Award Winning Taxi Driver Zhang Chen, 55, Persecuted and Sentenced to Three Years

Name: Zhang Chen
Gender: Male
Age: 55
Address: Unknown
Occupation: Driver

Date of Most Recent Arrest: October 24th, 2009
Most recent place of detention: Daowai Division, Harbin Detention Centre
City: Harbin
Province: Heilongjiang
Persecution Suffered: Detention, beatings, hung up, extortion, home ransacked

Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Zhang Chen worked for the Harbin City Taxi Company for approximately 20 years. Prior to practising Falun Gong, he smoked and drank. In his company he was infamous for his bad temper and had serious pain in his back and neck because he had car accidents every year. Fortunately, in 1999, things changed quickly once Mr. Zhang started practising Falun Gong. His pains disappeared, and he became very energetic, so much so that even young people could not keep up with him. As a Falun Gong practitioner he also lived by the universal principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance, and this helped rid him of his bad temper. From then on he always considered others first. Soon, his company recognised the profound changes in Mr. Zhang, and he was awarded the title of "Outstanding Professional Driver."

After the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, Mr. Zhang was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) twice because he was a Falun Gong practitioner. In December 2000, after trying to appeal for justice for Falun Gong at the different local government departments, Mr. Zhang went to Tiananmen Square in Beijing to help his fellow Chinese citizens understand that Falun Gong is good. He held up a banner that said, "Falun Gong Is Good." He was arrested and detained in the Yanshan Police Station in Beijing. Several times, the policemen there forced him to the floor and beat him brutally. Later, they hung him up on a tree and beat him.

On January 1st, 2001, officer Zhang Xin from Zhongshan Police Station in the Xiangfang District and the head of the local neighbourhood committee went to Mr. Zhang Chen's home. They asked for six thousand yuan1 from his family, claiming that this money would be used to bring Zhang home by airplane. Mr. Zhang's family is very poor, his wife did not have a job, and their only child was nine years old. They could not come up with the money for his release. The police instead took two hundred yuan from Mr. Zhang, the only cash on him at the time of his arrest. Mr. Zhang was taken to the Harbin City Detention Centre. The police offered rewards to prisoners to beat him. They forced him to sit on the floor and did not allow him to make a single movement. If he moved even a little bit, they would beat him severely. They would beat him whenever they wanted to, sometimes hitting his head. These brutal beatings broke his spine and he could not move at all.

This long term abuse made Mr. Zhang very faint and he had no strength to speak. His hair turned grey, his eyesight became poor, and he lost so much weight that he became skeletal. When he began to spit up blood, the police arranged for him to be sent home. But before Mr. Zhang was to go home the police tried to extort two thousand yuan from his family for his food while he was in prison. The food in the detention centre was very bad. Each person only got a bun and a bowl of soup for a meal. The soup only had several pieces of vegetable leaves. The detention centre forced Zhang's family to hand over more than one thousand yuan for his meals. Otherwise, they would not let him go home.

Nine years later, on October 24th, 2009, Mr. Zhang put up another banner saying "Falun Gong Is Good." He was arrested by officers from Yongyuan Police Station in the Daowai District and was later transferred to the Daowai Division Detention Centre. When he arrived, he was brutally beaten. The police offered rewards to three prisoners--Xiaofu, Xiaowen, and a third whose last name is Guo--to beat Mr. Zhang. They hit his head against the wall, and Mr Zhang fainted. They smashed his back so hard that he could not move for a month. While they were beating him, they shouted, "The government asked us to do this to you!! The government told us to torture you Falun Gong people!"

While Mr. Zhang was in prison, the police ransacked and searched his home. They did not find anything to use as evidence against him, so they could only give his family the detention statement and wait for the trial to be held. On December 11th, one month later, his family finally got the official arrest notification.

On March 31st, 2010, the Daowai Court tried Mr. Zhang Chen and other Falun Gong practitioners. However, Mr. Zhang's family only was only told later about the trial, on April 6th, 2010. They went to the Daowai Police Station to get more information about Mr. Zhang's case, but officer Bai refused to tell them the name of the person in charge of his case. His family was told to go home and wait for more information. They insisted they be told the facts immediately. The policeman then told them that they had already tried Mr. Zhang on March 31st 2010.

Li Ying, the person in charge of Zhang Chen's case, said, "Now we are no longer in charge of his case. Go to the court and ask them." Mr. Zhang's family went to the criminal division of the Daowai Court. The policeman on duty lied and said that Mr. Zhang had been sent to the No.7 Division already. His family said that they knew from the police station that Mr. Zhang was in the criminal division of the Daowai Court. The officer suddenly changed attitude and said, "We don't have to notify you if we send him away." Mr Zhang's family firmly insisted on knowing his whereabouts and only then did the police made a call very reluctantly.

After many efforts, Mr. Zhang's family got in touch with a person named Bu Linghong. She did not tell them what her position was, but said they had called Mr. Zhang's home phone at the time of the trial, but no one answered the phone. However, Mr. Zhang's family had only given their mobile phone contact information, as they did not have a home phone. It was clear that Bu was lying and that she had not notified Mr. Zhang's family of the court hearing.

When Mr Zhangs's family asked Bu Linghong as to why they sentenced Mr. Zhang without his family being present, she could not say anything. Instead, she kept repeating that she did make the phone call. When his family asked to see Mr. Zhang, she said that that was not allowed. She then said, "We will try to sentence him lightly. We are only trying to do things according to the law." Eventually, they sentenced Mr. Zhang to three years.


1. "Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.

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