(Minghui.org) In January 2021, Minghui.org confirmed that another 186 Falun Gong practitioners were sentenced, including 145 in 2020 and 41 in January.

The newly confirmed cases brought the total number of practitioners confirmed sentenced in 2020 to 767. In December 2020 alone, 218 practitioners were sentenced, representing 1.8 times the amount in November and 3.8 times the amount in October.

The sudden increase in the number of practitioners sentenced in December and then a dramatic drop in January is similar to the fluctuation of arrests and cases of harassment involving Falun Gong practitioners in the same period the year prior. A similar trend was also observed in late 2019, when the incidents suddenly increased in December 2019 and then dropped in January 2020, as the coronavirus began to ravage China.

Given the reported cases of infection in the second wave of the coronavirus now sweeping across China, it’s believed that the sudden decrease in incidents of persecution in January 2021 is an indicator of the severity of the pandemic, as the actual situation is being covered up by the Chinese Communist Party and not known to the outside world.

Practitioners Sentenced in 77 Cities in 25 Provinces and Municipalities

The practitioners reported sentenced in January 2021 came from 77 cities in 25 provinces and centrally-controlled municipalities. The provinces of Sichuan (22) registered the most cases, followed by Shandong (20), Heilongjiang (17), Jilin (14), Guangdong (13), Liaoning and Hebei (both 12), and Hubei (10). The remaining 17 provinces reported sentencing between 1 and 9 practitioners.

A total of 68 practitioners were fined by the courts for a total of 917,000 yuan. Individual amounts ranged from 1,000 to 50,000 yuan for an average of 13,485 yuan each.

The Lu County Court in Sichuan Province sentenced three practitioners, including an 81-year-old woman, to terms of between 4 and 4.5 years over five days in December 2020.

In Yinchuan City, Ningxia Province, 8 practitioners targeted in a group arrest of 13 on September 19, 2019, were sentenced to 2 to 5.5 years and fined between 15,000 and 35,000 yuan on December 25, 2020. Two more of the arrested practitioners, Mr. Xie Nanfang and Mr. Ren Chuntian died, Mr. Xie on February 28 and and Mr. Ren on June 2, 2020, as a result of the persecution.

Four Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province residents were sentenced on January 4, 2021, one to one year with a 5,000-yuan fine and the other 3 to 4 years and 2 months each with a 30,000-yuan fine. One of them, a 66-year-old retired Aluminum Products Factory worker, was fined 30,000 yuan and also had 13,865 yuan in cash and a 50,000-yuan bank deposit slip confiscated during her arrest.

In another group sentencing, six practitioners in Dazhu County, Sichuan Province, were sentenced to terms of between 2 and 7.5 years. Among them, a 57-year-old teacher was given the longest term and the highest fine of 50,000 yuan.

47 Practitioners Over 60 Sentenced

Of the 82 practitioners aged 26 to 88, 47 were in their 60s or older. Their prison terms ranged from 10 months to 10 years.

The oldest practitioner, 88-year-old Ms. Yu Fangzhuang of Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, was sentenced to 6 months and fined 2,000 yuan in late December 2020.

Mr. Li Dengchen, an 82-year-old retired teacher in Hengshui City, Hebei Province, was sentenced to 10 years around January 2021.

Mr. Xiao Dafu, an 80-year-old Dazhou City, Sichuan Province resident, was sentenced to 8.5 years on September 30, 2020, after over two years of incommunicado detention.

Ms. Li Guoxin, 72, of Pingdingshan City, Henan Province, was sentenced to 9 years by the Lushan County Court around January 2021.

Longest Prison Term of 14 Years

The sentences ranged from 6 months to 14 years in prison, with an average of 3.4 years.

Mr. Ma Zhiwu of Yinchuan City, Ningxia Province resident, was sentenced to 14 years and fined 30,000 yuan on December 17, 2020. Mr. Ma, a 50-year-old former railroad crew driver, was arrested on June 5, 2020, while looking for a job in Guyuan City in the same province. He held a hunger strike at the Guyuan City Detention Center. His family went to the local police station and detention center to seek his release, but to no avail. Prior to his latest term, he was held in a forced labor camp for three years and served two prison terms for a total of 9.5 years.

