774 Falun Gong Practitioners in China Sentenced for Their Faith in 2019
(Minghui.org) At least 774 Falun Gong practitioners were confirmed to have been sentenced for their faith in 2019, according to information collected by Minghui.org.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Since the CCP started persecuting the practice in July 1999, many practitioners have been arrested, imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their organs.
Some of the practitioners were sentenced for raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong. Ms. Guo Jinrong of Liaoning Province was sentenced to 3.5 years for distributing information about Falun Gong 10 years ago.
In many of these instances, the police, procuratorates, and courts violated legal procedure at every step of the prosecution process, from fabricating evidence and witness accounts to holding secret trials and blocking appeals.
Some practitioners were given their verdicts just days following their arrests. And some were tortured in custody and imprisoned despite serious medical conditions.
Mr. Hu Lin, an aircraft engineer, also from Liaoning Province, was ordered to serve a two-year term even though he was in critical condition after seven months on a hunger strike. The detention center staff bribed the prison authorities so that they would admit Mr. Hu and even held a party to celebrate his imprisonment.
Practitioners aren’t the only victims of the persecution. Their incarcerations also leave their children, spouses, and parents in deep despair.
Ms. Yin Sen, a native of Liaoning Province with an Australian protection visa, was arrested immediately after she flew back to China to spend the Chinese New Year with her family and then sentenced to one year.
Statistics for Sentences Handed Down in 2019
The practitioners sentenced in 2019 come from 28 provinces and municipalities in China, with the number of cases in two provinces registering in the triple digits (Shandong, 119 and Heilongjiang, 114) and in the double digits (from 11 to 85) in 17 regions. Two to nine practitioners were sentenced in each of the remaining nine regions.
Practitioners were sentenced in every month of 2019, averaging 65 per month.
Their prison terms ranged from 4 months to 13 years, with an average of 3.42 years. Seventeen practitioners were sentenced to 10 years or longer.
A total of 271 practitioners were fined 3,490,400, averaging 12,880 yuan each. Mr. Luan Ning from Gansu Province was sentenced to 10 years and fined 100,000 yuan by the Xingqing District Court.
Those sentenced come from all walks of life, including accountants, engineers, doctors, executives, teachers, and retired prosecutors.
Ms. Zheng Feng, a 26-year-old media professional in Zhejiang Province, was sentenced to 3.5 years for sharing information about Falun Gong with her college classmates and through social media. She was the youngest practitioner sentenced in 2019.
Elderly practitioners weren’t spared, either. Mr. Zhang Xinwei, 89, a Bazhong City, Sichuan Province resident, was given three years. Mr. Guo Yunian, 85, from Jilin City, Jilin Province, was sentenced to six years. Another 135 practitioners aged 65 or older were also sentenced in 2019.
Due to the information blockade by the communist regime, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who were sentenced cannot always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all the information readily available.
Widespread Involvement of the Judiciary at All Levels
Minghui.org was able to collect information about which courts delivered the sentences to which practitioners in more than half of the 774 cases.
More specifically, a total of 177 courts in 25 provinces and municipalities were confirmed to have sentenced 412 practitioners, indicating a widespread involvement of the judiciary system across China, including district-, township-, county-, and city-level courts. Intermediate courts in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Shandong Provinces were responsible for five cases.
Liaoning Province had the most courts (27) involved, followed by Shandong (25), Hebei (15), Sichuan (15), Heilongjiang (14), and Jilin (12).
In Heilongjiang Province, 14 courts handed down prison sentences to a total of 71 practitioners. While some courts convicted only one practitioner, the Ranghulu District Court sentenced 16 to prison, followed by the Yilan County Court (13) and the Daoli District Court (11).
Of note, all 16 practitioners sentenced by Ranghulu District Court in 2019 were arrested in a major police sweep in November 2018. Judge Zhang Xinle said to Mr. Lu Guanru during his hearing on June 6, 2019, “This is the Communist Party’s court. I will do anything they ask me to.” Mr. Lu, 67, was later sentenced to seven years in prison.
The Xihu District Court in Jiangxi Province sentenced 12 practitioners, and the Feicheng City Court in Shandong Province sentenced 10.
The complete list of sentenced practitioners is available for download here. The following are snapshots of some of the cases.
Legal Procedure Violated
Ms. Chai Shuzhen was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for her faith in Falun Gong. A third witness, who had never been mentioned in her indictment or two hearings, was listed in the judgment for conviction.
