(Minghui.org) A married couple was sentenced to prison for refusing to renounce Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. Both husband and wife have been sent to prison, leaving their 10-year-old son in the care of relatives.

Ms. Li Meihua, who is handicapped, was given 3.5 years, and her husband, Mr. Yuan Yulong, received 3 years. Their lawyer was not allowed to meet with them before their trial or represent them in court.

Four other local Falun Gong practitioners were also tried and sentenced to prison by the same Zhashui County Court in July 2018. Ms. Li Jing, Mr. Mu Mingwu, Ms. Ju Xiaopin, and Ms. Liang Dechun were given 16, 12, 10, and 8 months, respectively. Ms. Li Jing and Mr. Yuan appealed their sentences, but were unsuccessful.

The authorities in Zhashui County mobilized many government officials and local residents to attend the trial. A local TV station was called to live broadcast the court proceedings. This is a rather rare incidence in Falun Gong cases, as there have been many reports on the Minghui website about courts in China blocking people from attending Falun Gong practitioners' trials.

According to insiders, Zhashui authorities live streamed the court proceedings in an attempt to spread lies against Falun Gong. As no lawyers were allowed in court and no practitioners were given a chance to testify in their own defense, the spectators and the TV viewers could only see and hear the judges and the public prosecutors pressing charges against the practitioners for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief.

Handicapped Woman Seized by Heavily Armed Police

Because of illnesses, Ms. Li Meihua was handicapped since childhood. She had to use crutches and lost the ability to work. Her life improved after she began to practice Falun Gong. Not only was she was able to do household chores and work in the field, but she also started her own business.

Two police vans arrived at her home on October 11, 2017. Ms. Li demanded to see a search warrant. Guo Shuqin, head of Zhashui Domestic Security Office, had no warrant to show. He contacted police in Liquan County and Shangluo City instead.

More than 40 heavily armed officers soon came and arrested Ms. Li. They also confiscated her property, including computers, printers, some office supplies, and bank deposit certificates.

An attorney from Beijing hired by Ms. Li's family tried to visit her at Zhashui Detention Center on November 1, 2017, but the lawyer was denied a meeting with her client. Upon repeated requests from the attorney, a detention center guard phoned Dang Pingde, Criminal Investigation Manager of Zhashui Police Department who was in charge of the case. Dang instructed the guard to drive away the attorney.

The attorney then visited Zhashui Police Department, but her request to meet with Ms. Li was denied again.

Ms. Li's husband, Mr. Yuan, was seized on January 11, 2018, leaving their 10-year-old son at home.

The couple appeared in court on July 19, 2018. They were both sentenced and each fined 10,000 yuan. Ms. Li was sent to Xi'an Women Prison on September 9, while her husband was sent to Weinan Prison on the same day.

Four Other Practitioners Also Arrested

Ms. Liang Dechun, Mr. Mu Mingwu, Ms. Ju Xiaopin, and Ms. Li Jing are all practitioners living in Liquan County. They were arrested when they went to Zhashui County to tell people about Falun Gong. Ms. Liang was arrested around October 10, 2017, while the other three practitioners were arrested on December 21, 2017.

The four practitioners appeared in court either on July 19 or July 20, 2018 (the detailed dates remain to be investigated). Ms. Ji's request to hire a lawyer was repeatedly denied. She noted a lot of prosecution evidence against her and other practitioners was falsified. She tried to defend herself in court, but was stopped by the presiding judge.

Ms. Liang and Ms. Ju have been released after finishing their prison terms.

It is unclear which prisons Ms. Li and Mr. Mu are being held in. Prior to his latest prison sentence, Mr. Mu, former director of Trade and Industry Bureau of Shitan Town in Liquan County, was arrested in 2006 after being reported for giving a coworker a card with Falun Gong messages on it. Because he refused to give up his belief, he was also removed from his post.

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Disabled Practitioner Ms. Li Meihua Arrested by More Than 40 Heavily Armed Officers