A Banner Gets Woman Five Years in Prison
(Minghui.org) A Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province resident was sentenced to five years in prison for hanging up a Falun Gong banner.
This is Ms. Zhao Guiying’s 5th arrest since the persecution of Falun Gong started in 1999. She was previously incarcerated in a forced labor camp for a year for seeking justice for another practitioner. Her family was also harassed and her grown child’s promotion was revoked because she refused to renounce her belief.
Falun Gong is a mind-body discipline that helps improve one’s physical and mental wellness. For the past 20 years, the practice has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in China.
Five Years for Hanging A Banner
Two government employees took Ms. Zhao to the local police station after someone reported her for hanging up a banner on March 18, 2019. Her arrest was approved 15 days later.
The police submitted Ms. Zhao's case to the Jiamusi City Procuratorate, which sent the case back due to the lack of evidence. The police forged additional evidence and submitted her case to a different procuratorate, which then indicted Ms. Zhao and submitted her case to the Xiangyang District Court on August 28.
Two of her family members were listed as prosecution witnesses without their knowledge.
In the persecution of Falun Gong, the police or prosecutors often deceive practitioners’ family members into giving information about them. They then put the family members' words in the deposition without their consent.
Ms. Zhao was tried on November 5 inside the Jiamusi Detention Center. She pleaded not guilty.
Two weeks later, via a cell phone message, the court informed Ms. Zhao’s family of her five-year term and 20,000-yuan fine. The court staff refused to receive her family when they went there to inquire about her case. She has appealed the verdict.
Ms. Zhao, 67, was an accountant in Jiamusi City. She recovered from heart, gynecological and stomach problems and weak nerves after taking up Falun Gong. Instead of draining her savings on hospital bills, she was able to rejoin the workforce and support her family.
Her pursuit of a healthy life was shattered when the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999. She was arrested multiple arrests for upholding her faith.
First Three Arrests
Ms. Zhao's first arrest took place in 2005 as she was telling people why the persecution was wrong. Four officers extorted 2,000 yuan from her family and split it four ways before letting her go.
Her second arrest was a similar situation as the first [though the timing of the arrest remains to be investigated]. An officer refused to release Ms. Zhao until her family had given him 5,000 yuan cash.
Ms. Zhao was arrested a third time on April 5, 2010. She went on a hunger strike while held at Nancha Detention Center. She was force-fed twice. Guard Jiang Yumin kicked her so hard that she sustained severe injuries. Ms. Zhao wasn't released until ten days later.
Helping Out a Practitioner Results in Fourth Arrest
Ms. Ma Chunli, another local Falun Gong practitioner, was given two years in a forced labor camp for not renouncing her faith. She became paralyzed after being tortured in the Harbin Rehabilitation Center. Her minor son was left behind with no one to care for him. He dropped out of school to earn a living.
Concerned about the dire situation of Ms. Ma and her son, Ms. Zhao and Ms. Ma’s son went to the Jiadong Police Station on June 22, 2010 to ask for Ms. Ma’s release.
The police chief, Feng Kaidong, was indifferent to Ms. Ma’s difficulties, repeatedly questioning Ms. Zhao, “Who ordered you to come here? Where do you live? Turn in all your Falun Gong books!” The police chief slapped Ms. Zhao multiple times until she was dizzy and unsteady on her feet. When she had to use the toilet, the police chief kicked the door open when she was still undressed to humiliate her.
The police then arrested Ms. Zhao and gave her a year of forced labor. She was force-fed and injected with unknown drugs while detained in the Jiamusi Detention Center. After Ms. Zhao was transferred to the Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Center to serve her forced labor term on August 11, 2010, she was still weak from being tortured in the detention center. She vomited everything she ate. Despite her poor health, the guards tried to force Ms. Zhao to renounce Falun Gong. As she resisted signing a renunciation statement, a guard signed the statement in her name. They further subjected her to various forms of abuse.
Mental and Physical Abuse
Ms. Zhao was put in solitary confinement for reminding other practitioners not to believe the brainwashing propaganda broadcast by the guards. In retaliation, the guards forced her to sit still on a 6-inch tall stool for 17 hours a day. The seat was ribbed, which concentrated a lot of pressure on the buttocks. Her buttocks eventually became bruised and the flesh ruptured.
The food given to her was scarce and unsanitary. Ms. Zhao was constantly hungry but the authorities restrained her from purchasing additional food in the rehab center store.
The time to use the toilet was also limited, which was hard on Ms. Zhao because her diet made her severely constipated. The guards would drag her off of the toilet once her time was up, whether she had finished or not.
The guards allowed Ms. Zhao to call home three times a year, but rejected her family’s many requests to visit her in person. Her lawyer was also denied visits with Ms. Zhao.
Forced Labor and Arbitrary Extension of Sentence
The drug rehabilitation center authorities made the detainees package toothpicks and straws for long hours each day without paying them. Ms. Zhao told a captain that she was unable to finish the amount of work because of her poor health. The captain didn’t object and told her to do as much as she could. At the end of the month her term was extended for a day because she did not finish her work quota. She protested and was put in solitary confinement where she had to finish her entire quota each day before she could sleep.
On another occasion, Ms. Zhao refused the authorities' demand to write articles slandering Falun Gong. The guards prolonged her sentence by 2 days.
The repetitive long hours of unpaid labor on top of the compromised food situation and extreme mental pressure took a toll on Ms. Zhao’s health. She was constantly dizzy, had developed a sensitivity to light, was fatigued, and became unable to walk on her own. The authorities refused to treat Ms. Zhao despite her pleas for help.
By the time Ms. Zhao was released, her younger brother had to carry her on his back as they left the rehab center.
Harassed for Suing Jiang Zemin
Ms. Zhao wrote down the details of her suffering over the years of persecution and filed a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese leader who launched the persecution in 1999. She submitted her complaint to the Supreme Procuratorate and the Supreme Court in 2015.
Two men, who refused to disclose their identities, found Ms. Zhao and harassed her about her lawsuit in July 2015.