Ms. Chai, 70 and a resident of Qianxi County, Hebei Province, was arrested the 10th time for her faith in Falun Gong on July 12, 2019, after being reported for talking to people about it.
Two witnesses were mentioned during her two hearings in the Zunhua City Court, first on October 9 and then on October 22, 2019.
The prosecutor claimed that the first witness, Li Xiaoming, a sales associate at a pharmacy, saw Ms. Chai passing out information about Falun Gong outside the store. But Ms. Chai's lawyer learned that Li had only heard from a customer that an elderly woman was arrested for passing out Falun Gong information and that Li couldn’t confirm whether it was Ms. Chai.
Li was not in court to be cross-examined.
The other witness, Fu Rongyan, was mentioned in the indictment but there was no ID information provided. Ms. Chai's lawyer asked how the prosecutor could present a witness whose identity was unknown to testify against his client.
The judge sentenced Ms. Chai to 1.5 years in prison with a 4,000-yuan fine on November 15, 2019.
In the verdict, Ms. Chai’s lawyer noticed that a third witness, Zhang Mingfang, who was never mentioned by the prosecutor during the hearings, was listed in the document.
The document stated that Zhang worked at the same pharmacy as Li and that she saw Ms. Chai passing out Falun Gong information on the day of her arrest. Ms. Chai’s lawyer argued that it was against the law to add additional prosecution evidence after the hearings without his knowledge and that such uncorroborated evidence shouldn’t be included in the final verdict.
Ms. Chai’s latest arrest came only seven months following an earlier arrest on December 28, 2018. She was released soon after being rejected admission at the detention center due to her high blood pressure.
Mr. Liu Qing, a Fuyu City, Jinlin Province resident, was sentenced to 11 years just 12 days after he was arrested. He was incarcerated in Jilin City Prison on September 24, 2019.
Mr. Liu's wife and daughter went to the prison to see him on September 29, 2019. The guards said his wife could not see him, claiming that it was because she didn't bring their marriage certificate.
According to Mr. Liu's daughter, who was allowed to see him, he was pale and very weak. He was bent over, and a guard had to help him walk. Mr. Liu, the sole breadwinner in his family, said he missed his family and was worried about how his wife would make ends meet as their daughter had just started high school and needed financial support.
Mr. Liu was arrested on August 15, 2019. He was tried and sentenced to 11 years on August 27 in the Fuyu Court.
The judge never informed his family of the trial. His wife found out about the hearing by chance when she went to ask about his case the day before.
She said that Mr. Liu was emaciated and had a bandage on his head and a feeding tube in his nose when he appeared in court.
She initially thought that he was holding a hunger strike to protest the persecution and was being force-fed. But when she was told to go to Fuyu Detention Center to urge him to eat on August 29, she learned from Mr. Liu that he wasn't holding a hunger strike but instead had been vomiting everything he ate.
Mr. Liu wasn't the only one hastily sentenced for his faith in August 2019. Ms. Hua Mingsu, a 78-year-old practitioner in Sichuan Province, was also sentenced to two years in prison, 13 days following her arrest.
Mr. Wu Jinggang, a Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia resident, was sentenced to six years for practicing Falun Gong. The court didn't inform his lawyer of the sentencing until the window to appeal the verdict had expired.
Mr. Wu was arrested on March 29, 2019, and held in custody at the Bairin Left Banner Detention Center.
Tian Zhijun, the detention center doctor, took Mr. Wu to his office on the afternoon of April 17, 2019. He stomped on his face and whipped his chest and back. Mr. Wu fainted from the pain. Four officers witnessed the torture.
Mr. Wu appeared in the Bairin Left Banner Court on July 19, 2019. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him.
The lawyer called Mr. Wu's family on September 17 to tell them that he had just been informed by the court that Mr. Wu was sentenced to six years and that he had a ten-day window to appeal the decision. But by the time the lawyer received the text from the court, the appeal deadline had already passed.
After two prosecutors challenged the prison sentences of five Falun Gong practitioners for being too light, a Fushun City Intermediate Court judge announced in August an increase in the terms of three of them, following a hearing on June 4, 2019.
Ms. Zhang Chuanwen's and Ms. Xu Junying's terms were increased from 1.5 years to 3 years. Ms. Yang Xiufang's 15-month term was extended to 3 years.
