(Minghui.org) A Dandong City, Liaoning Province resident serving 8.5 years for her faith in Falun Gong has been denied family visits for four years, after she showed her family the injuries she sustained after being beaten by inmates.

Ms. Zhang Wei’s family recently learned that she has been tortured on a regular basis since she was admitted to the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison in spring 2016. She is now in a precarious situation after being on a hunger strike for several months to protest the persecution. The prison has continued to reject her family’s visitation request.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Arrest and Sentencing

Over 1,000 police officers in Dandong were dispatched on the late evening of April 18, 2015 to arrest local practitioners.

In Donggang City (a county-level city under the administration of Dandong) alone, more than twenty practitioners and their family members were arrested. Eleven of them, including Ms. Zhang, were tried jointly by the Donggang City Court between December 7 and 16, 2015.

None of the practitioners’ family members were allowed to attend the hearing. The courtroom was filled with audience members arranged by the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, an extra-judiciary agency tasked with overseeing the persecution. Three lawyers representing the practitioners were driven out of the courtroom by the bailiffs. The judge sentenced the practitioners to 4 to 11 years on December 28, 2015. Ms. Zhang was given 8.5 years. Yu Quanhai, the new secretary of Donggang City PLAC, was behind the sentencing.

Tortured in the Prison

After Ms. Zhang was taken to the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison in the spring of 2016, she was constantly beaten for upholding her faith.

According to an insider who saw her in March 2017, she had severe injuries in her back and was unable to walk normally. All of her hair turned gray and her face appeared to have significantly aged. In order to recover, Ms. Zhang began to do the Falun Gong exercises every night since June 2017. In retaliation, the guards and inmates beat her.

When Ms. Zhang’s husband and mother visited her on August 15, 2018, she showed the scars and bruises on her arms and shoulders from the torture. Just as she asked her husband to file a complaint against Liu Li, the inmate who caused most of her injuries, a guard hung up the phone and ended the meeting.

Since then, the guards haven’t allowed her family to see her.

According to another insider, guard Liu Yu treated Ms. Zhang the worst. Since 2017, she refused to give Ms. Zhang a warm comforter in the winter and also took away her jackets and other warm clothes. During the day, she handcuffed Ms. Zhang to prevent her from doing the Falun Gong exercises.

Ms. Zhang was also subjected to constant beating and verbal abuse. Even after her lawyer visited her in July 2019 and complained about the abuse that she was subjected to, the guards still only gave her one meal each day.

“The torture that Ms. Zhang has been subjected to is beyond comprehension and couldn’t be tolerated by most people. It was simply scary. She is so miserable.” The insider said to Ms. Zhang’s family.

Denied Family Visits

As the 2020 Chinese New Year (January 25) approached, Ms. Zhang’s mother, in her 80s, missed her daughter more than ever. Accompanied by her other daughter and son, the elderly woman traveled hundreds of miles to the prison. But no matter how hard they tried to persuade the guards to grant their visitation, the guards kept saying no, with the excuse that Ms. Zhang was doing the Falun Gong exercises in prison. The family returned home heartbroken.

In mid-October 2020, a prison guard called Ms. Zhang’s daughter. They said she was holding a hunger strike and they were giving her nutrient shots. The guard called her daughter again in May 2022 and said Ms. Zhang was still on hunger strike.

Ms. Zhang’s brother called the prison on July 22, 2022 to inquire about her situation. He said that even if the prison didn’t allow them to visit her, they should at least record a video of her. The guard who answered the phone said they had to get instructions from above on whether they could do the video.

The guard called back on the next evening and said Ms. Zhang was being force fed in the hospital. Instead of providing a video of her, the prison demanded the family record a video of themselves persuading Ms. Zhang to start eating. If she behaved well, the guard said that they may consider granting her family visitation.

Worried about Ms. Zhang’s situation, her brother, two sisters and husband left home at 3:30 a.m. on July 27 and drove to the prison. At the prison’s reception office, they found that Ms. Zhang’s name wasn’t on the visitation list. A guard said she was under strict management and wouldn’t be allowed any visitation.

The ward director, Zhao Lina, soon came. After talking to the family for over one hour, she maintained that they wouldn’t allow Ms. Zhang’s visitation or record a video of her.

“Falun Gong is banned outside the prison, not just here.” She said that it’s a serious violation that Ms. Zhang did the Falun Gong exercises in the prison and caused trouble for them. She added that she even offered to exempt her from doing the unpaid labor, as long as she just sat in the workshop without doing the exercises. But as she insisted, they had to follow the rule to punish her.

Ms. Zhang’s family said to Zhao, “We know she has been on a hunger strike for months. She ate very little food in June 2022. We just wanted to see for ourselves how she is doing; otherwise, we won’t stop worrying about her life. It has been four years since we saw her last. How can you guarantee that she is safe in the prison? We have to see her today. Only when we see her, can we persuade her to eat.”

Zhao admitted that Ms. Zhang is emaciated and weak because of the hunger strike. But she emphasized again that they couldn’t see her. The family warned Zhao not to instigate the inmates to beat her, or they would file complaints against them. As it was around noon, Zhao ended the conversation and left for lunch break.

Perpetrators’ contact information:

Zhao Lina (赵丽娜), guard of Liaoning Province Women’s Prison: +86-15542236486Bai Hui (白晖), guard of Liaoning Province Women’s Prison: +86-15698805921Bai Xu (白旭), guard of Liaoning Province Women’s Prison: +86-15698806303

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