Mass Arrests on February 25 Highlights the CCP’s Systematic Chain of Persecution
(Minghui.org) The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has totally distorted the role of the judicial system, turning it into an agency that tortures and kills innocent people.
Under orders from the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, officials illegally arrested more than 100 practitioners on February 25, 2012. Those arrested came from 15 cities and counties in the provinces of Hebei, Liaoning, and Shandong. Of these places, Tangshan City in Hebei Province was hit the worst, with 38 arrests.
In reviewing this incident that took place just over a year ago, the systematic chain of persecution orchestrated by the CCP is clearly evident: arrest, home ransacking, trial, labor camp, and imprisonment. Every link in this chain of event involves illegal activities. Below is a detailed look at what took place in Tangshan City in early 2012.
Buying DVD boxes considered a crime
The beginning of the incident, ironically, was when regime agents suspected that practitioners had purchased a large number of DVD boxes and were planning to use them to pack Shen Yun performance DVDs.
Shen Yun is a performing arts group based in New York. Launched in 2006, Shen Yun seeks to revive traditional Chinese culture and has performed before tens of thousands worldwide. By touring several continents in recent years, the company has grown rapidly and their world class performances have attracted countless admirers wherever the company goes.
Inside China, however, packing and distributing Shen Yun DVDs is considered a crime by the CCP. In fact, one of the charges brought against these arrested was “purchasing a large number of DVD boxes.”
Police officers behave like thugs
1) Police agents do not show IDs when arresting practitioners or ransacking their homes.
2) The police brutally beat practitioners. After practitioner Mr. Li Wendong was arrested, someone saw officers hit him hard while he was being interrogated, and his face was badly bruised. When practitioner Mr. Yang Guoguang described his arrest, he said, “I saw two cars in front of my door when I returned home. When I walked over to ask who they were, several officers rushed towards me. They took my motorcycle key and struck me. Throughout the entire assault, none of them showed an ID.”
3) Officers steal practitioners' personal belongings when ransacking their homes. When Lunan District Domestic Security Division agents arrested Mr. Bian Lichao, they took more than 100,000 yuan from his home. They also issued a fake receipt and told his wife to sign it so that they could “officially” take the money. When Mr. Li Wendong was arrested, his wife was also taken to a police station and searched. In her letter to the Procuratorate she wrote, “Several people pushed me into a car and two male agents searched me. They took a cell phone, handbag, and my house key. I was then taken to the Shuidong Police Station. When I returned home, the apartment was in a shambles and many valuables had been taken, such as jewelry, bank deposit certificates, and cell phones. I went to the police station and told them they were my personal belongings and asked that they be returned. But the they refused.”
4) Guards threatened, beat, and brought false charges against practitioners to obtain "evidence." For example:
-As a result of being beaten at the detention center, Yang Zheng almost completely lost his hearing. Kaiping District Procuratorate officer Wu Jianhui ridiculed Mr. Yang's hearing loss several times in court.
-During the trial, Mr. Bian Lichao told how the Lunan Procuratorate obtained the “evidence:” “They [officials] said they would arrest my wife and daughter if I did not admit to the charges they fabricate. In addition, they forced some irrelevant things on me to make up so-called evidence.”
-When Mr. Li Wendong called for justice at the detention center, guards sealed his mouth with tape. Mr. Li then went on a hunger strike in protest and was force-fed three times a day. When the attorney met Mr. Li, he was emaciated and weak and barely able to speak. The forced-feeding tube was still inserted in his nose and he was handcuffed.
-The prosecutor made up evidence to charge Mr. Li Yushu by claiming that more than 820 calendars and over 4,000 necklaces were found at his home. Mr. Li told the judge that he only had two calendars and several necklaces, which were for his personal use. These were his personal belongings and he did not know why the police made up such large numbers.
Unlawful activities during the first trial
1) Harassing practitioners to stop them from hiring attorneys. In the months following the massive arrests on February 25, Mr. Bian Liao’s wife, Zhou Xiuzhen, and Mr. Li Guangdong’s wife, Li Yuemei hired attorneys to enter not-guilty pleas for their husbands. They also sent letters to various government agencies to raise awareness and ask for help.
Under the 610 Office instructions, officials at the practitioners' wives' workplaces ordered them not to hire attorneys or seek help from other government agencies. They also told them to divorce their husbands and to not send money to their detained husbands.
2) Preventing attorneys from meeting their clients.
