It was the most wonderful time of the year for Chinese people. Dumplings were cooking, families united, kids were shouting along with the popping of firecrackers, and the air was full of joy and happiness.
However, a lonely soul, Mr. Zhao Yongshen, whose name's literal translation means “lives forever,” passed away in a communist regime detention center on February 7, 2016, while people celebrated Chinese New Year's Eve.
It was four days before the authorities notified his brothers, the only family he had, about his death.
His brothers could not believe their ears. How could their beloved brother, who was only 52 years old and in good health, have died? They asked for an autopsy and explanation.
“If you keep insisting on an inquiry into the cause of his death,” the police threatened, “we will cremate him!”
The brothers gave in, as the deceased person must be buried and not cremated according to Chinese traditions. Reluctantly, they accepted 65,000 yuan (US $10,000) in compensation and waived their demand for an investigation into their brother's death.
They brought their brother's body back to their hometown, Yudu Town, Jingchuan County, Gansu Province, under police escort.
A Tough Life
Mr. Zhao Yongshen was born into a peasant's family. He was the fourth child in a five-boy family. His father died when he was young.
Seeing his mother struggling to raise her five children, the villagers arranged for a family to adopt two of the kids. When the adopting parents came to their house, the mother, young Yongshen, and his little brother held each other, crying loudly. The adopting parents were moved and decided not to break up the family.
Mr. Zhao's mother then married a man in another town, taking Yongshen and his younger brother with her. His three elder brothers were old enough to live on their own. The children were mistreated, however, because they were stepchildren. When the stepfather passed away, his mother took her two sons back to their hometown.
Mr. Zhao learned to be a tailor and put his younger brother through college. Then he had an opportunity to move to a large city, where he could earn more money, but he decided to stay at home to take care of his ageing mother.
Over the years, Mr. Zhao developed many diseases, including stomach pain, brain neurasthenia, and a sleeping disorder. A doctor suggested that he practice Falun Gong in 1997. He took up Falun Gong and recovered from all his illnesses.
He was in good spirits, was more even tempered, and became more tolerant and considerate. He no longer smoked and drank, and was known to help others.
Mr. Zhao's world turned into a nightmare after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated its persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.
When he went to Beijing to peacefully appeal for justice for Falun Gong in January 2000, he was arrested and brutally beaten. He was detained in Beijing for five days, and beaten five times. The police officers kicked him, punched him in the face, and stepped on his head after he fell. He was on the brink of a mental collapse.
Police officers from his hometown Jingchuan came to Beijing to take him home. A Beijing officer called for him. He responded and walked slowly. The Beijing officer was annoyed and started another round of beating and kicking. He also kept yanking him up and then throwing him back to the ground.
“Let me take him home,” said a Jingchuan officer. “Don't beat him any more. You have beaten him into this state, how can we explain it to his family?”
Detained and Tortured
After a few days at home, Mr. Zhao was arrested and detained in the Jingchuan Detention Center. An order had been handed down from Beijing that all Falun Gong practitioners who had appealed in Beijing were to be imprisoned.
He was arrested four days before the Chinese New Year. He was not released until four months later.
In the Jingchuan Detention Center, Mr. Zhao was tortured and forced to watch videos that slandered Falun Gong.
The police demanded that he complete a guarantee statement promising that he would give up his faith.
“As long as you write the statement,” they claimed, “we'll let you go home. If you still want to practice, you can do it at home. Nobody will bother you if you practice at home.”
“Isn't this misleading the authorities?” asked Mr. Zhao.
The police responded that it did not matter what he did once he got home, as long as he signed the statement. But he still refused, as he remembered that the Falun Gong principles were “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.”
An inmate in the same cell wrote the statement and signed Mr. Zhao's name, so that they would no longer torture him. However, Mr. Zhao grabbed the document from the officer's hands and tore it up. He was still released.
Later he went to Yinchuan, the capital city of Gansu, to work. But the Party Secretary of his village brought him back to the village so that they could monitor him.
Police Ready to Shoot Practitioners
Mr. Zhao was arrested in May 2015 for talking to a police officer about Falun Gong. The officers ransacked his home.
The authorities secretly sentenced him to six years in prison on December 22, 2015.
However, before he was transferred to the prison, he passed away in the Jingchuan Detention Center on February 7, 2016.
The police claimed that Mr. Zhao had died of a cerebral hemorrhage, but his brothers had their doubts. He was in good health when he was arrested, and the regime is known for abusing, even torturing, people in detention.
When his brothers took his body to their hometown on February 11, several dozen police officers escorted them.
“If Falun Gong practitioners protest, we have our guns ready,” said a police officer.
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