(Minghui.org) About 30 people from various agencies in Fumeng County, Fuxin City, Liaoning Province descended Ms. Zhang Guozhen’s home at 10 a.m. on July 31, 2023. They tried Ms. Zhang Guozhen, 65, for her faith, Falun Gong, and sentenced her to three years and two months and fined her 6,000 yuan.

Only the presiding judge from the Fumeng County Court and prosecutor Qiu Shuang from the Fumeng County Procuratorate were in uniforms. The other people, including court bailiffs and police officers, wore civilian clothes. Wu Gang, deputy chief of the Chengxi Police Station, who arrested Ms. Zhang and later submitted her case to the procuratorate, was also present. No one showed their IDs or revealed their names (except prosecutor Qiu).

Qiu charged Ms. Zhang with using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement, a standard pretext used to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners. The judge convicted Ms. Zhang at the end of the hearing and ordered that she be taken into custody immediately (she was on bail following her arrest last year).

Ms. Zhang refused to go with them and was carried out of her home by the court bailiff and police officers. They then took her for a physical examination which was required for admission to the Fuxin City Detention Center, where she was ordered to serve time.

The police took her to four different hospitals, including Fumeng County Hospital, Fuxin City Police Hospital, Fuxin City Coalmine Group Affiliated Hospital, and Fuxin City Second Hospital, in an attempt to get her admitted to the detention center.

All four hospitals independently concluded that Ms. Zhang was in poor health and unfit for detention. More specifically, her systolic blood pressure measured 175-185 mmHg (when a normal range is no more than 120 mmHg) and there was shadows on her lungs. The hospital doctors warned that her life could be in danger at any time.

The detention center refused to admit Ms. Zhang after reading the hospital reports. She was eventually taken home.

Latest Arrest

Ms. Zhang’s prison sentence stemmed from her arrest on May 27, 2022 after she was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. The Chengxi Police Station in Fumeng County arrested her but soon released her on one-year bail.

Deputy chief Wu of the police station submitted her case to the Fumeng County Procuratorate in early April 2023. The procuratorate then forwarded the case to the Fumeng County Court.

While Ms. Zhang was awaiting trial, the judge assigned to her case and the court-appointed lawyer called her several times, trying to pressure her to admit her “guilt.” She told them she broke no laws by practicing Falun Gong.

The police came to harass her at home several times. Wu and his officers twice carried her out of her home and drove her to the Fuxin City Detention Center. Both times her blood pressure was high (with readings of 220 and 210 mmHg, respectively). She was denied admission and Wu had to drive her back home.

Wu called Ms. Zhang in early July 2023 and ordered her to report to his police station to sign some paperwork since he couldn’t get her admitted to the detention center. She refused to go.

Wu then colluded with the procuratorate and the court to conduct the aforementioned hearing at Ms. Zhang’s home without notifying her in advance.

Overview of Past Persecution

This is not the first time that Ms. Zhang has been targeted for her faith. She previously served three years of forced labor between 2008 and 2011. After she was arrested again on August 11, 2014, she was sentenced to three years and two months in March 2015. She suffered brutal torture during her six plus years of incarceration at various detention facilities.

Her daughter filed a criminal complaint in 2015 (shortly after her first prison sentence) against former dictator Jiang Zemin for ordering the persecution of Falun Gong, which resulted in her suffering. The younger woman detailed how Falun Gong transformed Ms. Zhang’s life but the communist regime repeatedly targeted her for her faith.

Taking up Falun Gong

Ms. Zhang began practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and soon recovered from her slipped disc and became a better mother. Her daughter wrote,

“My mom used to suffer from a really bad slipped disc. She was in excruciating pain after walking just a few yards. I was never able to go shopping with her, let alone go on vacations that required much walking. She tried various treatments but nothing helped. She often contemplated suicide, but couldn’t bear to see me become a motherless child.

After she took up Falun Gong in 1996, my mom soon regained her health and became illness free. I got to go shopping and hiking with her. She never complained about feeling pain or fatigued again.

Moreover, Falun Gong turned my mother into a much gentler and better person. She used to have a really bad temper and would scold or even spank me whenever I made mistakes. But she learned to work on her character by following Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Whenever I did something wrong, instead of reprimanding me, she explained how to be a good person. She also took fame and personal interests lightly and became a more considerate and calmer person. Our family life thus became much more peaceful and harmonious.”

Daughter Traumatized

Ms. Zhang’s forced labor and prison terms deeply scarred her daughter. She wrote,

“My mom was the rock in my life. My world collapsed after her arrest. I felt a huge void in my heart. I cried every time I heard others calling their mothers. I had no one to turn to when I was bullied.

I returned home every day to see my dad drinking, smoking and sighing non-stop. I knew he missed my mom too and just felt helpless and hopeless.”

Ms. Zhang’s daughter also appealed to various agencies and sought her release every time she was arrested, but to no avail.

Each time she was released, Ms. Zhang told her daughter what happened to her during her detention.

Torture at Fuxin City Labor Camp

Ms. Zhang was arrested in 2008 and given three years of forced labor.

