(Minghui.org) When Ms. Yang Lihua was released in May 2017 after four years in prison for practicing Falun Gong, she badly needed to find a job. As a single mother, she had to raise two young children while taking care of her parents—her mother had nose cancer and her father had been severely ill with no money for treatment.
Two days after she began to work at a gas station in August 2017, local police chief Sun Shijun saw her and ordered the gas station owner to fire her because she was a Falun Gong practitioner. When Ms. Yang contacted government agencies for her legal right to work, she was arrested along with Qu Yongxia, another practitioner who was trying to help her.
Currently, both practitioners have been sentenced to prison, with a four-year term for Ms. Yang and a three-year term for Ms. Qu.
Falun Gong, also known as a Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice based on meditation and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Since the communist party began to suppress Falun Dafa in July 1999, tens of millions of practitioners in China and their family member have been mistreated enormously in the past 19 years.
Ms. Yang Lihua, a resident of Sunwu County, Heilongjiang Province, used to suffer from chronic illnesses and could hardly work.
When her son was born at home three months prematurely, Ms. Yang cried over the little, young life, which was just a little bigger than her hand. With no money to go to the hospital, her husband suddenly remembered what he had heard from a practitioner about Falun Gong's miraculous healing power. He begged the Master of Falun Gong for help and promised that the entire family would join the practice.
Since then, everyone in the family often recited “Falun Dafa is good” and “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.” Surprisingly, the baby boy survived. The family became happier and their financial situation also improved. Their friends and neighbors were also impressed by these miracles.
The persecution started by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999 was a heavy blow to the family. Although her husband stopped practicing due to fear, Ms. Yang was determined in her faith, As a result, she was sentenced to three years in prison by the Sunwu Court in August 2014 and sent to Heilongjiang Women's Prison.
Ms. Yang was brutally beaten in prison, which caused her to become emaciated and unable to straighten her back. Upon release, her health had not recovered, but she needed work to support her family, as her husband had divorced her years ago.
After police chief Sun of the Hongqi Street Police Station forced her out of her job in August 2017, Ms. Yang went to the police hoping to get her job back. But her mistreatment was ignored and an officer surnamed Wang even detained her for two hours.
Another practitioner, Qu Yongxia, heard about Ms. Yang's plight and went with her to the local 610 Office as well as the Appeals Office to seek justice. County police arrested both of them in front of the Appeals Office on November 17, 2017 and sent them to Hongguang Detention Center.
Within several days, the case of Ms. Yang and Ms. Qu was escalated to criminal detention. The Sunwu Court sentenced them on December 26, 2017 on charges of “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext often used by Chinese government officials to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. Ms. Qu was given 4 years, and Ms. Yang 4 years.
After Ms. Qu's family appealed the sentence, the Heihe Intermediate Court held a hearing on January 31, 2018. Tang, an attorney from Tianjin, defended the two practitioners saying it was their legal right to work and make a living for their families. The two practitioners also defended themselves.
The intermediate court ruled on February 23, 2018 to uphold the original verdict.
Wang Zhaojiang, Presiding Judge of Heihe Intermediate Court, +86-456-8294029, +86-13604560386Sun Shijun, director of the Hongqi Street Police Station, +86-456-8441435, +86-15246992777