(Minghui.org) Editor's note: To protest his illegal detention, Mr. Zhou Xiangyang has been on a hunger strike and been force-fed for six years while serving time for his faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline also known as Falun Dafa that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. It is reported that Mr. Zhou is experiencing multiple organ failure and has been taken to the prison hospital. Below is a letter submitted by a reader, also a Falun Gong practitioner, who was incarcerated with Mr. Zhou in Binghai Prison in Tianjin.
When I was taken to Binghai Prison in May 2019, I was scared and bewildered. A few days later, the guards called all the inmates for a meeting to “establish their authority.” I was not allowed to raise my head because I was “new.” A man was screaming on the stage, “You Falun Gong practitioners are against the Chinese Communist Party, which means you are against me! Spray him!” From the corner of my eyes, I saw a guard approach a man in a wheelchair and spray pepper water in his face. The man spoke out loudly, “Falun Dafa is good!”
I recognized the voice of the guard. It was Wang Gang, the new team leader of my division. While he shocked me with electric batons, he screamed the same way, “My name is Wang Gang! You'd better remember me!”
After the meeting, my “helper” [a prisoner assigned by the guards to monitor practitioners 24 hours a day and record the practitioners' every movement and activities] told me that the man in the wheelchair was Zhou Xiangyang. And Mr. Zhou told the helper, “The pepper water is getting less and less spicy.”
In order to “transform” me, Wang Gang instructed the “helper” to make me work overtime and to deprive me of sleep. While I was doing the labor with no pay, I took the chance to observe my surroundings and gained the opportunity to see Mr. Zhou.
Actually, I was forced to keep my head down all the time. If I didn’t, the helper would beat me. Despite that, I still couldn't help but take a closer look at Mr. Zhou. His face was square. He was wearing square glasses, through which I could see an extremely powerful gaze.
Every morning, Mr. Zhou was assisted by his helper to his wheelchair and then was pushed to the corner of the observation room in the prisoners' work area. He had been on a hunger strike and thus he didn't go into the canteen with us.
After breakfast, I was taken to the work area and started cleaning up. I took this opportunity to approach him. We were able to have a quick and simple whispered conversation. He told me, “Don't compromise.” I replied, “Don't worry, I won't.”
Sometimes he told me, “Try to remember and repeat the Fa (Falun Gong’s teachings) often.” I replied, “Sorry, I can't. I haven't memorized any of it yet.”
If I ran into him while I was cleaning the bathroom, I would whistle the Falun Dafa music “Pudu” or “Falun Dafa Is Good” to express my appreciation.
Three days later, my labor assignment was increased, until I had to work 20 hours a day to keep up. My mind started to wander. I would fall asleep when I went to the restroom and the helper had to kick me awake. Mr. Zhou saw me. He said to me as he passed by, “Don't cooperate with them.” I replied, “It's ok. I won't.”
After a few more days, they started to beat me. I was pushed to the limit. Mr. Zhou quickly gave me the words when passing by, “Lay down your human, mundane mind, The Fa gained, you now stand divine...” (“Salvation Far and Wide,” Hong Yin)
Later, the evening brainwashing session began. Mr. Zhou's “helper” played the propaganda video. He told me, “Hang in there. It will be over soon.” I nodded vigorously to him to express my gratitude.
But by the 20th day, I couldn't stand the physical and mental torture anymore and agreed to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong. My “helper” and the guards were so excited that they broadcast the news to all the other practitioners—as if they’d won a battle. That’s how Mr. Zhou learned about my situation.
One day when I was on night duty, I saw Mr. Zhou sitting on his bed as I passed his room. I went to the door to see him. He saw me and pointed to his heart with his right index finger, before changing to the gesture of making a vow, staring at me. Tears immediately ran down my face. I pointed to my heart and shook my head. When he saw that, he lowered his head and stopped looking at me.
After I was “transformed,” I was given a little bit more freedom and I could talk to him more often. Somehow I took him as a family member.
The first time I saw him getting out of bed and washing up in his underwear, I was scared by how skinny his legs were. I realized that he was probably severely malnourished and did not even have the strength to stand for long. It was at the beginning of June, when others were wearing only a single layer and he was still in a winter jacket, winter pants, and winter shoes, as if his body could not generate any heat. Without help, he could only move forward one small step at a time.
He didn't speak to me again. He just stared at me sometimes. I felt his eyes were particularly powerful. When he was staring at me, I felt I was pushed by someone very hard. Even when my back was turned to him, I could feel him looking at me.
It didn't take long for my “helper” to tell me that Mr. Zhou’s “helper” was replaced because he’d failed to “transform” him. This time, the prison assigned him four “helpers.”
After June 7, 2019, the Dragon Boat Festival, I was transferred from Division Six to Division One. One day when a guard from Division Six was talking to one from Division One, I overheard their conversation.
The Division One guard asked, “When will you transfer Zhou Xiangyang to us?” The other one replied, “He’s staying there. No one can ‘transform’ him. If he goes over to you, we are afraid he will sway the practitioners who have already been ‘transformed.’”