Heilongjiang Man in Critical Condition After 1.5 Years of Hunger Strike to Protest Wrongful Detention and Prison Sentence
(Minghui.org) A 37-year-old man from Heilongjiang Province is in critical condition after being on a hunger strike for nearly 1.5 years since his arrest in June 2017 for distributing information about Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that is being persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Tong Mingyu is now serving a 3.5-year term at Fengtun Prison in Qiqihar. His parents have been visiting him almost every month since his imprisonment in April 2018. His condition has deteriorated each time they saw him. Despite repeated requests, the authorities have denied him medical parole because he refuses to write statements to renounce his faith.
Once Healthy and Strong Man Now Emaciated and Unresponsive
Mr. Tong's parents, in their 60s, received a call from a prison guard surnamed Hou at around 6 p.m. on November 29, 2018. Hou said that Mr. Tong was suffering some physical problems and the prison was planning to take him to seek medical attention. He asked his parents to pay for the examination fee, while the prison would cover his hospital stay.
Mr. Tong's parents traveled nearly 200 miles from Harbin to Qiqihar on December 11 and met with their son at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Qiqihar Medical College.
They were saddened to see their son reduced to skins and bones, weighing about 65 lbs. He was wearing a prison suit, handcuffed and shackled. Both his face and hands were cold.
When his parents talked to him, he was unresponsive.
The prison guards took the medical fees from the parents and then asked them to go home and wait for more updated information.
Mr. Tong's parents called officer Hou to ask about his situation four days later. Hou said that he wasn't aware of their son's latest condition. He again refused to grant him medical parole.
Mr. Tong's parents are now very worried about his health.
Persecuted for Speaking Up for His Faith
Mr. Tong learned Falun Gong when he was in middle school. His chronic stomach problems soon disappeared.
With busy school work at college, he stopped the practice for a few years but picked it up again in 2008, after he graduated.
He moved from Harbin to Beijing in 2010 after finding a job to edit school textbooks.
To let more people know about Falun Gong and the persecution, he began to distribute informational materials about his faith in his spare time. While distributing the materials on June 25, 2017, he was reported to the police and then arrested.
Mr. Tong appeared at Changping District Court on February 2, 2018 and was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. He was held at Tianhe Prison in Beijing for several weeks before being transferred to Tailai Prison in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province on April 25, 2018.
On Hunger Strike Since Arrest
Mr. Tong has been on a hunger strike since the day of his arrest to protest the illegal detention, and he has not stopped even when he was moved from place to place.
He began to have medical problems and could no longer drink water in May 2018. When his parents visited him at the prison that month, he was very weak and had injection tape on his arm. They returned in June and noted that their son had trouble speaking after his throat was severely damaged due to force feedings.
His condition continued to deteriorate after he was transferred to Fengtun Prison in Qiqihar in August 2018.
His parents received a call from the Third Affiliated Hospital of Qiqihar Medical College on August 23, and were asked to bring nutritional supplements such as milk powder and protein powder for Mr. Tong.
After a long trip to the hospital on August 27, they were told that he wasn't there anymore. After asking around, they finally saw him at Fengtun Prison.
This time, he was suffering from serious anemia. His face and hands were very pale, and there was a tube inserted into his nose for force feeding.
The prison authorities terminated the meeting after a few minutes and rejected the parents' request to release him for medical treatment.
Mr. Tong remained very weak when his parents visited him on September 17.
His October visitation was denied after his parents had waited in a long line for the meeting. The reason given was that he refused to renounce Falun Gong. His parents didn't see him again until December, when they were asked to bring money to pay his examination fee.