Having lost her husband and mother to the persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Chen Jiazhu in Mianyang City, Sichuan Province was dealt another blow when her daughter died on February 11, 2020, also because of the persecution.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice that has been persecuted in China since 1999.
Ms. Chen, her late husband, their son and daughter, and her late mother, had all been repeatedly harassed, arrested, incarcerated, and tortured for not giving up their faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Chen's mother was the first to die as a result of constant harassments and threats. Ms. Chen's husband, Mr. Zhang Shufu, died in 2015 after being bedridden for five years. Their daughter, Ms. Zhang Yan, was imprisoned for six years and died in 2020.
While mourning the loss of their loved ones, Ms. Chen and her son, Mr. Zhang Chunbao, face constant harassment from the authorities and the possibilities of being arrested again for holding firm to their faith.
A Music Teacher Dead at 46
Ms. Zhang was a music teacher at Mianyang City 11th Middle School. She took up Falun Gong in 1998 and her chronic respiratory problems, haemorrhoids, arthritis, and neurological problems soon disappeared. Having benefited so much from the practice, she never wavered in her faith after the persecution began. She was repeatedly arrested, and died after years of suffering. She was 46 years old.
Torture at Labour Camp and Loss of Employment
Her first arrest took place in Beijing on July 22, 2000 when she went to Tiananmen Square to speak up for her belief. Her local police came to take her back and arbitrarily charged her 8,500 yuan as a pick-up fee, an equivalent of three months of her salary. She was placed in Mianyang City Detention Center for 17 days.
She was arrested again with her mother in October 2000 in Beijing, for doing the Falun Gong exercises in public. After taking them back, the police deducted 5,930 yuan from her mother’s pension for the pick-up, and arbitrarily sent her to Nanmusi Women’s Forced Labour Camp for a year.
In the labour camp, Ms. Zhang was denied family visits. She was locked inside her cell and forced to stand with her arms up against the wall a dozen hours each day. Her fingers deformed as a result of the physical strain. Even so, she was still forced to do intensive labour, including selecting pork hair to make brushes and packaging medicines.
Besides physical punishments and brainwashing, Ms. Zhang wasn’t allowed to clean herself and wash her clothes. She contracted scabies as a result. The police took her to a hospital for an unnecessary blood test, and she had to pay for it.
Ms. Zhang was released on October 26, 2001. She was fired by her school.
Framed Arrest and Brainwashing
On December 6, 2007, when Ms. Zhang and her parents visited her brother, Mr. Zhang Chunbao, who was serving an eight-year term in Deyang Prison for practising Falun Gong, the police arrested her without a warrant and held her in the Beichuan County Detention Center. Ms. Zhang was taken to a hotel three weeks later, where she was tortured and interrogated for three days without sleep.
It was reported that the authorities suspected Ms. Zhang of providing information to the Minghui website about the persecution of her brother. She was arrested in retaliation.
Ms. Zhang was transferred to a hotel on January 4, 2008 and interrogated for nine consecutive days by 14 officers.
While she was incarcerated, the police broke into her home and rental apartment and ransacked the two places. They confiscated her belongings without providing a list or any documentation.
Five Years of Torment
Ms. Zhang was later transferred to the Mianyang Detention Center. She was tried by the Peicheng District Court and sentenced to five years in Jianyang Women’s Prison in October 2008.
A prison guard turned all cell mates of Ms. Zhang against her by threatening to suspend their term reductions if she didn’t give up Falun Gong. Her cell mates monitored her around the clock and verbally abused her.
If she didn’t finish her work at the sweatshop during the day, she had to stand still until 1:00 a.m. next day. She also had to copy the prison rules every night, and slept only two to four hours. She didn’t get to sleep at all if she refused to do so. Not being able to properly rest, Ms. Zhang suffered from dizziness, chest pain, swelling, numbness, deteriorating eyesight, and hypertension.
The prison collected Ms. Zhang’s blood samples a few times, but without providing a reason. Her family suspected that this had something to do with the crimes of forced organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners.
