Three Older Liaoning Women Jailed for Distributing Calendars Bearing Messages about Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) Because they distributed several calendars bearing messages about Falun Gong, three women in Benxi City, Liaoning Province were arrested on November 12, 2017. They were recently sentenced to three years of imprisonment each after two court hearings.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice based on meditation and principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The group has been severely defamed and persecuted by the Communist Party since July 1999. To help people break away from the hate propaganda, Falun Gong practitioners often use creative means, such as distributing informational materials, to raise awareness of the persecution.
Arrest and Detention
Ms. Yan Wenqin, Ms. Huang Yazhen, and Ms. Yu Jinfeng were arrested by agents from Jianchang Police Station last year and have since been held at the Benxi City Detention Center. They were given criminal detention two weeks after their arrest.
Inside the detention center, these practitioners—all in their sixties—were forced to do slave labor, including paper cutting, a laborious handcraft to produce various patterns and figures. Practitioners who could not finish the work were forced to stand still for a long time.
As a result of the forced labor and forced standing, all three practitioners developed various illness symptoms. They told officers about this and requested to do Falun Gong exercises to improve their health. Their request was ignored and they were reprimanded.
A trial was held for these three practitioners on May 24, 2018. All practitioners were represented by attorneys.
After the presiding judge Fan Hong arrived, the practitioners' families submitted a request to be secondary defenders. Fan ordered his bailiffs to remove the family members as well as other spectators.
The defense lawyers argued that Fan had no authority to interfere with the family members' legal right to provide secondary defense. Fan realized his mistake and signaled for all the spectators to return to the courtroom.
After a two-hour break, the trial resumed in the afternoon. The lawyers pointed out that it was illegal for the police to escalate the case from administrative detention to criminal detention without sufficient evidence. Faced with the lawyers' request to revoke the criminal detention, prosecutor Huang Wei asked the judge to adjourn the trial, and his request was approved.
Officers from the police station did not give up. They continued to collect evidence to frame the three practitioners. They also contacted people, including three elementary school students, as prosecution witnesses who allegedly saw the practitioners handing out calendars that contained Falun Gong messages.
A second hearing took place on October 16, 2018. None of the witnesses showed up. Three new attorneys entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the practitioners. Prosecutor Huang threatened the practitioners with three to seven years of imprisonment.
Unable to refute the defense lawyers' arguments, judge Fan flew into a rage and yelled, “Shame on you!”
Fan sentenced the three practitioners to prison a few weeks after the second hearing. They have now appealed the case to the Benxi City Intermediate Court.
Key Responsible Personnel:
Fan Hong: presiding judge, +86-18641473054, +86-24-46873054Huang Wei: prosecutor, +86-24-46811540