-When Mr. Li Wendong’s attorney went to Tangshan City First Detention Center to see him on the morning of May 7, 2012, detention center head Sun Yansong refused to allow the visit. The attorney had to contact the Kaiping Procuratorate, the Kaiping Police Department, and the Tangshan Political and Legal Affairs Committee and was finally able to meet with Mr. Li that afternoon.
-When Mr. Zheng Xiangxing’s attorney went to the detention center to see him on March 17, 2012, officials said that the visit had to be approved by Tanghai County Domestic Security Division head Li Fuguo. When Mr. Zheng’s family and the attorney went to the police department to find Li Fuguo, he was not there. Sun Jingsen, an agent involved in the arrest, was there and he told them to contact deputy police head Liu Jiaman. When Mr. Zheng’s family and the attorney went to Liu’s office, as soon as Liu heard it was related to Mr. Zheng, he began to swear at them, humiliate them, and threaten to arrest them.
That afternoon, Mr. Zheng’ family and the attorney returned to the police department. Both Sun Jingsen's and Li Fuguo's offices were closed. They waited the entire afternoon and came back the next morning, but the offices were still closed. The attorney had to return to Beijing without seeing his client.
3) Practitioners' families prevented from attending the trial
-When Mr. Bian Lichao’s wife, Zhou Xiuzhen, went to the Lunan Court with the attorney on the morning of July 26, 2012, judge Wang Jian stopped her, saying that she was subpoenaed as a witness and thus could not attend as a family member. When Ms. Zhou wanted to give up appearing as a witness, Wang refused. In the end, Ms. Zhou had to stay out of the courtroom during the trial and she was watched by her workplace officials.
After Mr. Zheng Xiangxing’s attorney tried many times, Tanghai County Court officials agreed on a public trial, but they attempted to stop Mr. Zheng’s wife from attending. After the attorney argued with them, they finally permitted her to enter the courtroom.
The Kaiping District Court held a trial in the morning on August 10, 2012, for several practitioners including Li Wendong, Zhang Guochen, Yue Changcun, Yang Zheng, and Gao Zhaochen. Many friends and relatives wanted to attend the trial, but court officials only allowed two family members of each practitioner to come in and drove away anyone else who tried to attend.
4) Creating obstacles for the attorneys
-Li Wendong’s attorney received a phone call from the Kaiping Court in early August 2012, telling him he had to provide a letter from both the attorney's association and the local police station that stated he was not a Falun Gong practitioner. The attorney considered this unreasonable and objected to it.
-The family of Li Wendong and Zhang Guochen received a phone call at 10 a.m. on August 7, 2012, saying a trial would be held for these two practitioners as well as Yue Changcun and Yang Zheng in Zhengzhuangzi Court at 8:30 a.m. on August 10. Court officials are required by law to notify family members and attorneys 7 days in advance, but Kaiping Court officials did so only 3 days before the trial.
In a similar violation, Mr. Zheng Xiangxing’s attorney was never notified that his client's trial was scheduled to be held at 2 p.m. on May 29, 2012, until he went to the Tanghai Court to obtain information about the case on May 24.
-During the trial of Mr. Bian Lichao on July 26, 2012, his attorney refuted the prosecutor’s charges one by one, based on the law. Head judge Wang Jian and the jurors repeatedly interrupted the defense. Wang even said, “We have told you twice not to mention that Falun Gong is an issue of belief. Otherwise, you will be in trouble.” The prosecutor did not provide evidence of any criminal activity during the trial, and when Mr. Bian's attorney asked many times that his wife Ms. Zhou be present as a witness, Wang refused to allow it. In addition, throughout the trial, including the final statement, Wang Jian interrupted Mr. Bian and his attorney more than 20 times.
-Li Wendong and other practitioners were tried in the Kaiping Court on August 10, 2012. Each time Li Wendong was asked and tried to explain things clearly, judge Zhao Lizuo stopped him. Zhao only allowed Mr. Li to answer yes or no. When Mr. Li’s attorney raised questions about the photo of the confiscated items, Zhao Lizuo stopped him many times.
-A trial was held for Yang Guoguang, a practitioner from Gaotuo Village in Chahe Town, in the Eighth Court in Fengrun District at 9 a.m. on August 6, 2012. The attorney asked Mr. Yang, “Do you know why you were sent to a labor camp in 2000?” Mr. Yang answered, “I used to be an alcoholic and often fought. After practicing Falun Gong, I stopped doing that and always tried to be a better person. However, when I was working on the land in 2000, the police arrested me and sent me to labor camp for a term of more than two years.” Judge Xu Tianpeng abruptly stopped him, “This is irrelevant to the case. You can only talk about things related to the case.”
