Disabled Woman Sentenced to Eight Years for Not Giving Up Her Faith
(Minghui.org) A 54-year-old disabled woman from Wuhan City was arrested at home for practicing Falun Gong. The police then ransacked the place while her daughter was there alone. The daughter, who had not been allowed to see her mother for 14 months, was notified on July 17, 2018, that her mother was sentenced to eight years in prison. Her mother, Ms. Zhu Ya, has filed an appeal.
Falun Gong is a mind and body practice currently persecuted in China. Ms. Zhu’s dysfunctional kidney was healed and she was able to move her disabled leg after she started to practice Falun Gong.
Baseless Charges and No Direct Evidence Presented in Court
Ms. Zhu was tried in the Huangpo District Court on June 15, 2018, charged with “using a cult organization to undermine enforcement of the law,” criminal law Article 300 (the standard charge leveled against Falun Gong practitioners). She argued that she was physically incapable of undermining any law enforcement and her lawyer pointed out that there were no facts presented to support the charge.
The evidence provided by the prosecution included Falun Gong literature printed by Ms. Zhu and Falun Gong CDs and books. Because there was no direct evidence linking Ms. Zhu to the crime she was charged with, her lawyer asked that she be released unconditionally.
As noted in Ms. Zhu’s defense, China has never enacted a law deeming Falun Gong a “cult.” A new statutory interpretation took effect on February 1, 2017, which made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no law in China labels Falun Gong a cult, the indictment against her lacked a legal basis.
One of the pieces of evidence against Ms. Zhu was her possession, reading, and dissemination of Falun Gong books. The police and prosecutors cited two notices issued by China's Administration of Press and Publications in July 1999 banning the publication of Falun Gong books. But the Administration issued a repeal of the ban in 2011 and it is completely legal for practitioners to own Falun Gong books.
Denied Visits for Over a Year
The trial lasted an hour and a half, and everyone in the courtroom was videotaped. The day of the trial was the first time Ms. Zhu’s daughter had seen her mother in 411 days. The length of detention was longer than legally allowed, and Ms. Zhu’s right to have visitors was violated. The trial was adjourned without a verdict.
Ms. Zhu was pronounced guilty and sentenced to eight years in prison a month later.
Daughter Misled into Being a Witness for the Prosecution
After Ms. Zhu was arrested on April 25, 2017, she was held in a cell for dangerous criminals at the Wuhan City Detention Center for two weeks before she was transferred to an ordinary cell. On the day of her arrest, the police took her keys and ransacked her home.
Her daughter, who was home alone at the time, was too terrified to notice what was confiscated. Later the daughter was also arrested and interrogated. She was forced into signing and fingerprinting a deposition before she was released. Her rights were never explained to her.
When the daughter later learned that she had agreed to be a witness for the prosecution and testify against her mother in court, she wrote a letter to the prosecutor, the judge, and her lawyer explaining how she had been deceived into fingerprinting a deposition that she did not agree with or understand. According to her, the official who interrogated her changed what she had actually said, which was, “I don’t know,” to “They belong to my mother.”
The daughter was listed as a witness but never called to the stand. The judge called her at work the day before the trial and threatened that she would lose her job if she didn't appear in court.