(Minghui.org) A 71-year-old man was beaten and verbally abused every day while serving a four-year term for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Ma He of Baiyin City, Gansu Province, was arrested on July 22, 2017, after his landlord reported him for talking to him about Falun Gong. The police handcuffed him to a tiger bench for 30 hours and forced the Jingtai County Detention Center to accept him, even though his blood pressure was dangerously high.
Two months later, the Jingtai County Court put Mr. Ma on trial without notifying his family. When Mr. Ma asked judge Zhu Shengkai why they didn’t inform his family, the judge claimed they had informed his daughter two days before.
The lawyer who’d been appointed by the court to represent Mr. Ma entered a guilty plea on his behalf. Mr. Ma refused to accept the lawyer and insisted on defending himself. He argued that there is no law in China that says practicing Falun Gong is a crime so there is no legal basis for the persecution. He also pointed out that the prosecutor confused his personal information with another Falun Gong practitioner.
In the middle of the hearing, Mr. Ma’s blood pressure got so elevated that he passed out. When the bailiffs took him to a hospital, Mr. Ma kept asking to see his daughter. To stabilize him, the authorities did inform her.
After Mr. Ma’s daughter arrived, she confirmed that nobody had ever notified her of the hearing. Judge Zhu was still in the hospital when Mr. Ma’s daughter arrived, so Mr. Ma asked him, “Is this what you (Communist Party members) mean by ‘working for the people?’” Zhu’s face was flushed. He lowered his head and did not reply.
More than half a month later, the court held another brief hearing in the detention center and sentenced Mr. Ma to four years a week later.
Mr. Ma appealed with the Intermediate People’s Court, which ruled to uphold the original verdict three months later. Three days later on November 10, 2017, Mr. Ma was taken to the 11th ward of Lanzhou Prison. His family again was not notified.
Despite Mr. Ma’s high blood pressure and the fact that he was 67, he was still forced to shear sheep for their wool for 14 or 15 hours a day without pay and only short breaks after lunch.
After returning to the cell for dinner, he was forced to sit on a small stool. When the other inmates went to bed at 9:30 p.m., Mr. Ma had to sit until 10:30 p.m. before he was allowed to sleep. Inmate Zhao Ming beat or verbally abused Mr. Ma every day for more than five months to try to force him to renounce Falun Gong.
On April 10, 2018, five inmates were assigned to monitor him and try to “transform” him. They kept him handcuffed 24 hours a day. During the day, they hung Mr. Ma from a water pipe in a warehouse and took turns beating him. Mr. Ma’s legs were so swollen that he could not fit into his pants.
He had to hold onto the handrails to get down the stairs and wasn’t able to squat down. His thighs were covered with bruises for over a month. He had only one tooth left in his mouth.
He was also deprived of sleep. His blood pressure stayed at a dangerously high level. After depriving him of sleep for seven days, the inmates finally allowed him to sleep for three hours at night.
The guards in charge of torturing Mr. Ma were instructor Guo Bingqi, deputy instructor Ma Zhili, squadron leader Zhang Yuquan, and team leader Yang Bin.
After two weeks of this torture, Ma Zhili instructed the inmates to intensify the abuse and keep the handcuffs on Mr. Ma for another month.
Every day in the warehouse, he also forced Mr. Ma to watch and listen to information that slandered Falun Gong. He lost most of his eyesight and hearing. This continued until July 26, 2018, when the guards switched their attention to torturing another practitioner.
In the first half of 2019, Ma Zhili beat and kicked Mr. Ma so hard that he could not get up on his own. It took two team leaders to get Mr. Ma up.
Once, Mr. Ma failed to complete the production task in time. Zhang Yuquan and Yang Bin hung him up for an entire day.
Mr. Ma developed a hernia in October 2019 and worsened by April 2020, yet the guards still forced him to work every day. He was not able to walk by June 20, 2020. The prison doctor didn’t send him to the hospital, citing a pandemic-related policy.
Before an inspection by the Ministry of Justice in November, the guards forced Mr. Ma to work again. Because his intestines forced their way through his herniated abdominal muscles as he walked, he had to lie down on the cold concrete floor for over 30 minutes, until they receded, before he could get up again.
Zhang Xiaofeng told Mr. Ma in December to write a thought report for every quarter from 2018 to 2020. Mr. Ma refused. Zhang then knocked Mr. Ma down, called a few inmates over, dragged Mr. Ma by his feet to the restroom, and hung him up on the door frame for an entire day.
Mr. Ma visited the prison clinic five times as his health continued to deteriorate, but the doctor kept refusing to allow him to go to the hospital. The last time, when the doctor was finally ready to send him to the hospital, inmate Liu Xiaohu said Mr. Ma only had four months left to complete his term, so the doctor didn’t follow through.
Inmate Liu Xiaohu was a bully. Most team leaders and instructors listened to him. During the four years Mr. Ma was in the prison, Liu was partially responsible for at least two deaths. One of them was a foreigner who got sick, but Liu said that he was pretending. Two months later, the foreigner’s condition deteriorated and he died from liver cancer after being in the hospital for a month. The other person was in Mr. Ma’s cell. His name was Zhang Jifeng, a native of Jiuquan City. Zhang had a fever for over six weeks. He was hospitalized in September 2020. The prison never sent his winter clothes to the hospital. He passed away in January 2021.
When Mr. Ma was released on March 30, 2021, he discovered that his pension had been suspended since November 2019. The authorities are now ordering him to pay back the funds he had received between his arrest in July 2017 and November 2019, before they will reinstate his pension. They cited a new “policy,” which says that Falun Gong practitioners serving time for their faith are not entitled to any retirement benefits, even though there is no such stipulation in any Chinese labor law.