Hunan Woman Sentenced to Prison for Her Faith After One Year of Detention
(Minghui.org) A 63-year-old woman from Huaihua City, Hunan Province was sentenced to one year and ten months in prison for practicing Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a self-improvement practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It has been persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Huang Yuanqiao was returning home on the morning of October 9, 2017 when several officers pushed her into their police cruiser. The police confiscated her cell phone, house keys, ID, and cash. They also ransacked her home, taking away personal letters, Falun Gong books and materials.
She was taken to Huaihua Detention Center. The Hecheng District Procuratorate and Public Security Bureau approved her arrest on November 15 and 16, 2017, respectively.
Ms. Huang appeared in court on January 7, 2019 and was sentenced to prison on January 15. She has appealed her sentence to Huaihua Intermediate Court.
This is not the first time that Ms. Huang has been arrested. She was previously arrested on May 4, 2009 and sentenced to three years of imprisonment for telling people about Falun Gong.
Lawyer Demands Ms. Huang's Immediate Release
In early December 2017, two months after Ms. Huang was arrested, her son hired a lawyer who submitted an opinion letter to Hecheng District Public Security Bureau Branch to request her immediate release.
The lawyer's letter stated:
1. Article 300 of the Criminal Law stipulates that those using a cult organization to undermine enforcement of the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. However, no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong, so his client should never have been prosecuted for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief.
2. No one reported Ms. Huang for violating the law, yet the authorities arrested her.
3. Though Ms. Huang did not commit any crime, the authorities searched her home and did not produce a list of items confiscated. This was against the law.
Despite the opinion letter, the Public Security Bureau submitted her case to the Hecheng District Procuratorate on January 11, 2018. However, due to unclear facts, the case was returned on February 9.
During that period of time, the lawyer submitted a letter to the procuratorate, pointing out that Ms. Huang was charged with holding firm to her faith and that her case was beyond the judicial responsibilities of the procuratorate. He asked that her case be dropped. Ms. Huang's relatives also went to the Public Security Bureau and procuratorate several times to ask for her release.
Ms. Huang was indicted on April 20 after her case was re-submitted to the procuratorate on March 6.
On July 24, Ms. Huang's lawyer and her son, who acted as a citizen advocate, submitted applications to the Hecheng District Court requesting the court not to process her case, as it was not a criminal case to be prosecuted by the court.
In the application for witnesses, they requested for all prosecution witnesses involved in the investigation to testify in court. Despite the application, the trial took place on January 7, 2019, with no prosecution witnesses present.
On the morning of the trial, many of Ms. Huang's relatives arrived at the courthouse, only to be blocked outside. They waited at the roadside in the cold while the police and court staff monitored them and tried to persuade them to leave.
Ms. Huang's lawyer and her son were the only ones present in the court, but they were interrupted many times while defending her.
A sentencing hearing was held on January 15, and Ms. Huang was sentenced to one year and ten months in prison.
Parties involved in persecuting Ms. Huang Yuanqiao:Ding Jun, Hecheng District Procuratorate inspector; +86-136-07410256Zhang Fan, presiding judge of Hecheng District Court: +86-745-2235016Peng Yongjie, secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee: +86-133-27251616
(The contact information of more participants in the persecution is available in the original Chinese article.)