Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Hua Lianyou has held a hunger strike for more than a year to protest his sentence of seven years in prison. As of a month ago, 807 people had signed petitions to call for his immediate release, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ignored their pleas for justice. In the past month, another 2008 people have signed the petition. There are now 2,815 signatures, and the number is growing.
During the petition drive, many people expressed their admiration for Falun Gong practitioners and their dislike of the CCP. A 27-year-old man said: “This country is sick. Practising Falun Gong is good. Why do they arrest these people? I will sign petitions to help Falun Gong practitioners. It is a good deed to save them. I don't care about other issues as much, but I will help rescue Falun Gong practitioners.” Another young man said, “I won't sign anything except petitions that help Falun Gong.”
An elderly retired man said: “I used to be brainwashed by the CCP. My friend and I used to destroy leaflets exposing the persecution of Falun Gong. Those materials mentioned that evil would receive retribution, but we did not believe it. Last year my friend died from a heart attack. I was also recently diagnosed with cancer. My family and friends told me that my heart was 'bad.' Now I believe in retribution. I believe that Falun Gong is special. I am willing to sign this petition. I will also write a statement to apologize for the damage that I caused Falun Gong.”
An old man in his 60s said, “I will sign. You Falun Gong practitioners are good people. Those who got arrested are good people.”
A ten-year-old boy also said, “I will sign. Give me a petition form. I will have all my classmates sign it. Whoever signs it will be rewarded.”
Mr. Hua Lianyou started to practise Falun Gong in March 1997. His family income came from his clothing store. One day he ruptured a lumbar disc and was bedridden for two months. His family was in financial difficulties. Then a relative came to visit him and gave him the Falun Gong book Zhuan Falun. After reading less than one third of the book, he suddenly got up, lifted a bucket of dirty water, and emptied it. His family was shocked, and his wife, Tian Zongli, joined him to start practising Falun Gong. Within two days, he quit smoking, though he had been a very heavy smoker. He got rid of all his bad habits and became a cultivator.
Arrested Twice, Sentenced to Long Prison Terms, in Critical Condition
On February 22nd, 2001, Mr. Hua and his wife were arrested by the Tonglou Police Station in the Hexi District in Tianjin. Without notifying their family, the court sentenced Mr. Hua to five years in prison and Ms. Tian, his wife, to four years. He was taken to the Tianjin First Prison and Ms. Tian to the Tianjin Women's Prison. When Ms. Tian's mother asked the court about the persecution, the staff replied, “We have no choice.”
At that time the couple's daughter was only 11 years old. She used to be a top student in her class, but her grades plummeted after her parents were incarcerated. The deceived teacher even had her classmates avoid her, claiming that she had mental problems and banning her from classes.
Hua Lianyou was severely tortured in prison. His head was slammed into a wall until it bled. When he returned home in 2006, he was mentally ill, screaming and drinking dirty water, likely because of the drugs the prison forced on him. It took him six months to recover.
On the morning of April 24th, 2012, he was arrested on his way to work. At 10 a.m., his supervisor called his family, telling them that Mr. Hua had disappeared, since the supervisor could not reach him on his mobile phone, and his mobilephone was shut down soon afterwards. At around 4 p.m., the police broke into Mr. Hua's home. They robbed the family and arrested Ms. Tian Zongli.
The family hired an attorney in Hebei Province to defend Mr. Hua as not-guilty. The legal system was afraid of the lawyer, so they confiscated the lawyer's case materials three days before the trial. They even threatened the law firm to get them to fire the lawyer, so he was not able to appear at the trial.
Before the trial on September 21st, 2012, agents with the 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong), court, police stations, and neighbourhood committees in the Beichen District tried to trick Mr. Hua's daughter by lying to her, saying that they would appoint an attorney for him and asking her if she was also a Falun Gong practitioner.
On the morning of September 21st, two lawyers from Beijing, newly hired by Mr. Hua's family, showed up in court. Only the lawyers and Ms. Hua's daughter were allowed to enter the courtroom. The rest of the family were told that they would be able to get in later. By 10:30 a.m. they were still outside. After their repeated inquiries, the courthouse staff admitted that the judges had left through the garage and that the trial took place in the prison hospital. Mr. Hua, who had become bedridden while in detention, was sentenced to seven years in prison. On October 9th, he was transferred to the Binhai Prison, originally known as the Gangbei Prison.
