, and of its leader, a middle-aged former government official named Li Hongzhi. The public demonstration was the largest held in China since the Tiananmen protests of May 1989, and it apparently caught the government's security services completely by surprise. A flurry of official condemnations quickly followed, but no overt action was taken against the Falun Gong until July 19-20, when dozens of the group's leading organizers and practitioners were suddenly arrested by police in the middle of the night. Two days later, and thus retroactively, as far as those already detained were concerned, the government announced that the Falun Gong was a proscribed organization and that it was to immediately cease all activities throughout the country.244 Since then, tens of thousands of practitioners nationwide have been detained, arrested, sent to jail or labor camps for periods of several weeks or years, or formally charged and sentenced to terms of up to 18 years' imprisonment.245 As of November 2000, reports indicate that more than seventy detained practitioners have died as a result of torture or severe ill treatment at the hands of the authorities.246 Despite this harsh campaign of governmental repression, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have continued, on an almost daily basis, to travel to Beijing and other major cities to stage peaceful protests against the continuing crackdown; they are invariably arrested within moments and carted off to police holding centers to await their punishment.247

The most distinctive aspect of the government's protracted campaign to crush the Falun Gong, aside from its sheer scope and brutality, has been the flood of reports that began emerging in the latter half of 1999 indicating that large numbers of the group's detained practitioners were being forcibly sent to mental hospitals by the security authorities.248 By late 2000, overseas Falun Gong support groups had documented well over a hundred such cases where the names and other details of the victims were known, while overall estimates of the total number dealt with by the authorities in this way had risen to around six hundred. These various reports have not yet been independently confirmed by international human rights groups or similar organizations, and instances of factual error or misreporting may eventually come to light, however, there is presently no reason or evidence for doubting their overall veracity.249 Certainly, numerous Western journalists who have witnessed police raids on Falun Gong demonstrators, in Beijing and elsewhere, have frequently reported seeing detainees being severely beaten up in front of their own eyes, so there is no grounds for believing that such people receive any more humane treatment after their removal from the public arena.

The accounts of the treatment meted out to detained practitioners in mental asylums around the country make frequent and consistent reference to the following kinds of practices: people are drugged with various unknown kinds of medication, tied with ropes to hospital beds or put under other forms of physical restraint, kept in dark hospital rooms for long periods, subjected to electro-convulsive therapy or painful forms of electrical acupuncture treatment, denied adequate food and water and allowed only restricted access to toilet facilities, forced to write confessional statements renouncing their belief in Falun Gong as a precondition of their eventual release, and then required to pay fines or unreceipted charges of several thousand yuan for their board and treatment in the hospital. Many have been held in mental asylums since the late summer and fall of 1999, when the news of this form of repressive treatment was first reported. Among the currently known victims have been university professors, medical workers, government functionaries, members of the police and armed forces (including several senior officers), farmers, students, housewives, and a judge.250 Three of those sent forcibly to mental asylums are reported to have died as a direct consequence of the ill treatment they received there.251 Thus far, it appears that Falun Gong practitioners subjected to this treatment have been sent to regular mental hospitals rather than to Ankang custodial facilities; the main reason for this is probably that most Chinese cities do not yet possess any such specialized psychiatric detention facilities. Many outside observers, however, have found the Chinese government's continuing campaign against the Falun Gong to be closely reminiscent of the kinds of extreme and unbridled political campaigns waged by the Party during the Cultural Revolution. In this connection, it should be noted that the security authorities' current practice of detaining Falun Gong practitioners in normal psychiatric institutions, rather than going through the due process normally required for forensic committals, certainly appears to be a worrying reversion to the widespread pattern of arbitrary political-psychiatric abuse that prevailed during the Cultural Revolution.

The following reports and victim statements afford a vivid insight into current conditions and practices within mental hospitals where Falun Gong practitioners have been detained.252

Tan Guihua, female, 42 years old, an employee from the Third Leather Shoe Factory of Qingdao, Shandong Province, detained at the Jiaozhou Mental Hospital in Shandong Province.253

On September 12, 1999, Tan went home after appealing in Beijing for the Falun Gong. Before she could sit down, some officers from her work unit and the Politics and Law Commission broke into her home and took her to the mental hospital.

The officers dragged her into the mental hospital by force. By then, they had already prepared a big dose of injection and planned to give her the shot as soon as she arrived. Tan refused to take the injection. A tall nurse then went out and brought back eight mental patients. They pressed her down and gave her the injection. In only a few seconds, she began to feel faint and sick. Her heart started to beat extremely fast. She had to press her head against the wall and hold the ground firmly with both hands. While in great pain, she bit down tightly on the comforter in her mouth and tried not to make any noise. Her mouth bled from the biting. She then lost consciousness. She did not feel better until the effects of the drug gradually abated.

