Married Couple in Their 70s Sentenced to Prison for Their Shared Faith
(Minghui.org) A married couple in Dongying City, Shandong Province were both sentenced to three years and three months for their faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Geng Lutang and his wife Ms. Zou Peixia were arrested on September 17, 2019 after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. The police ransacked their home the following day and confiscated their Falun Gong books and banknotes that had information about Falun Gong printed on them. (This is one way practitioners raise awareness about the persecution given the strict information censorship in China.) The police returned a few more times and confiscated more items from them, including a satellite dish that they used to receive uncensored overseas TV programs.
When the couple’s family went to seek justice for them, the police claimed that they would release them in a month. But a month later, they reneged on their promise, even after the prosecutor had returned the couple’s cases for insufficient evidence. Mr. Geng was sent to the Hekou Detention Center and Ms. Zou to the Dongying Detention Center.
The couple’s family hired a lawyer to seek justice for them. But the lawyer’s request was rejected by the police when he went to the detention center to try to visit Ms. Zou on October 21, 2019. The lawyer later filed a complaint against the police but to no avail.
Mr. Geng was later released and Ms. Zou was still kept in custody.
Mr. Geng’s mother was around 100 years old. The couple’s arrests and detention caused tremendous mental distress to her. Worrying about Ms. Zou’s prolonged detention, her health quickly deteriorated and she passed away in January 2020, a few days before the Chinese New Year.
The couple was tried by the Dongying City Court on November 2, 2020. Mr. Geng attended the virtual hearing from home and Ms. Zou was tried in the detention center. Their two lawyers entered not-guilty pleas for them at the court.
Their family recently confirmed that both practitioners have been sentenced to three years and three months with a 30,000 yuan fine.
Both Mr. Geng and Ms. Zhou began to practice Falun Gong in 1996. Many of their ailments soon disappeared. They live by Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. At home, they are good parents and children. Before retiring, Mr. Geng won many awards at work.
After the communist regime ordered the persecution in 1999, Ms. Zou went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong, but was arrested, held at a brainwashing center, and fined. The police have put them on the government’s blacklist and began to harass them on a regular basis.
Ms. Zou was given a term at Shandong Province Women’s Forced Labor Camp in October 2000. The guards tortured her by forcing her to stand, or sit on a small stool for long hours without moving. They also beat her, held her in solitary confinement, restricted her restroom use, and forced her to do unpaid labor.
In addition to the physical torture, she was forced to watch propaganda videos demonizing Falun Gong every day. The mental pressure and agony caused her to suffer a mental collapse, and she became delirious.
After finally being released in March 2002, she remained deeply traumatized by the torture. By then, both she and her husband had been forced to give up practicing Falun Gong. Although Ms. Zou was no longer in a delirious state, she suffered from severe depression. She became withdrawn and sometimes didn’t eat or drink for days. She went to many hospitals and tried different treatments, but none had much effect on her.
When they felt they had lost all hope for life, the couple decided to resume practicing Falun Gong in 2007. Within a short period of time, Ms. Zou began to have a smile on her face again. Mr. Geng also quit his 30-year habit of drinking.