Hunger Strike for One Year and Three Months, Beaten and Force-fed
Mr. Hua started a hunger strike on May 30th, 2012 to protest the detention. He became very weak. When he was detained in Xinsheng Hospital in Kangning Prison, he was beaten by prisoners who were assigned to monitor him. After he was transferred to the Gangbei Prison, the monitoring prisoners there pulled on his arms and legs to prevent him from doing the Falun Gong exercises. The prisoners even sharpened the tube used to force-feed Hua Lianyou, so it would damage his stomach and be more painful.
In December 2012, he was already so weak that he could not walk by himself. The guards forced him to have an infusion. On December 7th, his condition was critical. The prison did not want to take responsibility, so they transferred him to Ankang Hospital (originally known as Xinsheng Hospital).
On January 10th, 2013, his family went to the hospital to see him. He was extremely weak and looked very old. In a weak voice he told them that he held the hunger strike to protest the persecution. His relatives were very worried about him, so they asked the prison to release him. The staff replied that they would only temporarily release people for medical treatment when they meet certain “requirements.” When asked about the details of the “requirements,” the staff refused to answer.
Information published about the persecution in this prison generated international attention. The recent pressure from Mr. Hua's family also had an effect. The prison authorities claimed that “refusing to eat was his personal choice,” so they were not responsible and refused to release him. Since June 9th, for no reason, they have prevented the family from visiting him.
Despite his poor condition, he was still beaten and abused by other prisoners under orders from the guards, a common occurrence in Gangbei Prison. Mr. Hua's wife was not allowed to visit him. Worried for his safety, the family appealed to the prison management department, asking that Mr. Hua's legal rights be protected, including family visits, and to release him so that he could recover at home.
Nearly 3,000 People Signed Petitions to Rescue Mr. Hua
Binhai Prison (originally known as Gangbei Prison) is notorious for torturing practitioners. Practitioners Zhu Wenhua and Li Xiwang died from torture in the prison. Practitioner Wu Dianzhong sustained a fracture during torture, but the prison authorities covered up the facts until he finished his term. Guards tortured Ren Dongsheng until he became mentally ill, without giving any explanation to his family. The prison did not even investigate the guards, including Zhang Shilin, Song Xuesen, and Li Guoyu, who tortured practitioners.
Recently, the older brother of Li Xiwang, who died from torture, wrote an article “I Woke up, But My Younger Brother Died.” His personal experience of torture explained his brother's sudden death. Their family sued the prison for using the Ground Anchor on him, but the prison refused to admit it.
Practitioner Zhou Xiangyang also wrote his account: “Tortured with a Ground Anchor.” Practitioner Wu Dianzhong, who became disabled from this torture, wrote: “I Will Continue to Testify about the Tortures in Gangbei Prison.” He submitted it to the Tianjin legal system when he sued Zhang Shilin from Gangbei Prison over the thoracic compression fractures he sustained as a result of being tortured with the Ground Anchor. (Note: The victim's arms and legs are fastened to the ground, preventing any movement.)
Despite so much evidence of the torture used in Gangbei Prison having been made public, the legal system still ignored them. Mr. Hua's family cannot stop worrying about his safety.
Fortunately, many Chinese people have come to know the truth about Falun Gong over the past decade because of practitioners' persistent efforts. More and more people have signed petitions to support Falun Gong. Seeing that Mr. Hua's life was in danger, his family and relatives started a petition drive for him.
Within the first month, 807 people in Tianjin and the surrounding areas signed the petition. A small business owner was asked after she signed the petition, “Would you admit to the police that this is your signature if they question you?” She replied, “I would say yes wherever I go!” Many people expressed their dislike of the CCP when signing the petition. Once Mr. Hua's friends asked two people who just came out of a car. After they learned what had happened, they said, “The communist party is so bad. We will sign it!”
In the past month, 2008 more people have signed the petition. The number continues to grow.
A 43-year-old man said, “I would sign any petition that supports Falun Gong. I know that they are all good people.” When practitioners asked him, “Aren't you afraid?” He replied, “Not at all. I know they are all good people. I am not afraid of the CCP!” He also remarked angrily: “Now the CCP officials are so corrupt that all the houses on the market belong to them.”
After hearing the explanation of the petition, a 60-year-old man said, “I will sign it. I think the CCP is very wrong. It is evil. I know all about the crimes that the CCP committed. I pray every day that heaven will eliminate it!”
Some people wrote on the petition: “Immediately and unconditionally release Hua Lianyou! Stop persecuting good people. It is against the law of the universe!” “Unconditionally release him right now! Otherwise you will be punished!”
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