Later, a female doctor asked Tan daily whether she would continue to practice Falun Gong. Tan said "yes," and the doctor then shocked her with electrical needles. She was shocked in this way altogether seven times. Meanwhile, she had been force-fed medicines and given injections three times a day. She spent two months in the hospital like this.

Later, the female doctor asked a nurse named Ma to give her another kind of injection. It was said to be some kind of imported medicine, and the drug effect would last for over one month. After that injection, Tan's period stopped coming. Her eyeballs couldn't move and she became slow in reacting to things. A few days later, they added another medicine to the injection. After this shot, Tan shook all over violently and couldn't even hold the bowl. She was tortured like this for 20 days. When her family members finally picked her up, she was all muddleheaded and could not see things clearly. Her mind was totally blank and could not recall things for a long period. Her whole body was puffy. Her eyes looked dull. Her reactions became slow, and it took a long time for her to say a single word.

A 22-year-old Falun Gong practitioner, detained at Jining Mental Hospital, Shandong Province254:

On October 25, I went to Beijing to peacefully appeal to the government. However, I was arrested and escorted back to my hometown on my third day in Beijing. I was first given 15 days of detention. Then, on the seventh day of my detention, I was sent to a mental hospital in Jining, Shandong province. I do not have any mental problems. I was sent to the mental hospital because the authorities wanted to destroy me mentally in order to prevent me from practicing Falun Gong.

In order to put me into the mental hospital, the police department forced my father and the officials of my workplace to sign a statement saying that I had mental problems. They then forced me into the mental hospital. Four male doctors carried a very thick rope and forced me to put on the uniform used by mental patients. When I was changing clothes, a female doctor gave me an injection. I struggled desperately, but the four male doctors tied me to a bed with ropes. They gave me a lot of injections. Soon the medicine started to take effect. I tried my best to control myself but I could not keep myself balanced. I felt extremely anxious, very uncomfortable and thirsty. I bumped against the wall and fell to the ground anxiously. Thoughts of death flashed through my mind. Later the doctor gave me another injection. I fell asleep. On the second day, my mind became a blank. I had a headache and I fainted. I could not think of anything. My legs and arms had no strength. My tongue felt stiff and stretched out from my mouth as if something was pulling it out and I couldn't control it. I also felt stiff in my neck, which stretched forward at an extreme angle. I was unable to consciously control these movements. In this condition, I could not eat at all. So they inserted a tube through my nose into my stomach and fed me. The nurse said this was how they persecuted the members of "an evil religion." Later, my nose started to bleed. By that time, they had given me nine injections in total.

On my third day in the mental hospital, they forced me to take perphenazine.255 At the beginning, they only fed me one pill. Later they fed me four to five pills because I had continued to practice Falun Gong. The symptoms of taking perphenazine were the same as being injected. I endured inhumane mental and physical tortures like this for thirty-six days.

Now Jining Mental Hospital has become a place to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. There are still many practitioners being detained there. I hope the international community and all kind-hearted people around the world will pay attention to our sufferings.

Han Jizhen, female, detained at the Nanjing Mental Hospital, Jiangsu Province.256:

My mother, Han Jizhen, is a Falun Gong practitioner living in Nanjing, China. She is now being detained in a mental hospital although she is perfectly normal.

On December 23, my mother went to Beijing to appeal on behalf of the Falun Gong, and was arrested by a young police officer who slapped her face madly. Later, she was escorted back to Nanjing and thrown into the Nanjing mental hospital (now called the Nanjing Brain Hospital). In the beginning, the hospital refused to treat her. However, under pressure from the government authorities, they eventually took her in.

The doctor said she was sent to the mental hospital because she was a Falun Gong practitioner, even though she had no mental illness. In the hospital, she was forced to take injections and medicines, which made her lose her strength and feel terrible. My family went to the hospital to ask for her release, but the doctor said, "Since the police sent her here, we have to give her medicines. Otherwise, if she continues to go to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong in the future, we will be in trouble."

In the name of saving people from illnesses, the hospital has been pressed into political service by the Chinese Communist Party as a means of persecuting mentally normal people. The hospital has betrayed its working ethics.

Before the Chinese New Year, after petitioning by my family, my mother was allowed to return home for two days. Then, the police sent her back to the mental hospital again because she refused to give up her practice of Falun Gong. She is now still being "treated" in the mental hospital. I feel so sad that innocent people are being treated like this. I appeal to the world for help.

Chen Zhong, male, 55 years old, detained at the Treatment Center for Mental Diseases in No. 102 Hospital, Changzhou, Jiangsu Province257

On the afternoon of July 25, the local police and officers from the Civil Affairs Bureau asked Chen Zhong to go for interrogation. Without any due legal procedure, he was then taken to the Treatment Center for Mental Diseases in No. 102 Hospital, Changzhou, for examination. Without any attempt at disguise, they said, "If you continue to practice Falun Gong, we can make you crazy even if you are not." But he did not give in.

