(Minghui.org) Two brothers in Weifang City, Shandong Province were secretly sentenced to prison, one year after they were arrested for trying to stop the police from ransacking their mother’s home for practicing Falun Gong.

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

The Kuiwen District Court announced the four-year prison sentence against Mr. Zhang Chao, a 50-year-old Falun Gong practitioner, on September 28, 2020. His brother, Mr. Zhang Ping, who does not practice Falun Gong, was given six months with one-year probation.

The court gave Mr. Zhang Chao ten days, including holidays and weekends, to appeal the verdict. With the upcoming eight-day national holiday break (October 1-8), which includes the Mid-Autumn Festival and the anniversary of the communist regime’s founding, both of which fall on October 1, Mr. Zhang’s family suspected that the court deliberately sentenced him on September 28 in attempts to prevent him from appealing the case.

It was reported that the authorities also asked Mr. Zhang Ping to try to persuade his brother to give up appealing the verdict because there would be little chance to succeed.

Arrests of the Brothers

On October 31, 2019, the Zhang brothers’ mother, Ms. Wang Zhen, was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong in front of a hospital and was arrested. The police went to Ms. Wang’s home around 3 p.m. to search it. It happened that the two brothers went to visit Ms. Wang. After seeing the police, the brothers attempted to stop them from raiding the home and urged them not to participate in the persecution.

The officers then called for armed police, who soon came in three police cars. Mr. Zhang Ping was arrested right away. Although Mr. Zhang Chao escaped, he was arrested two days later, on November 2, 2019. The brothers have been held at Weifang City Detention Center since. Ms. Wang was released on bail due to a health condition on the evening of October 31.

The Kuiwen District Procuratorate approved Mr. Zhang Chao’s arrest on December 6, 2019. He was charged with “endangering public security and disrupting public service with dangerous actions.”

Gu Zhiyong, of the Domestic Security Division, and Cao Junyong, of the Kuiwen Police Department, were awarded for their handling of Mr. Zhang Chao’s case.

Legal Representation Blocked

Mr. Zhang Chao’s family hired a lawyer to represent him, but the authorities persistently kept the lawyer and his family in the dark of his case status.

Around the Chinese New Year in late January 2020, Mr. Zhang’s lawyer went to the police department several times to submit his Power of Attorney. The police refused to accept it and asked him to mail it instead.

When the lawyer asked the police when they planned to submit Mr. Zhang’s case to the procuratorate, the police said they would provide some updates after the Chinese New Year. When the lawyer called the police after the Chinese New Year, no one picked up the phone, probably because the police hadn’t returned to work due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

On February 25, 2020, a source learned that the police had already submitted Mr. Zhang’s case to the procuratorate, probably before the Chinese New Year, but the lawyer never received any notification.

It’s reported that the Kuiwen District Procuratorate returned Mr. Zhang’s case twice due to insufficient evidence, but the police pressured the prosecutor into indicting Mr. Zhang.

The lawyer received a call from the procuratorate on May 20, 2020, to say that Mr. Zhang was scheduled to be summoned via a phone conference the next morning. The lawyer attended the meeting. He said the authorities attempted to force his client to plead guilty, but Mr. Zhang refused to comply.

The procuratorate indicted Mr. Zhang in early June and forwarded his case to the Kuiwen District Court.

The court informed Mr. Zhang’s family on June 24 and asked his lawyer to go to the court on June 29. As the lawyer has never met with Mr. Zhang after being blocked by the detention center and the court wasn’t being transparent with their handling of Mr. Zhang’s case, the lawyer refused to attend the meeting.

On June 30, the court informed Mr. Zhang’s family that he was scheduled to be tried on July 28, without providing further information.

Both brothers were sentenced in late September. The detail of Mr. Zhang Ping’s case is not known.

Past Persecution

Mr. Zhang Chao took up Falun Gong in 1995 when he was 25. He lives by the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance” and quit many bad habits.

When the communist regime ordered the persecution in July 1999, Mr. Zhang went to Beijing to appeal for his faith, only to be arrested and beaten.

He was given a term (length unknown) at Wangcun Forced Labor Camp in April 2000 and was beaten into a coma and severely burned. The police continued to harass him after he was released on medical parole.

Mr. Zhang was arrested again during the International Kite Festival in Weifang on April 27, 2006. His minivan worth over 20,000 yuan was impounded.

His next arrest was on January 18, 2008. The police extorted 3,000 yuan from his family and impounded his sedan worth 30,000 yuan. When his brother Mr. Zhang Ping used his connection to ask the police why they arrested Mr. Zhao Chao, the police said, “We are just getting some pocket money for the Chinese New Year.”

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Category: Accounts of Persecution