67-Year-Old Woman Arrested for Visiting Friend, Sentenced to 8 Years
(Minghui.org) A resident in Dazhou City, Sichuan Province was sentenced to 8 years and fined 8,000 yuan on December 28, 2020 for her faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Ms. Zhang Zhenhua, a 67-year-old retired worker of Wanyuan Tea Company, was arrested on July 10, 2019 while visiting Ms. Mao Kun, a fellow Falun Gong practitioner.
On that day, more than 40 other local practitioners were also arrested, including Mr. Du Rong, and Chen Shigui (gender is unknown).
On December 28, 2020, Ms. Zhang, Ms. Mao, Mr. Du, and Chen appeared together in the Jinniu District Court. They were represented by four lawyers.
The practitioners defended themselves during the trial.
Ms. Zhang talked about how she recovered from many illnesses after practicing Falun Gong and also how she was punched and had both hands handcuffed behind her back by a policeman every day while detained in Xinjin Brainwashing Center. Despite becoming emaciated as a result of the persecution, she was still being interrogated.
Ms. Mao described how she was punched in the eye by the police when they broke into her house. She also said that her arm was broken during the arrest when the police tried to handcuff her behind her back.
Mr. Du said in his statement that he started practicing Falun Gong in 2015 after learning the health benefits of Falun Gong. When his severe insomnia was cured, he was so excited that he went around telling others about it. He also said that when held in Xinjin Brainwashing Center, he was beaten every day by many police officers and interrogated.
Chen described how the police broke in and ransacked the place without showing any ID.
The defense lawyers entered a not guilty plea for the four practitioners and also argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong so their clients should never have been prosecuted for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief.
After the trial, the judge announced that Ms. Zhang was sentenced to 8 years and fined 8,000 yuan, Ms. Mao was given 11.5 years and fined 20,000 yuan, Mr. Du was given 9 years and fined 10,000 yuan, and Chen Shigui was given 7.5 years and fined 6,000 yuan.
The four practitioners are now appealing their verdicts.
Past Persecution of Ms. Zhang
This is not the first time that Ms. Zhang has been persecuted for her faith in Falun Gong.
Forced to Live Away from Home
At the end of 2000, after the staff from Chengdu Train Station found Ms. Zhang's contact information from a parcel, they repeatedly called her, requesting her to fax over her phone number and home address. When Ms. Zhang refused to comply, the train station reported her to police and threatened to get her arrested.
One day, Ms. Zhang noticed that as soon as she left home, two young people sitting in the security room of her apartment complex immediately stood up and stared at her. Their facial expression seemed secretive and nervous. She realized that she has been monitored by the local police. To prevent being persecuted further, Ms. Zhang was forced to live away from home.
After Ms. Zhang left home, the police went around searching for her, including going to her relatives' homes and her workplace. They threatened her supervisor, “We must see her, either alive, or her (dead) body.”
Arrested and Sentenced
In 2001, Ms. Zhang temporarily settled in Suining City, about 200 miles from Dazhou. She and another practitioner, Ms. Wang Hongmei, were walking on the streets on August 12, 2003 when two young men came up from behind them and arrested them. Ms. Wang's husband, Mr. Tang Deliang, was arrested shortly afterwards.
The two women were taken to the police department. In the evening, two police officers came and interrogated Ms. Zhang. She refused to answer any of their questions and a male officer then started to slap her in the face several times. He also hit her with a wooden club before making her stand for several hours. As Ms. Zhang was in pain from the beatings, she squatted down. Seeing this, the male officer shouted at her to stand up and then handcuffed her to the door.
The two officers came to interrogate Ms. Zhang again at about 3 a.m., but she refused to cooperate with them. The male officer then slapped her in the face several times and hit her with a wooden club. As she hadn't been given any food to eat and the air conditioner was turned on, she started shivering and vomiting.
Ms. Zhang was held in the Lingquansi Detention Center for nearly a year before the Chuanshan District Court sentenced her to five years in prison.
In October 2004, she was transferred to Yangmahe Women's Prison in Sichuan Province where she was threatened, not allowed to buy daily necessities, forced to do unpaid labor or stand for long hours as punishment.
Arrested for Distributing Informational Materials
Once, Ms. Zhang and four practitioners went to a village to distribute informational materials about Falun Gong and were reported to the local government officials. They were interrogated and later detained at Wanyuan City Detention Center.
The police ordered Ms. Zhang to sign a document, saying it was her release notice. She signed. When leaving the detention center, Ms. Zhang saw a big vehicle in front of the gate and refused to board it. She tried to escape by walking towards the streets. A few police officers stopped her and pushed her into the vehicle. Ms. Zhang and another practitioner were then taken to Nanmusi Forced Labor Camp.
However, the labor camp refused to accept Ms. Zhang due to her high blood pressure.
Detained at Brainwashing Center
At another time, Ms. Zhang was walking near her home when she was arrested by police officers waiting outside her home. After she was taken to the police department, the officers returned to ransack her home and then took her to Fuxing Detention Center.
Ms. Zhang was detained there for over a month before being transferred to Dazhou Brainwashing Center.
At the brainwashing center, Ms. Zhang refused to cooperate with the instructors. When she refused to be transformed after a few months, the police released her but continued to monitor her for half a year. They also ordered her to report to them if she went out of town.