On the afternoon of September 28, again using interrogation as an excuse, the police took Chen Zhong to the Mental Hospital of the No. 3 People's Hospital in Wujin County. He was forcibly hospitalized and made to take medicines normally used for mental patients. Chen Zhong refused to take the medicine, so they proceeded to electrocute him. They later did so again (altogether five times) and then forced him to take the medicines. This went on for more than ten days.

In an audiocassette tape, he said,

I am feeling very cold as I only have a T-shirt on me. My family does not know my whereabouts. I do not have a change of clothes, nor can I shave. In fact, the hospital, which calls itself a "humanitarian hospital," is detaining many people who appealed to the government for various injustices they had received. This hospital is an even worse place than the [police] detentions centers, with many more cruel mental and physical tortures. I am a Falun Dafa practitioner and also a law-abiding citizen. I practice "Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance,"258 which is beneficial to both the State and society. Why am I being treated like this?

Among the three Falun Gong practitioners reported to have died as a result of their ordeals in Chinese mental hospitals in recent months was a woman named Shi Bei. Under pressure from the police, hospital staff reportedly gave her forced injections of high dosage sedatives and denied her food for one week in order to prevent her from propagating her spiritual beliefs inside the hospital; her precise cause of death remains unknown.259 The hospital in question was said to be the Hangzhou No. 7 People's Hospital - the same institution on which, as was noted above, three staff psychiatrists had optimistically reported in 1987:

According to this hospital's statistics, cases of antisocial political speech and action accounted for 54 percent of all cases [examined] during the year 1977; currently, the proportion of such cases has fallen to a level of 6.7 percent. This shows that the present situation of stability and unity in China has resulted in a marked fall in the number of cases arising from such factors.260

Remarkably, the Chinese authorities have admitted quite openly that Falun Gong practitioners are now being admitted to mental hospitals in large numbers. In an official volume published in late 1999, for example, they stated:

According to doctors at the Beijing University of Medical Science, since 1992 the number of patients with psychiatric disorders caused by practicing "Falun Gong" has increased markedly, accounting for 10.2 percent of all patients suffering from mental disorders caused by practicing various qigong exercises. In the first half of this year, the number rose further, accounting for 42.1 percent.261

The fact that the Falun Gong sect did not even exist in 1992 (it was formally established in the mid-1990s and grew rapidly only during the last few years) did not deter the book's authors from making this remarkable claim. Another official spokesperson went still further, however, asserting absurdly in September 1999: "Falun Gong practitioners now account for 30 percent of all mental patients in China."262 In neither case, moreover, was the coincidence between the reportedly very sizeable increase in Falun Gong admissions to mental hospitals in the first half of 1999, and the fact that it was during this same period that the government began preparing its nationwide public crackdown upon the sect, deemed to be worthy of mention.

In October 1999, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress issued a proclamation stating the following:

Heretical cult organizations shall be resolutely banned according to law, and all of their criminal activities shall be dealt with severely. Heretical cults, operating under the guise of religion, qigong or other forms, employ various means to disturb social order and jeopardize people's lives and property and economic development, and they must be banned according to law and punished resolutely. People's courts, procuratorates, public security, national security, and judicial and administrative organs shall fulfill their respective duties and join efforts in carrying out these tasks.263

Although widely reported overseas as being "a new anti-cult law," this decision in fact merely reinforced an existing set of provisions contained in Article 300 of the 1997 Criminal Law legitimizing the suppression of what the authorities termed "heretical cult organization" (xie jiao); the maximum penalty under Article 300 for such crimes is life imprisonment.264 Since the start of the crackdown, the Chinese authorities have frequently asserted that Falun Gong is an "evil cult" displaying the same abusive and life-threatening organizational characteristics as the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan, which released sarin poison gas on the Tokyo subway in 1995, the Branch Davidians cult, dozens of whose members were killed when the U.S. law-enforcement authorities stormed its headquarters in Waco, Texas in 1993, and the Solar Temple cult, many of whose members committed collective suicide in Switzerland in 1994.265 On this and other implicitly political grounds, the government has further branded the Falun Gong movement as posing a serious "threat to state security."

An additional major justification given for the sect's suppression has been the authorities' claim that the sect tries to prevent its members from seeking proper medical attention when they fall ill. According to officially released data, more than 1,400 Falun Gong practitioners or their family members have died as a result of this malign sectarian doctrine.266 Sect leaders and members, however, have consistently denied this key government allegation. It is worth noting, however, that for the majority of China's population, the economic market reforms that have been pursued since the late 1970s have made affordable access to Western-style and even to traditional Chinese-style medical treatment become largely a thing of the past. Much of the current popularity among Chinese today of various kinds of "alternative medicine" or "self-treatment" approaches to curing illness can be directly attributed to the severe practical and financial difficulty that many people experience in trying to gain access to more mainstream or professional forms of medical care. Falun Gong practitioners themselves claim that the mental and physical discipline they follow is highly efficacious in helping to maintain good health; the results of two wide-ranging epidemiological surveys and analyses conducted in Beijing in 1998, that is, prior to the government crackdown on the sect, would certainly seem to substantiate this claim.267 Above all, the question must be asked: why, if Falun Gong has such deleterious effects upon its practitioners as the Chinese government alleges, have there been no reports of similar outbreaks of mental and physical illness occurring among the numerous and very sizable overseas-based Falun Gong communities in recent years?

