(Minghui.org) A Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, resident was sentenced to five years for her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Tian Huiling, an employee of the Yingze District government, was taken away from home on September 7, 2019, in a group arrest of local Falun Gong practitioners. She has been held incommunicado at a local detention center since.

At 11 p.m. on December 24, 2019, Ms. Tian’s daughter, Ms. Li, received a call from a man, who claimed to be the court-appointed lawyer for Ms. Tian and said that Ms. Tian was scheduled to appear in court next morning. 

Ms. Li asked why he didn’t inform her earlier and said that they wouldn’t accept a court-appointed lawyer, because they had hired their own. The man hung up without any further comment.

For most Falun Gong cases, the court-appointed lawyers are instructed to plead “guilty” for the practitioners.

Ms. Li went to the Yingze District Court early on December 25 to attend Ms. Tian’s hearing, only to be barred from the courtroom.

Having worked as a paralegal for many years, Ms. Tian testified in her own defense and explained how the persecution of Falun Gong lacked legal basis and why she should never have been prosecuted for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief. 

When she talked about how she had benefited from practicing Falun Gong, the judge frequently interrupted her and laughed at her.

Four days later, Ms. Tian was sentenced to five years and fined 20,000 yuan.

Her lawyer is now preparing to appeal the verdict on her behalf.

The Yingze District Court judges have sentenced more than 30 Falun Gong practitioners because of their faith since 2018. In particular, Ms. Wang Suping, 67, was sentenced to ten years in prison around May 2019 and fined 30,000 yuan.

Related report:

Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province: Eleven Falun Gong Practitioners Arrested in Five Days