A 50-year-old man passed away one year after he was released from a three-year prison term for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Chen Yan, a resident of Faku County, Liaoning Province, contracted icteric hepatitis in 1995 and became bedridden for years. His skin was sallow and his eyes had a green tint. He couldn’t keep food down and could only eat half a bowl of porridge each day. Without any other hope in sight, he decided to give Falun Gong a try after learning about its significant health benefits.
Four days after he read the Falun Gong books, Mr. Chen felt hungry and had a big bowl of rice and vegetable – the first in three years. Since then, his health gradually recovered. He returned to work and paid off all the debts his family owed from his medical expenses.
His peaceful life, however, was shattered when the communist regime suddenly ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999.
In late December 1999, when Mr. Chen’s wife was approaching labor, the police arrested Mr. Chen and detained him for 36 days.
Since then, the police kept coming back to harass the family, forcing Mr. Chen to go into hiding twice. In 2005, he was forced to live away from home for almost a year.
On June 27, 2013, another Falun Gong practitioner in Faku County, Ms. Wang Guizhi, was arrested for distributing Falun Gong materials. The police ransacked her home and claimed that it was Mr. Chen that provided her with the materials. They attempted to arrest him, but he escaped. He was forced to live away from home again after the police put him on the wanted list.
Mr. Chen was arrested on February 19, 2016, when he returned home to spend the Chinese New Year with his family. More than ten officers scaled the fence around his yard and broke into his home.
The Faku County Court scheduled a hearing on June 14, 2016. Two days before the hearing, Mr. Chen's wife and Ms. Wang went to the court, at the requirement of presiding judge Sun Kai, to fill out documents enabling Ms. Wang to testify in support of Mr. Chen. Sun then decided to postpone the hearing for two days and moved it to June 16.
Mr. Chen’s wife went to Ms. Wang’s home on the evening of June 15 to discuss details about the hearing. Ms. Wang’s husband yelled at her, “How dare you still come! Our home is being monitored by the police.” He and his relatives also threatened her. Ms. Wang, who was very shaken, whispered that the village officials had just left moments ago.
It was later confirmed that the police threatened Ms. Wang not to testify in court and said that whoever asked her to do so would be arrested.
During the hearing the next day, prosecutor Yao Tianchi didn’t accept any evidence submitted by Mr. Chen’s wife in support of her husband. Yao played a video of Ms. Wang allegedly admitting that she got the materials from Mr. Chen. But in the video, it only showed how the police officers talked among themselves, filled out the paperwork, and then told Ms. Wang, who was illiterate, to sign it, without ever asking her any questions about Mr. Chen.
Mr. Chen’s lawyer refuted that such obviously fabricated evidence shouldn’t be used against his client. He also argued that no law ever criminalized Falun Gong.
In his final statement, the lawyer said that Mr. Chen suffered from a genetic disease and had vomited blood several times at the Faku County Detention Center. His daughter died of the same disease when she was 18. With his parents in their 70s and a young child at home, Mr. Chen’s imprisonment would cause tremendous distress to his family. The lawyer called for the judge to protect Mr. Chen’s and his family’s basic rights.
After the hearing, a source revealed that both the prosecutor and the police felt they'd lost face during the hearing, so they were determined to fabricate more evidence to frame Mr. Chen. On June 29 and 30, 2016, the police went to Ms. Wang’s home three times and forced her and her husband to provide a false account against Mr. Chen.
Mr. Chen was eventually sentenced to three years. He was transferred from the prison complex in Shenyang to the Benxi Prison on January 20, 2017. He continued to vomit blood while in prison. In prison, he prepared two motions to have his case reconsidered, but the first one was confiscated by the prison guards and the second one was stolen.
When Mr. Chen returned home in 2019, his face was sallow and he was emaciated. His hands often shook involuntarily. He was very weak and often had a severe cough when he tried to talk. He passed away a year later, on May 8, 2020.
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