(Minghui.org) A married couple in Xiaogan City, Hubei Province were recently sentenced to prison for their faith in Falun Gong. Their son, who doesn’t practice Falun Gong, was implicated and also convicted.
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.
Mr. Xu Zhangqing, a government employee, and his wife, Ms. Tu Ailian, a retired elementary school teacher, live with their son, Mr. Xu Gaorui, daughter-in-law, Ms. Chen Chunyan, and one-year-old granddaughter.
At around 9:30 p.m. on September 26, 2019, just as Ms. Chen finished bathing her baby girl, two officers and a village official knocked on the door. The officers said they cared about the family and so they came to visit.
Upon entering the door, one officer walked around and checked what the family had at home. Another officer made a call, and more officers showed up and arrested Ms. Chen's husband and parents-in-law. They told Ms. Chen that they were just going to ask the trio some questions and would release them soon.
Not long after they left, another team of officers came and turned the family’s home upside down. One female officer closely monitored Ms. Chen and followed her even when she used the restroom. When Ms. Chen was putting her daughter to sleep, the officers didn’t allow her to close the door, while they were ransacking the home.
After the police finished searching other rooms, they went to Ms. Chen’s room. She was sitting on the side of the bed and holding her daughter in her arms. The little girl had fallen asleep. The officers forcibly pulled Ms. Chen from the bed. She fell on the floor, while still holding her girl in her arms. When the officers tried to pull her up, the girl almost fell.
Ms. Chen and her daughter were brought to the living room. Ms. Chen sat on the sofa. The little girl was so scared that she burst into tears and hid in her mother’s arms.
Not wanting Ms. Chen to see how they ransacked her room, the police brought her to her in-laws’ room. They closed the door and kept one female officer there to monitor her.
During the raid, the police didn’t turn on their body-cam as required by law. After they finally finished at around 3 a.m., they consolidated all confiscated items, including the little girl’s diapers, in the living room and yelled at Ms. Chen. They ordered her to sign the list of confiscated items and said she would face serious consequences if she didn’t sign it. She didn’t comply, so the police asked the village secretary and another official, who also came, to fingerprint the document.
By the time the police left, the place was almost empty, with only some appliances and a few printers left. Nearly 400,000 yuan of valuables, including cash, were taken away. Two officers stayed to monitor Ms. Chen – one was in the living room and the other at the front door.
At 9 a.m., the two officers also left. Ms. Chen took her daughter and tried to go out to get some food for her. As soon as she went downstairs, the two officers came back and stopped her. They returned to her home and confiscated more items. Even some paintings, which were wedding gifts she and her husband received, were also removed from the wall.
To avoid the frequent harassment, Ms. Chen moved in with a relative, only to see the police following her there. She was then forced into displacement with her baby girl.
After their arrests, Ms. Tu was kept at the Anlu City Detention Center and her husband and son were sent to Xiaonan Detention Center. Their arrests were approved by the Xiaonan District Procuratorate on October 24, 2019.
The elder Mr. Xu’s mother, in her 80s, who was still recovering from two strokes she had suffered in 2018, managed to go to the local Xiaonan Police Station with two relatives, in their 70s, to demand her loved ones’ release. The police arrested her two relatives and sent them to the Xinpu Police Station for interrogation. After one of them began to feel dizzy-headed due to high blood pressure, the police sent them to their local police station, where they were held and interrogated for a few more hours before being released.
One day in November 2019, the police brought Ms. Chen’s mother to Mr. Xu and Ms. Tu’s home and took some of the remaining items.
The Xiaonan Domestic Security Office submitted the family’s case to the Xiaonan District Procuratorate in December 2019.
After the family’s lawyer visited them on June 29, 2020, the police and residential committee staff harassed Mr. Xu Zhangqing’s elderly mother and Ms. Chen’s mother and attempted to force them to fire the lawyer. In addition, Ms. Chen’s uncle and some other family members were also harassed. The police went to their homes and demanded to know their names, phone numbers, and employers’ information.
The family’s case was later transferred to the Anlu City Procuratorate, which indicted them in August 2020 and moved their cases to the Anlu City Court.
The three of them appeared in Anlu City Court, about 25 miles from Xiaogan, on November 17, 2020. This was the first time that Ms. Tu, her husband, and their son saw each other again after their arrests one year ago.
Their hearing lasted from 8:30 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. The family’s lawyer entered not guilty pleas for them and demanded their acquittal.
The judge sentenced the family to prison on November 26: Mr. Xu Zhangqing was sentenced to seven years and nine months; Ms. Tu was sentenced to seven years; and Mr. Xu Gaorui was sentenced to seven years and six months. Each of them was also fined 10,000 yuan.
The family’s lawyer has filed appeals with Xiaogan City Intermediate Court.