Arrested Over 20 Times for Her Faith, Retired Teacher in Custody Again and Facing Trial
(Minghui.org) A retired teacher in Ankang City, Shaanxi Province, was seized from her home on June 23 and formally arrested on August 11 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.
This is not the first time that Ms. Luo Changyun, 61, has been targeted for her faith. Her latest arrest follows more than 20 prior arrests between 2000 and 2014. During that time she spent a total of six-and-a-half years in a forced labor camp and five years in prison.
The repeated arrests and subsequent torture have taken a toll on her health. Her teeth are loose, she has chronic back pain, her vision has deteriorated, and she suffers from chronic stomach problems. Her blood pressure was dangerously high after her latest arrest. The authorities, however, have denied her request for bail.
The detention center even confiscated the law license of Ms. Luo’s lawyer when he protested that his meeting with his client was cut short. He didn’t get his license back until he complained to the police chief.
The procurator has recommended 4-6 years of imprisonment for Ms. Luo.
One Month of Standoff Preceded Arrest
Ms. Luo was home on May 24, 2016, when she heard loud banging on her door. She saw through the peephole that Deng Tao, head of the Hanbin District Domestic Security Office, was outside with his officers.
She urged the police to stop harassing her, reminding them that she wasn’t breaking any law by exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief.
Because she adamantly refused to open the door, Deng ordered the utility company to shut off the water to her apartment. He also tried to disconnect her electricity, but gave up after learning that the whole apartment building shared the same power line.
Ms. Luo was placed under house arrest, and the police staked out her home 24 hours a day.
Two unexpected visitors appeared at Ms. Luo’s door on June 23. The police took advantage of the situation and broke in. More than 20 of them turned her apartment upside down and confiscated her valuables. They didn’t produce a search warrant or an itemized list of seized property, as required by law.
Family Denied Visits
The police never notified Ms. Luo’s family of her arrest. The family reported her missing on June 25 after failing to get in touch with her for two days. When the police refused to register her as a missing person, the family realized that she must have been arrested again.
They visited the Hanbin District Domestic Security Office two days later and were told that Ms. Luo was serving a 15-day administrative detention. When they requested a written copy of her detention, the response was threats.
The detention center also refused to allow the family to visit Ms. Luo. The guards withheld the money they deposited for her and the letters they wrote to her.
The police changed Ms. Luo’s status to “criminal detention” on the 14th day of her administrative detention, paving the way for prosecution.
During the interrogation, the police tried to make Ms. Luo “confess” to some alleged crimes. Even though she never distributed Falun Gong materials where and when they claimed she did, she “confessed” that she did after the police threatened to frame other practitioners if she didn’t agree to go along. She told her lawyers later that she didn’t want any other practitioners to go through what she did.
The police got the Procuratorate to issue a formal arrest warrant on August 11. Her case was quickly forwarded to Hanbin District Court.
Meeting with Lawyer Cut Short
One of Ms. Luo’s lawyers, Mr. Zhang Keke, met with her at the detention center on October 14. Their meeting was cut short after Ms. Luo said that she wanted to write a letter for Mr. Zhang to give to her family.
When Mr. Zhang protested, the detention center director confiscated his law license. Mr. Zhang went to complain to the local Procuratorate but was turned away.
Mr. Zhang next visited Hanbin District Police Department, and the chief eventually ordered the return of Mr. Zhang’s law license.
The chief complained to Mr. Zhang, “Luo gives me more headaches than anyone in my jurisdiction!” Mr. Zhang reminded him that Ms. Luo did nothing wrong by practicing Falun Gong and that the police should spend their time catching real criminals, not innocent practitioners who simply want to be good people.
Bail Requests Denied
Ms. Luo’s other lawyer, Mr. Hu Linzheng, filed a bail request shortly after her arrest. The police denied the request despite her poor health.
Mr. Hu and Mr. Zhang requested bail again in late October, but to no avail.
Ms. Luo’s health continues to decline, and her family is extremely concerned about her well-being.
Prosecutor Recommends Prison Sentence
Mr. Hu and Mr. Zhang visited the Hanbin District Court on October 31 to review her case file. Judge Wang Feng demanded that they write a statement promising to never distribute her case information to the public. To prepare their defense, the lawyers complied with the demand even though no law requires it.
While going through the document of over 300 pages, the lawyers noticed that the prosecutor has recommended a 4-6 year prison term for their client.