Minghui Report: 329 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced to Prison for Their Faith in First Half of 2019
(Minghui.org) According to information compiled by Minghui.org, 329 Falun Gong practitioners were sentenced to prison for not renouncing their faith during the first half of 2019.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The prison terms of the practitioners range from 6 months to 13 years, with an average of 3.51 years.
A 13-year-term was given to Mr. Zuo Hongtao, a resident of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. Three other practitioners were arrested along with him, including Mr. Wu Wenzhang, Ms. Li Guoai, and Ms. Liu Changfu, who also received heavy sentences of 11, 10, and 8 years, respectively. Mr. Zuo's wife, Ms. Cui Qiurong, who does not practice but is supportive of Falun Gong, was sentenced to 19 months. The police confiscated 150,000 yuan in cash while ransacking the couple's real estate company.
The sentencing of practitioners took place in every month of the first half of 2019, with January registering the most sentencing cases (94) and all other months also reporting double-digit cases.
A total of 62 practitioners over the age of 65 were sentenced. The oldest practitioner was Mr. Zhang Xinwei, 89, who received three years in prison for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the Chinese communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.
Among the cases, 136 practitioners had money extorted from them by the police or were fined by the court, for a total of 1,808,300 yuan, averaging 13,296 yuan per person.
Mr. Luan Ning, a resident of Yinchuan City, Ningxia region, was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined 100,000 yuan.
The sentenced practitioners come from 23 provinces and municipalities. Shandong Province topped the list with 67 practitioners receiving prison terms, followed by Heilongjiang Province (39) and Liaoning Province (34).
Group sentencing was prominent during the first half of 2019. In particular, 13 practitioners in Heilongjiang Province were sentenced to 3.5 to 10 years on February 28, 2019. Another 11 practitioners of Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province were sentenced to between 1 and 7 years on March 25, 2019.
Due to the information blockade by the communist regime, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who were sentenced cannot always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all the information readily available.
Legal Procedures Violated
From fabricated evidence to secret hearings, the authorities violated legal procedures at every step of the prosecution process in order to send the practitioners to prison.
Mr. Du Yihe, from Yinan County, Shandong Province, was given a term of 4.5 years on January 10, 2019. His family heard rumors about the verdict as early as October 2018, one month before his secret hearing inside the makeshift courtroom at the Yinan Detention Center on November 24, 2018.
Ms. Mo Yaqin, 73, from Dandong City, Liaoning Province, was secretly sentenced to one year in prison on March 28, 2019. The court did not inform her lawyer of the verdict. Not until he visited her at the detention center in May did he find out about it.
Ms. Ren Suxiang, 55, a resident of Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, was sentenced to eight years in prison on April 15, 2019. After she was indicted, her court-appointed lawyer attempted to force her to plead guilty. When she refused to comply, the lawyer turned to her children and threatened that she may get 15 years or even life in prison for holding firm to her faith.
During her two hearings on February 28 and March 14, 2019, the police provided conflicting accounts about how they seized materials from Ms. Ren. From one account, they said the materials were turned in by the person who reported Ms. Ren, while in another account, the police said they found the materials when ransacking her home.
Ms. Ren said that the police were not wearing their uniforms, and did not show a search warrant during the home raid. Zhang Zhigang, chief of the local police station, responded, “The police ID is the search warrant. We can fill out a search warrant for your case easily after the hearing.”
Mr. Li Zhenyang, a resident of Chaoyang City, Liaoning Province, had his hands cuffed and feet shackled, with a chain linking the handcuffs and shackles during the entire hearing on March 22, 2019. He couldn't stand or walk upright.
Seeing him for the first time since his arrest on August 22, 2018, his family was devastated to see him confined in such a way.
Mr. Li was sentenced to four years in prison in June 2019.
Elderly Practitioners Sentenced
Court officials went to Ms. Hong Shuyun's home on June 25, 2019 to announce that she had been sentenced to two years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan for her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Hong, an 81-year-old resident of Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was taken to Nangou Detention Center hours later for a physical examination. After Ms. Hong returned home, the officials said they would request additional physical examinations in order to detain her.
Ms. Hong's sentencing came months after the local Procuratorate and court officials visited her home to have “court hearings” between March and May 2019.
Ms. Ma Xiuying, 82, was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 2,000 yuan by the Daxing District Court on April 18, 2019. After the local Daxing Detention Center refused to accept her due to her physical condition, the police sent her home on the same day and asked her to wait for further notice.
