A retired colonel who was denied visitation for one-and-a-half years passed away while serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison term for upholding his belief in Falun Gong. The traditional mind-body discipline has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Being denied visitation for 18 months, the grief-stricken family knew very little about Gong's recent experiences or his health condition. Doctors and prison authorities also rejected the family's strong demand to see Gong's body. Only Gong's older brother and nephew were allowed to say goodbye on the condition that they didn't take any photos or make any recordings.
Gong's head was injured and swollen, and he had blood in his ear, according to his brother. Prison authorities reported that Gong was non-compliant during his high blood pressure treatment, which led to a stroke.
Gong's family was suspicious about Gong's reported high blood pressure and questioned why prison authorities did not inform them about Gong's health condition nor grant him medical parole for treatment of long-term high blood pressure.
In the prison's surveillance video, shown to the family, Gong was sick in the evening. Later, a prison doctor came to check Gong's blood pressure and left without providing any treatment.
22 Years of PersecutionGong's family spoke about the agony and pain they suffered in the past two decades.
"In May 2015, he was tortured and his hair turned gray. He could not walk by himself, and his internal organs were damaged from the beatings," she recalled about the time when Gong was incarcerated in a brainwashing center.
"Many innocent people, even though they don't practice Falun Gong, have been hurt by the persecution policy. I still remember that my mother's co-workers and her employer were also harassed. Her supervisors had to pay fines," she said.
Officially launched on July 20, 1999, the unprecedented, brutal persecution of Falun Gong has resulted in hundreds of thousands of arrests, disappearances, and the documented deaths of over 4,500 Falun Gong practitioners—though the number is feared to be much higher.