A Chinese man was “disappeared” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) last October over his belief in spiritual practice Falun Gong. His mother was only notified of his whereabouts in early February, months after his initial detention.
Li Zhigang, a private tutor from the City of Changsha in central China’s Hunan Province, was arrested by local police in the middle of the night of Oct. 27, 2020, according to Minghui.org, a U.S-based website that serves as a clearinghouse for the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Around 20 police officers stormed into Li’s house and arrested him along with other Falun Gong practitioners present, the website said. His house was also searched.
Li’s mother was told by police that her son was under “residential surveillance,” but was not given a location. She was finally informed on Feb. 5 that Li was now being detained at Changsha City Detention Center.
While under “residential surveillance,” Li was tortured causing injuries, Minghui.org reported. His body was frail when Li was transferred to the Changsha City Detention Center.
The CCP deploys a system known as “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location” to detain religious believers, critics, and political targets, in secret locations, where they are held incommunicado and in isolation for up to half a year. Police are allowed to operate supervision at these facilities, where torture is common, according to human rights groups.
Falun Gong practitioners have been a prime target for persecution by the CCP for more than two decades. The practice, also known as Falun Dafa, consists of meditative exercises and a set of moral teachings based on the principles of “truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.” Its popularity surged in China during the 1990s, reaching 70 million to 100 million adherents by the end of the decade, according to official Chinese estimates at the time. Threatened by its large following, the CCP launched a campaign to eradicate Falun Gong in 1999, subjecting its adherents to harassment, detention, forced labor, torture, and forced organ harvesting.
Li, who holds a doctorate in computer science at the National University of Defense Technology, has previously been arrested multiple times for practicing Falun Gong.
In 2000, he was sentenced to one and a half years at a labor camp. Three years later, he was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2010, Li was again ordered to a labor camp for two years.
Minghui reported that on the night of April 2010, Li was taken to Qiaoyi Police Station in Changsha City, where he and other practitioners were tortured and interrogated until the next morning. The police did not stop their beating and verbal abuse of Li until they were tired, the website said.
When Li’s family visited him at the detention center ten days later, he had wounds all over his body. There were obvious wounds on his eyes, ears, and arms, as well as a palm-sized bloodstain on his thick cotton pants. His legs were also full of bruises, according to Minghui.org.
Li also developed a severe cough after the beating, causing pain in his chest and back, which prevented him from getting sleep at night.
Li’s relative also told Minghui.org that over the years of suffering from persecution, Li has been tortured, beaten, deprived of sleep for long periods of time, starved, and locked up in a small iron cage.