Two men in Linxia City, Gansu Province, Mr. Zhao Yujie, around 44, and Mr. Chen Yongsen, around 65, were arrested in February 2020 for making informational materials about Falun Gong. After nine months in custody, Mr. Chen was sentenced to 9 years and Mr. Zhao to 9.5 years in early November 2020.

A 67-year-old woman, Ms. Zhang Zhenhua, a retired tea company worker in Dazhou City, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to 8 years and fined 8,000 yuan on December 28, 2020. Ms. Zhang was arrested on July 10, 2019, while visiting another practitioner. She was punched and 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.

Decades of Imprisonment

While some practitioners were sentenced to lengthy terms for the first time following their latest arrests, others were sentenced again after having served lengthy terms for upholding their faith.

The latest 4.5 years given to Mr. Yuan Zhiqiang of Chongqing on November 18, 2020, was preceded by 2 years in a forced labor camp term and two prison terms between 2000 and 2016, the first for 9 years and the second for 2.5 years.

Mr. Wang Zicheng of Beijing was sentenced to 5.5 years and fined 1,000 yuan in December 2020 for distributing Falun Gong materials. This is the third time that Mr. Wang has been sentenced. He previously served a total of 14 years in prison and was once incapacitated as a result of the torture in custody.

While defending Mr. Wang in court, his daughter said, “During the past two decades, as I grew up, the persecution has always been a nightmare for me and my family. The persecution has harmed countless kind Falun Gong practitioners and destroyed many happy families like ours. When both of my parents were imprisoned for their faith in Falun Gong, my brother and I had no financial support and we almost killed ourselves. Luckily, a relative lent us a hand and helped us through that difficult time. After my father was released, the authorities suspended his pension, leaving our family destitute.

“Since I was a child, my father had always taught me to be kind and listen to my conscience. It’s not easy for me to stand here and defend him. But I have to have the courage to speak up for my father when he is being wronged. I’m also speaking up for those who have suffered in the persecution just for upholding their faith. My father is innocent and all the other tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are innocent, too.”

A woman in Shulan City, Jilin Province, Ms. Song Yanqun, was sentenced to 3.5 years in late December 2020 for writing letters to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to call for justice for Falun Gong. Prior to her latest sentence, Ms. Song served 12 years in prison between 2003 and 2014. She was in serious condition and had been reduced to skin and bones when she was released.

While seeking her release, her father told the police that the decade-long imprisonment and torture that Ms. Song endured had traumatized her. Even though years have passed since she returned home, she still hasn’t recovered. She said writing appeal letters helped alleviate the pain in her heart and that she was writing letters every day, sometimes staying up all night to write.

Ms. Song Yanqun

Ms. Song Yanqun after enduring a decade of abuse and torture in prison

Arbitrary Arrests, Violations of Legal Procedure, and Brutal Treatment in Custody

The sentencing cases reported in January 2021 also highlighted police violence in the arbitrary arrests of practitioners and their subsequent detention. The police also fabricated evidence to charge them.

Ms. Wen Yufei, 48, of Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, was arrested on May 1, 2020, after officers deceived her into opening the door. While interrogating her, an officer kicked her in the head, face, eyes, and nose with his boots. He also verbally abused her and threatened to harm her parents and son.

After Ms. Wen fainted from the abuse, the officer ordered two others to drag her into another interrogation room and continued to verbally attack her after she came to. In the middle of the interrogation, the chair she was sitting in suddenly collapsed and she hit the floor, severely injuring her back.

Although Ms. Wen was released on bail due to the injury, she was sentenced to two years by the Jianhua District Court in late December 2020.

Also in Qiqihar, a beauty salon owner in her 40s, suffered a mental breakdown six months following her arrest. Ms. Liang Shuiqing was arrested on June 23, 2020, and given a suspended sentence on December 29. By the time she returned home, she was already delirious. It’s not clear what abuses she was subjected to in custody in addition to being pressured to give up her faith.

In Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, the police spent eight hours searching every corner and every piece of paper they could find in Ms. Li Yanjie’s home on March 12, 2020. The 50-year-old woman’s husband and daughter were also arrested and had their cellphones taken away. Ms. Li was later transferred to Daqing City Detention Center and denied family visits. She was secretly sentenced to five years in January 2021. When her lawyer visited her on January 14, she was carried out by two guards. She told the lawyer that she was having heart problems and that her legs hurt so much that she couldn't walk.

