(Minghui.org) Ms. Zhang Xueqin, a 52-year-old resident of Lianyunggang City, was illegally sentenced to three years in prison for her belief in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

The local trial court based the conviction of Ms. Zhang on the statutory interpretation of Article 300 of the Criminal Law issued by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in November 1999, four months after the persecution of Falun Gong began. The statute required that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible, declaring the practice an “evil cult.”

Ms. Zhang’s lawyer argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult. The 1999 statute was replaced by a new one that took effect on February 1, 2017. The new statute made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must have solid legal basis.

The local higher court did find that the lower court cited the wrong legal basis, given that the old statute had expired. Yet, the higher court upheld the verdict while citing the updated statute and the fact that neither statute constituted law upon which a conviction could be based.

Secretly Tried

Ms. Zhang was reported for telling people about Falun Gong on April 18, 2016. She was arrested by officers from Haizhou Branch Police Department on May 3 and has since been held at Lianyunggang Detention Center. Police ransacked her home and confiscated many personal belongings.

The Haizhou District Procuratorate filed the charge against Ms. Zhang in August. She was tried by Haizhou District Court without her family present on November 11, 2016. The court convicted her on February 16, 2017.

Family Visits Illegally Denied

Ms. Zhang's daughter contacted the local police branch, the procuratorate, and the district court repeatedly to find out her mother's situation. They instructed her to wait for news at home.

She didn't know that her mother had been given three years in prison until February 17, 2017. When she questioned a police officer why her family was not informed of the trial, the officer laughed and said, “The law does not require the family to be informed of a trial. We can do anything we want to. Don't try to find fault with the government. You will fail.”

Ms. Zhang's daughter and her lawyer went to Lianyunggang Detention Center on March 30 to discuss an appeal with Ms. Zhang. The daughter was not allowed to see her mother. The entire family have been deprived of their visitation rights since her arrest.

Higher Court’s Ruling Still Baseless

Ms. Zhang retained a lawyer for her appeal. Her lawyer met with the intermediate court judge on the morning of May 4 and visited Ms. Zhang in the afternoon. The lawyer told Ms. Zhang that the intermediate court would not hear her case. May 4 was also the first time the daughter learned of the original verdict.

On June 7, the lawyer informed Ms. Zhang's daughter that Lianyunggang Intermediate Court upheld the original judgment.

The higher court’s self-contradictory decision states that the district court wrongly cited the 1999 version of the statute, yet it upheld the original verdict while citing the 2017 version.

Previous Persecution

Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began its persecution of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, Ms. Zhang has been detained, often in a local brainwashing center, for refusing to renounce her faith.

Ms. Zhang filed a criminal complaint against former CCP leader Jiang Zemin in June 2015 with the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Supreme People's Court. Jiang initiated the CCP’s violent campaign against Falun Gong in 1999.

In October 2015, Ms. Zhang was detained for 15 days for distributing Falun Gong materials at a tourist area on Yuntai Mountain.

Benefits from Falun Gong

Not long after Ms. Zhang started practicing Falun Gong in April 1998, her urethritis, cystitis and urinary bleeding were cured. She has not needed medical treatment since that time.

Her personality also changed: introverted and peculiar, she haggled with her brother and sister-in-law over trivial things. However, Ms. Zhang began basing her actions on Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. She became open-minded, cheerful, and considerate. She went to her sister-in-law and apologized for her past behavior.

“If it were not for Falun Gong, I would not be this kind and honest,” Ms. Zhang said.

On one occasion, while building a house, Ms. Zhang accidentally touched an exposed high-voltage wire, which clung to her hand and could not be thrown off. She immediately thought that, as a practitioner, she was protected by the founder of Falun Gong. The wire then fell off by itself.

Ms. Zhang’s family also credits Falun Gong with benefiting her husband, who does not practice, citing an incident in which he was not hurt when a concrete plate fell directly on his head. Her children have also been very healthy since she started her practice.

Responsible parties:

Hou Yuru: prosecutor, Haizhou District Procuratorate, +086-518-85571562Chen Lidong: presiding judge, Haizhou District Court, +086-13016906200Ni Jie: presiding judge, Lianyunggang intermediate Court, +086-518-85295280