Arrest and imprisonment of two family members have led to mental problems and death.
Chen Chong from the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, a believer since her childhood, was born in 1958. She joined The Church of Almighty God, a Chinese Christian new religious movement, in June of 2002. In 2014, she and her son were arrested for their belief and sentenced to years in prison. These events resulted in complete destruction of the family.
After 2 p.m. on June 9, 2014, three plainclothes officers burst into the family’s home and arrested Chen Chong and her son, Zhang Wen, taking them to a local police station. The arrest was a result of a tip-off that the family belonged to the Church of Almighty God.
At the station, officers handcuffed Chen Chong to a tiger bench – a torture tool when detainee’s legs are strapped, and bricks or other hard material is put under them, causing unbearable pain. At about 2 p.m. the following day, police questioned her demanding information about the Church. When the interrogation did not give any results, Chen Chong and her son were sent to a detention center in Sanyao village.
In May 2015, the Zhouzhi County Court sentenced Chen Chong to three years and Zhang Wen to 2.5 years for “organizing and using a xie jiao (heterodox) organization to undermine the enforcement of the law.” Chen Chong was then sent to the Shaanxi women’s prison while Zhang Wen – to the Weinan prison.
Chen Chong’s husband, Zhang Hua, went to visit Zhang Wen in prison. He learned that his son had suffered brutal torture by the corrections officers: they would hang Zhang Wen up for 15 days straight, the tips of his toes could barely reach the floor, and they did not allow him to eat for three days in a row. While trying to reason with the officers, Zhang Hua was beaten up himself.
Strongly affected by his son’s condition and the brutality of the guards, Zhang Hua began experiencing mental problems: he would run around uncontrollably, throwing his clothes all over the house; once he climbed on the top of the roof, tearing off roof tiles and tossing them down into the courtyard. Around dusk on September 22, 2015, during one of his running fits, he was hit by a car and eventually died. The prison authorities did not inform Chen Chong or her son about Zhang Hua’s death. Their fellow villagers collected some money for his funeral.
On June 8, 2017, when Chen Chong had served her full sentence, she was released and returned home; only then did she find out about her husband’s passing. Her son, having suffered long-term torture and intimidation, became psychologically unstable and seemed like a completely different person from before his arrest. He later disappeared without a trace and had not been found to this day.
Authorities continued to harass Chen Chong after her release: she had been called to the police station many times to sign some forms, the police regularly called her inquiring about her activities. She could not bear living in constant fear and left her home.
The names are pseudonyms.
Source: Direct Reports from China
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