Mr. Liu Zhimin of Chongqing was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months based on fabricated evidence. Mr. Liu was arrested on January 8, 2020, when he and Mr. Yang Dingchan were helping Mr. Wu Shenghua, 79, write calligraphy couplets and giving them away for free before the Chinese New Year.

The police said Zuo Hechang had reported the trio for distributing things about Falun Gong. It was later confirmed that Zuo’s nephew, Zuo Shiyong, had received a Falun Gong booklet from another practitioner. When Zuo Hecheng saw the booklet, he reported Mr. Liu, Mr. Yang, and Mr. Wu, even though they knew nothing about the booklet.

While Mr. Yang and Mr. Wu were released the next day, Mr. Liu was kept in custody. The police accused him of being a repeat offender, because he had been sentenced in the past for practicing Falun Gong. The police also accused Mr. Liu of distributing the Falun Gong materials that other local residents had received from other practitioners. Mr. Liu was tried in the Jiangbei District Court on October 15 and convicted in December.

Professionals Targeted

The 186 practitioners sentenced came from all walks of life, including teachers, engineers, a hair salon owner, and a former radio station director.

Mr. Chen Geng, a teacher in Pingtan County, Fujian Province, was arrested on his way to work on February 26, 2020. He was secretly sentenced to 3 years and 3 months in prison some time in 2020, on the charges of endangering national security and undermining law enforcement for posting on social media about the persecution of Falun Gong.

Mr. Chen Geng

Mr. Chen’s calligraphy

Since his arrest, his wife and daughter have suffered from insomnia worrying about him. The police also harassed his family several times and attempted to collect more information as evidence to charge him but to no avail.

Mr. Chen's mother, 78, and father, 88, traveled thousands of miles to police bureaus and other government agencies to petition and demand his release, but to no avail. The local detention center also used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny him family visits or even correspondence. The authorities also kept his family in the dark about his trial and his current condition.

The police recently threatened Mr. Chen's mother, who also practices Falun Gong, “You cannot see your son if you continue to practice.”

Having endured two decades of repeated arrests, detention, and torture for her faith in Falun Gong, Ms. Guo Lirong, a 60-year-old former electronics engineer in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to a year and 8 months in October 2020 following her latest arrest in a police sweep.

Ms. Guo Lirong

Mr. Chen Xingbo, the former chief editor of Xingtai Radio Broadcasting Station and the deputy director of the special topics department in Xingtai City, Hebei Province, was arrested on November 24, 2019, when he went out for groceries. He was sentenced to 3 years by the Xiangdu District Court on August 26, 2020, and admitted to Tangshan Prison on January 5, 2021.

Mr. Li Yiheng, 37, a sales representative at a car dealer in Beijing, was arrested at work on September 19, 2019, by two officers pretending to be customers. His manager tried to prevent the police from arresting him, but to no avail. After taking him to the police station, the officers searched his residence twice without his presence. The police targeted him after surveillance cameras caught him distributing Falun Gong booklets in a subdivision. He was sentenced to 3.5 years with a 10,000-yuan fine in January 2021.

Family Tragedies

When Falun Gong was gaining popularity in China during the 1990s, it was often spread by word of mouth among family members and friends because of its tremendous health benefits and virtuous teachings. With the onset of the persecution in 1999, many families were persecuted as a whole for their shared faith. Other than the practitioners, their family members who don’t practice Falun Gong have also endured unspeakable agony and pain due to the persecution.

In the reported sentencing cases in January 2021, two sisters in Shandong Province were sentenced to prison three months apart. Following the arrest of the younger sister, Ms. Xu Chunmei, a 46-year-old small business owner in Qingdao City, Shandong Province, on November 19, 2019, her paralyzed husband with cerebellar atrophy tried to go out in a wheelchair to seek help after losing contact with his wife. A neighbor saw him and informed his son of Ms. Xu’s disappearance. The young man took a leave of absence from college and returned home to take care of his father, who was in utter despair from his wife's arrest. He cried and shouted, especially in the middle of the night.

