Mr. Yang Chengshan, a former Water Resources Agency employee in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, experienced the “Cultural Revolution” in his teens. He was busy pursuing personal interests and fame, yet he felt he didn't know the purpose of life. Years of hard work and frustration took a toll on his health. He was very weak and always tired.
When Mr. Yang, 65, was introduced to Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline, in the 1990s, he felt the teachings opened up his heart and offered a new perspective about everything. He let go of the strong pursuit for personal gain and learned to take setbacks in life easily. Through doing the Falun Gong exercises, his health quickly recovered. He felt his life was renewed.
Things took a drastic turn when the Chinese Communist Party suddenly ordered the nationwide persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999. For speaking out about his faith, Mr. Yang was sentenced to 12 years in prison following his arrest in 2006. He was subjected to constant beatings, torture and humiliation. He sustained injuries all over his body and once lost his vision after being hit in the eye.
Although he survived the torture, the pain of his 12-year separation from his elderly parents and daughter remains fresh in his heart.
Arrests and Sentencing
Mr. Yang, then 50, was stopped by three police officers when he stepped out of his rented apartment on August 18, 2006. One of the officers, Yang Zhizhong, said they wanted to take a look at his home. Without much thinking, Mr. Yang agreed and let the police in.
Upon seeing a photo of Falun Gong’s founder in the room, the officers arrested Mr. Yang and his wife Ms. Du Xiuqin without showing their IDs or an arrest warrant. The police also searched the place and confiscated the couple’s Falun Gong informational materials, computer, all of their cash, bank deposit slips, and their valuable jewelry.
Mr. Yang heard the police calling the 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong, to report that they had arrested “an important Falun Gong member.” He and his wife were taken to the Hedong Police Station and then transferred to the Acheng District No.1 Detention Center.
Ms. Du was given an unknown term at Wanjia Forced Labor Camp in September 2006, while Mr. Yang was sentenced to 12 years by the Acheng District Court in March 2007.
Tortured in Hulan Prison
Mr. Yang was first taken to the intensive training ward at Hulan Prison on April 4, 2007. When he refused to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong upon arrival, guards instigated inmates to torture him. He was injured in the legs and had difficulty walking for two weeks.
Tortured in Daqing Prison
Mr. Yang was transferred to the First Ward in Daqing Prison on May 31, 2007, and spent the next 11 years there. As he remained firm in his faith, he was subjected to constant beatings and torture.
Because he refused to participate in roll call on the evening of August 18, 2007, the guards beat him. He incurred injuries in his eyes and lost vision for a long time. He also had lasting pain in his chest.
Between 2008 and October 2009, he was often starved for not wearing the inmates’ uniform.
When he refused to do unpaid labor on June 1, 2010, the guards and inmates stuffed him into a metal cage smaller than one cubic meter. His neck was injured from being kicked, and he almost lost some mobility from it. He couldn’t fully straighten his neck until a year later.
The deputy ward director, Yu Changjiang, beat and kicked him again on June 2, 2010.
During a prison-wide inspection on January 13, 2011, by the Heilongjiang 610 Office, the guards at Daqing Prison printed twenty banners with slanderous messages about Falun Gong. They ordered Mr. Yang to present the banners to the 610 Office agents, but he refused to comply.
The guards were furious. They brought Mr. Yang to an interrogation room, shut the curtain, and stripped off his clothes. They kicked him and punched him in the face and body. Huo Weidong, the director of the ward, beat him with a thick wooden block. His nose bled and his teeth became loose. One of the teeth fell out soon after.
On October 19, 2012, deputy ward director Yu summoned Mr. Yang to an interrogation room and told him to report his name as an inmate. Mr. Yang replied, “I’m not an inmate. I won’t report my name.”
Yu took off a leather belt on the wall and whipped Mr. Yang. He also hit Mr. Yang’s head with a baton. After Mr. Yang collapsed onto the floor, Yu kicked him in the ribs. The beating caused Mr. Yang to have headache for two weeks, as well as pain in his ribs and difficulty breathing for over a month.
Six Falun Gong practitioners, including Mr. Yang, Mr. Fu Wenchang, Mr. Wang Jinyu, Mr. Zhang Baosheng, Mr. Wang Kun, and Mr. Zhang Xingguo, refused to do unpaid labor of making clothes on March 24, 2014.
When a guard named Zhang Zhijie asked the practitioners why they didn’t do the work, both Mr. Fu and Mr. Yang said, “We didn’t commit a crime. We can’t do it.”
Zhang was infuriated. He pushed Mr. Yang aside and beat him all over. Mr. Yang’s left eye was swollen and bleeding. He was dizzy. He said, “Don't you know you're breaking the law by beating me?” Zhang responded by beating Mr. Yang even harder. Other practitioners tried to stop Zhang, but he didn't stop the beating until a long time later.
Another guard, Lu Xiangwu, then ordered the inmates to take off all the six practitioners’ clothes and burn them. Then they left the practitioners standing naked to humiliate and freeze them. The practitioner still refused to do any work for the prison. The guards starved them for one night.
With a deeply wounded heart and body, Mr. Yang was finally released on August 16, 2018.
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