NEW YORK, November 3— The Falun Dafa Infocenter is deeply troubled by the recent death of Mr. Zhang Zhong, who had been subjected to prolonged torture and ill-treatment in police custody.
Zhang was a 35-year old man from Heilongjiang province. He reportedly took part in the bold and courageous effort to tap into Chinese state-controlled television on March 5, 2002 to expose the persecution of Falun Gong.
Since 1999, Chinese television across the country has attempted to incite hatred and violence against Falun Gong practitioners. The 2002 broadcast in northeastern China’s Changchun city reportedly shocked top Chinese Communist Party officials and led to former CCP leader Jiang Zemin ordering police to “kill [those responsible for the broadcast] without pardon.” According to reports from Changchun, police raided houses and arrested some 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners within three days that March (see: http://www.faluninfo.net/Compassion5/civil.htm). On April 19, 2002 Zhang was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
With his death, Zhang joins Mr. Liu Chengjun, whose case had been highlighted by Amnesty International, and Mr. Lei Ming, as Falun Gong practitioners tortured to death after being sentenced to long prison terms for participating in the broadcast. Others, such as Mr. Liang Zhenxing, remain in critical condition. (see: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2006/6/27/74853.html)
Zhang was tortured severely at the Daqing City Prison where he was held. On January 15, 2004 he was discovered doing Falun Gong exercises in his cell. Prison guard Li Fangjie then sent him to a disciplinary room where guards bashed his head until Zhang lost consciousness. Guards then stabbed Zhang’s head and hands with needles; he did not respond, so they kicked him in the stomach. After that, he began to spit blood and vomit whatever he ate for a period of six months.
Zhang was also whipped in the face with belts, nearly suffocated to death by plastic bags forced over his head, and stripped and doused with cold water in freezing temperatures, among other things.
After nearly two years of torture at Daqing, which left Zhang unconscious and paralyzed, he was released on July 23, 2004. The Infocenter believes he was released because he was on the brink of death and, since his case was being monitored overseas, Chinese authorities did not want him to die in custody.
But when he was strong enough to do so, Zhang exposed via the Internet details of the torture he had suffered and included electronic images of his broken and emaciated body (see: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2006/10/29/79434.html). This led Daqing Prison authorities to dispatch a pursuit team to arrest him again. Zhang managed to evade them for quite some time by living away from home, but was finally rearrested on August 10, 2006, along with eighteen other Falun Gong practitioners.
Among the group, Zhang and one other man were reportedly tortured the most severely. After ten days of detention, Zhang was transferred to Harbin City Police Hospital. He eventually died there on October 16, 2006. His parents went to the prison hospital that day but were not allowed see his body, and authorities refused to issue a death certificate.
“Those responsible for Zhang Zhong’s death must be held accountable,” said Infocenter spokesperson Levi Browde. “The Falun Dafa Infocenter calls for an investigation by outside organizations of the circumstances leading to Zhang’s death.”
“The continued, flagrant state-sanctioned murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China simply cannot continue,” Browde said. “Unfortunately, we have yet to see any sign of remorse on the part of senior Chinese Communist Party officials for all the suffering they have caused. Accounts of cruelty against Falun Gong practitioners in China continue to pour in daily.”
Background and Further Details about Zhang’s Torture
Mr. Zhang’s case was watched closely over the years. Several reports detailing the torture he endured were provided to Falun Gong organizations outside of China and posted online. Falun Gong practitioners in the area of the prison where he was being held posted cloth banners on walls near the prison demanding his release. And those named in his abuse were often telephoned by concerned Falun Gong adherents abroad.
Zhang was well-respected and known for his kindness. People both inside and outside the prison risked their lives to make the facts of his story known.
The Daqing City Prison where Zhang was originally held is notorious for its brutality. A number of Falun Gong practitioners are known to have been tortured to death there. Among them are Wang Hongde (died in April 2005), Xu Jishan (died June 7, 2005), and Yuan Qingjiang (died July 23, 2005). As of January 2005, over 60 Falun Gong practitioners were being held there, with some in solitary confinement.
The following are details of several of the incidents of torture Zhang suffered during his period of detention in the Daqing City Prison.
On one occasion, Zhang said to those who tortured him: “We are good people, please don’t torture us so brutally, please leave a way out for yourselves!” His tormentors put a plastic bag over his head until he nearly suffocated. After torturing him like this repeatedly, they stuffed hot peppers and garlic into his nose, smeared pepper and garlic juice inside the plastic bag, and then put the plastic bag on his head. They stripped Zhang of his clothes and poured cold water over him. Even though it was a cold winter day in northern China, they then opened all the windows and doors and pointed a fan toward him. The persecutors then alternated pouring hot and cold water on him.
In one room to which Zhang was taken, spots of blood from torture could be seen on the walls. Four policemen stood in front of Zhang holding instruments of torture in their hands. One pointed to a puddle of blood on the floor and said: “See! This is the blood spit out by Zhang Xingye. You look like somebody with common sense, I don’t care whether Falun Dafa is great. I am one of Jiang Zemin’s attack dogs. I do whatever I am asked to do, and you must confess.”
Seeing that Zhang remained silent, each police officer applied his torture instrument. They first slapped Zhang with wooden planks until his cheeks were swollen and bleeding and he was spitting blood. Then they whipped him with a leather whip, slapped his palms and the soles of his feet with wooden planks, and scratched the bottoms of his feet with metal brushes.
Zhang is one of nearly 3,000 Falun Gong practitioners whose deaths due to torture and abuse by police in China have been documented.