(Minghui.org) A married couple in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province were both sentenced to eight years in prison on April 27, 2021, for their shared faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Liu Wei and Ms. Ai Chaoyu were arrested in a police sweep of 40 local Falun Gong practitioners on July 10, 2019. The couple’s home was filled with police officers during the home raid. According to a housekeeping staff member of the apartment building, the police extracted a dozen videos from the surveillance camera, probably in search of other practitioners who had visited the couple.

The police kept the couple at the Pi County Detention Center and approved their arrests on August 17. The prosecutor twice returned their cases for insufficient evidence. To frame the couple, the police attempted to extract confessions from them through violence and threatened them with the safety of their family and children. The couple insisted that they didn’t do anything wrong in practicing Falun Gong.

The Chenghua District Procuratorate indicted the couple on April 3, 2020. Their lawyer visited them at the detention center on April 18. Due to the pandemic, the detention center only allowed the lawyer to talk to the couple through a video conference and also limited the meeting to 20 minutes.

The lawyer also went to the Chenghua District Court to review the couple’s case document. The receptionist claimed that the case hadn’t been on the docket yet and refused to give the lawyer access to the documents.

On March 9, 2021, after another eleven months of detention, the couple was tried through a video conference at the detention center. The guards didn’t provide chairs or microphones to them. As a result, the couple stood throughout the hours-long hearing and had to shout into the microphone on the wall, in order to talk to the judge.

After a second hearing on March 30, the judge sentenced both of them to eight years on April 27. They have appealed the verdicts.

In addition to the couple, another four practitioners were arrested on the same day and were also given heavy terms. Ms. Mao Kun was given 11.5 years. Mr. Du Rong was sentenced to 9 years with a 10,000 yuan fine. Ms. Zhang Zhenhua was sentenced to 8 years with a 8,000 yuan fine. And Mr. Chen Shigui was given 7.5 years with a 6,000 yuan fine.

While awaiting the result of her appeal case, Ms. Mao was suddenly hospitalized on April 9, 2021, and died two days later. Her family suspected that she might have been tortured in custody.

Before taking up Falun Gong in November 1997, Ms. Ai suffered multiple ailments, including rheumatism, rhinitis, and severe anemia. Her health quickly recovered from learning the Falun Gong exercises.

For upholding her faith in the face of the persecution, she was subjected to constant harassment and monitoring of her daily life. Unable to bear the pressure, her husband divorced her in February 2002. Ms. Ai married Mr. Liu in 2004. The police continued to harass her and forced her to live away from home to avoid persecution several times.

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution