Anhui Man Secretly Sentenced to 3.5 Years for Putting Up Informational Banners about His Faith
(Minghui.org) When Mr. Zhao Yunbin's wife went to the Fuyang City Detention Center on November 26, 2018 to deliver winter clothes to him, she was told that he wasn't there anymore.
At her repeated requests, the guard on duty looked up his whereabouts and found that he had been taken to the Suzhou City Prison one month before, on October 26, to serve a 3.5-year term.
Neither the local court nor the detention center had informed Mr. Zhao's wife or his lawyer of his sentencing or prison admission.
Mr. Zhao was arrested on February 20, 2017, after police saw him on a surveillance camera putting up Falun Gong banners along a state highway on January 20, 2017.
Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, which has been persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.
Because of practicing Falun Gong and raising awareness of the persecution, Mr. Zhao has been repeatedly targeted by the authorities over the past 19 years. His mother, Ms. Zhao Jishi, also a Falun Gong practitioner, passed away on February 18, 2004, after suffering physical detention and mental distress due to the persecution. She was 80.
In Mr. Zhao's latest arrest, the head of the Jiulong Town Police Station, Ma Yumin, led dozens of armed officers to his home and ransacked his residence. All of his Falun Gong books and 4,000 yuan in bills with Falun Gong messages printed on them were confiscated. (Under the strict information censorship, many Falun Gong practitioners have adopted a variety of creative approaches to let people know about the persecution, including printing messages on banknotes.)
At least 27 other Falun Gong practitioners from the same township were harassed and had their Falun Gong books confiscated moments after Mr. Zhao's arrest.
The police took Mr. Zhao to the Bengbu City Brainwashing Center after his arrest. The brainwashing center staff demanded that his family assist them in pressuring Mr. Zhao to renounce his faith, but they refused.
The police stayed in Mr. Zhao's home until March 10, 2018, and monitored whoever came to visit. His wife was forced to live away from home to avoid the ongoing police harassment.
The Yingzhou District Court held two hearings for Mr. Zhao on December 12, 2017, and January 17, 2018. His lawyer defended his innocence both times and argued that it was his constitutional right to freedom of belief to practice Falun Gong and post information about the practice. He demanded Mr. Zhao's acquittal.
It wasn't clear when the court announced the verdict against Mr. Zhao.