Mr. Ding Guozhu’s 3.5-year and Ms. Wang Haichao's 3-year terms remained unchanged.
Mr. Ding was taken to a prison in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, on August 28, 2019. The four female practitioners were taken to Liaoning Women’s Prison on September 10, 2019.
The five practitioners, all residents of Qingyuan County, Liaoning Province, were convicted shortly after they appeared in the Qingyuan County Court on December 12, 2018.
Lu Huanhuan and Wang Zongyang, prosecutors with the Qingyuan County Procuratorate, insisted that the practitioners' original sentences were too lenient and appealed to the Fushun City Intermediate Court.
The five practitioners were arrested on June 21, 2018, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. The police ransacked their homes and confiscated their computers and Falun Gong books.
Elderly Practitioners Targeted
A couple in Shulan City, Jilin Province were both sentenced for their faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Yu Hongfu, 72, was given 8.5 years, and his wife, Ms. Chu Yuzhen, 71, received 9.5 years.
The authorities waited more than a month before delivering the verdicts, when the deadline to appeal their sentences had already expired.
Mr. Yu and Ms. Chu were first arrested on November 13, 2016. The police loaded two cars with items confiscated from their home, including their computer, printer, cellphone, and more than 10,000 yuan in cash.
Ms. Chu was released on bail due to a physical condition. Mr. Yu was held in the Shulan City Detention Center and also released on bail two months later.
The police arrested the couple again on June 5, 2019, claiming that they had violated the conditions of their bail. Their home was ransacked and their Falun Gong books and related materials were confiscated.
The Chuanying District Procuratorate later indicted the couple and submitted their case to the Chuanying District Court.
Ms. Chu suffered a serious medical condition in detention. She was unable to walk and had blood spots all over her body. She was released on October 12 to seek medical help. Her daughter paid 5,000 yuan in bail for her release.
The police frequently harassed Ms. Chu following her release and attempted to bring her in for physical exams, in attempts to get her back into custody.
Mr. Yu has been held in the Shulan City Detention Center, where he also developed several medical conditions, including high blood pressure, inflammation of the heart muscle, and blurred vision.
The couple were tried in the Chuanying District Court on November 12, 2019.
The prosecution evidence included their computer, printer, Falun Gong books, blank DVDs, and calendar cases.
Although the judge issued the verdicts on November 29, 2019, the authorities didn’t inform them until a month later, on December 24, when the ten-day appeal window had already passed.
Ms. Chu still appealed to the Jilin City Intermediate Court on December 31.
Mr. Liu Shuhe, 76, has been imprisoned to serve a two-year term despite his serious medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart palpitations, gallstones, and urine buildup in his kidneys.
The Yantai City, Shandong Province, resident was first arrested on November 3, 2017. Although he was released at around 5:00 that evening, Zhang Meng, a prosecutor from the Mouping District Procuratorate, summoned him a year later and said she would indict him.
Traumatized by the threat of jail time, Mr. Liu fell ill. His legs swelled, and he had difficulty urinating and had to use a foley catheter.
Mr. Liu moved to his older daughter's home in late 2018 so that she could take care of him.
On September 20, 2019, the police went to his daughter's home and arrested him.
He was sentenced to prison with a 10,000-yuan fine the next day in Mouping Court. He was allowed to go home after the trial, only to be arrested again on November 19, 2019, and taken to Shandong Men's Prison two days later.
His family was recently notified by the prison to send diapers for him. They are worried about him and don’t know if he's getting any medical attention.
Ms. Feng Chunying’s two-year sentence was upheld after she was duped into using a court-appointed lawyer, who entered a guilty plea for her in her appeal case. Court officials threatened to have her removed from her home if her son refused to bring her to the local detention center to serve time.
The Jinan City, Shandong Province, resident, who is 79, was arrested on November 18, 2018, while putting up information about Falun Gong in a residential area. The police searched her bag and took her to the station.
The police returned to that residential area and collected all the materials Ms. Feng had put up. They also searched her home and confiscated her Falun Gong books and items. All of these items were later used as evidence for the prosecution.
Ms. Feng was released on bail later that day.
While Ms. Feng lives in and distributed information in the Shizhong District, the police submitted her case to the procuratorate in the Changqing District instead.
Ms. Feng was indicted by the Changqing District Procuratorate on June 19, 2019, and her case was submitted to the Changqing District Court.
