(Minghui.org) Mr. Cheng Huaigen's family received an unexpected phone call from Jiazhou Prison on the evening of May 29, 2017, that Mr. Cheng was in a coma and on the verge of death.

Prison authorities said anyone in the family except his wife could see Mr. Cheng for the last time. They threatened to arrest Mr. Cheng's wife if she came.

Mr. Cheng Huaigen and his wife were both practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999.

When Mr. Cheng's son, brother, and five other family members hurried to the prison the next day, he had already passed away.

Mr. Cheng Huaigen

The unexpected death of 54-year-old Mr. Cheng came only eight months after he was sent to Jiazhou Prison in Leshan City. He was serving a four-year term for hanging up a banner that said, “The World Needs Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.”

The prison did not explain to Mr. Cheng's family how he died. A quick glance at his body did not show any visible wounds or bruises. After his family agreed to cremate his body, the prison let his family take his body back to his home in Chengdu City. The prison would pay for the funeral expenses and compensate his family with 10,000 yuan.

Mr. Cheng's family said that they had no idea of his living conditions and physical condition in the prison, and they couldn't rule out the possibility of whether Mr. Cheng was tortured in the prison.

Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Hanging Up a Banner to Publicize Falun Gong

Mr. Cheng worked for a food factory in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. He began to suffer from asthma since 1992, which became progressively worse and even life-threatening over the years. He had to be taken to the emergency room every time he had an acute asthma attack.

Mr. Cheng began to practice Falun Gong since 2006 and his asthma soon went away. Deeply grateful for Falun Gong's health benefits, he told people around him about the practice. To celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Falun Gong's introduction to the public, he hung up a banner in his neighborhood that said, “The World Needs Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance” on May 13, 2015.

His brave act, however, led police to harass local Falun Gong practitioners. Several practitioners were taken to the police station, where the police collected their biometrics, blood and DNA samples.

Mr. Cheng was arrested on June 3, 2015. His arrest was approved on July 3. He was detained at Shuangliu County Detention Center. His asthma recurred during that period and he was taken to the hospital several times for emergency care.

When he was tried by Shuangliu District Court on June 10, 2016, after a year of detention, he was emaciated. Fearing that he may have an asthma attack during the trial, the police arranged for an ambulance to stand by outside the courtroom.

Despite his lawyer's not guilty defense that there was no legal basis for the persecution of Falun Gong and the fact that Mr. Cheng didn't cause any harm to anyone for hanging up the banner, the presiding judge sentenced him to four years in prison.

Mr. Cheng's family appealed the sentence. However, without informing his family, the detention center sent Mr. Cheng to Jiazhou Prison in Leshan City. His wife wasn't allowed to visit him because she also practices Falun Gong.

The Jiazhou Prison

The Jiazhou Prison is managed by the Sichuan Prison Administration. Beginning in 2010, all male Falun Gong practitioners in Sichuan who are given sentences for their belief are sent here.

The prison guards use coercive means to force the practitioners to give up their practice. For those who refused to write a renouncing statement, they were sent to a special ward for intensified torture, including starvation and sitting with one's legs crossed for a long period of time.

When Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Huang Dingcheng was released from that ward, his legs were severely deformed and he couldn't walk normally for two months.

Another practitioner, Mr. Ming Shaolin, was shocked with an electric baton on his head by the guards.

Previous report:Sichuan Man Sentenced to 4 Years for Publicizing Falun Gong