Ms. Ma was arrested on September 25, 2015 after being reported for distributing information about Falun Gong. She was released on bail, but was arrested again in June 2017 when she went on a trip out-of-town. The police claimed that she violated her bail condition.
Ms. Gao Zonghua, 78, a resident of Hefei City, Anhui Province, was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 2,000 yuan on January 24, 2019, for talking to people about Falun Gong. The sentence came only two years after she finished serving a previous seven-year term, also for her faith.
Ms. Gao's centenarian mother went to the court with her granddaughter to appeal for her release on January 21, 2019, only to be rejected by judge Ni Na, who convicted her daughter three days later. The elderly mother grieved over not being able to celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year holiday in February with her daughter.
Three Bayan County, Heilongjiang Province residents in their 70s were sentenced to 7 to 9 years in prison in February 2019.
Ms. Fan Shufen, 70, and Ms. Wu Guizhi, 73, were sentenced to seven and eight years, respectively, in Heilongjiang Province Women's Prison. Mr. Zhang Hongzhu, 72, was given nine years in Hulan Prison.
The three practitioners were arrested between September and October 2017 and appeared in Yilan Court on July 19, 2018.
Mr. Zhang Shunxin, 53, a resident of Kashgar City, Xinjiang, was secretly sentenced to 12 years in prison on February 1, 2019, for mailing letters with information about Falun Gong. The judge didn't inform his lawyer of the verdict and he waited until the 15-day appeal window had expired to verbally inform his family of the sentencing on February 25.
Prior to his latest prison term, Mr. Zhang served another nine years at the Xinjiang No.5 Prison between 2002 and 2011. He was subjected to various tortures, including being allowed only one hour of sleep each day, as a way to force him to renounce his faith.
Mr. Luan Ning, 60, a former director at the Ningxia Labor and Human Resource Center, was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and fined 100,000 yuan. The verdict was announced on April 16, 2019, after a hearing held on February 14.
Mr. Luan was targeted in February 2017, after being reported for mailing letters with information about Falun Gong. The police followed and monitored him for a few months before arresting him on August 27, 2017.
Mr. Luan was subsequently charged with “subverting state power,” a standard pretext often levied against human rights activists and Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese communist regime. His lawyer argued that the “evidence” provided was fabricated.
This is not the first time that Mr. Luan has been imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong. He was previously sentenced to prison two times for a three-year and four-year term.
Medical Condition Ignored
Ms. Zhang Fuzhen, 73, a resident of Jinan City, Shandong Province, was sentenced to two years in prison in March 2019, shortly after she returned home from wandering about for a year to avoid persecution. She was reported by her children, who had been harassed and intimidated by the police during the time she was away.
With pressure from the authorities and her children, Ms. Zhang developed extremely high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. She was denied admission by Jinan Province Women's Prison. The authorities hired two people to monitor her every day and report her every move.
The Lixia District Court contacted three hospitals to do physical exams for Ms. Zhang in the next two months, but she was found to be in poor health each time.
In May 2019, two officers brought Ms. Zhang to Zhonggong Detention Center for a physical examination. Before they even received the result, they drove her to the hospital of Shandong Province Women's Prison, where she has since remained captive.
Ms. Wang Qiulan, 69, a resident of Shouguang City, Shandong Province, was secretly sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in March 2019.
Despite the fact that she was experiencing stomach pain and severe kidney problems, both of which were developed at the detention center, the authorities denied granting her bail and sent her to Shandong Women's Prison in mid-March 2019.
Ms. Wang's medical condition and recent imprisonment left her family in tremendous agony. Her 70-year-old husband and nearly 100-year-old mother are very worried about her.
Sentenced for Raising Awareness about the Persecution or Helping Fellow Practitioners
Ms. Lan Tailian, 72, was sentenced to four years in prison by the Jiangbei District Court in Chongqing on June 13, 2019, and fined 5,000 yuan.
Ms. Lan was arrested for possessing Falun Dafa informational materials and using banknotes marked with the words “Falun Dafa is good” in January 2019.
She has appealed to the Chongqing Intermediate Court, stating that the lower court’s decision was against the law and that the judge and the procurator were fully aware that Falun Gong is legal in China.
Ms. Sun Shiying and her children from Changchun City, Jilin Province were arrested on March 6, 2017, for providing shelter to Ms. Lu Yongzhen, who escaped from detention right after finishing serving nine years for her faith in Falun Gong.
