EFGIC: Farmer, Falun Gong Practitioner Force-Fed Boiling Water – Dies in Chinese Prison

LONDON (EFGIC) – After being abducted multiple times and abused by local police for his practice of Falun Gong, a 56-year-old farmer from Heilongjiang Province was subjected to forced-feeding with boiling water. Emaciated and unable to stand on his own, he died in a Chinese prison on August 8, 2003.

Mr. Xuewen Zhang, a farmer living in Fangtai Town, Hulan County, Heilongjiang Province, began the practice of Falun Gong in 1994. Over the next several years, Falun Gong exploded in popularity among the Chinese people due to its benefits in health and well-being. In April 1999, the Associated Press quoted the Chinese Government's State Sports Administration as saying there were more than 70 million Falun Gong practitioners in China.

In July 1999, however, China's former leader, Jiang Zemin, banned the practice – an act that went against the decision of the Politburo Standing Committee members, who were advocating for Falun Gong at the time, as well as China’s Premier. According to reports from China, as a result of Jiang’s directive to all levels of the regime to “eradicate” Falun Gong, Mr. Zhang – like thousands, perhaps millions of his fellow practitioners – was repeatedly abducted and detained by local police after July 1999 because he refused to renounce Falun Gong.

Hunger Strike Answered by Torture and Threats

In April 2003, police from Erba Township Police Station arrested Mr. Zhang as he distributed flyers to the public that exposed human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners, the reports say. Over the past several years as Falun Gong has been demonised in China’s state-run media, practitioners throughout the country have undertaken a grassroots effort to provide their fellow citizens with information about the persecution of Falun Gong by distributing flyers, video CDs and other materials.

According to the reports, to protest his treatment Mr. Zhang held a hunger strike for more than 90 days in the county detention center where he was being held.

On June 12, 2003 he was brought to a local courthouse to be tried for the “crime” of distributing flyers. Family members described his condition as “only skin and bones,” saying that his face “was ashen, his eyes were tightly closed and he couldn't stand [on his own].” Eye-witnesses also say Mr. Zhang was kicked by one police officer outside the court house even though Mr. Zhang could not even stand up on his own and a small crowd of on-lookers were watching. One eye-witness reported the policemen yelling at Mr. Zhang, “You'll learn a good lesson when we go back [to the detention center]!”

Mr. Zhang was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison for not renouncing his belief and for his activities that exposed the persecution.

In July, prison guards force-fed Mr. Zhang with boiling water, causing him to have bloody stools for the next ten days, the reports say.

In early August, Mr. Zhang was sent to the Hulan Prison in Harbin City, formerly named the Gezhi Prison. On the day he was transferred, Mr. Zhang was “on the verge of death because of the brutal torture,” the reports say.

Hulan Prison authorities, concerned about being held responsible for Mr. Zhang’s condition, told his family members, “Zhang's situation was caused by the detention center authorities. We accepted him only because we got orders from higher authorities.”

Days later, on the morning of August 8, Mr. Zhang died in Hulan Prison.

Chinese Officials Confirm Death

In a phone interview on August 9, Wang Yufeng, chief of the Hulan County Detention Centre, who is known to be responsible for the death of Mr. Zhang, initially refused to answer any questions. He repeatedly responded by saying only “How did you know?”

Chief Wang, however, later told FDI that Mr. Zhang had indeed died. A female official from the Hulan Prison in Heilongjiang Province who asked to remain anonymous also confirmed Mr. Zhang’s death just days after his arrival at the prison.

Persons reported directly responsible for the torture and killing of Mr. Xuewen Zhang:

Chief of the detention centre: Wang Yufeng, 86-451-57343203 (o), 86-451-57332968 (h)
Deputy Chief: Zhao Liangui, 86-451-57343203 (o), 86-451-57322567 (h)
Doctor of the detention centre: Wang Jianxin, 86-451-57343203 (o), 86-451-57335811 (h)
Hulan County Police Department Deputy Chief: Wang Gongchao, 86-451-55261664 (h), 86-13903665976 (c)


Background

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (about), is a practise of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance.” It is a practise that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practises such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practised in over 50 countries.

With government estimates of as many as 100 million practising Falun Gong, China’s President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practise in July 1999 (report), fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiang’s regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practise while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practise it.

The European Falun Gong Information Centre has verified details of 772 deaths (reports / sources) since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600, while expert sources estimate that figure to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labour camps, typically without trial.


FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT THE EUROPEAN FALUN GONG INFORMATION CENTRE
Peter Jauhal 44 (0) 7739 172 452. Nicolas Schols 32 (0) 479875734
More contacts. http://www.falungonginfo.net/europe.htm
Email: europe@falungonginfo.net

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