Deceased after Years of Sufferings
When Ms. Zhang was released in December 2012, after five years of torture, her fingers were mutilated and she could no longer play the piano or teach music. Agents from the Mianyang 610 Office continued to harass her. She had to live away from home to avoid further persecution.
Years of torture and incarceration, and the fear of being arrested again, took a toll on Ms. Zhang’s mental and physical health. She passed away on February 11, 2020.
Factory Worker Deceased at 75
Ms. Zhang’s father, Ms. Zhang Shufu, was an employee at the Miyang City Automobile Steering Gear Factory. He was arrested five times and incarcerated for a total of 74 days in the persecution.
He was held at a brainwashing centre twice, in July 2000 and February 2001, for a total of 15 days.
He was arrested again in June 2003 for giving out Falun Gong fliers, and transferred to Zhongjiang Detention Center. During the 25 days there, he was forced to do unpaid work, including trimming threads from underwear and weaving bamboo dustpans.
He was transferred to Mianyang Detention Center on July 24, 2003, and held there for 24 days. He made springs and sorted Chinese medicinal herbs there.
Mr. Zhang was arrested again when he was shopping at a market on October 18, 2006, and was released that day.
The last time Mr. Zhang was arrested was in August 2008. He was held in a hotel for ten days.
His last arrest happened around the time when his daughter, son, and daughter-in-law were all imprisoned because of their faith. After he was released, Mr. Zhang and his wife traveled to all three prisons every month to visit their loved ones, while being constantly harassed.
The mental stress and financial strain took a toll on Mr. Zhang’s health. He became paralyzed in December 2012. At the time his son was still in prison and his daughter had just come home from prison ten days prior. He, his wife, and their daughter struggled to make ends meet, and lived in a rental apartment.
Mr. Zhang died on October 30, 2015, at the age of 75.
Retiree Almost Blind Four Years after Husband's Passing
Mr. Zhang’s wife, Ms. Chen Jiazhu, is a retiree of the Miyang City Automobile Steering Gear Factory. She recovered from her chronic ailments just three months after picking up Falun Gong in 1998. Her severe vaginal bleeding and pain, anemia, arthritis, blurry vision, and heart problems had disappeared for years, but her health deteriorated after her husband's death in 2015. She is now almost blind.
Ms. Chen went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong in 2000 and was incarcerated for 19 days. The next time she went to Beijing, she was locked up for 34 days. The officers in Mianyang City extorted 12,000 yuan from her.
She was locked in the township government in March 2001, and subjected to brainwashing for 20 days.
The police targeted her again in January 2008. They ransacked her home and interrogated her for one day. Prior to the Beijing Olympics, the police locked her up for ten days, in August, with the excuse of maintaining social stability.
Spouse of Veteran Imprisoned and Forced to Divorce
Ms. Chen's only surviving child, Mr. Zhang Chunbao, lost his job at the Miyang City Automobile Steering Gear Factory after he was incarcerated in a forced labor camp for a year because he practiced Falun Gong.
Mr. Zhang, 48, was arrested in April 2005 when he and his wife, a 40-year-old veteran, were talking to people about Falun Gong. The police tortured him during the interrogation. He was later sentenced to an eight-year term in Deyang Prison.
The prison authorities ordered two prisoners to watch him around the clock and promised them rewards if they tortured Falun Gong practitioners into renouncing their faith.
Mr. Zhang had to do unpaid work during the day. When others took a break, he was punished by being forced to stand against the wall. He wasn’t allowed to rest until late at night.
Both of Mr. Zhang’s legs were severely swollen due to the standing and lack of sleep. He refused to renounce Falun Gong, and hence the guards frequently beat him, pinched his nipples with pliers, and burned his private part with cigarettes.
Mr. Zhang’s wife, who had been sentenced to a five-year term, couldn’t stand the torture in Longquanyi Women’s Prison, and renounced Falun Gong. She divorced Mr. Zhang under pressure from authorities because he refused to give up practising Falun Gong.
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