Engineer Dies Suddenly During Wrongful Imprisonment for His Spiritual Belief

Mr. Dong Hanjie, an engineer from Zhuozhou, Hebei Province, suddenly died during his five-year term at Jidong Prison for his spiritual belief in Falun Gong. He was 51.

According to his lawyer, Mr. Dong appeared to be healthy when the lawyer visited him at the detention centre on August 16th, 2015. But Mr. Dong passed away on October 10th, 2015, shortly after he was transferred to Jidong Prison, a place notorious for its brutality toward Falun Gong practitioners.

Prison officials told Mr. Dong's family that he died from a sudden heart attack. His family suspects that torture in the prison was the main reason for his death.

Repeatedly Persecuted for His Spiritual Belief

Mr. Dong Hanjie started practising Falun Gong in 1995 and was repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for his belief after the onset of the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.

He was arrested five times, and sentenced to prison and forced labour camps for a total of ten years. He was tortured to the verge of death several times.

In an open letter to his colleagues to raise awareness of the persecution, he said, “After I was released from the labour camp in 2006, I was suffering from heart and kidney failure. My eyesight was blurry. My legs were swollen. My family broke up after my wife divorced me.”

In addition to the physical torture and imprisonment, the police and his workplace had forced him to pay more than 90,000 yuan (nearly 15,000 USD).

Torture While in Detention

According to his own account Mr. Dong suffered numerous forms of torture at brainwashing centres, labour camps, and prison.

The torture methods included beatings, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, and long hours of forced labour.

He once lost consciousness after one of his ribs was broken from a beating. As soon as he came to, the labour camp guards tied him in a chair and continued to torture him.

In some cases, the guards applied several tortures to him at the same time. The labor camp guards once tied him tightly, hung him up and shocked him with electric batons all over his body. Sometimes the guards continued to shake his body after the electric shocks. “The torture often left my arms in such tremendous pain that I couldn't move afterwards,” Mr. Dong said.

“The brainwashing centre hired thugs to torture us. I kept filing complaints with the brainwashing centre's leadership for the torture and illegal detention in the first few months after I was taken there, but was only told that they didn't have to follow the law when it comes to Falun Gong,” he said.

The police frequently transferred Mr. Dong among the brainwashing centres, detention centres, and labour camps. The receiving agency often ignored his poor physical condition and continued to torture him as soon as he arrived.

After an arrest in 2006, Mr. Dong embarked on a hunger strike at the detention centre to protest the persecution. He was force-fed at the hospital and then transferred to the labour camp – he couldn't even stand by himself at that point.

At the labour camp, his situation worsened and he developed high blood pressure and heart problems. Instead of releasing him, the police threw him into a brainwashing centre and tortured him until he was on the verge of death.

Wrongful Sentencing

After years of persecution, Mr. Dong was arrested for the fifth time along with five other practitioners in February 2014.

The Zhuozhou Court held two hearings against Mr. Dong and the other practitioners. According to his lawyer, the prosecutor fabricated evidence against the practitioners, with inconsistent times of arrests and home ransacking, as well as different handwriting of the same signature. Mr. Dong's own driver's licence and some everyday items were listed as evidence to charge him.

During the second hearing, the court didn't inform the practitioners' lawyers of the trial. The judge proceeded with the hearing without the lawyers, a clear violation of the practitioners' legal rights.

The court sentenced Mr. Dong to five years in prison on February 11th, 2015. He appealed the sentence, but the intermediate court upheld his term in June without holding any additional hearings.

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