Disabled Falun Gong Practitioner Zhang Shengfan Killed by Police in China
[Falun Dafa Information Center, June 20, 2001] Mr. Zhang Shengfan, a disabled resident of Shuangcheng City, Heilongjiang Province, died in police custody on June 12th, just a few days after police dragged him from his home. Sources say Mr. Zhang, a Falun Gong practitioner, had been beaten to death. He was 38 years old.
Zhang Shengfan, a small, thin man, suffered from a disability that required him to use a cane for walking. According to his neighbors, Zhang was friendly, dexterous, and quick-witted. He had been laid-off from a subsidiary affiliated with No.2 Bureau of Light Industry of Shuangcheng City and his disability made it much harder for him to earn a living. Thus, to make ends meet, he tutored several students in his home.
At about 7 o'clock in the morning of June 9th, 2001, witnesses say four or five people from Red Flag Police Sub-station broke into Zhang's residence and tried to take him away. Zhang was still in bed at the time.
Hearing the commotion, about two dozen onlookers from the neighborhood gathered and watched everything through the window of Zhang's house. They saw Zhang desperately holding on to a bench that he had used when teaching his students. The force used by the policemen was so strong that the back panel of the seat was pulled off. Zhang resisted throughout with all his might, forcing the police to drag him out along with the bench.
Witnesses say they saw several policemen throw Zhang into a vehicle. He struggled to get out, only to be kicked back. His head was forcefully pushed under the seat of the van, with his neck bent and his body flattened out.
Witnesses report that the police man handled Zhang, a disabled person, "as if he were a sparrow." Even as the van departed, they could see that several people were still pummeling him as though in a frenzy inside the van. It was said that when the police vehicle stopped at the Shuangchange detention center, onlookers only saw a battered body being unloaded from it.
A few days later, on June 12th, Zhang was sent to the emergency room at 9:50am. Doctors said the man was dead before he arrived.
It was not until 8:00am of June 13th that Zhang's family was notified of his death, but the local authorities forbade his family from seeing the body. Nor were they allowed to invite forensic doctors to do an investigation. At the time of writing, his family still does not know the whereabouts of his body.
"Poor Xiao Liu Zi (literal translation of "Little Number Six," a term of endearment that suggests that Zhang was the sixth child in his family)..." said one elderly woman, a neighbor of his, to investigators sent by the Red Flag Police Sub-Station. "You cannot treat him this way. Leave him alone. Please, release him," she entreated as she wiped away her tears.
The neighbors all shed tears as they spoke of skinny Xiao Liu Zi who, after all, was disabled.
His neighbors said he had been frequently harassed by people from the neighborhood committee and police sub-station, and had been detained time and again-within the span of just four months, he was detained four times. And all because he was a Falun Gong practitioner. Over time, his students stopped coming for tutoring and his income dwindled. During his last encounter with the police, the bench he had used for teaching was also damaged.
Zhang Shengfan's arrest was apparently part of a larger dragnet operation ordered by Zhu Qingwen, Secretary of the City of Shuangcheng around that time. Local residents say police vehicles had been dispatched to almost every corner of the city to find and arrest Falun Gong practitioners.
The timing of Zhang Shengfan's death on June 12th is particularly alarming because it was on June 11th that Chinese authorities in Shuangcheng implemented the new declaratory statute announced by the central government to specifically target Falun Gong. The statute orders that Falun Gong is now to be treated as a "reactionary political organization"- one of China's most serious subversion charges that carries with it harsh punishments, including execution.
Sources say police suspected Zhang of printing documents about the persecution against Falun Gong, thus he may have been one of the first victims of this new directive from the central government to intensify the persecution.