The police submitted the cases against Ms. Sun, her son Mr. Wang Hongyan, and her daughter Ms. Wang Hongyan (the characters for the siblings' names are different but they sound the same) to the Chaoyang District Procuratorate in early June 2017. The prosecutor indicted them on July 10, 2018, and submitted their cases to the Chaoyang District Court.
The judge obstructed the family's two lawyers from reviewing their case documents and also attempted to prevent them from representing the practitioners by demanding that they submit their personal information to the local Bureau of Justice, which isn't required by law.
Ms. Sun and Ms. Wang were tried on November 30, 2018. The judge sentenced them to 2.5 years in prison and fined each of them 5,000 yuan at the end of the trial.
Mr. Wang appeared in court on November 8, 2018. The hearing lasted only eight minutes. Neither his lawyers nor family had been informed. The judge didn't announce his 2.5-year prison term until five months later, on April 9, 2019.
Nine Falun Gong practitioners from Bazhong City, Sichuan Province, were convicted on January 7, 2019, three months following their court hearing in November 2018. All practitioners were given prison terms of up to five years and fined.
Six of the practitioners were 70 or older, with two being over 80. They were arrested on December 22, 2017, for not renouncing their faith.
The practitioners, their ages, sentences, and fines are as follows:
Mr. Zhang Xinwei, 89, three years of imprisonment with a fine of 4,000 yuan.Mr. Zhang Minglang, 82, five years of imprisonment with a fine of 10,000 yuan.Mr. Kang Zunliu, 71, three and a half years, with a fine of 5,000 yuan.Mr. Zhu Tiangui, 71, two and a half years, with a fine of 3,000 yuan.Ms. Yue Yingcong, 70, four years, with a fine of 6,000 yuan.Mr. Dai Wanyi, 70, three years, with a fine of 4,000 yuan.Ms. Zhou Lihua, 62, four years, with a fine of 6,000 yuan.Ms. Chen Guoqiong, 54, two and a half years, with a fine of 3,000 yuan.Ms. Sun Rong, 40, one and a half years, with a fine of 2,000 yuan.
A tenth practitioner, Mr. Yang Jiashun, 69, who stood trial with the nine practitioners, was acquitted.
Thirteen Falun Gong practitioners in Heilongjiang Province were sentenced to prison on February 28, 2019. Their terms range from 3.5 to 10 years, with an average of 5.8 years. Nine of them were between 45 and 59, and four were between 63 and 70. The average fine was 35,769 yuan.
In particular, 65-year-old Ms. Song Yuzhi was given a heavy term of 10 years and fined 65,000 yuan.
These practitioners were arrested between August 31 and October 13, 2017. They appeared in Yilan County Court on July 24, 2018. Their lawyers entered a not-guilty plea for them and argued that there was no legal basis for the persecution of Falun Gong.
The practitioners entered the courtroom wearing handcuffs and shackles. Their lawyers complained about the mistreatment and demanded that the cuffs be removed from their clients. Judge Lu Shoufang agreed.
Eleven Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province residents, including seven in their 60s and 70s, were sentenced to prison during their second court appearance on March 25, 2019 for practicing Falun Gong.
The eleven practitioners were arrested on June 5, 2018. The police ransacked their homes and confiscated Falun Gong books, computers, cellphones, and other belongings. They first appeared in court on November 27, 2018.
Six Falun Gong Practitioners in Shandong Province Sentenced
Six Falun Gong practitioners in Taian City, Shandong Province, were sentenced to prison by Feicheng City Court on June 13, 2019.
Ms. Lu Keqin, 68, a retired staff member of the Shandong University of Science and Technology, and Ms. Han Yuehua, 74, were each sentenced to 3.5 years and fined 30,000 yuan.
Mr. Zhang Xumin, 54, former deputy director of Feicheng City Land Resources Bureau, and Ms. Liu Qian, 53, a former elementary school teacher, were each sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 30,000 yuan.
Ms. Hu Xiuxiang, 43, was given 1.5 years with a 10,000 yuan fine.
Ms. Ma Junting, 78, a retired Shandong University of Science and Technology professor, was sentenced to three years in prison with four years of probation, and fined 40,000 yuan.
The six practitioners were arrested on different occasions but were all indicted by Feicheng City Procuratorate on December 29, 2018.