Family Appeals for Release of Young Chinese Man Sentenced to 7 Years for Sharing VPN Software

August 27, 2019 Updated: August 27, 2019

The family of a young Chinese man imprisoned after sharing information about virtual private network (VPN) software is pleading for help, as they fear he will soon be tortured to death.

VPN software is often used to circumvent the Chinese regime’s internet firewall.

Jiang Shilin, 26, is from a small village located within Zhuanghe City of northeastern China’s Liaoning Province.

In late December 2016, Jiang was arrested by local police, according to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website dedicated to reporting on the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that has been severely suppressed by the Chinese regime since 1999.

An ancient Chinese meditation practice based on the moral principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, Falun Gong became enormously popular in the 1990s. By 1999, official estimates placed the number of adherents at 70 million to 100 million.

Deeming the practice’s popularity a threat to its control, the Chinese communist regime launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate the practice, rounding up practitioners in brainwashing centers, prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals, where they are tortured and forced to renounce their faith.

According to information obtained by Minghui.org correspondents, Jiang had just begun learning Falun Gong when he was arrested. He had read some of “Zhuan Falun,” the main book of teachings, and had yet to learn the practice’s meditative exercises.

After learning about VPN software that allow users to break through the Chinese regime’s censorship apparatus and freely access the internet, Jiang began spreading information about the software on QQ, a messaging app popular in China.

Upon detecting Jiang’s messages, police from nearby Dalian City teamed up with Zhuanghe police and located his whereabouts through his phone’s geographical positioning. Jiang was arrested at his house and detained at the Zhuanghe Detention Center.

Secret Trial

On June 7, 2017, the Zhuanghe court commenced proceedings on Jiang’s case without informing Jiang’s family.

On Aug. 11, 2017, the court sentenced Jiang to seven years imprisonment without explaining Jiang’s crimes or notifying his family. After the secret trial, Jiang was detained at the First Prison of Shenyang City.

In prison, Jiang was forced to do hard labor. When he refused to do so, he was moved to a “high-security monitoring area,” where guards use torture methods to force prisoners into confessing their alleged crimes, according to the Minghui report.

In a previous case, Falun Gong practitioner Li Shangshi, 65, was detained in the same area of the prison in November 2013. Several days later, he began to throw up blood due to the torture he sustained there. Li died on Nov. 22, 2013.

Current Situation

More than 20 days ago, Jiang began a hunger strike to protest the continued torture, according to a Minghui report on Aug. 26.

Several days ago, the prison allowed Jiang’s family to visit him. Family members saw that he had become very thin. Worried that Jiang would soon die due to lack of nutrition, Jiang’s family signed a letter authorizing the prison to force-feed Jiang by inserting a tube to his stomach through his nose.

But after returning home, they grew concerned that the force-feeding would be another form of torture. Minghui.org has documented numerous cases of Falun Gong practitioners being tortured to death through force-feeding.

Worried that Jiang could die from force-feeding, his family has visited the prison every day, asking for his immediate release. Through Minghui.org, they also have urged the international community to appeal for Jiang’s release.

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