While she was held at the Fuxin City Labor Camp, the guards there subjected her to various forms of torture. They forced her to run laps from 1 to 4 p.m. (sometimes until 5) some days. She ran for so many hours that she sometimes forgot how to walk. At night from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., she was then forced to bend her body at 90 degrees with her hands raised high behind her back. If she lowered her arms a bit, she was whipped with twisted wires and kicked.

Once the guards asked if she still wanted to practice Falun Gong and she said yes. They then handcuffed her to a chair and shocked her with electric batons. They next tied her hands behind her back with a rope soaked in hot water. They pulled her hands up. She screamed in pain and they paused for a bit, before resuming the torture. She again screamed in pain and they loosened the rope. If she had not made a sound, the guards probably would have kept pulling her arms up, possibly fracturing them.

After the rope torture, they tied her to a couch and shocked her on the neck with an electric baton. A guard surnamed Cheng kicked her chest. They didn’t stop the torture session until it was meal time.

Torture at Masanjia Labor Camp

Ms. Zhang was later transferred to Masanjia Labor Camp. The guards there forced her to do hard labor without pay for long hours each day.

They also subjected her to a torture dubbed “big hang-up.” Her arms were each cuffed to the top bunk of two bunk beds with her feet off the ground. The guards then kicked the two beds as far apart as possible. She felt like her body was going to be torn apart. This torture lasted several hours on end, sometimes for a few straight days. By the time she was let down, her hands and feet were badly bruised. She couldn’t walk and had to crawl.

Torture reenactment: big hang-up

Sentenced to Prison

Ms. Zhang was arrested on August 11, 2014 by the same Chengxi Police Station that arrested her in 2022. Then deputy chiefs Liu Dawei and Hou Xiwei led the arrest. Prosecutor Zhang Tiegang (no relation to Ms. Zhang) of the Fumeng County Procuratorate initially returned the case citing insufficient evidence, but Liu and Hou, along with their chief, Cao Xiaoguang, resubmitted the case without adding any new evidence.

Prosecutor Zhang indicted Ms. Zhang in late December 2014. She stood trial at the Fumeng County Court on January 29, 2015. Mr. Han Zhiguang, a lawyer from Beijing, defended her innocence.

Judge Zhang Yi sentenced Ms. Zhang to three years and two months in late March 2015. She appealed to the Fuxin City Intermediate Court, but judge Li Yuan ruled to uphold the verdict against her.

Ms. Zhang served time at Division Eight of the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison.

Abused in Prison

Ms. Zhang was forced to make knitwear from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, with lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. There were only three restroom breaks, at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. She and the prisoners were all given a daily work quota.

Those who failed to meet their quota would be summoned to guard Zuo Xiaoyan’s office to be tortured. Zuo would shock them with electric batons on the neck and chin. She also slapped their faces while cursing them. Those who dared to moan in pain would only invite more torture.

In addition to the corporal punishments, the inmates were also subjected to starvation, sleep deprivation, and revocation of restroom privilege.

As the work quota kept increasing, more people found it hard to complete their assigned tasks. The guards then thought about another way to profit off them, ordering those who couldn’t finish their work to pay a fine of up to 200 yuan (which was deducted from their commissary accounts).

Ms. Zhang was also ordered to renounce her faith. She refused to comply and was subjected to even more abuse, including sleep deprivation for several days, keeping her body bent at 90 degrees during labor work, and having two weights hung around her neck. When she returned to her cell at night, the guards covered the door and windows and ordered inmates to beat her.

In the cold winter, Ms. Zhang was stripped to her undergarments and ordered to stand outdoors barefooted. Her hands and feet became numb. Her mucus kept running down her nose. The guards sometimes cuffed her hands to a metal pipe in the hallway.

Another time the guards summoned her to a conference room and had her double cross her legs and sit on the cold floor for two straight days. She was shocked with electric batons whenever she tried to put her legs down or dozed off.

The food offered at the prison was very poor. Usually just stale steamed buns and napa cabbage soup. The soup had worms floating on it and one could see a layer of sand at the bottom of the bowel after they finished the soup. It seemed the prison did not wash the vegetables before cooking them.

Ms. Zhang’s daughter tried to send her better food and supplements, but was rejected. The prison required that inmates purchase everything from the prison shop, which charged much higher prices (5 or 6 times the market rate). Her daughter then saved every possible penny and deposited more money into her commissary account. It didn’t help much though, as everything was just too expensive.

Ms. Zhang lost a significant amount of weight as a result of abuse and malnutrition (going from 185 pounds to 120 pounds). She looked pale and also developed diabetes.

The prison boasted modern facilities with escalators, basketball court, and other amenities. A banner hung across the gate of Division Eight had the messge: “Build a Modern Civilized Prison” and a bulletin stating that prison guards are prohibited from using torture tools to abuse prisoners.

Ms. Zhang told her daughter how the prison pretended to be a civilized prison when it was anything but. She said whenever higher-ups came to inspect the prison, the inmates were given a few slices of meat. The guards also coached them on what to say to inspectors, “If the higher-ups ask if you have any breaks, you just say you have half an hour of nap time at noon.”

Ms. Zhang said she didn’t dare to tell the truth (no naps were allowed) to the inspectors for fear of being subjected to more cruel torture and revocation of visitation privilege.

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