(Minghui.org) After nearly nine months of detention, three Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province residents were sentenced to prison for their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Xu Yanping, 60, Ms. Zuo Ying, 56, Ms. Li Suxian, 71, were arrested on July 1, 2020 after being reported for putting up information about Falun Gong in a village. The police ransacked their homes and confiscated their Falun Gong books and computers.

The police threatened Ms. Xu’s husband: “She was arrested on July 1, the Chinese Communist Party’s birthday. It’s also an important day for the Communist Party to pass the security law in Hong Kong. Now we’ve put her in criminal detention, and we are planning to give her a prison term, three years at least.”

After interrogating the practitioners at the local police station, the police took them to the Jiamusi City Detention Center. Ms. Li was denied admission due to her high blood pressure and released on bail on July 2. The police put her under house arrest on August 7.

After the three practitioners were indicted by the Xiangyang District Procuratorate on November 12, Ms. Xu’s family and Ms. Li herself hired lawyers to represent them.

The Xiangyang District Court initially scheduled a hearing for December 31, 2020, but later postponed it to March 18, 2021. All three practitioners pleaded not guilty. Ms. Xu and Ms. Li’s lawyers also defended their innocence.

Judge Song Tao announced the verdicts at the end of the trial. Ms. Li was sentenced to two years and three months. Since she has been released on bail, her term would start from March 31, 2021 and end on June 30, 2023. Ms. Xu and Ms. Zuo were given 22 months and 20 months, respectively. All of them were also fined 5,000 yuan each.

Ms. Li was taken back into custody at the Jiamusi Detention Center after the trial, but was denied admission again due to her medical condition. She has appealed the verdict. It’s not clear whether the other two practitioners, who have been held at the Jiamusi City Detention Center since their arrests, have filed appeals against their prison terms.

Related report:

Three Heilongjiang Residents Arrested for Spreading Information about Their Faith, Two Remain in Custody

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution