Mr. Zhang Chongyue began having difficulty breathing in early August 2020. When he passed away at home on August 7, 2020, the 48-year-old man’s head, ears and lips were blue. His left hand was extremely pale and cold.
Mr. Zhang’s death came three years after he was released from serving nine and a half years years in prison for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Zhang, a Suizhong County, Huludao City, Liaoning Province resident, was subjected to constant torture and denied family visits during most of his term. His family suspected he was given toxic drugs in the prison, based on his abnormal behavior after his release.
He is survived by his 83-year-old mother, his wife, and two daughters aged 15 and 19.
Sentenced to Prison
Mr. Zhang was first arrested in June 2000 and detained for 15 days. The police accused him of “disrupting social order,” a common pretext used for arresting Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Zhang was arrested again on the early morning on February 25, 2008. The police broke into his home while he was still sleeping. They ransacked his residence and confiscated many of his personal items related to Falun Gong.
His arrest was part of a major police sweep ordered by the Ministry of Public Security and Liaoning Public Security Department. A total of 86 practitioners were arrested that same day in Liaoning, including 11 in Suizhong.
Mr. Zhang was soon put on criminal detention. The Suizhong County Procuratorate approved his arrest on March 18 and indicted him on April 10. The Suizhong County Court secretly sentenced him to ten years on May 14. He was accused of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
The verdict mentioned that Mr. Zhang was given a heavy term because he had a lot of Falun Gong informational materials at his home and he had received a large batch of satellite dishes around the Chinese New Year in 2007 and had installed one for a local resident to receive overseas media programs.
Abused in Prison
Between 2008 and 2012, Mr. Zhang was held in Panjin Prison. He developed high blood pressure during this period and was tied up on a bed and force-fed unknown drugs.
When his wife was allowed to visit him on June 12, 2010, Mr. Zhang was emaciated and extremely weak. He had trouble walking and talking, and constantly felt dizzy. He lost his appetite and couldn’t take in enough food. Worried about his health, his wife applied for medical parole for him, only to be rejected by the authorities with the excuse that he didn’t renounce his faith.
Mr. Zhang’s family went to the prison to visit him again on July 29, 2011, but was blocked outside. The prison authorities claimed that the family didn’t provide proof to show they weren’t practicing Falun Gong themselves.
In 2012, Mr. Zhang was transferred to the Shenyang No. 1 Prison. There, he was held in a dark solitary confinement cell and ordered to sit on a small stool all day long. His high blood pressure persisted and he developed a heart condition as well. As a result of long-term isolation, he began to experience loss of speech and memory.
According to another practitioner who was held in the prison around the same time, Mr. Zhang often experienced a suffocating sensation and had difficulty breathing, similar to the symptoms he experienced before passing away.
The Shenyang No. 1 Prison never approved Mr. Zhang’s family’s request to visit him. A guard said to his family, “We just won’t let you see him whether he gives up Falun Gong or not.”
The only time the prison authorities offered to let Mr. Zhang’s wife visit him was to have her to try to persuade him to renounce Falun Gong – which she refused to do.
Abnormal Condition After Prison Release
After Mr. Zhang was released on August 24, 2017, six months ahead of his scheduled date, he was very mentally unstable and often lost his temper over minor things. He appeared to follow a strict schedule in doing things and would be irritated if he couldn’t do things as he wanted.
Unable to control himself, he sometimes struck his daughters. His daughters, who had a close relationship with him, were puzzled by the changes in him––how could their father, who used to be so kind and peaceful, become like this?
As Mr. Zhang’s wife struggled to make ends meet during the ten years he was imprisoned and the family was heavily in debt, he went to a bigger city in the south to look for a job to support the family. But as he was still very weak and unable to take labor-intensive jobs, he returned home around September 2019.
Beginning mid-July 2020, Mr. Zhang began to experience stiffness of his tongue. In early August, he lost his temper and had a quarrel with his neighbor. Then he began to have difficult breathing and passed away two days later.
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