A smuggled video appeared on social media in mid-February and documented yet another extrajudicial killing of a dissident in Chinese prisons.
by Yang Feng
News and images are going viral. Pang Xun died on December 2, 2022, but a “Pang Xun case” started in mid-February, when images of his dead body began circulating in social media. Posts were cancelled by the authorities, but not before hundreds of thousands had seen them. They remain available on Twitter, and young Chinese know how to access that social media, which is beyond the reach of the CCP and banned in China, by using a VPN.
What is new this time is that thousands who comment and protest express no special sympathy for Falun Gong but still ask the CCP to put an end to the systematic extrajudicial killing of dissidents. We have seen many posts starting with “I am certainly not a Falun Gong practitioner but…”
Pang’s body appeared to be covered in cuts and bruises, and there were marks of electric shock beating all over his body, a clear evidence of the tortures that had caused his death.
Pang Xun was thirty when he died, and had graduated in music at Beijing’s Communication University of China. He was then hired by government-controlled Sichuan Provincial People’s Broadcasting Station, where he became a popular radio host.
He was promised to a brilliant career but on July 17, 2020, his world collapsed. He was arrested and accused of being a Falun Gong practitioner (he also has relatives practicing Falun Gong). He was sentenced to five years in jail for “using” a prohibited religious movement (xie jiao) under Article 300 of the Chinese Criminal Code, and sent to prison in Leshan, a prefecture-level city in Sichuan.
On December 2, 2022, his family was told that he had died in jail because of “hyperthyroidism.” Friends reported on social media that they did not know about any thyroid or other health problems, and Pang was in excellent health at the time he was arrested.
On December 3, the family sent a doctor to examine Pang’s body, but he was not allowed to enter the prison. The authorities told the relatives that, to humor them, an autopsy had been performed by a prison doctor, and had confirmed that Pang had died of natural causes. His body was cremated on December 13.
However, somebody managed to take a video and pictures of Pang’s body, which started circulating on social media on February 11, including a video on Twitter that the authorities could not suppress. Friends answered by posting pictures of Pang in happier times.
Clearly, he had been tortured to death, as it had happened before him to hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners, members of The Church of Almighty God, and other religious and political dissidents. Extrajudicial killing in Chinese jails is not an accident. It is used as a political tool to terrorize the population and crack down on all dissident groups.