Whatever the underlying truth of the matter may be, and while there are no doubt certain aspects of the Falun Gong belief system that many liberal-minded or non-religious people may find to be unacceptable,268 the fact remains that the Chinese government has thus far presented no plausible evidence to support its central allegation that the sect poses such a threat to national security, or so fundamentally endangers public safety, as to justify, under internationally accepted standards, the imposition of an effective state of emergency requiring the nationwide suspension both of the Falun Gong's constitutional right to exist and also of the fundamental civil liberties of millions of the sect's adherents.269

Certainly, the United Nations' body with primary responsibility for monitoring and enforcing human rights standards around the world has failed to be convinced that any such situation presently exists in China. In a declaration issued in August 1999, the U.N. body stated:

We are convinced that the banning by the People's Republic of China on 22 July 1999 of the spiritual movement Falun Gong/Falun Dafa and the subsequent arrest of leaders, massive destruction of publications and audio-visual material, and the prohibition of assembly of its practitioners are direct violations of the spirit and provisions of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, and of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.270

Besides the clear and unambiguous legal proscription of sectarian activities of all kinds in China today, however, the authorities also have at their disposal a medical justification, of sorts, for waging such an intense campaign of persecution against the Falun Gong. Since the late 1980s, the Chinese psychiatric establishment has identified a unique set of mental disorders that it says can arise from the practice of traditional qigong forms of exercise and self-cultivation, and also from a more heterogeneous range of thought and behavior broadly termed as "feudal superstitious belief" (fengjian mixin.) In 1989, the country's medical authorities formally recorded this category of psychiatric ailments in the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (2nd Version, also known as the CCMD-II), under the heading "mental disorders closely related to culture."271 The international psychiatric community recognizes a range of mental conditions known as "culture bound syndromes,"272 and there seems to be no reason to suppose that the improper or excessive use of qigong may not, in certain circumstances and cases, lead to various forms of mental imbalance or disorder. It is surely remarkable, however, that there so suddenly occurred, according to the official version of events, such a massive epidemiological outbreak of qigong-related mental illness across China during the precise period immediately before and after the start of the government's crackdown on Falun Gong in July 1999. Still more puzzling is the fact that, in the Chinese government's main published compilation of evidence concerning the severe psychological damage that the practice of Falun Gong is alleged to induce in its practitioners,273 the sufferers are, in all recorded cases, said to have contracted an exotic mental disorder known as "dysphrenia" - a condition that is apparently either so rare or so mild that, not only does it not appear in the World Health Organization's ICD-10, it is also entirely absent from the CCMD-II, the Chinese medical establishment's own official listing of mental disorders.274 While the legal and psychiatric establishments may not yet be collaborating, therefore, where the official treatment of Falun Gong and other religious sectarians is concerned, in quite so close and systemic a manner as they have for many years been doing with regard to the "political mania" phenomenon, the recent quantitative surge in forced psychiatric committals of Falun Gong activists nonetheless provides a clear indication that law and psychiatry are now working together in ever-closer professional tandem in the fast-growing judicial suppression of proscribed religious heterodoxy.

241 In recent years, religious sectarian movements in Russia have once again come under direct legal and medical attack from government authorities. See, e.g., "Duma Appeal on Dangerous Religious Sects," Moscow Rossiyskaya Gazeta, December 28, 1996; translated in FBIS, same date; and Lev Levenson, "Psychiatrists and Officers in Defense of Traditional Values," Ekspress Khronika, January 31, 1997.

242 "Fa lun" is the Chinese rendering of the Sanskrit word "dharma" (Buddhist law).

243 The practice of qigong has undergone a massive popular revival in China since the early 1980s. A detailed account of this phenomenon can be found in Zhu Xiaoyang and Benjamin Penny, eds., "The Qigong Boom," Chinese Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 27, no.1 (Fall 1994). On September 15, 2000, as part of the government's continuing crackdown on Falun Gong practitioners, the State Sports General Bureau issued new rules tightening up controls over the practice of qigong throughout China. See Jianshen Qigong Guanli Zanxing Banfa (Temporary Methods for Administering Bodybuilding and Qigong), available at

244 Proclamation of the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, July 22, 1999. Using unusually strong language, the Ministry called for the Falun Gong to be "outlawed and extirpated" (yuyi qudi) throughout China. In a comprehensive denial of the civil rights of all Falun Gong practitioners, moreover, the proclamation stated: "It is forbidden to undertake assemblies, marches or demonstrations in defense or propagation of the Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), whether by means of sit-ins, petitioning the authorities, or any other such activities."

