A Chongqing man passed away on June 24, 2018, after years of detention and torture for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. He was 77 years old.
Mr. Gong Yanzhao became the 4,259th confirmed victim to have lost their lives in the persecution of Falun Gong. Because of strict information censorship, the actual death toll is expected to be much higher.
Mr. Gong was first arrested in 2008 and given 1.5 years of forced labour. When his family visited him at Xishanping Forced Labour Camp, they noted that he was emaciated and unable to walk, and had an egg-sized bump on his leg. He said he had been brutally beaten. After repeated requests by his family, the labour camp released him on medical parole.
Mr. Gong was arrested for the second time in 2015, for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.
The authorities forced his son, who worked at the local judicial bureau, to send him to the Wuzunxiang Brainwashing Center in Hechuan District, where he was forced to watch more than eight hours of propaganda videos attacking Falun Gong every day.
When Mr. Gong refused to renounce Falun Gong despite the intensive brainwashing, the authorities found a few psychology experts to pressure him, and threatened to terminate his pension and fire his son.
When Mr. Gong was released seven months later, he was pale, weak, unable to eat, and had difficulty walking.
Mr. Gong's latest arrest was in April 2016, when he was studying Falun Gong books with several other practitioners. He was detained at the Hechuan District Detention Center for 37 days before being transferred to a local brainwashing centre, where he was forced to watch propaganda videos slandering Falun Gong again.
The Hechuan District Court held a hearing for the practitioners between April and May 2017, during which he was required by the judge to write a statement renouncing Falun Gong. Mr. Gong refused to comply. He was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 3,000 yuan on May 2, 2017.
His health quickly declined after his arrest. He became unable to hold any food down, and could only tolerate a liquid diet. His condition continued to deteriorate after he was released on medical parole. He passed away several months later, in June 2018.
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