Targeted in a Group Arrest, Tianjin Woman Sentenced to 9 Years for Practicing Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) A Tianjin teacher was sentenced to 9 years in prison and fined 30,000 yuan in January 2020 for her faith in Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Gao Lijuan, 48, was arrested on December 28, 2017, together with 36 other Falun Gong practitioners. She is now awaiting the result of her appeal at Binhai New District No.3 Detention Center, where she has been held since her arrest.
During a pre-hearing meeting between the judge, Ms. Gao and her two lawyers on February 28, 2019, her lawyers argued that there is no legal basis for the persecution and that their client didn’t violate any laws in practicing her faith or telling people about it. Ms. Gao denied all the allegations against her.
When Ms. Gao appeared in Binhai New District Court on June 24, 2019, the judge threatened to sentence her to 12 years, citing an order from his superiors.
To date, 8 of the 37 practitioners targeted in the group arrest have been sentenced, with the highest term of 11 years given to Mr. Li Yongquan.
When Ms. Gao was arrested, her daughter was a high school junior. The girl was left at home by herself afterwards, as her father has been forced to live away from home to avoid persecution for his shared faith in Falun Gong. Her grandmother, nearly 80 and who used to live with them, moved in with Ms. Gao's sister after being terrified by the police during her arrest.
Ms. Gao's daughter applied to colleges outside of China, but her applications were intercepted by the 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong. She is now attending a Chinese college.