(Minghui.org) A native of Huludao City, Liaoning Province was sentenced to 14 years in prison by a court in Xinjiang Province, where he worked before his arrest.

Mr. Song Zhigang had lost a cell phone, and someone picked it up and turned it in to the police. One officer discovered that the phone contained information about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

Mr. Song was arrested on October 24, 2017, and sent to Akto County Detention Center. He was moved to Akqi County Detention Center in late 2017.

The Akto County Procuratorate filed an indictment against Mr. Song in January 2018. The Akto County Court proceeded to sentence him to 14 years in prison. He was given 10 days to file an appeal. The details of Mr. Song's trial and appeal remain to be investigated.

Mr. Song's mother, 82, is calling for her son's release. Her family had previously been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime: her late husband, a veteran, became mentally disoriented after he was labeled a rightist during the Cultural Revolution. Her son is now imprisoned for refusing to renounce his faith.

Mother's Plea

Below is a personal account by Mr. Song's mother:

My late husband was labeled a rightist in 1957 for saying fair words for other people. He was arrested and brutally beaten. I demanded his release, but no one paid attention to me. My husband was eventually released, but he was no longer himself. He often took all the money we had and said he'd go to Beijing to appeal against the injustice. If I hid the money, he'd beat me up.

Our son and daughter were also traumatized by their father's abnormal behavior. My son even checked into a mental hospital at one point. When he became angry, he'd abuse his wife and daughter.

My son, however, became totally fine after he began practicing Falun Gong many years ago.

At first, I didn't know he had been arrested in Xinjiang, as my family didn't want me to become upset. As soon as I found out, I asked my granddaughter to purchase a plane ticket for me, but she said I'm too old to fly to Xinjiang to see her father. I cried nonstop, feeling totally hopeless.

My son is a good person, and he broke no law. Please set him free!

A Well-Regarded Man

Mr. Song's friends also vouched for his character and questioned why he has to pay such a price for following Falun Gong's principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to be a better person.

Mr. Song was a model worker and won many awards at a farming equipment company in his hometown. He became a taxi driver after his company filed for bankruptcy. Once, he was waiting for customers outside an optical shop when he saw smoke coming out of the shop. He rushed inside and was told that the smoke was coming from a furnace. He pushed the employees outside and ran to turn off the furnace. The employees wanted to give him a gift to show their gratitude, but he declined.

Some onlookers commented that Mr. Song was foolish to put himself in harm's way. He replied that as a Falun Gong practitioner, he was used to thinking of others first.

Another time, Mr. Song saw a drunk person lying on a roadside. He drove him home, but the person's family claimed that Mr. Song must have hit him, as they could not understand why else he would send him back home. They even wanted to beat him up. Mr. Song stopped them and asked them to wait for the person to wake up.

The man woke up and told his family that he had had a few too many drinks and took a fall on his way back home. He asked his family to thank Mr. Song.

When Mr. Song worked for another company, he helped his boss save a lot of money by repairing parts himself. His boss was very happy and wanted to give him a big bonus. Mr. Song declined, saying he just did what he was supposed to do.

Those who knew Mr. Song credited Falun Gong for turning a mentally challenged person into an upright and kind man. They also call for his immediate release.