30-year-old Falun Gong Practitioner Sentenced for Sharing Covid Information Held in Solitary Confinement

30-year-old Mr. Li Zongze

30-year-old Mr. Li Zongze

Within just ten days of being placed in solitary confinement, 30-year-old Mr. Li Zongze shed approximately 20 pounds while serving a five-year sentence for sharing photos of Beijing during Covid lockdowns in 2020, according to Minghui.

Mr. Li and ten other Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing faced arrest on July 19, 2020, under suspicion of submitting city photos during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown to a U.S.-based media company. All eleven were sentenced to 2-8 years on January 14, 2022, with their appeals rejected on May 18, 2023.

Among the 11 practitioners was Xu Na, who is featured in US government reports several times, including the Congressional Executive Commission on China’s annual report and the State department’s annual religious freedom report. In addition to Xu Na, Fang Bin was another prominent case of a practitioner being detained for sharing information about covid. Both of them are also mentioned in the Congressional Executive Commission on China’s Political Prisoner Database and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s Freedom of Religious Belief Database.

Initially assigned to the Tianhe Prison in Beijing, Mr. Li was later transferred to Ward Eleven of the Shandong Province First Prison in Jinan in September 2023. Over the past 24 years, this ward has witnessed the incarceration and torture of numerous male Falun Gong practitioners. The prison guards frequently incite inmates to subject practitioners to both mental and physical abuse, involving beatings, electric shocks, hanging, and sleep deprivation.

Recent revelations indicate that Mr. Li endured solitary confinement for at least ten days, during which a prison official, Chen Shuo, as well as inmates Zhao Gang and Li Wenda compelled him to watch anti-Falun Gong videos daily and urged him to renounce his faith. In this brief period, he lost roughly 20 pounds.

Previously Detained Three Times and Dismissed from Job for Seeking Father’s Release

When the persecution began in 1999, Mr. Li was only six years old and he witnessed his father, Mr. Li Zhiqiang, face repeated arrests and harassment. When his father was arrested again in March 2014, Mr. Li, then a 21-year-old college student, was arrested three times for advocating for his father’s release.

During one arrest episode, the younger Mr. Li was assaulted by police. His eyeglasses, keys, and shoes fell off in the struggle. The backs of his hands, his wrists and arms were covered with bruises. His mouth was bleeding and his back was covered in blood. His hands were tightly cuffed, swelled and became numb.

Mr. Li was tied to a chair and interrogated for over three hours. He protested, “I only came here to find out about my father’s case status. Why are you treating me like this? My father follows Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to become a better person.” The police threatened him and said, “We will call your [university] president and have you expelled.”

Mr. Li’s father was later sentenced to four years but his son kept seeking his release. The Dezhou City Propaganda Department pressured Mr. Li’s employer to fire him. After losing his first job out of college, he moved to Beijing and found a new job.