Qitaihe, Heilongjiang Province: 10 Still Detained for Their Faith, Face Uphill Battle
(Minghui.org) Ten Qitaihe City residents remain detained following their arrests earlier this year for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. Seven of them have been formally charged for their faith and are awaiting trial.
The eight women and two men were seized in two police raids in as many weeks.
Ms. Zhang Lanjun, Ms. Yu Guihua, and Mr. Gao Yunshan were arrested on April 24, 2016.
Two weeks later on May 8, the police took into custody Ms. Wu Xuzhu, Ms. Zhao Chunyang, Ms. Tan Fengyun, Ms. Zhang Guirong, Ms. Wang Jing, Ms. Wang Yuanju, and Mr. Li Baohua.
The cases against Mr. Li Baohua, Ms. Zhang Guirong and Ms. Zhao Chunyang have been returned to police for additional evidence. The remaining seven practitioners are reportedly facing trial in late October or early November.
Lawyers Face Uphill Battle
The ten practitioners' lawyers, however, found themselves fighting an uphill battle as they worked to defend their clients. Some of them had to overcome a lot of obstacles just to meet with their clients, while others were turned away while trying to review case documents.
Details of Lawyers’ Efforts
Below we detail the lawyers’ latest efforts as they prepare to defend their clients.
1. Ms. Wu Xuzhu
Ms. Wu's lawyers, Mr. Lu Yunge and Mr. Wang Lei, both reported that, after meeting with her on separate days, she told them that she had a relapse of her heart problem and was taken to the hospital on June 5 for an electrocardiography.
She asked the lawyers to tell her husband not to feel shocked should she die, as she often felt unbearable pain.
The two lawyers first tried to review her case at Taoshan District Procuratorate on August 22 but were told that her case had been returned to the police.
Mr. Lu visited the procuratorate again on September 18, only to learn that his client had been indicted four days earlier.
He immediately went to visit the Taoshan District Court. A court president named Wang Guowei instructed Judge Jin Xingfeng to come out with Ms. Wu’s case file.
Jin insisted that Mr. Lu go through a security check before being allowed to read the file. Even though such a request was against the law, Mr. Lu relented in order to have enough time to visit his client in the afternoon.
Wang, however, prohibited Mr. Lu from photocopying or taking pictures of the case documents as allowed by law. He sent the lawyer back to the procuratorate for an electronic copy.
The procuratorate denied Mr. Lu access to his client’s case file, citing the fact that the case now rested with the court.
Mr. Lu returned to the court but was unable to get hold of anyone. He tried one more time in the afternoon, only to be given the runaround.
Mr. Lu decided to file a complaint against the court for its violation of his right to review and copy his client’s case documents. The Qitaihe City Intermediate Court, Taoshan District Procuratorate, and Qitaihe City Procuratorate used various excuses not to lodge his complaint. He was left with no choice but to mail his complaints to these agencies on September 25.
Ms. Wu’s other lawyer, Mr. Wang, visited Taoshan District Court on September 28. His luck wasn’t any better: He was told that Judge Jin was out of town.
Mr. Lu filed another round of complaints on October 12, this time to the Heilongjiang Provincial Procuratorate and Superior Court. He requested that the higher court order Taoshan District Court to put Ms. Wu’s case on hold until his complaint is heard and that Ms. Wu be released on bail given her dire conditions.
He has not received a response at the time of writing.
2. Ms. Wang Jing
Ms. Wang’s lawyer, Mr. Yang Zhonghao, was allowed to see her at the detention center but was unable to review her case at Taoshan District Court. Like Mr. Lu, he also filed a complaint with Qitaihe City Intermediate Court, Qitaihe City Taoshan District Procuratorate, and Qitaihe City Procuratorate.
3. Ms. Zhang Lanjun
Ms. Zhang’s lawyer, Mr. Ma Lianshun, met with her on September 18. She complained that she was deceived into giving a confession during the police interrogation.
Mr. Ma then visited Xinxing District Court to raise concerns about his client’s extorted confessions and requested to see the video recording of the interrogation. A court president named Huang Yaohai initially promised to give him a copy of the tape, but he later backpedaled.
Mr. Ma wrote an opinion statement requesting the court appearance of the interrogating officers. He mailed his statement to Huang on September 26.
4. Ms. Tan Fengyun
Ms. Tan’s lawyer, Mr. Shi Fulong, visited Qiezihe District Court on September 21, but no one was around. He called the court president Wang Qinglin, who told him to return the next day.
Wang was busy hearing a case the next day and promised to make a copy of Ms. Tan’s case file and mail it to Mr. Shi.
5. Ms. Yu Guihua
Ms. Yu’s lawyer, Mr. Chen Jiangang, visited Qiezihe District Court on September 22. He was able to photocopy his client’s case file in ten minutes.
6. Ms. Wang Yuanju
Ms. Wang’s lawyer Mr. Hu Linzheng met with her on September 22. He next visited Xinxing District Court and talked to court president Huang Haohai about the procedural violations in his client’s case.
7. Mr. Gao Yunshan
Mr. Gao’s lawyer Mr. Wang Guangqi visited the Taoshan District Court twice on October 14. He was unable to review Mr. Gao’s case because Judge Jin Xingfeng was not in.
8. Ms. Zhao Chunyang
Ms. Zhao’s lawyer Mr. Wen Donghai visited Taoshan District Court on September 26 and was told that her case was still with Taoshan District Procuratorate. He rushed to the procuratorate and learned that the case had been returned to police.
He next went to see Ms. Zhao and noted that she was in poor health. Ms. Zhao said she suffered chest pain and abdominal pain and had no appetite.
Mr. Wen had submitted a request for Ms. Zhao’s release on medical parole when they last met on August 22, but the detention center has not responded to him.
9. Ms. Zhang Guirong
Ms. Zhang’s lawyer, Mr. Li Ming, met with her two days in a row on September 28 and 29.
He was not able to contact the two people in charge of Ms. Zhang’s case–Qu Long at the Taonan Police Station and Gao Xinyan at Taoshan District Procuratorate. He later mailed his requests to them, asking that Ms. Zhang be released on bail and face no indictment.
10. Mr. Li Baohua
Mr. Li’s lawyer, Mr. Wang, was able to meet with him at the detention center and copy his case document at Taoshan District Procuratorate on August 26.