(Minghui.org) A 56-year-old woman in Kunming City, Yunnan Province was sentenced to 3.5 years around April 2020 for raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been targeted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999. 

Ms. Shi Meiling’s arrest and sentencing dealt a heavy blow to her mother. The elderly woman, in her 80s, who had been struggling with a mental disorder and was unable to take care of herself, fell ill and passed away in July 2020, without seeing her daughter for the last time. Ms. Shi’s husband, who was still recovering from a stroke at the time of her arrest, also struggles to care for himself while Ms. Shi is incarcerated.

Ms. Shi was arrested at home in the evening of August 1, 2019, after she was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong earlier that day. Eleven police officers broke into her home and confiscated her Falun Gong books, materials, a photo of Falun Gong’s founder, a laptop, media player, and banknotes printed with messages about Falun Gong. (With the strict information censorship in China, many Falun Gong practitioners are using creative ways to raise awareness about the persecution of their faith, including printing information on banknotes.) 

Ms. Shi was taken to the Qianwei Police Station that evening and sent to the Kunming City No. 1 Detention Center on August 3, where she was denied any contact with her family before being transferred to the prison.

Despite the health issues of Ms. Shi’s husband and mother, the police insisted on keeping her in custody and submitted her case to the Kunming City Procuratorate in September 2019. 

The prosecutor twice returned her case to the police for insufficient evidence, in October and December 2019, respectively, before indicting her and moving her case to the Xishan District Court on February 27, 2020. 

Ms. Shi’s family made several inquiries to the court concerning her hearing schedule, but was stonewalled each time.

When they contacted the court again in late April, they were told that Ms. Shi had already been tried via video conference and sentenced to 3.5 years. 

Ms. Shi was sent to the Kunming City No. 1 Women’s Prison on July 27, 2020. She was allowed to call her family upon arrival at the prison, the only time she was able to contact her loved ones since her arrest a year ago. She hasn’t been allowed to call them again since. Her family contacted the prison several times and asked why Ms. Shi is blocked from calling them, but have received no response.