(Minghui.org) The Chaoyang City, Liaoning Province branch of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), a national law-enforcement agency, announced on December 14, 2021, that Cong Zhihong, Deputy Party Secretary of the agency, fell to his death from a high-rise residential building in Shuangta District the day before. An investigation ruled out homicide. 

The news triggered hot debate in the public forum, with a great deal of speculation. Some said that after high-ranking officials such as Zhou Yongkang, Sun Lijun, and Fu Zhenghua were taken down, their cronies might fear also being pursued, causing Cong to take his life. Others suspected that higher officials forced him to do so to cover up key evidence of crimes. 

Regardless of the reason behind his suicide, however, 47-year-old Cong seems to have been a pawn of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) network of corruption, crime, and struggle. Because of his heavy involvement in the persecution of Falun Gong, many suspect his death was a consequence of his actions. 

Cong Zhihong (丛志鸿), born in 1974, began working in the Chaoyang police system in 1997. Between July 2004 and November 2005, he was political instructor for Unit 1 in the Case Division at the Guangming Police Sub-department. Unit 1 is dedicated to the suppression of Falun Gong and Cong played a key role in this agency. 

After that, Cong was appointed as political instructor of the Case Division and worked there until April 2011. During that time, he directed many acts of persecution in the region against Falun Gong practitioners. For example, former Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) issued an order in 2008 to arrest Falun Gong practitioners on a large scale nationwide in the name of “maintaining Olympics security.” Dozens of practitioners were arrested at home on February 25 that year. Most were sentenced to at least three years in prison. Because of the “success” of that operation, the Chaoyang Police Department received an award from the Public Security (Police) Ministry. 

In one arrest, Cong slapped a Falun Gong practitioner twice in the face for not opening the door quickly enough. Among the over 10 police officers at the scene, some had ranks higher than Cong and some had lower ranks. But Cong was the only one who struck a practitioner. Witnesses said that Cong showed his aggression towards Falun Gong to curry political favor. 

Between March 2016 and September 2019, Cong was the director of the Chaoyang Detention Center as well as the prison management officer in the Chaoyang Police Department. Months before that, in 2015, many practitioners in China filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin, former CCP head, for launching the persecution of Falun Gong. They did so after the Supreme Court announced that it would “achieve the docketing of all cases that should be accepted and the acceptance of all litigations that should be accepted.” To stop the practitioners from filing complaints, then Deputy Public Security Minister Fu Zhenghua ordered the arrest of all practitioners involved. Chaoyang Party Secretary Jian Biao and Police Department chief Li Chao drafted a plan to arrest 300 practitioners who participated in the lawsuit, and began to execute the plan on November 9, 2015. 

This was the largest arrest of Falun Gong practitioners since the suppression started in July 1999. Detention centers in Chaoyang were packed and some detained practitioners were sent to cities such as Panjin and Huludao. After Cong was in charge of the detention center and prison management officer in March 2016, he intensified the persecution of detained practitioners. For example, he forbade the practitioners’ families to send in clothes or medicine to their loved ones, denying a basic right of detainees in the facility. 

In addition, Cong repeatedly sent detained Falun Gong practitioners to prison. A female practitioner surnamed Wu was diagnosed with uterine cancer and suffered severe blood loss. Although the Chaoyang Detention Center tried twice sending her to the Chaoyang Women’s Prison, she was turned down both times due to her poor health. 

According to China’s justice law, people who are rejected by prisons twice may be evaluated for out-of-custody medical treatment. But without notifying the court or Ms. Wu’s family, Cong bribed the prison officials and sent Ms. Wu there for the third time, resulting in her being held in the prison for 7 years. Cong also did the same to another practitioner surnamed Yan, leaving him imprisoned for 11 years.

After becoming the Jianping County police chief in September 2019, Cong continued to follow the persecution policy, making Jianping County one of the worst regions where Falun Gong practitioners were abused. 

From May 2021 until his death in December 2021, Cong served as deputy Party secretary of the Chaoyang PLAC. He was responsible for the “zero-out” campaign in this area, during which officials and police harassed practitioners at home trying to force them to give up their belief in Falun Gong. 

There is a Chinese saying that “good is rewarded with good, and evil meets with evil.” Cong is not the first official in Chaoyang who has faced consequences for suppressing innocent Falun Gong practitioners. Pan Shi, the Liucheng Police Station director awarded for persecuting Falun Gong, died suddenly on his 41st birthday in October 2010. Li Zhong, a deputy Party Secretary of the Chaoyang PLAC, received a life sentence in 2011. Zhang Jie, Wanshou Police Station director, died of cancer in 2018 at 42. 

Falun Gong practitioners follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to be good citizens. By persecuting practitioners for their belief, these perpetrators have not only committed crimes against practitioners, but they have also undermined the moral values of society. We sincerely hope that more officials will stop following the CCP and instead act upon their conscience to ensure a better future.