Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted in “Gang Crackdown Campaign,” Lawyers Blocked from Meeting with Them
(Minghui.org) Seven locals in Tongjiang City, Heilongjiang Province, who practice Falun Gong were arrested between late July and early August 2019.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Because some police officers work with gang members to exploit the public and Falun Gong practitioners are one of the most heavily targeted spiritual groups in China, police routinely arrest practitioners instead of gang members to fill their quotas.
Five of the targeted practitioners remain in custody at the time of writing. They were all put under criminal detention and are face further prosecution.
Two of the five detained practitioners managed to hire their own lawyers to defend their innocence, but the authorities would not allow the lawyers to meet with them.
The police are in the process of working with the local court to assign lawyers to the remaining three practitioners. They threatened the wife of one of the practitioners not to hire her own lawyer for him. She was concerned that the court-appointed lawyer may be instructed to plead guilty for her husband against his will.
Targeted in Communist Regime's Gang Crackdown
Mr. Sun Zhongyu, his wife Ms. Zhou Guizhen, and Mr. Cheng Guilin, were arrested on July 17, 2019.
Two weeks later, four more practitioners, including Mr. Liu Yanchang, Mr. Zhang Baochun, Ms. Mou Tianju and Ms. Liu Shuying, were arrested at their homes around 4 am on August 1, 2019.
The police ransacked all practitioners' homes and confiscated their Falun Gong related materials. Mr. Zhang and Ms. Mou's personal cars were also confiscated.
The police threatened Mr. Zhang's son and urged him to ask his mother, Ms. Liu Yanwei, who also practices Falun Gong and escaped arrest, to report herself to the police.
Mr. Liu's bedridden mother was left at home, struggling to find care after his arrest.
Ms. Zhou and Mr. Cheng, in his 50s and with disability in his hands, were released the day after their arrests. The other five practitioners remain in custody and were put under criminal detention.
The police claimed that they targeted the practitioners in a campaign to “combat criminal gangs” and to meet their quota.
When Mr. Liu's wife, Ms. Tong Guiying, went to the police station to sign the documents after his arrest was approved, she told the police that she was going to hire a lawyer to represent her husband.
An officer from Domestic Security Division said to her, “You are not allowed to hire any lawyers. This is a highly important case to combat gang members. I will assign lawyers to the three of them [Mr. Liu, Mr. Sun, and Ms. Liu], and you don't have to spend a penny.” [Mr. Zhang and Ms. Mou's families had already hired lawyers for them earlier without informing police.]
Ms. Tong replied furiously, “You arrange the lawyer for us? Then wouldn't it mean that you do whatever you want to us?” She worried that the lawyer would be instructed to plead guilty for her husband.
Two Lawyers Denied Rights to Visit Their Clients
Mr. Zhang Baochun's lawyer went to Tongjiang Detention Center to visit him on August 19, 2019. The guards demanded that the lawyer register his representation of Mr. Zhang with the Domestic Security Division first.
When the lawyer went to the Domestic Security Division, however, the officers refused to meet with him. The lawyer filed complaints against them, to no avail.
The lawyer returned to the detention center on September 2, 2019 and was denied visitation again.
He then called the Domestic Security Division. The officers answered the call this time, but they wouldn't acknowledge his power of attorney with the excuse that he was hired by Mr. Zhang's wife, who was a wanted suspect.
To meet the police's requirement, the lawyer signed a new contract with Mr. Zhang's father. When he went with the father to the Domestic Security Division, an officer tried to pressure the father to dismiss the lawyer by promising a visit with and a lighter sentence of his son. The elderly man refused.
The lawyer and father also went to different government agencies to seek justice, but they were given runarounds and unable to make progress.
Ms. Mou's lawyer met with similar obstacles when he went to Jiamusi Detention Center on August 31, 2019 to meet with her. The head of the detention center rejected his visitation and said he had to report his power of attorney to the 610 Office first.
The lawyer filed a complaint against the police to Jiamusi City Procuratorate. Upon learning of the complaint, the police in Tongjiang City called Ms. Mou's ex-husband, who hired the lawyer for her, and said, “How dare you hire a lawyer and work against us?”
Ms. Mou's ex-husband suspected the police were trying to extort money from him through foul play.
He told a Minghui correspondent that he received a call from the police in Tongjiang on August 15, 2019, asking him to send 2,000 yuan and some clothes to Ms. Mou at Tongjiang Detention Center.
When he went there, however, he was told to drop off the money and clothes without being allowed to meet with her.
He later learned from an insider that Ms. Mou had already been transferred to Jiamusi Detention Center (around 150 miles away) around the time he went there.
On the morning of August 31, just before he was about to go to Jiamusi Detention Center with the lawyer to visit Ms. Mou, he received another call from the police in Tongjiang, asking him to go to Tongjiang Police Department to deliver money and clothes for her, even though she was no longer there.