Detained Since: October 19, 1999
Charges: Organizing and using a heretical organization to cause death, Illegally obtaining state secrets, and Organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law.
Sentence: Twenty-five years in prison with five years' deprivation of rights.
Biography: Li Chang is a former high-ranking governmental official in the Ministry of Public Security, belonged to the Chinese Communist Party for over 39 years before becoming a member of Falun Gong. Falun Gong is the practice of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises with a moral philosophy. The practice is not accepted by Party and those who practice it are considered to be dissidents.
Li originally joined the organization to improve his health, but over time he become more involved and eventually took a leading position in the Falun Dafa Research Society, considered to be vocal point for all of Falun Gong operations. Li is linked to organizing a sit-in protest on April 25, 1999 at the housing compound for the highest-level Communist Party leaders. The protest received a significant amount of attention, and consequently, the Party started to take a hard line against its members.
Li Chang put under house arrest for three months on July 20, 1999, two days before the banning of Falun Gong in China. On October 19, 1999 Li was arrested formally and brought to trial on December 26, 1999. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and five years of deprivation of rights and charged for “Organizing and using a heretical organization to cause death,” “Illegally obtaining state secrets,” and “Organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law.” The courts decided to commute his sentence to 18 years, since he confessed to his involvement with Falun Gong. He is currently being held at Qianjin Prison in Tianjin and is expected to be released in 2017.