Name: Zhao TinggaoChinese Name: 赵廷杲Gender: MaleAge: 71City: YingkouProvince: LiaoningOccupation: UnknownDate of Death: October 7, 2023Date of Most Recent Arrest: June 28, 2016Most Recent Place of Detention: Dalian Prison
A 71-year-old man in Yingkou City, Liaoning Province, died on October 7, 2023, after suffering years of persecution for upholding his faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Zhao Tinggao became a target as soon as the Chinese Communist Party began to persecute Falun Gong in July 1999. The Yingkou police continually harassed him and ordered him to renounce his faith. He refused to comply and was taken to a brainwashing center around 2000. He managed to escape and went into hiding. He spent the next 16 years moving from place to place to avoid further persecution.
Mr. Zhao was arrested on June 28, 2016, while temporarily living in Haicheng City (a city also in Liaoning Province that is about 30 miles away from Yingkou City). The arresting officers broke into his rental place and confiscated his personal belongings, including 30,160 yuan in cash, without showing their IDs or a search warrant. They also did not ask him to review and tally the confiscated items as required by law. His family received a call from the Haicheng City Domestic Security Office on July 29 that year and was told that the Haicheng City Procuratorate had issued a formal arrest warrant for him on July 21.
The police submitted his case to the Haicheng City Procuratorate on September 21, 2016. The Haicheng City Court tried Mr. Zhao and another practitioner, Ms. Wang Xiaoping (a resident of Haicheng City), together at the Anshan City Women’s Detention Center on March 29, 2017. It was unclear why the two practitioners’ cases were combined into one. The hearing was held at the detention center, where Ms. Wang had been held since her arrest (date unknown), because she had been tortured to be the point of being unable to walk.
Mr. Zhao was in heavy shackles when he was brought into the makeshift courtroom in the detention center. He shared how Falun Gong had restored his health and turned him into a better person. He also testified against the arresting officers for raiding his rental place without showing their IDs or a search warrant. He further emphasized that he was being prosecuted simply for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of belief, and that there was no evidence showing his practice of Falun Gong had undermined law enforcement as alleged.
Despite his demand for an acquittal, the court sentenced Mr. Zhao to a four-year prison term and a 35,000-yuan fine in May 2017. He filed an appeal with the Anshan City Intermediate Court.
When his family went to the Haicheng City Detention Center on October 30, 2017 to deliver clothing and money to him, they were told that he had been transferred to a prison in Shenyang City (capital of Liaoning Province) for newly sentenced prisoners three days prior. They had received no notification or ruling from the intermediate court about the prison transfer.
Mr. Zhao’s loved ones received a phone call from the Dalian Prison on December 7, 2017 and were told that he had been admitted to Team Three of Ward Six there. The prison also denied their request to visit him, as long as Mr. Zhao still refused to renounce Falun Gong.
Mr. Zhao was released in June 2020 and suffered from severe medical conditions for the next few years. He died on October 7, 2023.
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