(Minghui.org) The “Double Ninth” Festival (Senior Citizens' Day, celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar) occurred on October 7 this year. It is traditionally a time to honor the seniors in one’s life. But reports on Minghui show that many older Falun Gong practitioners, instead of being honored, have been targeted and persecuted for their faith. 

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a meditation system based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has brutally suppressed Falun Gong since July 1999.

Hubei Practitioner Dies after Being Persecuted Many Times

Mr. Wang Bangji, formerly employed by the Tongshan County Material Bureau in Hubei Province, was detained several times for practicing Falun Gong. In early 2001, he was arrested and taken to the Tongshan First Detention Center, then sent to Shayang Forced Labor Camp for two years. Mr. Wang's employer fired him when he was released.

Because he submitted a criminal complaint against former communist leader Jiang Zemin for initiating the persecution of Falun Gong, Mr. Wang was arrested in July 2015. His home was ransacked and he was sentenced to three years in prison in January 2016. He was taken to Fanjiatai Prison.

When his term was almost over, Mr. Wang was in a life-threatening condition due to torture and was sent home. His face was disfigured and he was unconscious. His condition deteriorated, and he died in early September 2019 at the age of 71.

Shaanxi Woman Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison and Fined

Ms. Ma Yunhua, 70, is from the Lianhu District in Shaanxi Province. She had been sent to labor camps twice and to prison once for seven years for practicing Falun Gong. After a hearing in November 2018, she wrote to officials and defended her innocence. Her elder sister, in her 80s, was humiliated and threatened when she contacted officials seeking Ms. Ma’s release.

On August 22, 2018, Ms. Ma was sentenced by the Lianhu Court to nine years in prison and fined 20,000 yuan. She was sent to Shaanxi Women’s Prison and severely mistreated. Another one of her sisters, Ms. Ma Yunjing, had been tortured at the Xi’an City Brainwashing Center numerous times. As a result of the abuse, she suffered multiple organ failure and died in June 2012.

More Deaths of Seniors

Ms. Liang Wende, an officer with the Luzhou City Industrial and Commerce Bureau, was arrested in 2015. The Jiangyang Court in Sichuan Province sentenced her to five and a half years in prison in December 2016 and fined her 10,000 yuan. After the Luzhou Intermediate Court upheld the primary judgment, Ms. Liang was transferred to Longquan Women’s Prison in 2017. She died in June 2019 at age 64.

When Ms. Meng Hong distributed Falun Gong materials at Heilongjiang University in May 2012, the police arrested her and ransacked her home. The Nangang Court sentenced her to seven years in prison, but she was released on medical bail due to her age, 72. Presiding judge Wen Lirong and other officials arrested her at home again in March 2013 and sent her to Heilongjiang Women’s Prison. Ms. Hong died in custody on July 26, 2019, at 79.

Sentenced as a Group

Mr. Li Yanchun and his wife Ms. Pei Yuxian, both 66, are from Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. During their hearing in the Changli Court in May 2019, the judge wouldn’t let them speak and prohibited their lawyer from defending them. In a judgment announced on August 27, Mr. Li was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison and fined 20,000 yuan, while Ms. Pei was sentenced to four years with a fine of 5,000 yuan.

Four older practitioners were sentenced in Lipu County, Guangxi Province, in May 2019: Ms. Pan Mengfen, 71, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years; Ms. Luo Guifen, 70, was sentenced to seven years; Mr. Yao Dehuan, 53, was sentenced to eight years; and Mr. Huang Muqing, 59, was sentenced to three years. Ms. Zeng Fengling, 60, was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer due to torture and was not sentenced because of her condition.

Similarly, of nine practitioners sentenced in January 2019 in Bazhong City, Sichuan Province, six were over 70. The Bazhou Court sentenced Mr. Zhang Xinwei, 89, to three years in prison; Mr. Zhang Minglang, 82, to three years; Mr. Kang Zunliu, 71, to three-and-a-half years; Mr. Zhu Tiangui, 71, to two-and-a-half years; Ms. Yue Yingcong, 70, to four years; Mr. Dai Wanyi, 70, to three years; and Ms. Zhou Lihua, 62, to four years. All of them were fined.

According to information collected by Minghui on Falun Gong practitioners 65 or older, eight were sentenced in July 2019 and 124 were arrested or harassed. The oldest was 90. In August 2019, at least 52 senior practitioners were persecuted, including 36 arrested and 16 harassed. The oldest was 86.