Woman Jailed for Her Faith, Faces Uphill Battle in Appeal
(Minghui.org) A 50-year-old woman in Ningcheng County was sentenced to three years in prison for “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners. The judge assigned to handle her appeal case taunted her family, saying, “Are you naïve enough to think I’d overturn her verdict?”
Ms. Li Caizhi used to suffer from severe migraines and stomach problems. She also frequently fought with her husband and almost divorced him. Her life changed after she picked up the practice of Falun Gong in 2002. She became healthy and happy. Her husband and the rest of their family were in awe at how Falun Gong turned her into a loving and caring person.
Having experienced Falun Gong’s transformative power, Ms. Li never hesitated to share her personal story. She did the same thing on July 22, 2017, when she went to a local fair and overheard a mother and her daughter talking about how they were plagued by so many health problems.
Ms. Li chimed in and told the pair how Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, restored her to good health. She advised them to remember “Falun Dafa is good.” The mother and daughter called 110 (equivalent to 911) instead. Officers from the local Wuhua Village Police Station soon arrived to arrest Ms. Li.
The local Ningcheng County Domestic Security Office followed up by ransacking Ms. Li’s home. They found nothing but a key chain with “Falun Dafa is good” written on it.
Chief Hu Xiaoliang of the police station told Ms. Li’s family that she would not be released unless she wrote a statement to renounce Falun Gong. She refused to comply with the demand and was taken to the local detention center, despite the fact that she was found to have unusually high blood pressure and heart problems during a required medical exam.
Before Ms. Li’s trial, her family consulted with Judge Ning Zhaohui regarding whether they could write a statement on her behalf to say she’d stop practicing Falun Gong. Ning said yes and promised to persuade the local Procuratorate to drop the charges against Ms. Li once such a statement was submitted.
It is unclear whether Ms. Li’s family ever wrote the statement. Ms. Li was indicted and tried shortly afterward, although the exact dates of her indictment and hearing remain to be investigated.
Ms. Li’s lawyer entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf during her trial. The lawyer argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult, which means his client should never have been arrested or prosecuted for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief and freedom of the press.
The prosecution evidence included Ms. Li’s criminal complaint filed in 2015 against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese dictator who initiated the persecution of Falun Gong. Ms. Li was given 15 days of administrative detention in 2015 for suing Jiang.
The lawyer argued that his client had every right to seek Jiang’s prosecution for violating her constitutional right to practice Falun Gong. He pointed out that the arrest and detention of his client in 2015 lacked legal basis and violated legal procedures.
The lawyer also questioned how the police could have produced a six-page interrogation record following Ms. Li’s latest arrest. The indictment stated that Ms. Li was questioned for only 25 minutes, a time frame her lawyer deemed too short to extract enough information to fill six pages.
The lawyer demanded the interrogation video be shown in the courtroom. An assistant judge threatened to prolong the hearing by several more days if the video were shown. The lawyer rescinded his request because he didn’t want the court to use delay tactics.
The prosecutor also cited the confiscated keychain as evidence against Ms. Li. Her lawyer countered that the keychain was harmless and could in no way “undermine law enforcement.”
After Judge Ning sentenced her to prison, Ms. Li filed an appeal.
Judge Fu Xiang of Chifeng City Intermediate Court was assigned to the case. Fu refused to have a face-to-face meeting with Ms. Li’s family to discuss the case, and he taunted them on the phone, “Are you naïve enough to think I’d overturn her verdict?”
While Ms. Li remains detained, her son, who is a college freshman, is relying on family and friends to pay his tuition.
Falun Gong was first taught to the public in 1992. Nearly 100 million people across China were soon practicing Falun Gong after experiencing improvements in their health and character. Jiang Zemin, former head of the CCP, perceived the spiritual discipline's growing popularity as a threat to the Party's atheistic ideology and issued an order to ban Falun Gong on July 20, 1999.
Minghui.org has confirmed the deaths of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners as a result of the persecution over the past 18 years; the actual number is suspected to be much higher. Many more have been imprisoned and tortured for their faith. Evidence shows that the CCP harvests organs from detained practitioners, who are killed in the process, to supply the organ transplant industry.
Under Jiang's personal direction, the CCP established the 610 Office, an extralegal security organization with the power to override the police and judicial systems and whose sole function is to carry out the persecution of Falun Gong.