(Minghui.org) A 58-year-old woman in Tonghua City, Jilin Province, was sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2020 for her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Cao Shulian was videotaped by urban management officers on July 2, 2020, when she handed out Falun Gong informational materials at a breakfast market. The officers surrounded her and wouldn’t let her go. The police soon came and arrested her. Ms. Cao was then brought back home and her home was ransacked. Her Falun Gong books, photo of Falun Gong’s founder, computer, cellphone, and 3,600 yuan in cash were confiscated. 

Ms. Cao was taken to the Tonghua City Detention Center in the afternoon. The police charged her with “interrupting social order” and extorted 1,600 yuan from her family, including a 600-yuan physical examination fee.

The police submitted her case to the Liuhe County Procuratorate. The prosecutor blamed Ms. Cao for being a “repeat offender” as she was still on probation from a previous term. He threatened to pursue a heavy term against her this time. 

Ms. Cao was arrested on November 25, 2015, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. She was sentenced to three years in prison with a five-year probation by the Liuhe County Court on April 12, 2016. Prior to her latest arrest, both Ms. Cao and her family were subjected to constant surveillance and harassment.

The authorities in Tonghua forbade local lawyers from representing Falun Gong practitioners. So her family hired an out-of-town lawyer following her latest arrest. The lawyer was ordered to register with the Tonghua Justice Bureau before he was allowed to visit Ms. Cao, even though the law does not require the involvement of justice bureaus at all.

On November 20, 2020, Ms. Cao’s family was informed by the Liuhe County Court that she had been indicted and the court had received her case. But when her lawyer went to the court on November 23 to review her case document, the court responded that they didn’t have her case in the system. The detention center continued to bar the lawyer from visiting her.

The court held a secret trial and sentenced Ms. Cao to seven years in prison on December 8 without informing her lawyer or family. She has filed an appeal against the verdict.