“A serious disease pushed me to the edge of despair when I was 19. I had a strong desire to survive, and this drove me to practice Falun Gong. I soon regained my health and a rekindled hope in life.”
Mr. Zhang Guoliang said this when he began to practise Falun Gong.
When the persecution of Falun Gong started in July 1999, Mr. Zhang was arrested and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, where he suffered horrific torture. His chest was seriously damaged, and he developed hydrocephalus. His family's reputation was tainted with unsupported accusations.
Below is Mr. Zhang's account of his experience.
Serious Kidney Disease Disappears after Learning Falun Gong
I was in the military in 1996 and stationed in Yantai City, Shandong Province. I was 19.
My unit had a big party on October 1st. The next day, we ate the leftover seafood. Bad idea. Almost everyone, including me, suffered food poisoning and was taken to the hospital. I urinated blood and felt fatigued. After a physical examination at Jinan Military General Hospital, I was diagnosed with LgA kidney disease and classified as disabled.
I was given hormone treatments and started taking many pills. One military doctor told me there was no cure for such a disease anywhere in the world. More horrifying for me was that he warned me it would eventually turn into uraemia, and that I would die sooner if I got married and started a family.
I felt hopeless and depressed. I was on the verge of despair. How could this happen? I was only 19!
During those days, my commander often visited me in the hospital. He tried to comfort me. “Don't be scared. If Western medicine cannot cure your disease, we will take you to a doctor of Chinese medicine. If the doctor of Chinese medicine can't cure it, we'll try special prescriptions. If these don't work for you, you can try to practise Falun Gong.”
I followed his advice and tried Western medicine, then Chinese medicine. Neither of them worked. I then went back home to find a special prescription. After three months of treatment, I went back to my unit. On my first night, my disease recurred.
Then, I thought of Falun Gong. I met with my commander to learn more about it. At that time, tens of millions of Chinese from all walks of life practised Falun Gong. Many of them were scholars and authorities in their fields.
I wondered about this. These are people who are wise and deep thinkers. It is unlikely that they would believe in something without good reason. I was determined to give Falun Gong a shot.
I stopped taking pills. After three months of practice, I stopped urinating blood. It was then that I decided to practise Falun Gong for the rest of my life.
I retired from the military at the end of 1997 and got married in 1999. The following year, my wife gave birth to our daughter.
Another miracle happened to me after I practised Falun Gong. I had contracted a skin disease that made my face flaky and itchy. When I sweat during the summer, my face felt like it was burning.
I had this annoying condition for several years and could not find an effective treatment. Less than two weeks after I practised Falun Gong, it went away. Around noon one day, I washed my face after a nap. I rubbed off a layer of flaky skin, and that was the end of it.
Threatened with Death as My Mum Begged for My Release
On December 31st, 2001, someone who had been deceived by the Communist Party's propaganda reported me to the police when he saw me and other practitioners hang up banners about the persecution of Falun Gong. I was arrested and taken to a police station on January 5th, 2002.
The superintendent interrogated me using torture the whole night. “We will kill you if you don't confess,” he said. “Doesn't your Minghui website report that over 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners [as of 2001] were persecuted to death by police? You don't want to be in that number, do you? I can beat you until your legs are broken. No one would take your case even if your mother crawled to Beijing to beg that I be prosecuted. No one would dare to handle your case!”
At that moment, my mother really was begging for my release outside the gate, but they ignored her and gave me a beating. One policeman grabbed my hair and knocked my head against the wall. My head started bleeding immediately.
Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison
I was arrested again on January 6th, 2002 and taken to the county police station. They put me under criminal detention the following day and formally arrested me two weeks later.
The court sentenced me to three and a half years in July 2002 without any legal evidence. After nine months of detainment, two policemen took me to the Hongshan Prison in Wuhan City in mid-September 2002.
Jail Guard Orders All Falun Gong Practitioners Accepted Despite Illness
According to prison regulations, officials could refuse to receive anyone with a serious illness.
The doctor on duty that day refused to receive me after he reviewed my medical history. He also refused to accept another practitioner who was taken there on the same day, because the practitioner had heart disease.
Despite that, the police who brought me said, “They are Falun Gong practitioners, so they have no illness and are very healthy. Just take them.”
The doctor on duty couldn't decide what to do and was going to report this to the head of the prison hospital. A police supervisor arrived and was told that we were Falun Gong practitioners. “Falun Gong? You don't need to ask for permission. Just take them.”
Heavy Water Barrel Hung from My Neck
After one day in Hongshan Prison, I was transferred to Qinduankou Prison in Hubei Province.
