Real Estate Sales Manager Jailed for Practicing Falun Gong, Killed in 16 Months
A former journalist and real estate sales manager from Baoding city in Hebei province, Mr. Yang Zhixiong was arrested for the last time on September 26, 2019 for practicing Falun Gong. The Chinese Communist Party has been persecuting adherents of the spiritual practice, also known as Falun Dafa, since 1999.
Mr. Yang had been subjected to several rounds of persecution, arrests and prison terms due to the Chinese regime’s persecution of the spiritual practice.
After his latest arrest, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison on December 1, 2020. He immediately filed an appeal, which was turned down 8 days later. In April 2021 he was taken to the Jidong No. 5 Prison. While in prison, the guards forbade him from calling his family because he would not give in to pressure to renounce his belief in truth, compassion, and tolerance—the tenants of Falun Dafa.
More than a year later, on June 30, 2022, Mr. Yang fell into a coma. The guards waited for 2 days before taking him to the hospital. For nearly 40 days, between July 2 and August 10, 2022, Mr. Yang was kept in the intensive care unit with restricted family visitation.
Mr. Yang’s family was allowed to visit him in the intensive care unit at Tangshan Union (Xiehe) Hospital in July 2022. They saw Mr. Yang was emaciated, and yet the guards kept him handcuffed and shackled. The doctor told his family that he had myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells). As he was extremely weak, they couldn’t operate on him and only gave him blood transfusions and protein drips.
Mr. Yang died on August 10, 2022, in the hospital. He was 58 years old. When Mr. Yang’s family saw his dead body, they found him still emaciated, with his eyes and mouth wide open.
Mr. Yang’s wife, Ms. Qi Hongjin, also practices Falun Gong and is still living away from home to avoid being persecuted. Their son, traumatized by the persecution and deceived by the communist regime’s slanderous propaganda against Falun Gong, was reluctant to care for his father when he was still alive.
Mr. Yang was the third Falun Gong practitioner who died while serving time at the Jidong No. 5 Prison in the past year. Mr. Pan Yingshun, a pharmacy owner, died in July 2021, 14 months after he was imprisoned to a 4.5-year prison term. Mr. Han Junde passed away in April 2022 while serving an 8.5-year term. Due to torturous abuse in prison, he developed severe anemia, became blind in one eye and eventually lost the ability to walk. Both Mr. Pan and Mr. Han were also held at the Tangshan Union Hospital before they died.
Prior to his last prison term, Mr. Yang was arrested in June 2003 and sentenced to 4 years in prison. His wife, Ms. Qi Hongjin, who was arrested at the same time, was subjected to 2 years of forced labor. By the time he was released from prison Mr. Yang had to do odd jobs to make ends meet because his former employer had fired him. In 2008, he was tricked by authorities and checked into a brainwashing center where he was held for a month.
On November 3, 2012, less than one month after he started a new job as a real estate sales manager in Beijing, Mr. Yang was arrested again and put on trial at the Xiong County Court on December 25, 2012. He was sentenced to 3 years and transferred to the Jidong Prison on January 16, 2013.
The last time he was arrested, on September 26, 2019, he was stopped at a highway toll station and detained because he did not have his ID with him. The police ransacked his home after discovering that he was a Falun Gong practitioner.