245 As the trials of Falun Gong leaders unfolded, the sect's main overseas support network issued the following translation of a directive that it claimed had recently been issued by the Beijing Bureau of Justice, imposing restrictions on detained sectarians' right of independent access to legal defense:

To All Law Firms and District and County Judicial Departments: All consultations and retainers in respect of Falun Gong issues must be reported immediately. Particular requirements are: 1) In no circumstances may a lawyer accept a retainer involving any client involved in Falun Gong issues. Such cases should be reported to the Regulation Section (telephone: 6340-8078) and will be decided upon only after being reported. 2) In any event where consultations are requested by a client involved in Falun Gong issues, any advice or explanations proffered by attorneys offices must conform to the law and be strictly in conformity with the tone of the Central Government. 3) All recent consultations and retainers on Falun Gong issues must be documented and faxed immediately to the Regulation Section on or before August 2, 1999. (fax: 6340-8034) ("An Announcement in Regards to Falun Gong Issues from the Regulation Section, Judicial Bureau of Beijing City," available at

246 "Two More Falun Gong Members Reported Dead in Chinese Police Detention," Agence France Presse, December 7, 2000. According to the article, the number of reported Falun Gong deaths in police custody stood at seventy-four. By May 2002, the death toll of Falun Gong detainees in China reportedly had risen to more than 400 ("Young Woman Beaten to Death in Beijing Jail for Refusing to Identify Herself," statement issued from the Falun Gong website, May 2, 2002,

247 For a detailed account of the human rights violations involved in the government's anti-Falun Gong campaign, see Amnesty International, People's Republic of China: The Crackdown on Falun Gong and Other So-called "Heretical Organizations," March 23, 2000 (ASA 17/011/2000).

248 See, e.g., Elisabeth Rosenthal, "China is Said to Hold Devotees of Sect in a Psychiatric Hospital," New York Times, January 21, 2000.

249 The ethical teachings of Falun Gong reportedly make its practitioners so frank and honest that, when stopped by police while traveling on trains in recent months and asked if they are going to Beijing to petition or demonstrate on behalf of the sect, they invariably feel obliged to give a truthful reply, thereby leading to their forcible eviction from the trains or worse.

250 According to an Associated Press report on February 11, 2000, "A judge in southern China has been put in a psychiatric hospital and forced to take narcotics for refusing to renounce his belief in the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, a rights group said today. The case of Huang Jinchun is the latest troubling sign that the communist government is using mental institutions to punish political or religious dissenters. Huang displayed no symptoms of mental illness either at work or after being sent to the hospital nearly three months ago, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported, citing former colleagues and nurses. But at the Longqianshan Psychiatric Hospital in the southern Guangxi region, medical personnel gave Huang daily injections of a narcotic that left him sleepy and muddled, after he refused to stop practicing Falun Gong, the nurses said. `The doctors and nurses made fun of me: "Aren't you practicing Falun Gong? Let us see which is stronger, Falun Gong or our medicines?" Huang related in an appeal posted earlier this week on an overseas Falun Gong website.'"

251 See Dr. Shiyu Zhou et al., eds., "Chapter 3: Detention and Abuse in Mental Hospitals," A Report on Extensive and Severe Human Rights Violations in the Suppression of Falun Gong in the People's Republic of China - August 2000 Update (Golden Lotus Press, August 2000), pp.65-82. (The information in the report was assembled by a group of activists and researchers associated with the Falun Gong overseas support network's principal website, According to this source, the circumstances of the three Falun Gong practitioners' deaths were as follows:

      1) In December 1999, Yang Weidong, 54, a medical inspector in Weifang city, Shandong, was forcibly committed to the city's Kangfu mental hospital. Already in poor health after several weeks spent in police custody as punishment for having gone to Beijing to petition against the anti-Falun Gong crackdown, Yang developed edema of the liver while at the mental hospital. According to the account, "Even the doctor in Kangfu Hospital was frightened upon seeing his condition. He told the guard who watched Yang Weidong: `He is in a state of physical collapse, how come you do not send him home? His illness is already incurable.'" Yang reportedly died on December 25, several days after being released from the hospital.

      2) In May 2000, a woman named Shi Bei reportedly died after being forcibly held and given psychotropic medication at the Hangzhou No. 7 Hospital, Zhejiang (see Section VIII below for further details of Shi's case).

      3) In June 2000, a 32-year-old man named Su Gang, a graduate in computer science and employee at a chemicals plant in Zibo city, Shandong, died after nine days of forcible hospitalization and medication at the Changle Mental Hospital. He had earlier been held in police detention for around 130 days for his Falun Gong activities. According to the account, "At 6 p.m. on May 31, the security staff of Su Gang's workplace sent him back to his father, Su De'an. After nine days of brutal `treatment,' which included daily over-dose injections with damaging effects on the central nervous system, Su Gang looked miserable...he was very slow in reacting and his limbs appeared stiff...He was not able to recover from the severe mental and physical damage he had suffered in the mental hospital. After a period of painful struggle, he left this world on the morning of June 10, 2000." Su's death in psychiatric custody was also reported in "Bad Medicine in China" (editorial), The Washington Post, June 23, 2000.

