(Minghui.org) Ms. He Zhongli returned home on April 14, 2019 after serving three years in prison for not renouncing her faith in Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

The 73-year-old woman found out that her retirement pension had been suspended since late 2018. She was told that the benefits wouldn't be reinstated until she pays back all of the fund dispensed to her during her imprisonment.

In a new round of financial persecution against Falun Gong since late 2018, many practitioners have found themselves facing the same plight as Ms. He. If they refuse to comply, their local social security office would stop issuing them new payments and use the withheld fund to pay for the benefits already dispensed to them.

Three-year Prison Sentence Preceded by Nine Years Behind the Bars

Ms. He, a resident of Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was arrested on April 15, 2016. The police submitted her case to the procuratorate with the charge of “undermining law enforcement using a cult organization,” a pretext used by the communist regime to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.

Ms. He was tried in a makeshift courtroom at Nangou Detention Center on October 14, 2016. Her lawyer entered a not guilty for her. The lawyer argued that there has never been any legal basis for the persecution and that it's his client's freedom of religion to practice Falun Gong.

Ms. He also testified in her own defense and shared how practicing Falun Gong enabled her to become a better person.

The judge at Shuncheng District Court sentenced Ms. He to three years in prison on December 9, 2016, which came only four years after she served another nine years for her faith.

She appealed the verdict to Fushun City Intermediate Court, which upheld the original verdict and ordered her to serve time at Liaoning Women's Prison.

Ms. He said it was very common for the guards at Liaoning Women's Prison to torture Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned there in order to force them to renounce their faith. The guards searched their cells and bodies every few days, looking for Falun Gong related materials. Two inmates watched her around the clock, including when she used the restroom or took showers.

“We don't have any basic rights or dignity while being imprisoned there.” she said.

Related reports:

Fushun, Liaoning Province: 7 Sentenced for Practicing Falun Gong

Two Liaoning Women Face Indictment for Their Faith

Ms. He Lizhong Tortured in Liaoning Province Women's Prison