28 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith in July 2020
(Minghui.org) According to information collected by Minghui.org, the month of July 2020 saw 28 Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to prison for their faith.
An additional 24 sentencing cases that took place in the first half of the year were also confirmed in July, including 1 from January (an eight-year term to a Henan woman), 2 from March, 3 from April, 5 from May and 13 from June, bringing the year-to-date tally of sentenced practitioners to 191.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice centered on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Since the Chinese communist regime started persecuting the practice in July 1999, many practitioners have been subjected to arrest, imprisonment, torture, forced labor, and even organ harvesting.
The 28 practitioners sentenced in July came from 12 provinces and municipalities. Shandong and Shanghai both registered six cases, followed by 4 in Tianjin, 3 in Jiangsu and 2 in Sichuan. Beijing, Guangdong, Henan, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, and Yunnan each had 1 case.
The prison terms given to practitioners ranged from six months to seven years, with an average of 2.75 years. Two practitioners’ terms were unknown.
Four of the 28 practitioners were 65 or older. In particular, 80-year-old Ms. Guo Defen, of Tianjin, was sentenced to one year by the Hexi District Court.
Nine of the practitioners were also fined between 2,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan by the courts, averaging 7,889 yuan per person. A judge of the Huangdao District Court in Shandong sentenced three practitioners to prison in one day and fined two of them 10,000 and 20,000 yuan, respectively.
Some practitioners were sentenced for talking or distributing information about Falun Gong. One woman’s family suspects that the authorities sentenced her to try to silence her regarding the deaths of her two relatives while in custody.
The authorities violated legal procedures at every step of the prosecution process, from ransacking the practitioners’ homes without a search warrant, to denying them visits from families and lawyers, or barring their families from attending the trial.
Some practitioners have been repeatedly persecuted in the past two decades for their faith. A 62-year-old Jiangxi man was arrested two months after he finished serving one year and then given another 1.5 years. A retired engineer in Shanghai spent ten years behind bars before getting five more years.
Of note, information about the sentencing cases was collected between January 1 and August 5, 2020. Due to the communist regime's information blockade, the actual number of Falun Gong practitioners sentenced for their faith is likely much higher.
Download/view the full list of sentenced practitioners here (PDF). Below are snapshots of some sentencing cases.
Three Qingdao City, Shandong Province, residents were sentenced to prison by the same judge, Wang Decheng, of Huangdao District Court on July 30, 2020, for their faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhao Renxia, 50, was given seven years and fined 20,000 yuan. Ms. Liu Rulan, 71, was sentenced to three years and fined 6,000 yuan. Mr. Cui Yongqiang was sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 10,000 yuan.
Ms. Zhao has appealed her case with the Qingdao City Intermediate Court after receiving her verdict.
Both Ms. Liu and Ms. Zhao were tried through a teleconference on July 16, 2020, at the Pudong Detention Center where they have been detained since their arrests on October 15, 2019, and January 6, 2020, respectively.
Ms. Zhao’s lawyer and family members attended the hearing in person at the court. Upon finding out that her son, Mr. Xing Haodong, was in the gallery, judge Wang ordered him removed from the courtroom, using the excuse that Mr. Xing, whose interrogation account had been included as part of the prosecution evidence and who had been listed as a witness against his mother, wasn’t allowed to attend the hearing.
Mr. Cui was arrested on September 29, 2019, after spending one year on the run to hide from the police. He was indicted on March 31, 2020, and tried through teleconference on May 26. Judge Luan Chong presided over the hearing, and judge Wang went to the Pudong Detention Center on July 30 to announce his verdict.
Judge Wang has a track record of sentencing Falun Gong practitioners. He sentenced at least three other Falun Gong practitioners to prison in 2019, including Mr. Du Zhaocai and his wife Ms. Wu Ruifang (both given six years), and Ms. Zhou Minglan (fourteen months).
Ms. Wang Xiai, a Yinan County, Shandong Province resident, was secretly sentenced to three and a half years in prison on July 15, 2020, after she tried to seek justice for two relatives who lost their lives to the persecution of Falun Gong.
