Mr. Shi Zhonghui, a small business owner in Zhengding County, Hebei Province, was detained and harassed numerous times for his belief in Falun Gong. The physical abuse and mental stress caused his health to deteriorate, which led to his death on March 26, 2019, at age 50.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a meditation system that consists of exercises and living by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to suppress the practice in July 1999, a large number of Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested, detained, and tortured.
Arrests and Labour Camp Detention
Mr. Shi Zhonghui started to practice Falun Gong in autumn 1997. His diligence and work ethic earned him respect at the credit union where he worked. His good demeanour at home and in daily life was also commended by relatives and neighbours.
After the persecution began in July 1999, three officers from the Zhengding Police Department came to Mr. Shi's home and forced him to turn in his Falun Gong books. They then detained him at the Zhengding Brainwashing Center for 15 days.
In December 1999, Mr. Shi joined several other practitioners travelling to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. They were arrested at the Beijing Appeals Office and taken back to Zhengding. Guards at the local detention centre beat the practitioners and threatened them, forcing them to write statements to renounce their belief. The local officials held public meetings to openly humiliate them and also paraded them through the streets. After Mr. Shi and the other practitioners were released one month later, their jobs were terminated. In addition, they were forced to pay fines and were placed under house arrest.
Upon coming back to the factory he owned in September 2000, Mr. Shi was followed by police and arrested immediately upon arrival. His Falun Gong materials were confiscated and he was given a two-year labour camp detention.
The intense labour at the camp and constant humiliation left him emaciated, with constant pain in his liver and stomach. He also suffered from retinal detachment. As a result, Mr. Shi was released on medical parole one year later.
Forced to Live Away from Home
Shortly after Mr. Shi returned home from the labour camp, agents from the Zhengding 610 Office put him in a brainwashing centre. He managed to escape from the facility and had to move from place to place to avoid being captured. Once again, he lost his job and his family no longer had an income.
While Mr. Shi was away, the 610 Office not only put him on a wanted list but also tapped his home phone and stationed agents around his home. One day, suspecting that Mr. Shi was at home, several police officers jumped over the fence around his yard and broke into his house to search. His wife and their two toddlers were traumatized by the home invasion.
In the meantime, Mr. Shi’s health was deteriorating rapidly. He became very weak and lost consciousness on several occasions. His health declined to the point that he was on the verge of death.
In 2006, Mr. Shi returned home hoping to find a temporary job. But officials continued to threaten and harass him.
On July 4, 2008, Zhang Ruiyu and several other officers from the Zhengding Police Department went to Mr. Shi’s workplace attempting to arrest him. Upon hearing that Mr. Shi was not at work that day due to illness, the officers went to his home. By then, Mr. Shi was very weak and could barely get around. But the officers ignored his health and demanded that he turn in his Falun Gong materials.
Through the nearly 20 years of persecution, Mr. Shi and his family lived under constant terror and threat from the 610 Office and the police. Every year, the Zhengding police came to his home to harass him. In addition, police officers also went to his workplace and ordered village officials to watch him and tap his phones.
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