Brutal Recollections From China Mark Anti-Torture Day

By Matthew Robertson

On June 26, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

The story of torture of Zhang Lianying sounds like something out of a medieval history book, when people were drawn and quartered for high treason. Zhang was hung up by her wrists, her legs tied down, and kicked in sensitive places by prison guards in boots. That was just a few years ago; her only so-called crime was her faith.

Vice President of the European Parliament Edward McMillan Scott, published Zhang’s video testimony on his website recently, as a way of marking United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which fell on June 26.



Zhang practices Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual discipline that has been persecuted in China since 1999. A longtime supporter of the practice and an outspoken opponent of its suppression, in 2006, Scott traveled to China where he had a clandestine meeting with Zhang’s husband and another Falun Gong adherent, Cao Dong. Despite extreme precautions, her husband and Cao were subsequently detained and tortured for talking about the persecution.

“China continues to be the worst perpetrator of torture of its own people. Most of the victims are entirely innocent and are punished for their religious or political beliefs,” Scott said in a statement.


In her video statement, Zhang discusses her ordeal in China and eventual escape to the United States. She also provides a list of 50 Steps of Torture that she was subjected to during the seven cumulative years she was in prison.

The methods included strangulation, isolation in darkness, force-feeding, sleep deprivation, denied use of the toilet, exposure to freezing temperatures in the winter and sun in summer, pulling out her hair, tying her up for days, being handcuffed for long periods, being made to sit on a stool for 20 hours a day, piercing the soles of the feet with sharp objects, and dozens more. Zhang said she personally experienced them all.

The worst, she wrote, was suffocation with a wet paper towel, “which still chills me to recall.” She was nearly suffocated to death nine times. Each time she went unconscious, became incontinent, and went limp; her tormentors then removed the towel from her nose and mouth, and then did it again. “The pain was so severe that I felt I would explode,” she wrote.

Zhang is now safe in the United States. The only time in the video she appears close to tears is when she discusses the fact that the persecution is still going on.

“In January 2011, my family managed to escape to the United States, and my daughter started to smile. However, each day, there are many cases of torture, even murder of Falun Gong practitioners,” she says, toward the end.

Zhang continued: “The brutal persecution has been carried out for 13 years with the purpose of destroying over 100 million Falun Gong practitioners’ belief in truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance and to destroy human conscience and goodness. I sincerely hope European Parliament and European Union take action, to bring justice back to this world. Thank you!”

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