Woman in Serious Condition and Mother-in-Law, 78, Made to Stand Trial for Their Faith
(Minghui.org) A woman in serious condition and her 78-year-old mother-in-law were made to stand trial for passing out information about their shared faith in Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Zhang Xiangrong and her mother-in-law, Ms. Liu Naifen, appeared in Anci District Court on January 20, 2020. Their lawyers entered not guilty pleas for them. They also testified in their own defense.
Arrested Two Years Ago
Ms. Zhang, her own mother, and Ms. Liu were arrested on July 7, 2017, while putting up information about Falun Gong. While Ms. Zhang’s mother was soon released because she didn’t practice Falun Gong, Ms. Zhang and Ms. Liu were taken to Longhe Police Station. They were forced to sign the interrogation records after police officers threatened to burn the Falun Gong books confiscated from their home.
After the two women were transferred to Langfang Detention Center, Ms. Liu couldn’t keep the food down and had persistent diarrhea. She was forced to sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong against her will and released one month later. The police harassed her at home after she was released.
Ms. Zhang was held in detention for an additional month. She had diarrhea and trouble taking in food. The police released her to avoid bearing responsibility for her condition, but they continued to harass her afterwards.
Ms. Zhang’s mother was traumatized by the arrest. Before Ms. Zhang was released, the police lied and told her that they had taken Ms. Zhang to a freezer. She was terrified and fell ill. Her health quickly declined, and she passed away three months later.
The police harassed Ms. Liu again on September 28, 2018. They brought her and her grandson to the police station and deceived her into signing a bail release document. When Ms. Liu asked for the return of her confiscated Falun Gong books, the police demanded that her daughter-in-law, Ms. Zhang, appear in person or pay 20,000 yuan before the books could be returned.
The next day, the police ordered Ms. Zhang’s son to take Ms. Liu to the police station again. She refused. They then forced her grandson to take three pictures of her and send them to the officers. The police later made frequent phone calls to her grandson, leaving him under tremendous pressure.
Ms. Zhang Taken Back into Custody, Judge Interferes with Legal Representation
While Ms. Zhang and Ms. Liu thought their cases had been dismissed, the police broke into Ms. Zhang’s home on August 11, 2019 and took her back into custody at Langfang Detention Center.
The local prosecutor indicted her and submitted her case to Anci District Court on November 15, 2019.
Zhang Ming, the presiding judge in charge of the case, threatened Ms. Zhang’s son that her case was significant and that they were expediting the trial procedure and would hold a hearing ten days later. He urged Ms. Zhang’s son to hire a lawyer for her soon.
On November 20, 2019, five days after Ms. Zhang’s indictment, one of her family members submitted the documents to represent her. The judge questioned whether that family member also practiced Falun Gong and said that no Falun Gong practitioner was allowed to represent Ms. Zhang. He took the documents and said he had to consult his supervisor.
The next day, Ms. Zhang’s family was informed by the judge that the representation application was denied. The judge ordered them to find a lawyer soon or he would appoint a lawyer for her. He also said that a court hearing had been scheduled for November 27.
Ms. Zhang contacted the judge on November 25, said that she would hire her own lawyer, and refused to accept the lawyer appointed by the court. With Ms. Zhang’s strong protest, the court canceled the hearing on November 27.
Ms. Zhang’s family applied to represent her again on November 28 but was still rejected. They then hired a lawyer for her.
The lawyer went to the court to review Ms. Zhang’s case documents on December 9, only to be told by the judge that he had to go through political screening before his representation could be approved.
The judge also criticized the lawyer’s defense statements as materials that promoted Falun Gong. When the lawyer expressed his support for the practice, the judge began to question his law license and refused to let him review the case documents. With further persistence, the lawyer finally reviewed the case documents on December 16.
Concerning Health Condition
The lawyer visited Ms. Zhang in the detention center on the morning of January 20 before the trial in the afternoon and found her physical condition very concerning. She told him that she had digestive problems and couldn’t excrete, which also prevented her from taking in more food. She said the condition had lasted for 13 days and that the guards had force-fed and beat her, with the excuse that she refused to eat.
Meanwhile, the detention center denied medical treatment to her and didn’t allow her to do Falun Gong exercises, which she credits for curing her stomach bleeding and vertigo years ago.
The guards also ordered her to sign a document stating that the detention center wouldn’t be held responsible if she died. She refused.
The lawyer asked the judge to postpone the hearing, given Ms. Zhang’s physical condition, but his request was denied.
Ms. Zhang and Ms. Liu appeared in court at 2:30 p.m. Ms. Zhang recounted the abuses she suffered at the detention center but was ignored by the judge. Her lawyer argued that no law criminalizes Falun Gong in China and that she broke no laws by possessing her Falun Gong books and related materials.
Ms. Zhang’s family went to the detention center on January 21 and asked for updates about her health condition. The detention center director met with them the next day and said Ms. Zhang has resumed normal eating and denied that they had beat or force-fed her.