-Fengrun District court officials tried Mr. Li Yushu at 9 a.m. on August 28, 2012. Head judge Xu Tianpeng threatened that whoever “violated the court rules” would “be in trouble.” He then announced some new rules and said whoever broke the new rules would be fined 1,000 yuan and given a 15-day detention. During the defense portion of the trial, the attorney stated that, according to article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed in the UN in 1948, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Xu stopped the attorney before he could finish and told him sarcastically, “We do not follow international law here. You need to go elsewhere to discuss this.” Xu repeatedly said similar things. Whenever Mr. Li’s attorney mentioned that there were no laws that officially banned Falun Gong, Xu would stop him. He said, “This is not the place to discuss this. Go to the National People's Congress and speak there.”
-Fengrun District Court officials secretly tried Zhang Guizhi and Zhang Mingfeng on August 20, 2012, without notifying their families. When their families heard about this and learned that these practitioners had been sentenced, they went to court to ask about it. The court officials said, “We only need to notify Zhang Guizhi and Zhang Mingfeng, not their families.” The practitioners' family members got angry and hired attorneys to sue head judge Xu Tianpeng.
Similarly, Fengrun District Court officials secretly tried Mr. Xu Jie twice without notifying his family. When Mr. Xu defended himself during the trial, Xu Tianpeng kept interrupting him and abruptly adjourned the trial. Xu Jie was later sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment.
5) Not announcing the verdict to detained practitioners and their families
Judge Xu Tianpeng did not respond to the attorneys’ defense. Even though he could not find the practitioners guilty of any wrongdoing, he would not release them. Xu then sentenced them without any evidence. He sentenced Li Yushu to 10 years, Gu Youwen to 7 years, Yang Guoguang to 4 and a half years, He Suying to 4 years, Wang Xiwen to 4 years, Jia Yuanfeng to 3 years, Zhang Weizhong to 2 years, and Ling Yun to 3 years. He also sentenced the following practitioners without notifying their families: Xu Jie to 7 years, Zhang Guizhi to 4 years, Deng Xiuyan to 4 and a half years, and Zhang Mingfeng to 3 years. When these practitioners’ families asked him for the verdict, he recklessly said verdicts were never released to family members.
Original trial results upheld despite miscarriage of justice
After Bian Lichao was sentenced to 12 years, his attorney submitted an appeal to the Tangshan City Intermediate Court. Judge Du Juan did not correct the mistakes made in the original trial and tried to keep the original sentence without a public trial.
When Yang Guoguang, Li Yushu, Gu Youwen, and He Suying appealed, the Tangshan Intermediate Court judge maintained the original sentence.
Torture in prison
1) Mr. Bian Lichao’s family learned on January 2, 2013, that he was in Baoding Prison. But prison officials told them a visit would not be permitted for three months. Through legal consultation, Mr. Bian’s family learned that they had the right to visit. Mr. Bian’s wife submitted a visit request to Baoding Prison and the Hebei Province Prison Administration Bureau. Prison officials ignored the request and transferred Mr. Bian to Shijiazhuang Prison on January 6.
Over the past year of detention, including torture in Baoding Prison, Mr. Bian's health has deteriorated, and he suffers high blood pressure, angina, and a sharp decline in vision. He weighs less than 60 Kg. His chest and back hurt every night, and he cannot sleep due to the pain. Still, Baoding Prison won't provide medical treatment. Instead, they instructed four guards and three prisoners to monitor Mr. Bian constantly. He is not allowed to leave the room and the three prisoners accompany him even to the toilet.
In Shijiazhuang Prison, Mr. Bian has begun to have symptoms of severe heart disease and his condition is critical. On the afternoon of February 19, 2013, Mr. Bian's wife and daughter went to Baoding Prison to request his medical report, in order to apply for medical parole for Mr. Bian.
Hou Yongjun, head of the Baoding Prison Hospital, and Shi Zhiyong, head of the Prison Education Office, refused to give them the medical report. Hou Yongjun also shoved Mr. Bian's daughter down. Her mother tried to help her up, but Shi Zhiyong stopped her. They struggled while seven or eight officers held the door shut so that mother and daughter could not get out. They threatened to have them arrested.
When Mr. Bian's wife called the 110 hotline (similar to 911 in the United States) to report the incident, officers from the Wuqilu Police Station in Baoding City took her away. The officers at the Wuqilu Police Station didn't even take notes or get the women's side of the story and they accused them of harassing the prison officers. Around 5:00 p.m., the mother and daughter left the police station.
When Mr. Bian’s attorney asked to see him at the prison on March 6, 2013, Shijiazhuang Prison officials refused the request and tore up the attorney's request letter. Mr. Bian’s family and the attorney then appealed to the Hebei Province Prison Administration Bureau and submitted the materials to Hebei Supreme Procuratorate.
2) The Tanghai Court sentenced Mr. Zheng Xiangxing to 10 years and sent him to Baoding Prison on August 8, 2012. On September 9, his family went to see him, but the prison authorities turned them away. On October 26, Mr. Zheng was severely tortured, resulting in a cerebral hemorrhage. The following morning, he was sent to the First Central Hospital of Baoding City. His pupils were enlarged, and he was incontinent. He was essentially dying.
Without telling his family, the hospital performed two craniotomies on Mr. Zheng. The doctors said that when they opened his skull, they found severe injury. They believed that the hemorrhage and brain injury were caused by heavy blows to the head. As a result, two pieces of his skull of about 7cm from the left and right had to be removed. Part of the left side of his brain, which is responsible for language, vision, and memory, was affected. Two pieces of the skull were not fixed properly, and only a thin layer of the scalp on both sides protected the brain.
After Mr. Zheng’s family requested it, the Baoding Prison authorities provided them with a video that showed Mr. Zheng shortly before and then just after he collapsed. On October 26, 2012, as shown in the video, Mr. Zheng began vomiting blood. He vomited six times. While this was happening, no one in the prison came to his assistance. One inmate came by and mopped up the blood with a rag. By 5 p.m. he had a great deal of difficulty getting up. He stumbled into the restroom, vomited some more, and collapsed. He fell down and passed out. He lay there a long time, but no one came to help him. Around 8 p.m., two inmates came in and carried him out of the cell. The prison authorities told Mr. Zheng's wife that he was taken to the prison hospital.
This only raised more questions about how Mr. Zheng had been mistreated. Why did he collapse? Why was he vomiting blood? If he fell on the back of his head, why was the left side of his skull fractured? And why didn't the prison authorities provide the family with a video of Mr. Zheng's surveillance 24 hours a day in the prison, instead of a brief video of when he collapsed. How did the prison authorities abuse him to try to "transform" him?
Doctors at the Baoding First Central Hospital did several CT scans of Mr. Zheng's brain. They believed that he was brain-dead and that his chances for survival were slim to none. However, he did survive, and his brain was not severely affected. His memory was returning and he was able to open one of his eyes.
The prison authorities now knew that Mr. Zheng would recover. They had not expected this. From their perspective it would be better if he died. This was why he was sent back to the prison hospital on February 21, 2013.
Mr. Zheng’s health deteriorated after being sent to the prison hospital. His wife and son went to Baoding Prison again on February 25, 2013, to visit him. Once in Mr. Zheng's room, they found him very pale and unresponsive, and his condition seemed very poor. The family asked Hou Yongjun, the director of the prison hospital, “Why does he seem worse every day?” Hou responded, “We can't transfer him to another hospital because his life is not in danger. This is a hospital rule. It's not up to me.” When the family said that they wanted to have Mr. Zheng's condition evaluated by a third party, Hou told them that they could only hire doctors locally and not from Beijing. He also warned the family, “You are only allowed to know about his condition and to make suggestions. You cannot ask for anything.” Hou also said, “You only have seven days to be here, as visiting is not allowed after seven days.”
At 4 p.m., Jia Tongle of the Baoding Central Hospital Neurosurgery Department; Zhang Yueling, the director of Ophthalmology at Baoding Central Hospital; and a doctor from the Rehabilitation Hospital went to the prison hospital. After examining Mr. Zheng for an hour, Jia said, “He doesn't need to be transferred--he's all right.”
The family felt that the three doctors were not being responsible to the patient and said to them, “If all three of you agree that his condition is not life-threatening, you will be held responsible if anything happens to him!”
After repeated requests from Mr. Zheng’s family and public pressure, Baoding Prison officials notified his family on March 8 that they could visit him on March 11. When his wife and son came on March 11, prison officials refused to let them visit, making his wife and son very worried about Mr. Zheng's situation.
When persecuting Falun Gong practitioners who believe in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, the regime has turned the justice system into a tool to torture and kill innocent people. The communist regime is undermining social stability and, by its own hand, destroying itself.