Nephew of U.S. Citizen Continues 78-Day Hunger Strike in Protest of 10-Year Sentence
Mr. Hou Lijun, a 52-year-old from Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, and the nephew of U.S. citizen Karen Kang, was sentenced to ten years in prison on May 12, 2023 by Judge Gao Aiping of Wanbolin District for escaping from detention in 2003 and for his civil disobedience efforts that lead to his previous detention.
Hou was arrested on April 25, 2023 and sentenced less than three weeks later, an exceptionally short time for Falun Gong cases to be tried after an arrest.
Mr. Hou’s verdict on file with the Falun Dafa Information Center indicates he was charged with Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code, “using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law,” and describes his activities from 2002 combatting CCP propaganda about Falun Gong, petitioning for the right to freely practice, as well as his escape from a detention center in 2003. There is no mention of Mr. Hou’s recent activities. Mr. Hou appealed with the Taiyuan City Intermediate Court, which ruled to uphold his original verdict on May 16. He has since been taken to the Qi County Prison, where he continues a now 78-day hunger strike to protest the persecution as of July 13, 2023.
Civil Disobedience and Escape from Detention
Following the crackdown on Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, Mr. Hou went to his provincial government to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong and was detained for the first time on July 21, 1999. Half a year later in January 2000, he was arrested after appealing again and sentenced to two years of forced labor where was tortured and sleep deprived.
According to the verdict from his most recent sentence, Mr. Hou was involved in printing and sharing tens of thousands of flyers following his release from the labor camp sentence in 2002. Later, he also installed at least 5 sets of speakers in and around prisons with detained Falun Gong practitioners to play Falun Gong exercise music and other recordings.
In October of 2002, Mr. Hou was one of 64 practitioners detained in a mass arrest in Taiyuan, including his mother, Ms. Kang Shuqin, who was given 11 years in prison and later died after her sentence.
In a criminal complaint filed in July 2015 against former communist regime head Jiang Zemin for ordering the persecution, Mr. Hou recalled the torture he suffered during his prior detention,
I was handcuffed with my arms behind my back. My shoes were taken off. The electric batons were crackling blue light. When the electricity went through me, it felt like hundreds of steel needles piecing my body and also a heavy hammer pounding me. My skin was burning and painful. The electric shock lasted a long time. I couldn’t stand up and began to lose consciousness. The whole room was filled with a strong smell of burnt flesh. At that time, I was very weak after six days of hunger strike, yet they still brutally tortured me in an attempt to extract a confession.
After 105 days of detention, enduring torture and hunger striking, Mr. Hou managed to escape from the detention center and lived in displacement for the 20 years before his recent arrest.
Persecution of Family
In addition to Mr. Hou, California resident Karen Kang has two other relatives detained in China. Her younger sister, Kang Shumei, and Kang Shumei’s son, 33-year-old Mr. Zhang Gu, were both arrested on October 31, 2022. The exact reasons for their arrests is unclear.
According to Minghui, Kang Shumei is currently held at Gujiao No. 4 Detention Center in Taiyuan, and Zhang Gu is held at Yingze District No. 3 Detention center, also in Taiyuan. Both are being denied visitation rights.