While a 62-year-old woman in Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was serving a three-year term for her faith in Falun Gong, her husband died by the side of the road while going out to look for her. After Ms. Wang Xiulian was arrested on August 20, 2019, her husband Mr. Zhang Kuiwu, who had cerebral palsy and a mental disability, managed to go to the local police station several times to look for her. He often went outside and waited along the road for Ms. Wang to come back. In the fall of 2020, he went outside as usual, only to collapse. He was never able to get up again.

In the case of Mr. Yang Rongxia, the police and village officials took his bedridden wife whom he’d cared for to a senior center with very poor conditions and lacking in adequate care. Mr. Yang, of Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province, was later sentenced to five years by the Gaocheng District Court in 2020. In recent weeks, his hometown, Yangma Village, has become a hotspot for the coronavirus outbreak. Mr. Yang is very worried about his wife’s well-being.

Below are snapshots of more sentencing cases reported in January 2021. The full list of sentenced practitioners can be downloaded here.


Elderly Targeted

77-Year-Old Blind Woman Sentenced to Three Years for Her Faith

A 77-year-old blind woman was sentenced to three years after her court hearing on December 24, 2020. She has been taken into custody to serve time despite her health.

Ms. Zhang Jun of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, was first arrested on December 4, 2019, with her daughter Ms. Dong Mei, who also practices Falun Gong. Ms. Zhang was released after 16 days of detention, but Ms. Dong remained in custody and was sentenced to two years by the Shenhe District Court around November 9, 2020.

Ms. Zhang was arrested two more times, on March 12 and August 19, 2020. She was released the next day and placed on residential surveillance at home both times.

Ms. Zhang appeared in the Yuhong District Court at 9 a.m. on December 24. She was taken back into custody at the Shenyang City No.1 Detention Center afterwards. The authorities never updated her family on her status. A person familiar with her case recently informed her family that she has been sentenced to three years.

Because Ms. Zhang is already blind in one eye and can barely see out of the other, her family is now very worried about her.

85-Year-Old Sentenced to One Year for Distributing Literature about Her Faith

An 85-year-old woman in Maanshan City, Anhui Province, was sentenced to prison after being targeted in a group arrest for her faith in Falun Gong.

Ms. Wang Suhua and four other practitioners were arrested between April 24 and 25, 2020. The police said they had been monitoring the practitioners since March 2020 after videotaping them distributing Falun Gong materials. Officers ransacked the practitioners’ homes and confiscated their Falun Gong books, photos of Falun Gong’s founder, computers, and media players.

The other four practitioners are Ms. Zhou Chunying, 87; Ms. Shen Xuemei, 85; Ms. Chen Xiufang, 84; and Ms. Ji Yinzhu, 78.

A sixth practitioner, Ms. Xie Kuaiji, 85, wasn’t taken into custody because her family objected.

Although the five practitioners were released the evening of their arrests, the police ordered them to return to the station the following day for further questioning.

Ms. Wang was sentenced to one year and fined 10,000 yuan by the Huashan Court on November 23, 2020. It’s not clear whether the other practitioners have been tried or convicted.

75-year-old Woman Sentenced to Prison for Her Faith

Having previously served a four-year term for her faith in Falun Gong, a 75-year-old woman in Meishan City, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to 10 months on December 30, 2020.

Five police officers harassed Ms. Peng Xueying at home at 10 a.m. on June 3, 2020. They took photo of her and warned her not to go out to talk to people about Falun Gong. Ms. Peng went out in the afternoon anyway and distributed information about how to circumvent the internet censorship in China. The police, who had been monitoring her, followed and arrested her.

After ransacking Ms. Peng’s home and confiscating her Falun Gong books and materials, the officers took her to the local police station and interrogated her for six hours before releasing her at around 7 p.m.

Ms. Peng appeared in the Pengshan District Court on November 18, 2020. She was sentenced to 10 months on December 30 and taken to the Pengshan Detention Center that same day.

Prior to her latest sentencing, Ms. Peng was arrested at home on June 25, 2009, after she was reported for distributing Falun Gong informational materials. The nurse she hired to take care of her bedridden husband was also seized for voicing her objection to the police arbitrarily arresting Ms. Peng. Both of them were then held at the Pengshan Detention Center.

