Falun Gong Practitioner Zhou Xiangyang Resists Persecution with Hunger Strikes; His Family Denied Visitation Rights
Name: Zhou Xiangyang (周向阳)
Address: Tangshan, Hebei Province
Occupation: Cost engineer at the Third Tianjin Railway Survey and Design Institute Group in Tianjin
Date of Most Recent Arrest: March 5, 2011
Most Recent Place of Detention: Gangbei Prison (港北监狱)
Persecution Suffered: Interrogation, shocks from electric batons, sleep deprivation, forced labor, brainwashing, illegal sentencing, beatings, hanging by handcuffs, imprisonment, solitary confinement, torture, force-feedings, physical restraint, detention, denial of restroom use
(Clearwisdom.net) Mr. Zhou Xiangyang has been holding hunger strikes to resist the persecution after he was arrested and sent to Gangbei Prison, Tianjin City on March 5, 2011. His mother and wife have only been able to see him twice in the past four months, and those two times were because the prison was pressured from the outside. Mr. Zhou looked very thin and weak when his family saw him. He asked his family members to hire a lawyer to sue the police for the illegal arrest and ransacking of his home.
Falun Gong practitioner Zhou Xiangyang: Engineer at The Third Survey and Design Institute, Tianjin
In late May, Mr. Zhou's family brought a lawyer to Gangbei Prison and asked to see Mr. Zhou to verify the list of ransacked items, and they were denied entry by Deputy Prison Director Li Guoyu. Li also denied Mr. Zhou's family any further visitation rights. On the official visit days of June 17 and July 15, Mr. Zhou's family was denied visitation for Mr. Zhou and Li threatened Mr. Zhou's mother to stay outside of the facility. He then took out a video camera to video-tape her. He notified the local police station to monitor the family. He also spread the word to never allow family visitation for Mr. Zhou and threatened he would torture Mr. Zhou to madness.
Mr. Zhou was arrested and sentenced to nine years for practicing Falun Gong. He has been detained in various locations, including Tianjin Railroad Detention Center, Tianjin Qingbowa Forced Labor Camp, Tianjin Shuangkou Forced Labor Camp, Ji County Yushan Forced Labor Camp, Tianjin Hexi Detention Center, and Gangbei Jail. He has suffered from all kinds of torture. He was shocked extensively with electric batons, not allowed to sleep for 30 days continuously, put in solitary confinement many times, and brutally force-fed. Starting late June, 2008, Mr. Zhou went on a hunger strike for over a year to resist the persecution and his body weight went down to just 90 lbs. He was very weak, could not walk by himself, and could not take care of himself; including using the restroom. He was finally granted medical probation on July 28, 2009.
On March 5, 2011, Mr. Zhou was again arrested in his apartment in Tangshan City. Below is a letter that his mother wrote to the authorities.
An Elderly Mother's Appeal
-on the illegal deprivation of the right to visit a detained family member
To the Relevant Authorities,
My name is Wang Shaoping. I'm 65 years old. I live Matuodian Township, Changli County, Qinhuangdao City. My son Zhou Xiangyang was home on a medical parole and before he recovered, he was again brought back to Gangbei Prison. He hasn't eaten or drunk for 108 days and he has just been sustained with tube feeding and fluids. His life could be in danger at any time.
June 17 was an official visiting date of Gangbei Prison. I got to the entrance very early and waited in line, but when it was my turn, they would not do the visitation paperwork for me. I asked why, and they would not explain. None of them would even speak. It was obvious that they had planned ahead and just would not let me see my son.
I live in the Qinhuangdao area. In order to be able to see my son on the monthly official visiting date, I have to leave home at 2am, change transportation four times, and I would get to Gangbei Prison at 8am. This is extremely difficult for an old woman like me. The manager of the prison has once said that family not from the local area can visit anytime as long as they show the transportation tickets they used to travel. But that never worked for me. I finally found out about the official visiting date and they still would not let me see my son.
Something else has happened to me on June 17 at Gangbei Prison.
Because they would not let me see my son, I just waited outside the prison, but none of them would talk to me. At 11am, the gate suddenly opened and more than 20 fully armed police officers rushed out. They each held a black shield on one hand and an electric baton or police baton on the other hand. They lined up on the two sides. Then, the Deputy Prison Director Li Guoyu walked out. Behind him there were five or six prison guard captains, including Song Xuesen (police number 1208219) and Zu Liming (police number 1208237), as well as some officers who worked at the entrance. Li Guoyu said to me very ferociously, “If you don't want to leave, go stand farther away. You cannot pass.” I asked him why I was not allowed to visit. He said, “We were notified from above that Falun Gong practitioners cannot be visited.” Li returned to the prison after a while and the two lines of armed police and the two guard captains stayed outside the gate, just to deal with me, an old woman. They even had substitutes come to take their places when they had lunch. Outside the cordon it was already the highway and it was far away from the registration window, so I could not even go up there to make inquires. As soon as I would cross the line, they would “take measures” on me. They even drove away the people selling pancakes on the street and the cars who were waiting on the side of the road, so that I could not talk to anyone. I left home at 2am to come to see my son, but was forced to the outside of the cordon and waited like this for an entire morning alone.
In the afternoon, I helplessly put on the “complaining clothing” again and I still wanted to take another chance to visit because I worry about my son so much. But they had absolutely no sympathy left and just would not let me visit. I asked “why”? again and again and asked them to show me the notification of “denial of visitation”. Finally a group captain said, “Go find Hu Jintao!”
I'm just an ordinary person and it is impossible for me to find Hu Jintao, so I have to reflect the situation to you. Family visitation is a basic right for the detainees. I want to verify this with you, are there really documents that say “Falun Gong practitioners cannot be visited.” If so, then why didn't they dare to show it to me and, how could someone use their administrative power to just deprive the visiting rights guaranteed by law?
Besides, I'm very anxious. How come they suddenly would not let me visit anymore? And how can a big prison like this use such a big force to deal with an old woman like me all day long? Is it because they are retaliating against my son for suing the Gangbei Prison, or did something happen due to the force-feeding? When I saw my son on May 12, he was in very bad shape. Also the lawyer told me that Jiamusi Prison just had three prisoners die from force-feeding. How can I not be worried?
The day before the visitation day, Tangshan's office went to harass my daughter-in-law twice. There were also police from the township police station coming to my home and threatening me that I “better not go visit Gangbei Prison, otherwise someone else in my family might get arrested.”
My son Zhou Xiangyang hasn't eaten or drunk anything for over 100 days and his health is getting worse and worse, and his life is in danger. I sued the Gangbei Prison for using ground anchors and electric batons to torture my son. They retaliated and just arbitrarily deprived my son's right to be visited. They would not let me see my son, and even used such a big manpower and careful arrangements to just to deal with an old woman. I really do not understand.
I ask the relevant leaders to investigate the negligent misconduct of the Gangbei Prison staff. Their attitude to the families of prisoners are so bad that it severely damages the image of the state and the government, and should be immediately corrected.
Zhou Xiangyang's mother: Wang Shaoping
June 21, 2011