252 These four case descriptions appear in A Report on Extensive and Severe Human Rights Violations in the Suppression of Falun Gong in the People's Republic of China - August 2000 Update, op. cit. The case accounts have been slightly edited to correct faulty English, but otherwise are as they appear in the original document. The full text of the report can be found at

253 Ibid., p.72.

254 Ibid., p.76.

255 Perphenazine is an antipsychotic medication that can be administered either orally or by intramuscular injection. According to Medscape, an Internet "registered users only" website of information on psychiatry, "Perphenazine is used for the symptomatic management of psychotic disorders. Drug therapy is integral to the management of acute psychotic episodes and accompanying violent behavior in patients with schizophrenia..." (see

256 Statement by Wang Yongsheng, a Ph.D. student at the physics department of Houston University. See A Report on Extensive and Severe Human Rights Violations in the Suppression of Falun Gong, p.77.

257 Ibid., p.82.

258 See Note 15, above.

259 The overseas Falun Gong support network stated in its report: "Shi Bei was simply starved to death." This was unlikely to have been the sole cause of death, however, since she was reportedly denied food for only a week.

260 Zhong Xingsheng et al., "A Preliminary Analysis of 210 Cases of Forensic Psychiatric Medical Assessment,"pp.139-141.

261 Ji Shi, Li Hongzhi and His "Falun Gong" - Deceiving the Public and Ruining Lives (New Star Publishers, Beijing 1999), p.12. Similarly, in a July 1999 report from Xinhua, the official Chinese government news agency, Dr. Zhang Tongling, a psychiatrist at the No. 6 Attached Hospital of the Beijing Medical University, was quoted as saying: "I myself have witnessed a rocketing rate of mental illness among Falun Gong practitioners since 1996." She quoted statistics from the psychiatric departments of two Beijing hospitals as showing that mentally diseased Falun Gong followers now accounted for 42 percent of all mental patients, compared with only 10.01 percent in 1996. "It is an indisputable fact that practicing Falun Gong can lead to many kinds of mental disorders, which however has never been admitted by Falun Gong advocates," said Cai Zhuoji, also a psychiatrist at the Beijing Anding Hospital" ("Medical Scientists Reveal Falun Gong Fallacies," Xinhua News Reports, July 24, 1999; reproduced in FBIS, same date).

262 The claim is made in a video CD-ROM entitled Falun Gong-Cult of Evil, issued by the Chinese government in September 1999 as a companion item to Ji Shi, Li Hongzhi.

263 Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Banning Heretical Cult Organizations and Preventing and Punishing Cult Activities, adopted at the 12th Session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth NPC on October 20, 1999; English translation in Beijing Review, no.45 (1999). This Decision, in turn, was essentially a brief public notification of a more complex and detailed set of rules that had been formulated by the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuracy on October 8, 1999, explaining how Article 300 and other relevant provisions of the Criminal Law were to be applied in the course of the "anti-cult" crackdown. See Explanations of the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuracy Concerning Laws Applicable to Handling Cases of Organizing and Employing Heretical Cult Organizations to Commit Crimes, adopted at the 1079th Meeting of the SPC on October 9, 1999 and at the 47th Meeting of the Ninth Procuratorial Committee of the SPC on October 9, 1999; English translation in Beijing Review, no.45 (1999). The latter document is highly reminiscent of a similar set of guidelines issued by the same two bodies in August 1989 explaining how the various Criminal Law statutes on "counterrevolution" were to be applied in practice in the course of the ongoing legal campaign to suppress the nationwide pro-democracy movement of April-June 1989. See "Zuigao Renmin Fayuan, Zuigao Renmin Jianchayuan Guanyu Banli Fan'geming Baoluan he Zhengzhi Dongluan Zhong Fanzui Anjian Juti Yingyong Falü de Ruogan Wenti de Yijian (Opinion of the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuracy on Several Questions Concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases Committed During the Counterrevolutionary Rebellion and Political Turmoil)," August 1, 1989, in Sifa Shouce (Judicial Handbook), Vol.6 (People's Court Publishing House, Dec. 1990), pp.100-105.

