(Minghui.org) A Tonghua County, Jilin Province resident was secretly tried on March 16, 2021 for her faith in Falun Gong. Her daughter had gone to the courthouse that day intending to represent her as a non-lawyer defender, but the court staff members hid the hearing from her.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Zhang Qiaolei was first arrested on February 27, 2020 for putting up informational posters about Falun Gong. Although she was released on bail shortly after, the police took her back into custody on December 9 and she has been held at the Changliu Detention Center since.

Ms. Zhang’s family called Jiang Meichen, a clerk of Liuhe County Court, on March 8, 2021 to inquire about her case. Jiang revealed that they were planning a virtual hearing of Ms. Zhang on March 16 and then hung up.

Ms. Zhang’s family called back and the presiding judge, Lu Xu, answered the phone. Lu claimed that Ms. Zhang has refused to be represented in court, but her family suspected that Lu was lying.

Ms. Zhang’s family went to the courthouse on March 15 and asked Jiang in person when the hearing would take place on the next day. Jiang beat around the bush and said that they haven’t decided the court date yet and it’s likely that the hearing wouldn’t take place the next day due to something going on at the detention center. She added that she would inform Ms. Zhang’s family when the date is decided.

Ms. Zhang’s daughter and sister submitted their applications to represent her in court and left.

On the next day, although she wasn’t sure whether a hearing would ever take place, Ms. Zhang’s daughter still went to the court. She called Jiang when she arrived at the courthouse and asked about the hearing time. Jiang maintained that they had canceled the hearing on that day and moved it to a later date. Ms. Zhang’s daughter also called judge Lu, who either didn’t answer the call or kept silent when the call was connected.

Upon entering the courthouse, Ms. Zhang’s daughter heard someone mentioning that a hearing was taking place for a Falun Gong practitioner. Two court staff members soon came and talked to her for a long time.

Ms. Zhang’s daughter questioned why Jiang had stopped answering her calls, and the two staff members responded that Jiang had gone out of town on a business trip.

As Ms. Zhang’s daughter was leaving the courthouse, she was surprised to hear her mother’s voice on the first floor and realized that there was indeed a hearing for her.

The daughter shouted into the courtroom, “Open the door! I’m her daughter. I’m here to represent her!” The court staff members stopped her and said her shouting would interfere with the court session and may cause the judge to give the defendant a heavier sentence.

For the remaining part of the hearing, Ms. Zhang’s daughter stayed outside of the courtroom. She heard Ms. Zhang urging the judge not to persecute Falun Gong practitioners as it’s not good for them. She also heard someone mentioning sentencing her to 7.5 years with a 10,000-yuan fine.

The hearing ended at around 12:30 p.m. Ms. Zhang’s daughter attempted to talk to the judge and prosecutor when they came out, only to find that they had left through the back door.

Related report:

Police Videotape Falun Gong Practitioner in Attempts to Frame Her

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution