(Minghui.org) The police in Zunyi County arrested a local man in March 2016, for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted in China since 1999.

The authorities did not notify Mr. Zhang Shougang's family of his arrest. The family learned of his whereabouts when a detention center employee called them in May, asking them to bring him clothes. His family hired a lawyer, who visited him in June, in the Bozhou District Detention Center. Mr. Zhang explained his situation and asked to plead not guilty.

Prior to this arrest, Mr. Zhang had been incarcerated and tortured twice for a total of six years. His son was not yet ten years old when he was first arrested. The boy was forced to drop out of school because of his father’s incarceration, and for six years he had to borrow from relatives to survive.

When his father was released the second time, the boy was in his teens, and they had to sell the house to pay off his debts. They lived without a steady source of income, because Mr. Zhang's former employer unlawfully suspended his pension beginning with his first arrest in 2001. Mr. Zhang's latest arrest has left his son in a dire situation.

The following is Mr. Zhang’s personal account.

A month after I became a Falun Gong practitioner, the ailments which had tormented me for years disappeared. I retired in 2000 from the Zunyi City Bureau of Athletics, and my son and I just barely managed to live on my pension.

The police arrested me when I went to Beijing to protest the persecution of Falun Gong in November 2001. After being interrogated for seven months, I was put in Duyun Prison and tortured for five years. I had to work more than ten hours per day in prison.

On one occasion, I was once put in solitary confinement and tied down to a bed for eight days, for refusing to give up my faith. When I protested by going on a hunger strike, the prison doctor force-fed me with heavily-salted corn porridge through a tube inserted through my nose, down to my stomach. The guards beat me regularly, and had other inmates watch me around the clock.

Once, after being held in solitary and tortured for ten days, my teeth became loose. I had to pull some of them out because of the unbearable pain. I was forced to sit still on a six-inch-tall stool for days. As a result I developed edema and had hypertension.

A few years after my release, the authorities came after me again. I was arrested and put in a forced labor camp in 2010, for talking to people about why the persecution was illegal.

Due to the torture, my blood pressure became dangerously high within a year. Not wanting to shoulder the consequences of my deteriorating health, the authorities released me in March 2011.