Married Couple Sentenced to Prison, Extended Family Targeted – All for Their Faith in Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) A married couple in Zaozhuang City was sentenced to prison for exposing the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
Mr. Ren Yimin and his wife, Ms. Chen Fulan, were arrested on April 25, 2017 and appeared in court on November 15. Mr. Ren’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong. Ms. Chen testified in her own defense.
Judge Guo Jie kept interrupting Mr. Ren’s lawyer as he was presenting his defense arguments. The lawyer said after the court hearing, “This court didn’t allow me to talk. We must expose their violation of the law!”
Mr. Ren’s family visited the local police, the procuratorate, and the court many times after the hearing, but they all refused to release Mr. Ren and his wife.
Officer Zhang Tong said, “Whether to release him [Mr. Ren] depends on whether he admits his guilt.”
Prosecutor Fan Aimin said, “We’ll lose our jobs if we release Ren Yimin.”
Judge Guo claimed that Mr. Ren must admit his guilt and break away from Falun Gong before he could be released. Mr. Ren’s family countered that the Constitution protects citizens’ right to freedom of belief, and Guo drove them out of his office.
Guo convicted the couple on January 25, 2018. Mr. Ren was sentenced to 9 months in prison and released right after the verdict was announced due to time already served while awaiting trial. Ms. Chen, who had been on bail after her arrest, was taken back into custody to serve her 10 months of prison term.
The couple is in the process of filing an appeal against their conviction.
Extended Family Targeted as Well
Mr. Ren and his wife were not the only ones arrested on April 25, 2017. Agents from several local police stations raided the homes of his parents, his sister-in-law, and his sister on the same day.
The whole family was targeted because a local official reported them for putting up Falun Gong posters around town.
Mr. Ren’s parents, sister-in-law, and sister were not in. Police took his sister’s husband into custody and detained him for one day.
Mr. Ren’s parents were arrested days later when they returned from an out-of-town trip. Due to their advanced age, they were later released on bail.
The local procuratorate withdrew its indictment against Mr. Ren’s parents in late September 2017, but proceeded to charge him and his wife.
Mr. Ren’s sister-in-law and sister are currently living away from home to avoid arrest.