Guards instigated prisoners to torture me at will. They threatened and beat me, tried to brainwash me, and forced me to do hard labour. They deprived me of sleep, hit my head against a wall, and kicked my chest while wearing hard military boots.
I suffered a torture called “digging the wall.” Criminal inmates tied my hands behind my back, pushed my head against a wall, and placed my upper body parallel to the floor. I was ordered to stand one meter away from the wall, so that all of the weight was focused on my head and toes.
They forced me to do hard labour for extended hours, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. I was given only five minutes for each meal and five minutes to use the toilet. I was ordered to write “thought reports” at night. They forced me to read the prison rules until midnight or even later.
One more cruel torture came when two criminal inmates prepared a 55-pound (25 kilogram) water barrel attached to plastic rope and hung it around my neck. If any water dripped from barrel, they beat me.
Every so often, criminal inmate Wang Wei checked how deeply the rope had dug into my neck. “For Falun Gong practitioners like you, we have orders from high up. No one will be held accountable if you are beaten to death. It will be reported as a death from natural causes in prison.”
He tried to make me write a statement of giving up my belief and denouncing Falun Gong. “You've served in the military,” he said, “so you should know what will happen if blood flow is cut off there. You will soon go into shock.”
“Just do it. I will take the barrel from your neck if you promise to write the statements.”
I refused, so they kept the barrel around my neck for two hours.
Next, they forced me to squat motionless like a soldier for a long time. I was not allowed to shift my weight around. I thought I was going to fall over.
I couldn't keep my head up the following day. My neck was in excruciating pain.
After doing hard labour for a whole day, I was forced to hold the water barrel at night. My torturers added more water to the barrel and brought an elderly practitioner to me. They ordered him to put all his weight against the barrel that I was holding, which made it even harder on me.
That practitioner refused, saying he didn't want to hurt me. They severely beat him because he would not comply. He stood close to me and put his head lightly on the barrel to reduce the weight on my neck.
The criminal Wang ordered him to stand further away from me. When the practitioner refused, Wang kicked him hard. The elderly practitioner fell down and got up with great difficulty. When he finally managed to stand up, they forced him back in that position for another hour.
For nearly a month after that, I was not able to hold up my head.
Suspicious Medical Exam
I was given several medical exams while imprisoned. I was suspicious and thought of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners each time they took blood samples. They once took two tubes of blood from me.
The examinations also covered my heart, brain, chest, eyes, urine, and other functions.
One time, I asked a policeman, “Why were only Falun Gong practitioners given these medical exams?”
“It's because the government takes care of Falun Gong practitioners,” he said. “So do not complain to the government anymore.” I found this hard to believe.
Chest Hydrocephalus from Violent Beatings
A criminal inmate named Huang Zhijian was ordered by guards to beat Falun Gong practitioners. Whenever he was in a bad mood, he ordered me to stand against the wall and hit me with a wooden chair. At times, he would deny me meals or deprive me of sleep all night. Other times, he would force me to squat like a soldier for more than two hours at a time.
Once, when he forced me to “dig the wall,” he suddenly kicked me in the stomach. It was so painful that I could not breathe. The pain lasted more than a month, accompanied by difficulty breathing.
While I was being tortured, I was also forced to do hard labour until I was too weak to continue. I was taken to the prison clinic, where the doctor on duty diagnosed me with tuberculosis pleuritis and hydrocephalus. He said I was in critical condition and should be sent to a hospital immediately.
Guard Qiu Fan appeared indifferent when I showed him the doctor's diagnosis. “I won't approve your hospital stay,” he said. “Falun Gong practitioners' cases must be reported to the prison's political commissar before any action is taken. I'm sorry about this, but since he's on a business trip, you'll have to wait.”
When I said I was in critical condition, he shouted at me, “Your death is none of my concern!”
I went to the hospital the following afternoon and remained there for three months. When I returned to the prison, the chief physician at the hospital advised me to take care of myself because I had not completely recovered.
My Family Suffers in the Persecution
My family and relatives have also suffered. The persecution brought tremendous pain to all of us.
My family has consistently been monitored by agents of the notorious 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong). They monitored our phone calls, and followed and threatened us. My in-laws were also watched.
Police officers, government officials, and residential community officials constantly came to my home and harassed us. They ransacked my home and confiscated our personal property. One policeman named Cao Jingbo once beat me in front of my own home.
After I was arrested, my shoe store was shut down. My wife and daughter had to go live with my in-laws, who were already having financial difficulties. My mom suffered greatly and was placed under tremendous pressure.
My wife and I have left town to find work. Meanwhile, agents from the local 610 Office continue to harass my in-laws.
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