After Ms. Peng was later sentenced to four years, her husband was left unattended and passed away in 2010.

Families Plights

Jilin Woman Sentenced to 5.5 Years, Son’s Salary Suspended

After Ms. Wang Yaqin of Shulan City, Jilin Province was sentenced to 5.5 years for practicing Falun Gong, the authorities suspended the salary of her son, who works for a local transportation department, in order to force her to give up Falun Gong.

Ms. Wang was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2004. She sold her house and borrowed a lot of money to pay her medical expenses. After five rounds of chemotherapy, however, her cancer metastasized. She took up Falun Gong at the recommendation of a neighbor and recovered in a month.

Because she raised awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Wang was arrested on July 15, 2020, and has been detained in the Jilin City Detention Center ever since. She had a hearing in September and another one in October before being convicted around January 2021.

Father of Two Young Children Sentenced to Two Years for His Faith

Mr. Gao Xiaoxiong’s 2-year prison sentence left his wife, two children and parents profoundly distressed.

Mr. Gao Xiaoxiong

Mr. Gao, a native of Yi County, Hebei Province, was arrested on August 7, 2020, at his residence in Zuiyi City, Guizhou Province.

The Hebei police traveled 1,200 miles from Yi County to Zunyi to arrest Mr. Gao, after another practitioner, Gan Yuefeng, who was arrested earlier, was forced to report on him after being interrogated.

On November 27, after three months of detention, Mr. Gao was tried in a video hearing by the Zhuozhou Court at the Yi County Detention Center.

Mr. Gao’s mother was allowed to attend the hearing, before the judge had her removed midway with the excuse that she was a witness in the case. She said Mr. Gao appeared fearful and worried. She suspected that he had been threatened and intimidated before the hearing.

Mr. Gao’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him. He argued that no law in China deems Falun Gong a crime and that Mr. Gao’s making Falun Gong informational materials to raise awareness about the persecution didn’t harm anyone, let alone “undermine law enforcement,” as the prosecutor claimed in the indictment. Mr. Gao also testified in his own defense and denied any wrongdoing.

In early December, Mr. Gao’s parents were informed by the court that their son had been sentenced to 2 years in prison and fined 10,000 yuan.

Mr. Gao’s father, 69, and mother, 54, said his sentencing and fine were a heavy blow. Mr. Gao’s own children are only 3 and 7 years old. They now live with their mother in Zunyi. The entire family, including Mr. Gao’s parents, who didn’t have regular incomes, had relied on him as the sole breadwinner. Now they are in a dire straits trying to make ends meet.

Seven Sichuan Residents Sentenced to Prison, Families in Distress

Six Falun Gong practitioners in Xichang City, Sichuan Province, and one of their spouses were sentenced by the Xichang City Court on December 9, 2020. They were arrested between July and August 2019, tried on May 28, 2020, and sentenced.

Mr. Huang Biao was sentenced to 5 years in prison and fined 20,000 yuan.Ms. Luo Mingchun was sentenced to 4 years in prison and fined 20,000 yuan.Ms. Zhao Jun was sentenced to 3 years in prison and fined 10,000 yuan.Ms. Zhou Xianrong was sentenced to 2 years in prison and fined 8,000 yuan.Ms. Yu Hongying was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 6,000 yuan.Ms. Xu Shaoqiong was sentenced to 14 months in prison and fined 5,000 yuan.Ms. Zhou’s husband, Mr. Pan, who doesn’t practice Falun Gong, was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined 3,000 yuan.

Their sentences have greatly distressed their family members.

Ms. Zhao has been the main caregiver for her younger brother, who has a mental disorder, and their 85-year-old mother since her father passed away years ago. On December 27, 2020, Ms. Zhao’s mother fell at home and hurt her legs. Unable to stand up on her own, she sat on the cold floor overnight. Only when her other son came to see her the next day did he help her stand up and move her to the bed. She is now bedridden and has trouble turning herself. Worried about her daughter, she doesn’t have any appetite and is in agony.

Mr. Huang’s wife, who is also bedridden and has relied on his care for the past decade, has been moved to a senior center.