264 Harsh as this seems, it actually represented an improvement over the 1979 Criminal Law, Article 99 of which (in conjunction with a September 1983 "anti-crime campaign" decision by the National People's Congress) defined the offense of "organizing and leading a superstitious or reactionary sect or society" (fandong hui-dao-men) as being a counterrevolutionary crime punishable, at maximum, by the death penalty. Under this law, literally hundreds of leaders of banned religious and other sects were executed or sentenced to up to life imprisonment in China during the 1980s. Interestingly, the term officially used since March 1997 for banned sectarian activities - xie jiao - is a reversion by the authorities to the term traditionally used by the Confucian authorities over the past millennium and more to suppress ideological heterodoxy in Chinese society. For further details of contemporary China's religious sectarian movements and their suppression by the Chinese government, see Robin Munro, ed., "Syncretic Sects and Secret Societies: Revival in the 1980s," Chinese Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 21, no. 4 (Summer 1989). For numerous case examples of religious sectarians and members of similar-style groups sentenced in the 1980s under Article 99 of the pre-1997 Criminal Law, see Human Rights Watch, Detained in China and Tibet: A Directory of Political and Religious Prisoners (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994), pp.251-271 and pp.343-350.

265 See, e.g., "Cults Endanger National Security," Xinhua News Reports, September 27, 2000; English translation in FBIS, same date. If comparisons between the Falun Gong and other major sects or cults are to be drawn, then groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses or (at a stretch) the Church of Scientology would seem to be more apposite and reasonable models of comparison than the very extreme examples of sectarianism raised by the Chinese authorities. One of the best English-language sources of objective information and analysis on the Falun Gong phenomenon is an Internet website assembled by the scholar Barend ter Haar: "Falungong: Evaluation and Further References," available at

266 Hundreds of these fatal cases and other alleged tragedies are documented by the authorities in Ji Shi, Li Hongzhi and His "Falun Gong" - Deceiving the Public and Ruining Lives. It would be wrong to dismiss these official claims of widespread fatalities as false, but it would be equally inappropriate to accept them as necessarily true - or for that matter, as having the abusive significance ascribed to them by the government - until they have been independently verified and studied, something which has not yet been done. In particular, such an assessment would need to examine whether the number of reported fatalities departed significantly, in either direction, from the normal mortality rate statistics for such a large subgroup of the Chinese population as that accounted for by the Falun Gong (many millions); it is not immediately apparent that it does. And second, the officially claimed causal connection between those deaths and the practice of Falun Gong by those who died would need to be further explored and evaluated by independent medical assessors. Finally, there is no obvious reason to suppose that Falun Gong practitioners are any less susceptible to major mental illnesses, including those of the most florid and potentially dangerous kinds, than is the Chinese population in general; indeed, many if not all of the tragic cases of "Falun Gong-induced" psychopathology recounted by the Chinese authorities may eventually turn out to have been attributable to this general epidemiological factor, rather than (as is officially claimed) to the practice of Falun Gong.

267 The first survey examined the cases of 1,449 Beijing residents who practiced Falun Gong, and was conducted by a group of senior physicians in the capital, including Wang Qi, chief physician at the General Hospital for Armed Police; Li Naiyuan, chief physician at the Stomatological Hospital of Beijing Medical University; Zheng Lihua, deputy chief physician at the People's University of China Hospital; Qu Zengqiu, a pharmacist at the same hospital; Tian Xiulan, managing physician at the Beijing Hospital of Nuclear Industry; and Jing Lianhong, a physician at the Dongshi Hospital for Women and Children. The survey addressed a wide range of medical conditions found among the target patients (including diseases or complaints of the cardiovascular, digestive, musculoskeletal, respiratory, urinary, endocrine and nervous systems, as well as gynecological, skin, hematological and ear, nose and throat disorders), and the tabulated results of the study indicated that the practice of Falun Gong led to marked improvements in all these categories of health; only one patient (suffering from a digestive ailment) was reported as showing a deterioration in health (The Effect of Falun Gong on Healing Illnesses and Keeping Fit: A Survey Among Practitioners in Beijing Zizhuyuan Assistance Center, October 18, 1998 [February 2000], available at The second survey in 1998 examined the health effects of Falun Gong practice on a much larger sample group of practitioners in five districts of Beijing; it was also conducted by numerous highly qualified medical personnel (trained in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine), and its findings were broadly similar to those of the first survey (Falun Gong Health Effect Survey of Ten Thousand Cases in Beijing, available at

268 Possible examples of the latter include the sect's underlying hostility towards homosexuality and its belief, as taught by Master Li Hongzhi, that human intelligence and civilization were originally brought to planet Earth by aliens from outer space.

269 The true size and extent of the Falun Gong movement remains open to question, but it is clearly extremely large. The sect itself claims to have around 100 million practitioners worldwide, most of them in China; the Chinese government acknowledges a figure of only several million practitioners inside the country.

