(Minghui.org) A married couple in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, were both sentenced to prison following their latest arrests in 2023 for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.

Ms. Zhang Yaru, 58, was given 2.5 years and is now serving time at the Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison (located in Harbin). Her husband, Mr. Liu Hongyun, 61, was sentenced to five years and is still held at the Acheng District Detention Center. An insider said that he was denied prison admission due to poor health as a result of his hunger strike in protest of the illegal detention.

Both Ms. Zhang and Mr. Liu credit Falun Gong for restoring their health. Mr. Liu recovered from pleurisy, stomach disease, and arthritis. Ms. Zhang developed back pain after giving birth to her son and had to lie down for hours whenever she had an episode. She also suffered from migraine headaches and frostbite every winter. All her illnesses were gone after she took up Falun Gong.

Because of their positive experience with Falun Gong, the couple never wavered in their faith after the persecution began in 1999. They thus became a target and were both repeatedly arrested. Mr. Liu was given one year of forced labor in 2000 and was sentenced to four years in 2002. Ms. Zhang was given three years of forced labor in 2002. Their son was only 11 years old when his parents were both arrested in 2002. The boy had to drop out of school and endured bullying and humiliation. He lived alone before his mother was released in 2005. Ms. Zhang returned home to see her son, withdrawn and disheveled, and mice running around in their house.

Ms. Zhang and her husband’s latest sentencing stemmed from the arrest of their son on July 11, 2022, while he was working at a local steel market. The police raided the home he shared with his parents. Ms. Zhang and Mr. Liu were not there at the time, and the police confiscated their Falun Gong books, cell phones, music players, laptops, and a portrait of Falun Gong’s founder.

Their son was released that afternoon, but the couple was forced to live away from home to avoid being arrested. Officers from the Acheng District Domestic Security Division tracked them both down and arrested them on July 4, 2023. They took Ms. Zhang to the Harbin City Second Detention Center and Mr. Liu to the Acheng District Detention Center.

Mr. Liu was released on bail five days later, after he went on a hunger strike in protest. The police took him back into custody on August 22, 2023, and he went on a hunger strike again. He became critically ill on August 30 and was rushed to the Acheng District Hospital for resuscitation. The police submitted his case to the Acheng District Procuratorate on September 9, 2023 and also moved forward with the case against Ms. Zhang. It is unclear when the couple was tried or sentenced. Their latest wrongful convictions evoked their son’s memory of their past persecution.

Mr. Liu Given One Year of Forced Labor in 2000 and Sentenced to 4 Years in 2002

Ms. Zhang and Mr. Liu were arrested on February 2, 2000, three days before the Chinese New Year. They were both held at the Acheng District Second Detention Center for two months. The guards extorted 2,000 yuan from the couple’s family before releasing them.

Mr. Liu boarded a train to Beijing in November 2000 to appeal for Falun Gong. He was arrested on the train after a security officer found a Falun Gong banner on him. The train stopped in Changchun City, Jilin Province, and he was taken to a local police station. Officer Zhou Xiaozhang from the Shengli Police Station in Acheng District, Harbin City, picked him up two days later and beat him savagely. Zhou extorted 1,000 yuan and six packs of cigarette from his family before releasing him.

Mr. Liu was arrested around March 2001 and taken to a brainwashing center. Officer Ma Yunfeng from the Shengli Police Station whipped him with a billiard stick. He was later transferred to the Acheng District Second Detention Center, where he was repeatedly beaten. He was given one year of forced labor around September 2001 and transferred to the Changlinzi Labor Camp.

The labor camp guards and inmates used black rubber clubs to beat Mr. Liu on the head and shocked him with electric batons. He went on a hunger strike in protest and was force fed. He was released in March 2001.

Mr. Liu talked to a stranger about Falun Gong on May 20, 2002, and the stranger asked to learn Falun Gong from him. When he invited the man to his home, the man called the police. Mr. Liu learned later that the man was chief Zhao Hongguang of the Acheng District Police Department. More than ten officers soon arrived to arrest Mr. Liu and his wife.

The police knocked Mr. Liu down and stepped on his back. They grabbed his hand to press his fingerprints on some unidentified paperwork.

After the couple was taken to the Acheng District First Detention Center, their then 11-year-old son was left home alone to fend for himself.