A Changqing District Court judge admitted to her that, according to Chinese criminal law, his district had no jurisdiction over her since she was arrested in a different district. The judge said that he was just following orders from his superiors to accept her case.
Ms. Feng was sentenced to two years with a 5,000-yuan fine on September 10, 2019. She filed an appeal.
After Judge Chen Jing from the appeals court upheld Ms. Feng’s verdict, the judge urged her son to take her for a physical, implying that she might qualify to serve time outside of prison if she was found to have a medical condition.
Ms. Feng’s son had mixed feelings when the exam results came back on November 15, 2019. He was happy to see his mother was perfectly healthy, but he knew the chances of her serving time outside of prison would now be very slim. He had thought she would have had some medical issues to be able to avoid prison.
He reached out to Judge Chen, but Chen no longer answered his calls. Only then did it occur to him that he had been tricked into proving that his mother was healthy enough for prison.
Mr. Lu Songhe, 75, has been forced to live away from home since July 2019 to avoid being imprisoned for his faith in Falun Gong.
The police began to harass Mr. Lu, a resident of Longjin City, Jilin Province, in January 2019. They seized him from home, confiscated his Falun Gong books, and interrogated him at the local police station for several hours on January 22, 2019. After that, they continued to harass him through house calls and phone calls.
The Longjing City Court informed Mr. Lu in mid-July 2019 that he had been sentenced to three years in prison with a 1,000-yuan fine. No hearing was ever scheduled.
Because of Mr. Lu’s high blood pressure, neither the detention center nor the prison would admit him. The police had to take him home but said they would check on him in 10 days.
When the police returned to take Mr. Lu into custody, he had already escaped and has been forced to live away from home since to avoid being incarcerated.
Mr. Liu Nailun, an accountant in Mengyin County, Shandong Province, was secretly sentenced to eight years in prison following one year of incommunicado detention.
Mr. Liu, in his 50s, was arrested in September 2018 and has been held in detention facilities in Lanling County and Linyi City. The police never informed his family of his arrest or allowed them to visit him. They only told the family to pay his living expenses.
Mr. Liu’s older brother received an anonymous letter in November 2019. There was no sender's address and only one handwritten sentence, asking for 100 yuan to be mailed to a mailbox. Although Mr. Liu’s family confirmed that it was his handwriting, they didn’t mail the money because they suspected that he could have been forced to write the letter as the authorities attempted to extort money from them.
Mr. Liu’s family later learned that he was secretly sentenced to eight years around September 2019 by the Lanshan District Court and had been taken to Shandong Province Prison.
This is the third time that Mr. Liu has been sentenced for practicing Falun Gong. He was previously given three years of forced labor and two prison terms for a total of seven and a half years.
He was beaten, force-fed, and chained to a bed while serving time in the prison. His wife divorced him and his employer fired him after being pressured by authorities.
A woman who developed breast cancer following her arrest ten months ago was admitted to prison on September 24, 2019, to serve time for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Lan Lihua, a Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, resident, was arrested on November 6, 2018, after being reported for giving a calendar with information about Falun Gong to a vegetable vendor.
While Ms. Lan was detained at Shenyang City Detention Center, she was force-fed and hung up by her wrists. She was diagnosed with cancer several months later.
The police submitted Ms. Lan's case to the Sujiatun District Procuratorate on November 19, 2018. She appeared in the Sujiatun District Court on May 5, 2019. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea for her.
According to her family who attended the hearing, she was pale and very weak.
When Ms. Lan's family went to the court the day after the hearing to request bail for her, the presiding judge announced that she was sentenced to three years and ten months. She was admitted to Liaoning Women's Prison on September 24, 2019.
This is the second time Ms. Lan has been imprisoned in the same prison within the last four years. She was previously given a 14-month term on June 25, 2015, for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong.
After Ms. Lan was released in August 2016, the police harassed her from time to time. On August 28 and 29, 2018, the police went to her home, took her picture, collected her personal information and pressured her not to practice Falun Gong anymore.
Sentenced for Raising Awareness about the Persecution
Mr. Li Fujun, 54, the medical director of a foreign company in Shanghai, was arrested on July 4, 2019, on the subway while on his way to work. He was stopped by subway security for carrying a mobile hot spot to send information about Falun Gong.
The Shanghai Railroad Transportation Procuratorate indicted Mr. Li in early October 2019 on a charge of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to frame Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Li appeared in the Shanghai Railroad Transportation Court on December 25, 2019, and was sentenced to two years and nine months with a 10,000 yuan fine.
