One Year after the Mass Arrest in Heilongjiang, 16 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced to Prison for Their Faith
(Minghui.org) Sixteen Falun Gong practitioners in Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province were sentenced to prison between July and September 2019, nearly one year after they were detained for their faith during a mass arrest.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Over 100 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in Daqing and Harbin (the capital city of Heilongjiang) on November 9, 2018. The authorities monitored their cellphones and social media activities in the months leading up to the arrests. The police were given lists of names of who to arrest.
Most practitioners were arrested early in the morning before they went to work. The police ransacked their homes and confiscated their Falun Gong books and computers.
Held Incommunicado and Interrogated
Yang Bo, the head of Heilongjiang Province Domestic Security Division, supervised the arrests. During the month after the arrests, he and Feng Haibo, the head of Daqing Domestic Security Division, went to the local detention centers almost every day to interrogate the practitioners.
All male practitioners were kept at Daqing No.1 Detention Center, and female practitioners at Daqing No. 2 Detention Center. They were all held incommunicado and denied visits by their lawyers and families.
Yang and Gu Songhai, the deputy head of Heilongjiang Province Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) and head of the 610 Office, held brainwashing classes at the detention centers. The detained practitioners were forced to watch videos slandering Falun Gong and its founder.
The PLAC and 610 Office are both agencies tasked with persecuting Falun Gong.
In order to weaken the practitioners' willpower, Yang and Gu also ordered the detention centers to deny the practitioners' access to daily necessities, especially toilet paper.
After one month of interrogation, the police submitted most practitioners' cases to Ranghulu District Procuratorate in December 2018. The prosecutor approved their arrests soon afterward.
Mr. Lu Guanru and Ms. Chen Liping held hunger strikes to protest the persecution and were force-fed. Mr. Lu suffered heart failure and stomach bleeding. The authorities refused to release them despite their serious condition.
The sixteen sentenced practitioners, including seven male and nine female, were indicted between March and June 2019. Nine of the practitioners had court hearings between June 6 and 14, six others faced the judge on August 22, and one practitioner's court date remains under investigation. The Ranghulu District Court sentenced the practitioners between July and September.
The practitioners’ prison terms range from one to eight years. The longest term was given to Mr. Guan Xingtao, the owner of a glass shop. His wife, Ms. Wu Yanhua, received 7.5 years.
At least 12 practitioners were fined between 20,000 and 40,000 yuan by the court.
Eight of the practitioners have had their appeals rejected by Daqing City Intermediate Court. And five others are awaiting the results of their appeal.
Five female practitioners have been imprisoned at Heilongjiang Province Women’s Prison and three male practitioners have been sent to Hulan Prison at the time of writing.
Ms. Ding Lihua, in her 70s, was rejected detention twice due to her high blood pressure. She was ordered to serve her 3.5-year term outside of prison.
For details of the sixteen practitioners' prosecution, see the full list here.
One Other Mass Arrest Victim Forced to Live Away from Home
Mr. Bai Yuhua, in his 60s, is a retired employee from Daqing Oilfield administration bureau. He was arrested on the same day as the sixteen sentenced practitioners.
He was scheduled to appear in court on June 14, 2019, and the prosecutor recommended to sentence him to three to seven years in prison. In order to avoid being prosecuted and sentenced for his faith, he skipped his court date and has been living away from home.
Mr. Bai's family was extorted 10,000 yuan by the authorities following his arrest.
Woman Sentenced in Hospital and Not Allowed to Appeal
Ms. Ren Yuhong, 52, was released on bail on February 26, 2019, after she was forced to write a statement to renounce Falun Gong against her will. She regretted her decision and published a declaration on the Chinese-language Minghui.org to nullify her statement.
The court attempted to hold a hearing for her on June 3. She left home to avoid the persecution and was put on the Wanted list.
Ms. Ren was arrested and taken back into custody on July 10, 2019. As she was still in serious medical condition, the authorities held her at Longnan Hospital and ordered three officers to watch her around the clock.
The judge and a few court staff members held a short hearing in Ms. Ren's hospital room on July 20, 2019 and sentenced her to four years. The judge didn’t allow her to appeal the sentence and directly ordered to send her to the prison.
70-year-old Woman Sentenced in a 10-minute Hearing
Ms. Li Bingying, 70, was released on bail after 15 days of detention following her arrest. The police kept harassing her afterward.
The police took Ms. Li back into custody at Daqing No.2 Detention Center on May 7, 2019, even though she was still suffering from high blood pressure.
The judge at Ranghulu District Court held a ten-minute hearing for Ms. Li on June 13, 2019. The judge drove all of her family members and friends out of the gallery before the hearing started and said, “All those who practice Falun Gong must go out, otherwise I would report you to the police.”
The judge initially told Ms. Li’s family that they would receive her verdict on July 29. But on July 26, her family was notified by Heilongjiang Women’s Prison that she was sentenced to one year and had already been taken to the prison on July 23.
Ms. Li used to suffer from many ailments. She had colon cancer that made it miserable for her to have bowel movements. She had severe ulcers on her calf that remained infected for years. She also had sharp back pain that rendered her unable to sit up.
All of her symptoms disappeared after she took up Falun Gong in 1996. She was delighted to have hope for life again. The anxiety and distress on her face was replaced with smiles.
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