Beijing Woman’s Ordeal in the Persecution of Her Faith in Falun Gong
(Minghui.org) Ms. Li Yuhua used to suffer severe back problems and was unable to lift heavy items, bend or turn her body. Tormented by the pain, the 67-year-old Beijing resident barely had any smile on her face. After taking up Falun Gong in 1998, her health quickly recovered and she was filled with energy.
A year later, the Chinese Communist Party ordered the persecution of Falun Gong due to its immense popularity. Because of upholding her faith, Ms. Li served two years in a labor camp. She developed severe tuberculosis due to the abuses in custody. She resumed practicing Falun Gong and her condition was healed.
Following her latest arrest in May 2019, her tuberculosis condition quickly recurred within days of detention. Although she was released on bail, the authorities kept coming back to harass her. She was later sentenced to one year in prison and fined 1,000 yuan after two court hearings. Even after the prison refused to admit her due to her failing lung function, the court is still making constant attempts to incarcerate her.
Below are the details of her ordeal.
Two Years of Forced Labor and Harassment
Because of distributing Falun Gong materials, Ms. Li was arrested and given two years of forced labor on January 19, 2005, and served her time at Beijing Forced Labor Camp.
After she was released on January 11, 2007, the police often came to her home to harass her. Sometimes they also harassed her daughter on the phone. The mental pressure and fear from the harassment took a toll on her daughter’s health. She fell ill in 2008 and was hospitalized. Before she was about to have an operation, agents from the 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong, called her daughter to harass her again. Ms. Li answered the call for her daughter and she hung up on the officer. Yet they kept calling back to harass them.
Around that time, Ms. Li herself contracted severe tuberculosis after her health declined due to the abuses in custody. She visited most major hospitals in Beijing, but still lost most of her lung function. She also had pain in her joints and was unable to sit down or stand up. She was unable to take care of herself and had to be carried when she went out.
As she had been forced to give up Falun Gong while in the labor camp, she decided to resume practicing when all hopes were lost. Less than six months later, she was back on her feet and able to do basic house chores.
Ms. Li was arrested again on May 22, 2019, by plainclothes officers while walking on the street with another practitioner Ms. Liu Zhongmin.
The police took them to the Nanyuan Police Station and sat each of them in a chair with their hands twisted behind and cuffed to the back of the chair. After hours of interrogation, the police took both women to a secretive detention facility without a door plate. But the facility refused to accept them. The police had to take the practitioners back to the police station and again twisted their hands behind and cuffed them to the back of a chair. Both practitioners started a hunger strike in protest of the police’s not allowing them to sleep.
Ms. Li and Ms. Liu the next afternoon were taken to the Fengtai Detention Center. The guards took their photos and collected their blood samples. Ms. Liu was held in Cell 611 and Ms. Li in Cell 615.
During her detention, the police interrogated Ms. Li twice. One of the officers deceived her into revealing her name and address on the third day. Shortly after, staff members from the procuratorate searched her residence and verified her identity. They also intimidated her daughter and son-in-law, who were living with her.
When the procuratorate staff members came, Ms. Li's daughter had already reported her missing after failing to get in touch with her on May 22 and 23. Upon learning of her mother's arrest from them, the younger woman rushed to the detention center to request her mother's release. She submitted Ms. Li’s previous medical records to the detention center and expressed her concern about Ms. Li’s health. But the authorities refused to release her.
Ms. Li developed a medical condition and was emaciated after ten days in detention. On May 31, she was taken to a hospital, with her hands and ankles cuffed. There, she was found to be in serious condition and released on bail.
The Fengtai District Procuratorate called Ms. Li’s daughter several times beginning in June 2019, urging her to bring her mother to the procuratorate. Facing tremendous pressure from the authorities, Ms. Li’s daughter provided a statement about her mother’s practice of Falun Gong.
Ms. Li was made to fingerprint a document of her bail condition on August 6, 2019.
The Fengtai District Procuratorate indicted Ms. Li and Ms. Liu on September 20, 2019, and forwarded their cases to the Fengtai Court. Ms. Li's daughter's statement was listed as prosecution evidence against her.
Ms. Li was ordered to show up at the Fengtai Procuratorate on October 14 and then the Fengtai Court on October 15.
When she went to the court, Shang Wei, the lawyer appointed by the court to represent Ms. Li, deceived her into signing his representation document. Shang said to Ms. Li, “The local court has hired me for 15 years to represent Falun Gong practitioners. I enter guilty pleas on their behalf and most of them have been convicted and sent to prison.”
The court informed her on November 12 that she was scheduled to stand trial on December 10. She coughed badly and collapsed into a chair in the hearing. The ten officials, including her court-appointed lawyer, five judges, three prosecutors and a court clerk, all appeared to be very nervous. They quickly went through her case and wrapped it up in twenty minutes.
One More Arrest, Home Raid and Harassment
A group of seven officers broke into Ms. Li’s home on April 24, 2020. They showed her a bag of Falun Gong materials and asked whether those were distributed by her. She denied it and asked the police whether they had evidence of her distributing it. The police claimed that they would show the evidence later, before ransacking her home without showing a search warrant. By the time Ms. Li was sentenced, the police never provided evidence of Ms. Li distributing the materials.
The police searched every corner in her home, including her grandson’s room. Her Falun Gong books, related materials and a media player that she used to play Falun Gong exercises music were confiscated.
The police took her to the Hongxing Police Station and took her back home to take pictures of her. After overnight interrogation at the police station, they took her blood sample, measured her temperature, and collected her fingerprints and palm prints.
Due to her health condition, several detention facilities refused to admit her. The police held her at the police station for one day and released her. They said to her, “We can’t give the Falun Gong books back to you. We will come back to search your home from time to time. We will also arrange people to monitor your daily lives.”
The police harassed Ms. Li one more time on May 12 and said to her, “You are not allowed to go out. We have surveillance cameras everywhere. Every move you do is before our eyes. We arrested you last year, but failed to detain you. If you go out to distribute Falun Gong materials again, we wouldn’t let you off the hook so easily!”
Ms. Li was stopped outside of her home the next day on her way to the grocery store by two officers. The officers searched her bag and asked where she was going. They ended up following her to the grocery store.
Second Hearing and Sentencing
The Fengtai Procuratorate informed Ms. Li’s daughter on August 21, 2020, that she had been scheduled to appear in court a week later. Ms. Li acted as her own lawyer, and the judge stopped her even before she had a chance to finish reading a third of her prepared defense script. He asked for a hard copy to read it himself later on.
The judge announced the verdict of a one-year sentence with 1,000 yuan fine against Ms. Li on September 29. She was given ten days to appeal the term.
On the same day, the police took Ms. Li to do a comprehensive physical examination. She paid for the over 1,000 yuan fee herself. The result indicated that her health condition wasn’t suitable for detention and she was released on bail again after the prison refused to accept her.
Ms. Li filed an appeal on October 2. The Beijing No.2 Intermediate Court refused to hold a hearing of her case, claiming she didn’t include any evidence or witness accounts in her appeal. They also indicated that they would reject her appeal.
The Fengtai Court ordered the bailiffs to take Ms. Li to do another physical examination on December 13. With a long line in one general hospital, they took her to a police hospital and she paid another 1,000 yuan herself for the examination.
This time, the doctor again pointed to her failing lung function and didn’t recommend her to be incarcerated. The court had to let her go home again.
The intermediate court officially rejected her appeal on December 27. It’s not clear whether Ms. Li has been taken into custody to serve time at the time of writing.