The following provides a useful summary of the limits specified under international legal standards on governments' freedom to restrict civil liberties and human rights in the name of national security:

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides for the rights of free expression, assembly and association, but qualifies them by allowing restrictions in the interest of protecting national security. Such restrictions, however, are only valid if they are prescribed by law and `necessary.' The latter requirement means that the restriction must be proportional to its purpose in severity and intensity and the least restrictive means of achieving that purpose. Thus interference with a right must be interpreted narrowly in cases of doubt and not presumed to be the rule. In the case of freedom of association and assembly, a restriction must be `necessary in a democratic society,' that is it must not only meet the above requirements but must also be respectful of the democratic values of pluralism, tolerance, broad-mindedness and popular participation in the political decision-making process... A threat to national security is not the same as a threat to any given government of the nation, and mere criticism of a governing party or its policies should not be restricted in the name of national security. (Human Rights Watch/Asia and Human Rights in China "Whose Security," pp.4-5.)

See also "Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information," drafted by an international team of human rights experts, including legal scholars, U.N. rights specialists and diplomats, at a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1995 convened by the London-based NGO Article 19. The full text of the Johannesburg Principles is available in The New World Order and Human Rights in the Post-Cold War Era: National Security vs. Human Security, papers from the International Conference on National Security Law in the Asia Pacific, November 1995 (Korea Human Rights Network, 1996). According to the Principles, "The peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression shall not be considered a threat to national security or subjected to any restrictions or penalties."

270 The Banning of the Falun Gong and Subsequent Arrests of Practitioners, Report of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, August 4, 1999. For the text of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), see Note 36 above.

271 The Chinese terms used are "qigong ban-fa jingshen zhang'ai" and "qigong suo zhi jingshen zhang'ai" (mental disorders associated with or induced by qigong). Detailed clinical and diagnostic discussions of this culture-bound psychiatric condition can be found in the following articles: Shan Huaihai et al., "Clinical Phenomenology of Mental Disorders Caused by Qigong Exercise," Chinese Medical Journal (in English), vol. 102, no. 6 (1989), pp.445-448; Shan Huaihai et al., "A Study of the Comparison Between Hysteric-like Episodes Caused by Chinese Qigong (Deep Meditation) and Hysteria with Psychosocial Stress," Chinese Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, vol. 18, no. 3 (1992), pp.156-158; Xu Shenghan, "Psychophysiological Reactions Associated with Qigong Therapy," Chinese Medical Journal, vol. 107, no. 3 (1994), pp.230-233; Shan Huaihai, "Qigong Suo Zhi Jingshen Zhang'ai de Linchuang Ziliao yu Zhenduan (Clinical Material and Diagnosis on Mental Disorders Induced by Qigong)," Chinese Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, no.3 (1999); Yang Desen, "Qigong Neng Zhiliao Shenjingzheng yu Jingshen Jibing ma? (Can Qigong Cure Neurosis and Mental Illness?)," Chinese Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, vol. 26, no. 1 (2000), pp.52-53; He Jiali et al., "Butong Shiduan Qigong Suo Zhi Jingshen Zhang'ai Linchuang Duizhao Yanjiu Ji Zhenduan Biaozhun Tantao (A Clinical Comparative Study of, and Diagnostic Criteria for, Qigong-induced Mental Disorders Over Various Periods)," Chinese Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, vol. 26, no. 2 (2000), pp.116-117; and Zheng Hongbo et al., "Lian `Falun Gong' Yinzhi Jingshen Zhang'ai 4 Li Baogao (A Report on Four Cases of Mental Disorders Induced by `Falun Gong')," Chinese Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, vol. 26, no. 3 (2000), pp.142. Finally, a number of individual studies of this type involving cases where criminal charges were brought can be found in Zheng Zhanpei, Sifa Jingshen Jianding de Yinan Wenti Ji Anli (Thorny Problems and Case Examples in Judicial Psychiatric Appraisal), (Shanghai Medical University Press, 1996), pp.275-309.

272 These include, for example, "koro," a type of panic reaction among males, especially in Asia, characterized by intense fear that the penis is shrinking inside the body; "amok," a form of violent mass hysteria that is typically found in Malay society; and "latah," a condition found in many parts of Africa and characterized by fear that the soul is being taken away from the body. For a detailed discussion of these issues, see Ari Kiev, Transcultural Psychiatry (Free Press, 1982).

273 See Ji Shi, Li Hongzhi and His "Falun Gong."

274 Only a handful of references to "dysphrenia" have been found on the Internet. First, the website of Rick's College, Idaho (an institution run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons), contains the following cryptic definition: "Dysphrenic: bad brain" (a literal translation of the original Greek term). Second, an Italian neurological website mentions the term in passing in a brief note on "migraine madness." And third, Amnesty International provided the following information in a recent report on the anti-Falun Gong crackdown in China: "The word `dysphrenia' is not widely recognized by Western psychiatric professionals and does not appear to be defined in Western medical books. The only references found by AI's expert medical advisor is related to neurological movement disorders which occur as side effects of drug treatment for schizophrenia or a psychopathic disorder of communication - `psychopathic' meaning a psychiatric illness" (Amnesty International, People's Republic of China: The Crackdown on Falun Gong and Other So-called "Heretical Organizations," March 2000 [ASA 17/011/2000]).

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