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Human Rights Activist Zhang Pancheng Released from Prison
Let's tune in for more news on China. Zhang Pancheng, a young man who recorded a video to publicly criticize the CCP’s one-party dictatorship, was released from prison on May 20. Talking to the Chinese-language Epoch Times about Zhang’s incarceration, Beijing-based human rights advocate Li Bohong revealed that prison guards had his blood drawn dozens of times without asking for his permission or explaining the necessity of the tests. Zhang said he was imprisoned together with another young man, Qi Yiyuan, who was arrested for speaking negatively about the CCP. In November 2018, Zhang had broadcast a live video of Qi protesting at the entrance of Zhongnanhai. Qi was wearing black with the characters "Defend freedom of speech, free human rights lawyers, restore lawyers' qualifications" printed on the front, and "Oppose Xi's ban on free commenting and his act in opposition to right principles, oppose the CCP's one-party dictatorship" printed on the back. Before they were arrested by the authorities, Zhang managed to share the video on WeChat. On April 4, 2020, a CCP court sentenced Qi to 2 years and Zhang to 1.5 years in prison for the crime of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble." During a prison visit, Qi told his lawyer Liang Xiaojun that he had shown his support for an Falun Gong prisoner of conscience who was on hunger strike. He said he had joined the Falun Gong practitioner to shout: “Falun Dafa is Good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is Good.” Another human rights advocate Chen Hongwang had been told by the detention center that Zhang would be released at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. on May 20. He had planned to join Li and the Zhang family in receiving the young man upon his release from prison. But Chen ended up being grounded at home by local authorities as police acted to limit travel around the capital ahead of the CCP’s "Two Sessions" annual meeting. “Once the meeting started, (people’s movements) were all controlled. People either get grounded at home, or get forced to travel.” Around 7 a.m. on May 20, Zhang’s family arrived at the detention center in Beijing's Xicheng District with Li to await Zhang’s release. It was not until 10 a.m. that they saw Zhang come running out of the detention center, escorted by more than ten men. Li said that Zhang had become thin and pale after likely malnourishment in prison. “He said that when he was in prison, his blood was drawn plenty of times. He said it was around dozens of times,” Li said. “His health condition, from what I can tell, he is lacking nutrition. The skin color is pale and yellow, that's a sign of being physically weak. His mental state is still vibrant, probably supported by his spiritual strength.” When asked whether he knew anything about Qi’s situation, Li said he had not been able to visit the young man. But “I have heard that Liang Xiaojun can visit Qi, because he is his lawyer,” he added. Qi Yiyuan was born in 1991 in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, and had studied in Australia for two years. Zhang Pancheng was born in 1995 and grew up as a left-behind child in rural Gansu Province. He once worked as a security guard at Peking University.