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After Six Years of Imprisonment, 73-Year-Old Yunnan Woman Faces Prison Time for Her Faith Again

May 06, 2019 |   By a Minghui correspondent in Yunnan Province, China

(Minghui.org) A 73-year-old woman was tried on April 19, 2019 for not renouncing her faith in Falun Gong. Her latest ordeal was preceded by 2.5 years at a forced labor camp and 4 years in prison, also for practicing Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Tong Xianzhen, a resident of Kunming City, Yunnan Province, was arrested on June 22, 2017. The police confiscated her Falun Gong books and extorted 5,000 yuan bail bond from her son before releasing her around midnight.

In the next 12 months, Ms. Tong returned to the local police station several times, demanding the return of her bail money, her computer and Falun Gong books. The police refused to do so and submitted her case to the local procuratorate.

Ms. Tong was informed by Wuhua District Court on March 18, 2019 that she was scheduled to appear in court one month later.

Defending Her Right to Practice Falun Gong

Ms. Tong testified in her own defense. She refuted the charge of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization” with the fact that no law in China ever criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult. She said that practicing Falun Gong and following its core principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance only gave her better health and transformed her into a better person, without causing harm to anyone else.

The prosecutor responded by saying that it was not possible for lawmakers to write everything into the Constitution.

Ms. Tong said that she once bought seven Falun Gong books while visiting the US. Although the airport security at first confiscated the books when she returned to China, they eventually returned them to her after she explained why owning Falun Gong books broke no law.

“Why can they return the seven books to me, while you have to sentence me with owning similar books?” she asked the prosecutor.

The prosecutor responded: “That's because having only seven books wasn't enough to break the law.”

Ms. Tong argued that no provision in the Constitution or other laws states that the quantity of Falun Gong books or materials would decide whether a person has broken the law. She reiterated that no law in China ever criminalizes Falun Gong.

During her defense, the presiding judge frequently interrupted her and asked her to stop talking about the lack of legal basis in the persecution of Falun Gong. “It's for sure that you will be charged with having these books, you'd better defend yourself around how many copies you actually have.”

Ms. Tong continued to argue from the legal perspective. She went on to ask the presiding judge, “As a 73-year-old woman, how can I undermine the law enforcement, and what law's enforcement was obstructed by me?”

The presiding judge was speechless at her questions. He adjourned the hearing without issuing a verdict.

Life Renewed by Practicing Falun Gong

Ms. Tong once recounted that she used to suffer from dozens of ailments in her 40s, including heart and liver conditions, Meniere's syndrome and uterine fibroids.

At that time, her husband was diagnosed with diabetes, and her mother became blind. She also had three young children to raise. “I struggled every day with everything going on in my life,” she said.

In 1997, to make things worse, she developed lumbar disc herniation and had trouble falling asleep.

She tried many schools of qigong practices to improve her health, but none of them produced results. Introduced by a friend, Ms. Tong learned Falun Gong 1998. All of her conditions disappeared in three months. She was delighted for her improvement and she remained committed to the practice since then. “Falun Gong is amazing. It really saved my life. Nothing can force me to give up the practice.”

Past Persecution

Because of her continued practice of Falun Gong and raising awareness about the persecution, Ms. Tong was first arrested on the evening of October 9, 2002 while posting information about it on the street. She was taken to Kunming No. 2 Detention Center on the next evening, before being sent to Yunnan Province Women's Forced Labor Camps 42 days later to serve a two-year term. The authorities later extended her term because she still refused to renounce her faith.

Ms. Tong was arrested again on September 21, 2007. The police ransacked her home. She was detained at Guandu Detention Center for nine months and then sentenced to four years in prison. She was transferred to Yunnan Province No. 2 Women's Prison on June 20, 2008.

While Ms. Tong was still held at the detention center, her mother passed away in May 2008 after living with fear and mental distress for years because of the persecution. No one informed her of her mother's death.