A detention center doctor surnamed Zhang tied Mr. Liu to a bed in a spread-eagle position only wearing underwear on. Zhang and a few inmates then whipped him with metal chains. He was not allowed to get up to use the restroom. He soiled himself as a result. At night, Zhang removed him from the bed and cuffed his hands to the windows. Mr. Liu was tortured like this for seven straight days. After that, he was either hung up or chained to a floor ring. He was never able to have one good night’s sleep during his three plus months detention at the Acheng District First Detention Center. His body festered.

Torture reenactment: Tied on a bed in a spread-eagle position

Torture illustration: Chained to a floor ring

The Acheng District Court sentenced Mr. Liu to four years and had him admitted to a newly built prison, where he was hit on the head with rubber clubs. One week later, he was transferred to the Hulan Prison.

The prison guards tortured Mr. Liu using various means. He was once hung up with his feet off the ground for more than two hours. He was also held in solitary confinement and forced to drink water from a toilet bowl. When he refused to give blood for the prison to sell for profit, the guards beat him and hung him up again. At night, he was not allowed to sleep.

Torture illustration: hung up

Mr. Liu was released on May 20, 2006.

Ms. Zhang Given 3 Years of Forced Labor in 2002

While Mr. Liu was still detained at the brainwashing center, officer Ma broke into Ms. Zhang’s home in May 2000. She refused to go with him so he grabbed her hair and showered her with kicks and punches. Her then-ten-year-son was terrified and cried, “Don’t beat my mom! Don’t beat my mom!”

Ms. Zhang was held at the Acheng District Second Detention Center for more than 20 days before she was transferred to the same brainwashing center where Mr. Liu was held. The staff there forced her to watch videos smearing Falun Gong every day. In order to weaken her will, they even brought in her son. The boy’s clothes were torn, his face was filthy and his hair was disheveled. He was unable to say anything and cried non-stop. Ms. Zhang’s heart bled seeing her son like that. They later extorted 2,000 yuan from her and released her. Around the same time, Mr. Liu was given the one-year forced labor.

In January 2001, shortly before the Chinese New Year, several officers from the Shengli Police Station broke into Ms. Zhang’s home and seized her. They didn’t even allow her to put on her shoes. They kept her at the Acheng District Second Detention Center for nearly three months. Not long after she was released, officer Ma and a few others raided her home and took her to the Shengli Police Station. Ma used a PVC pipe to beat her on the chest and the back.

Ma took Ms. Zhang to the Acheng District Second Detention Center. Her chest hurt so much that she needed help turning over. She also couldn’t keep anything she ate down. The guards took her to a hospital and she was found to have fluid accumulation in her chest. They did not seek any treatment for her, instead they took her back to the damp detention center cell. She developed scabies all over her body. Her arms festered and oozed blood and pus. No one dared to touch her for fear of being infected. Instead of releasing her, the guards transferred her to the Acheng District First Detention Center, which refused to accept her. Only then was she released.

Ms. Zhang was arrested together with her husband on May 20, 2002 and taken to the Acheng District First Detention Center. Director Song cuffed her hands behind her back to a railing for seven days. Another practitioner, Ms. Chang Liping, urged Song to stop torturing Ms. Zhang and was subjected to the same torture for nine days. Song also intentionally tightened Ms. Chang’s handcuffs to make her suffer even more.

Another director, Luo Yongwei, threatened to tie Ms. Zhang up in a bed in a spread eagle position just like her husband when she said she planned to go on a hunger strike.

Ms. Zhang was later given three years of forced labor and taken to the Wanjia Forced Labor Camp. As soon as she was brought in, the labor camp guards ordered her to squat down. When she refused to comply about five guards surrounded her. Guard Yao Fuchang grabbed her hair and kicked her. He took her to a torture chamber where she saw all kinds of torture devices. Yao restrained her in a metal chair and shocked her with electric batons. Another practitioner, Ms. Wang Meijuan, was also shocked and her face was badly burned.

Torture reenactment: metal chair

Ms. Zhang refused to write statements to renounce her faith and was forced to squat for long hours every day for three days in a row. When she still refused she was hung up.

One day a guard found Ms. Zhang had a paper slip with a message about Falun Gong on it and beat her savagely. Six months later, they forced her to do hard labor and did not allow her to sleep when she failed to finish her quota.

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曾遭劳教、判刑迫害 哈尔滨刘洪运再被非法关押