Ms. Guo Mingqing, 56 and a Xiangtan City, Hunan Province, resident, was arrested outside a local middle school on June 12, 2019, for talking to a student about Falun Gong and urging him to sever ties with the Chinese Communist Party’s youth organizations. The student’s father struck her and reported her to the police.
Ms. Guo made two appearances in the Yuetang District Court, first on September 19 and then on October 31, 2019. Her two lawyers entered a not guilty plea for her. They argued that no law criminalizes Falun Gong in China and that it’s their client’s freedom of belief and expression to practice Falun Gong and talk to people about it.
The presiding judge, Peng Quyan, claimed that the prosecution evidence included a video clip taken by the school’s surveillance camera. Mr. Guo's lawyers challenged Peng to play the video so everyone could see that their client broke no law by talking to a student about Falun Gong. Peng refused to present the video evidence in court.
Peng announced the 1.5-year verdict against Ms. Guo in December 2019. She has appealed to Xiangtan City Intermediate Court.
It was reported that Ms. Guo’s prison sentence was set by the Xiangtan City Political and Legal Affairs Committee, an extrajudicial agency tasked to persecute Falun Gong and given power to control police and judicial systems.
Ms. Wan Guirong, a Dandong City, Liaoning Province, resident, was distributing information about Falun Gong on June 27, 2019, when a man grabbed her arm and reported her to the police.
Several officers arrested her, ransacked her home, and confiscated her Falun Gong books and materials.
The police also took Ms. Wan’s son to the local police station to be interrogated. They only released him after confirming that he didn’t practice Falun Gong.
Local Falun Gong practitioners called Liu Zhiyong, the head of Tongxing Police Station, following Ms. Wan’s arrest, to urge him not to participate in the persecution. Liu refused to listen.
Ms. Wan’s son called Liu around mid-September 2019 to inquire about her. Liu said that she had been indicted and that her case had been handed over to the local court. He said that she would definitely be sentenced and that he was only following the communist regime’s policy.
Ms. Wan appeared in the Zhen’an District Court on November 4, 2019, and pleaded not guilty. She was sentenced to two years in prison three weeks later.
Mr. Yuan Bin, a 52-year-old teacher who lives in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to four years in prison on October 15, 2019.
Mr. Yuan’s sentencing came only six months after his sister, Ms. Yuan Xuefen, was sentenced to two years for removing propaganda posters attacking Falun Gong.
The siblings' arrests traumatized their parents, who both fell unconscious and were hospitalized. Although their mother was resuscitated, their father passed away from complications.
Prior to his latest sentencing, Mr. Yuan has been repeatedly arrested and incarcerated for not giving up his faith. He served one year in a labor camp and eight years in prison. He lost his job as a teacher, and his wife divorced him.
Years of imprisonment and torture have taken a toll on Mr. Yuan's health. His hair turned gray, his teeth fell out, and his vision became blurred. He has frequent pain in many of his joints and is unable to lift his right arm due to a frozen shoulder.
Ms. Sui Ying, a single mother of a ten-year-old boy in Qingdao City, Shandong Province, was sentenced to three years in prison on October 28, 2019.
Her son was traumatized by her imprisonment and struggled to cope.
Ms. Sui, 44, was arrested on April 10, 2018, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was held in the Pudong Detention Center for four days and released on bail on April 14.
The Huangdao District Court issued a summons on May 29, 2019, ordering her to the courthouse to sign a document about her case. When she refused to appear, the judge ordered the police to take her back into custody at the Pudong Detention Center.
She was sentenced five months later.
Two residents of Liaoyuan City, Jilin Province, were sentenced to prison on October 17, 2019, for their faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Zhang Shufen was given 1.5 years and Ms. Sun Shiduo 1 year by Longshan District Court.
The two women were arrested on June 5, 2019, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. The police confiscated their Falun Gong books and other belongings. Both have been held in Xiangyang Detention Center ever since.
Ms. Sun’s brother-in-law, who happened to be at her home during the police raid, was slapped in the face by one officer and held at the police station for more than an hour.
The police also threatened to force Ms. Sun’s son, a college student, out of school, if she didn’t give up her faith.
Ms. Sun is an only child. Her father just passed away last year, and her sentencing dealt another blow to her mother, who recently fell ill and struggles to care for herself.