Ms. Wang, in her 60s, was arrested on January 5, 2020, at her son’s place in Linyi City, about 300 miles from Yinan. The police had shown up at her own home earlier that day but didn’t find her. A villager then reported that she had gone to her son’s place to help take care of her grandchild. The police drove to Linyi in the afternoon and arrested Ms. Wang.
While the police claimed that they arrested Ms. Wang only for her faith, her family suspects that they were also trying to stop her from seeking justice for her two relatives, Ms. Xing Ximei and Ms. Li Changfang, who both died in custody under suspicious circumstances after being arrested for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Xing, the mother-in-law of Ms. Wang’s son, died in custody on November 20, 2017, 13 days after her arrest. Ms. Li, a sister-in-law of Ms. Wang's, died in custody on July 12, 2019.
Ms. Wang was held in the Hedong District Detention Center, and her arrest was approved on February 11, 2020. The authorities denied her family and lawyer from visiting her, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
The Yinan County Procuratorate returned her case to the police several times due to insufficient evidence before indicting her and forwarding her case to the court.
Ms. Wang was secretly tried on June 18, 2020, and sentenced to three and a half years on July 15.
The authorities allowed Ms. Wang’s lawyer to visit her on July 27, the last day of her 15-day appeal window. The lawyer urged her to still file the appeal despite the impending deadline.
Ms. Xuan Xiaomei and Ms. Zhu Peiqin, of Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, were arrested on April 26, 2019. A dozen plainclothes officers coerced Ms. Zhu into opening the door, by threatening to hire a locksmith to open her door. The officers searched every room in her home and confiscated her cellphone and other personal belongings. Two officers held her arms behind her back the entire time.
One officer said to Ms. Zhu that they had all kinds of ways to deal with her if she didn’t plead guilty for practicing Falun Gong. Ms. Zhu was held at the Suzhou City No. 4 Detention Center for 35 days, then released on bail.
Ms. Xuan, who was arrested at a different place on the same day, remains in custody.
Both Ms. Xuan and Ms. Zhu appeared in Wujiang Court on January 7, 2020. Their four lawyers entered not-guilty pleas for them. They also testified in their own defense.
Another practitioner, Ms. Weng Jianzhen, 71, was arrested by the police after they found Falun Gong related materials in her purse, as she went through security to attend Ms. Xuan and Ms. Zhu’s hearing. Ms. Weng was later body-searched by the police and held in a metal cage in the police station overnight. Her home was also ransacked.
The judge sentenced Ms. Xuan to a two-year prison term and Ms. Zhu to six months on July 22, 2020. Ms. Zhu was taken back into custody at Suzhou Detention Center on the same day to serve time.
Mr. Zhang Qin, 65 and a retired engineer in Shanghai, was sentenced to five years by the Fengxian District Court on July 6, 2020.
Prior to his latest term, Mr. Zhang had been arrested five times in the past for upholding his faith, resulting in two prison terms (four and five years, respectively) and one forced labor term of one year. He was accused by the judge for being a “repeat offender,” when the judge announced his verdict in July 2020.
Mr. Zhang’s latest and sixth arrest took place on April 24, 2019, at a subway station in Shanghai. He suffered head injuries and had difficulty moving as a result of police brutality during the arrest.
The Xuhui District Procuratorate approved his arrest on May 30, 2019, and indicted him on August 20, 2019.
Ms. Wang Renxiang, another Shanghai resident in her 70s, was sentenced to a 1.5-year prison term on July 10, 2020, one week after she appeared in court for her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Wang was arrested at a subway station on July 26, 2019. The police ransacked her home and confiscated her Falun Gong books. During her one- year detention at the Putuo District Detention Center, she has been suffering declining health and gradually losing her hearing and vision. She was found to have high blood pressure in recent weeks. She couldn’t eat for two weeks and was given IV drips.
This was the fifth time that Ms. Wang has been arrested for her faith. She served three labor camp terms for a total of five years. She was subjected to various forms of torture, including being forced to stand facing a wall from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, verbal abuse and restricted restroom use.
Her repeated arrests and detention left her husband and daughter deeply traumatized. Worrying about her safety when she was incarcerated, they often woke up in the middle of the night and were unable to fall asleep again.