Zhou Deyong last saw his wife and son in Florida half a year ago before flying back to China to care for his ailing parents aged 87 and 90.
He’s now being held in a Chinese detention center with little access to the outside world.
Both his wife and son practice Falun Gong, a Buddha-school spiritual practice targeted for brutal suppression by the communist party in China for over two decades.
Zhou, a senior geological engineer at the Geological Scientific Research Institute of the Shengli Oil Field, the second-largest crude producer in China, was arrested on April 23 at his home in Dongying, a coastal city in eastern Shandong Province. They accused Zhou of “utilizing heretical religion to sabotage the enforcement of law”—a common charge that many religious believers have faced under a regime that has shown little tolerance of faith.
The police gave no official document when they raided Zhou’s house and seized more than 100 Falun Gong-related books and booklets—what his family had left behind when they fled to the United States. According to Falun Gong’s website, the self-improvement discipline promotes the values of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.
Something felt off to them when days of phone calls to Zhou went unanswered. They then found out after seeing Zhou’s name in an article on Minghui, a U.S.-based website dedicated to documenting the persecution, that also noted the arrests of 18 practitioners from the region.
Under Chinese criminal law, one could face three to seven years of jail time for making and spreading 250 books and publications that the regime deems to be “heretical propaganda.” For one-fifth of that quantity, the sentencing would be up to three years.
BY EVA FU