NEW YORK--On February 8, Amnesty International issued an urgent call for help on behalf of a Falun Gong practitioner being held at Tianjin prison who is feared to be near death (link). The practitioner, Zhou Xiangyang (周向阳), was the subject of a petition signed by over 1,500 of his fellow villagers in August 2011 urging the Chinese to release him.
Mr. Zhou Xiangyang, who is near death in a Chinese prison, and his wife Li Shanshan, now in a labor camp
"His family saw him a few days ago and say that he is in very bad physical condition," wrote Amnesty International in its Urgent Action. "During the visit, he told his family that the suffering inside the prison was beyond people's understanding and that he could no longer take the torment."
Zhou, 38, has been held in Gangbei prison in Tianjin since March 2011, where he was sent after being abducted from home shortly after recovering from a previous harsh detention by resuming his practice of Falun Gong. He has reportedly gone on hunger strike to protest his unlawful imprisonment and torture in custody. Amnesty International and his family fear that he is close to death and say he should urgently be released on medical parole. His wife has reportedly been sentenced to two years in a labor camp for publicizing his case.
"We can only imagine the horrors that Zhou has experienced in Gangbei prison," says Levi Browde, Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center. "After so many villagers in China have courageously signed their names to a petition for his release, we hope more kind-hearted people around the world can also add their voice and save this man's life."
The Falun Dafa Information Center calls for Zhou's release and urges supporters around the world to write letters on his behalf to the following addresses provided by Amnesty International, as well as to diplomatic representatives in China:
Prison Warden Xu Burong
Dagangqu Banqiao Beijinqi Xi
Hebei Province 300270
People’s Republic of China
Mayor of Tianjin Huang Xingguo
Tianjinshi Renmin Zhengfu 167
Hebei Province 300040
People’s Republic of China
On August 12, 2011, over 1,500 people from Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province signed a petition titled “How Will You Treat This Public Opinion.” It called on the authorities to release Zhou from Binhai Prison in Tianjin (also known as Gangbei Prison). In 2003, Mr. Zhou, a railway engineer, was abducted and sentenced after a sham trial to nine years in prison for practicing Falun Gong. At the time, he was engaged to Ms. Li Shanshan. Over the following years, as Zhao’s health deteriorated due to torture, Li and Zhao’s mother worked tirelessly to appeal to the authorities for his release. In 2006, Li was herself sent to a labor camp for 15 months for “inciting subversion” because of her efforts on Zhou’s behalf.
In July 2009, several United Nations human rights experts issued an urgent appeal on Zhou’s behalf. On July 28, 2009, he was released from prison on medical parole, weighing only 86 lbs. By practicing the Falun Gong exercises and studying its teachings, Zhou quickly began regaining his health and weight. In October 2009, he and Li were finally married. They managed to open a little shop.
However, in March 2011, police suddenly abducted Zhou and took him back to prison to complete his earlier sentence. According to family members, he has been tortured even more severely than in previous detentions, causing his condition to again deteriorate. He is very weak, suffers from chest pain, and has blood in his urine. Word of his plight spread in Zhou’s hometown via the internet and open letters authored by his wife and mother. In response, over 1,500 local residents signed their names and thumbprints to a petition calling for his release. Zhou’s family members have also hired a lawyer from Beijing to file a complaint against the prison authorities for torturing him.
In October 2011, Zhou's wife, Ms. Li Shanshan was detained. The authorities later told her family she had been sentenced to years in a forced labor camp, but refused to reveal her exact whereabouts.
For more information, see:
* Falun Dafa Information Center, "1,500 sign petition for Falun Gong practitioner’s release from Tianjin prison"
* First-person account by Zhou's wife: "A young wife relays her and her husband's difficult journey amidst persecution"
* Amnesty International, November 14, 2011: "China: Local residents petition for Falun Gong releases"
* Amnesty International, December 19, 2011: "China: Falun Gong man at risk of torture in prison: Zhou Xiangyang"