Shi Qiang - 石强
(Minghui.org) Mr. Shi Qiang is known to his friends as a kind, gentle, and modest person. The Dongying City, Shandong Province resident was a good listener and cared deeply about them. Very few would link such a person to house arrest, jail, or torture. But Mr. Shi had been repeatedly arrested and tortured for his faith, causing irreparable harm. He died on May 17, 2019, at the age of 46.
Mr. Shi is a practitioner of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a meditation practice composed of gentle movements and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The Chinese Communist Party began to persecute Falun Gong in July 1999, and a large number of practitioners have since been detained, imprisoned, and tortured.
Persecution at the Workplace
Mr. Shi began practicing Falun Gong in 2000, a few months after the persecution began. He identified with the principles of Falun Gong and decided to improve himself and become a better person. His parents and coworkers witnessed the positive changes in him and said he became more agreeable and willing to help others.
He worked for the Gathering and Transportation General Factory, a subsidiary of Shengli Oil Field, the second-largest oil field and a state-owned enterprise in China. This factory had been mistreating its practitioner-employees since the persecution started in 1999. Anyone who refused to renounce their belief in Falun Gong was detained, fined, or fired. Officials often tapped practitioners' phones and harassed them, which put great pressure on the practitioners and their families.
Officials talked with Mr. Shi on July 24, 2012, demanding that he write a statement promising to give up his belief. Exercising his right to freedom of belief, Mr. Shi said no, and officials took him to the factory brainwashing center at 10:00 p.m. that evening.
When his family went to the center to request Mr. Shi's release, officials ignored them. Seeing his poor condition, his family called 911 and had him taken to a hospital in Shengli Oil Field. Although doctors said that Mr. Shi was in life-threatening condition, officials still had four people watch him. His family protested the surveillance, and one officer named Cheng Zhendong said, “No need to worry about it. If he dies, I will take care of it.”
Slave Labor and Imprisonment
Mr. Shi was visiting his parents on July 21, 2015 when the residence suddenly lost power. When his father stepped out to check what happened, more than 20 officers rushed in to search the house. The police had cut off the electricity. The raid lasted from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The police confiscated cell phones, a computer, and a printer.
Mr. Shi’s arrest was ordered by the Shengli Oil Field 610 Office. He was held at the Binhai Detention Center afterwards. Guards forced him to work without pay from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day. The labor was intensive and the food was poor. As a result, Mr. Shi suffered from constipation. Because the cell was severely overcrowded, detainees had to sleep on their sides.
Mr. Shi later refused to do slave labor. The guards handcuffed him and connected the handcuffs to his foot chains. This restraint lasted for over 20 days, including when he used the bathroom. During this period of time, he was also forced to be on duty (keeping watch while other inmates slept) two hours every night. Most of the money his father deposited into his commissary account was taken by detention center officials.
After being detained for 19 months, Mr. Shi was sentenced to a two-year term in Shandong Province Prison on February 16, 2017. His family was not notified of the sentence until March 12, 2017. They had not seen him for 20 months by this time.
Mr. Shi was placed in solitary confinement from 5:00 a.m. until midnight. Guards and inmates pushed him around and threatened him, trying to coerce him into renouncing his belief in Falun Gong. This lasted over one month, but Mr. Shi refused to yield.
Mr. Shi was released from prison in July 2017, after two years of physical and mental abuse. What awaited him was further mistreatment by his employer.
Shortly after returning home, Mr. Shi was fired from his job and lost his income. Prior to the annual meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March 2018, officials from his former employer went to his rental place, where seven people forcibly took him to a brainwashing center in the factory.
This brainwashing center, established in early 2000, has since detained hundreds of practitioners. Practitioners are not released unless they agree to write statements promising to renounce their belief. During the detention, practitioners' salaries are stopped and their families need to provide meals every day.
Brainwashing strategies include torturing detainees and forcing them to watch propaganda videos slandering Falun Gong and its founder. Guards also threaten practitioners, saying that if they do not give up their belief, they will be sent to labor camp centers or prisons and fined huge sums of money.
When Mr. Shen was detained there, two people were assigned to watch him, while two others tried to force him to renounce his belief. Even though he was no longer an employee, he was held there for 31 days.
Continued Harassment and Death
Years of physical detention, torture, and mental stress severely harmed Mr. Shi's health. Starting in late 2018, he quickly became emaciated, followed by swelling of his stomach.
His former employer did not stop harassing him, however. Before the NPC and CPPCC conferences in March 2019, officials sent personnel to stake out at his residence to monitor and follow him. By doing so, these officials were committing the crimes of illegal detention, illegal invasion of citizen residence, robbery, kidnapping, defamation, and violation of freedom of belief.