Ms. Yu’s mother, in her 80s, went around town to seek her release, but to no avail.

Husband and Wife Sentenced to Prison for Their Faith

Mr. Fan Zhigang and his wife Ms. Su Shuang in Huludao City, Liaoning Province, were sentenced to prison on December 29, 2020, for their faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Fan was arrested on April 15, 2020. The police ransacked his home and also arrested his wife. The couple's computer, printer, and other Falun Gong items were confiscated.

The couple was indicted by the Lianshan District Procuratorate on October 27. They were tried in the Lianshan District Court on December 10. Mr. Fan’s lawyer and his 78-year-old mother defended him in court.

The judge announced the verdicts on December 29, 2020: Mr. Fan was sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 10,000 yuan and Ms. Su was sentenced to 9 months.

Prior to their latest sentences, the couple has been repeatedly arrested and incarcerated over the past two decades for their faith.

Mr. Fan was put on the police wanted list in 2001 for distributing Falun Gong materials and forced to live away from home. Both he and Ms. Su were later fired from the local zinc factory where they worked.

Ms. Su was arrested in October 2003 and given 1.5 years in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp.

On October 17, 2008, the couple was arrested again and their home was ransacked. Ms. Su was released that evening, but Mr. Fan was taken to the Suizhong Detention Center. He held a hunger strike to protest the persecution and was released on bail 35 days later. He was emaciated and very weak at the time of his release.

After a Decade of Displacement, Married Couple Arrested for Their Faith and Husband Sentenced to Nine Years

After spending 10 years on the run to avoid being persecuted for practicing Falun Gong, a married couple in Liuhe County, Jilin Province were arrested on September 30, 2019. While the wife was released on bail days later, after she was found to have suffered a stroke and had a severe heart condition, the husband was sentenced to nine years and is now denied family visits.

Mr. Zhang Huiyan and Ms. Wang Junbo’s ordeal started when they were arrested in January 2001 for going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. They were both given 3 months of criminal detention. Three months later, Mr. Zhang, a 58-year-old former winery technician, was fined 5,000 yuan and released, but Ms. Wang was taken to a forced labor camp to serve a three-year term. The authorities continued to harass her and her husband after she was released on January 24, 2004.

After the couple escaped a police sweep on March 6, 2009, they were put on the police “wanted” list and spent the next ten years in hiding.

Starting in September 2019, the police began to follow the couple’s daughter and found them in Meihe City, which is about 20 miles from Liuhe County.

On September 30, Mr. Zhang was arrested on his way back after dropping his grandson off at kindergarten. The police pushed him down and forced him to open the door for them.

Ms. Wang was terrified by the police raid. She went into shock after being taken to the Liuhe County Police Department. A thorough physical indicated that she’d had a stroke affecting one side of her brain and that her heart and lungs were in bad shape. The local detention center refused to admit her. The police released her on bail after demanding a 10,000-yuan bond from her daughter. They also forbade her from leaving Liuhe.

Ms. Wang remained very weak at home. She didn’t have any appetite and was still deeply distressed.

The couple’s persecution also terrified their daughter and son-in-law, as the police summoned the younger couple from time to time to answer questions. The daughter later took a leave from work and stayed at home to take care of Ms. Wang and her own two children.

The authorities kept the family in the dark with regard to Mr. Zhang’s situation following his arrest. On November 14, 2020, a guard from the Gongzhuling Prison called his daughter and said that Mr. Zhang had been sentenced to 9 years and he was transferred to prison on October 30.

Mr. Zhang’s daughter asked to visit him over the phone, but the guard replied that he was denied family visits in the first month of his imprisonment. After two months, the prison still denied visits by Mr. Zhang’s family. His family also learned that the prison forces every Falun Gong practitioners’ family members to verbally abuse Falun Gong before being allowed to visit practitioners.

Targeted for Speaking Out for Their Faith

Shandong Man Sentenced to 3.5 Years for Distributing Informational Materials about the Persecution of His Faith

Mr. Li Weizong, a 58-year-old brick factory worker in Jinan City, Shandong Province, was sentenced to 3.5 years on December 28, 2020.

Mr. Li Weizong

Mr. Li was first arrested on the afternoon of March 11, 2020, after a surveillance camera noticed him distributing informational materials about Falun Gong after work. Due to the pandemic, the police released him on bail that evening.

Seven months later, on October 14, the police arrested him again at work and have held him in the Zouping District Detention Center in Binzhou City ever since.

His family hired a lawyer to represent him. When the lawyer went to the detention center to visit him, the guards demanded that he first obtain permission from the police. The lawyer then contacted the police, who asked him in detail how Mr. Li’s family had found him. After several days of negotiations, the lawyer was allowed to talk to Mr. Li through a video meeting.

After the police submitted Mr. Li’s case to the Zouping District Procuratorate in early December 2020, his lawyer also submitted his legal opinion, urging the prosecutor not to indict him. The lawyer wrote that no law in China ever criminalizes Falun Gong, that Mr. Li’s distributing the materials is his constitutional right, and that he didn’t harm anyone or undermine the enforcement of any law, as the police were claiming.

The prosecutor responded however, saying that because Mr. Li refused to plead guilty, his superiors instructed his team to hand down a heavy sentence.

The prosecutor indicted Mr. Li on December 11 and he was booked to stand trial online from the detention center by the Zouping District Court on December 28. His family wasn’t allowed to attend.

Mr. Li’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him at the hearing. He pointed out that the police didn’t provide any evidence to show how his client had undermined law enforcement by distributing Falun Gong materials, which has become the standard pretext used by the authorities to frame Falun Gong practitioners.

The police argued that Mr. Li was a “repeat offender,” since he had been sentenced to 1.5 years for practicing Falun Gong in 2018.

The judge sentenced Mr. Li to 3.5 years with a 5,000-yuan fine. Mr. Li appealed his sentence with the Binzhou City Intermediate Court.

Mr. Li’s family wasn’t notified of the verdict until early January 2021.

65-year-old Woman Sentenced to Four Years for Speaking Out for Her Faith

A Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, woman was sentenced to four years on December 28, 2020, for raising awareness about Falun Gong.

Ms. Wang Qiuping, 65, was first arrested on February 22, 2020, after being reported for distributing information about Falun Gong. The police confiscated over 1,000 yuan in cash, a watch, and a bike from her. The pass she used to leave her subdivision during the coronavirus lockdown was also taken. Two officers verbally abused and beat her while interrogating her in the local police station.

After Ms. Wang managed to escape from the police station that night, the authorities dispatched officers to look for her, but she escaped again. The police later tracked her down through her cellphone and found her home address through the police database and the pass from her subdivision.

On the evening of February 23, the police went door to door in her subdivision to look for her, but to no avail.

Ms. Wang was arrested again on February 27 and taken to the Heping District Psychiatric Hospital. She was transferred to the Shenyang City No. 2 Detention Center on April 13. The guards refused to allow her family to send her any clothes or money. Her lawyer wasn’t allowed to visit her either.

The police later submitted her case to the Heping District Procuratorate, which indicted her and sent her case to the Heping District Court.

Ms. Wang was tried in the Heping District Court on December 9, 2020, and sentenced to 4 years on December 28.

Prior to this latest sentencing, Ms. Wang was arrested on March 26, 2011, after being reported for distributing materials about Falun Gong. She was given one year in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp, where she was forced to do intensive unpaid labor, denied family visits, and ordered to read and watch slanderous materials defaming Falun Gong.

Woman Sentenced to Three Years for Her Faith

Ms. Qiu Lin, 37, of Jiaohe City, Jilin Province, was arrested on July 9, 2020, after being reported by a retired police officer for talking to him about the persecution of Falun Gong.

After 24 hours in the local police station, Ms. Qiu was transferred to the Jilin City Detention Center because the police found postcards with QR codes linking to uncensored overseas websites in her bag and accused her of “undermining national security.”

Ms. Qiu’s parents were kept in the dark about her case. Only when her lawyer visited her in the detention center on January 9, 2021, did they find out that Ms. Qiu has been sentenced to three years and fined 2,000 yuan. She was charged with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by the communist regime to criminalize and incarcerate Falun Gong practitioners.

Related reports:

622 Falun Gong Practitioners in China Sentenced for Their Faith in 2020

15,235 Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted for Their Faith in 2020

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