(Minghui.org) Four Benxi City, Liaoning Province residents were arrested on May 23, 2019 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
One of the practitioners, Mr. Yang Liwei, suffered multiple organ failure due to abuse in detention and was released on bail. The other three practitioners remained in custody and were denied visits from their lawyers and families.
The Hengren County Court held virtual hearings of Ms. Yang at her home on July 3, 2020 and the other three practitioners were tried in their respective detention centers on August 18, 2020.
On September 4, 2020, the judge announced the verdicts against the practitioners: Mr. Deng Yulin and Ms. Yang were each sentenced to four years and fined 20,000 yuan. Ms. Zhang Limin received three and a half years with a 15,000-yuan fine. Mr. Zhang Pengzhu was given three years and two months and fined 10,000 yuan.
The practitioners filed appeals with the Benxi City Intermediate Court. Without holding a hearing, the judge of the higher court ruled to uphold their sentences. The practitioners’ families filed a motion to reconsider the case on December 1, 2020 and have yet to hear back from the intermediate court.
Over the past two years, the practitioners’ families have been working tirelessly to seek justice for their loved ones. Below is a summary of their efforts.
In September 2019, shortly after the practitioners were indicted by the Hengren County Procuratorate, their families filed a request with the Benxi City Police Department, demanding that they publicize the legal basis for the Benxi Domestic Security Division identifying Falun Gong materials as “prosecution evidence” against the practitioners. The families argued that as the investigation agency, the police had a conflict of interest in identifying the evidence themselves.
The practitioners’ families demanded to know the name, title and professional qualification of the officers who performed the authentication of the evidence, as well as the information of their supervisors.
In retaliation, the police soon began to monitor the practitioners’ family members. Several family members were constantly stopped by the police and asked to show their IDs when they took public transportation.
The practitioners’ families filed another request with the Benxi City Police Department in October 2019, demanding that the police provide legal basis for the daily surveillance and for the police to immediately stop monitoring them.
The families also filed complaints with the Liaoning Province Procuratorate against the Hengren County Court and the Benxi City Intermediate Court for wrongfully sentencing their loved ones.
The Liaoning Province Procuratorate forwarded their complaint to the Benxi City Procuratorate, which mailed a letter to the families, claiming that Falun Gong is a “political issue.”
Prosecutor Jiang Nan of the Benxi City Procuratorate told the families to stop filing complaints and even if they continued to do so, there is no way for them to do anything about it. The families argued that the prosecutor has to follow the law in handling cases, but Jiang responded, “I’ve told you, stop writing letters. Period.”
The practitioners’ families didn’t give up. They filed another complaint against prosecutor Jiang.
After the practitioners’ appeals were rejected, their families also wrote to the Benxi City Justice Bureau in October and November 2020, demanding that they publicize the judicial qualifications of prosecutor Sun Jinjia of the Hengren County Procuratorate, judges Wang Sijie and Chen Xiaoyun of the Hengren County Court and judge Xiong Tiening of the Benxi City Intermediate Court.
The practitioners’ families received a reply from the Benxi City Justice Bureau on December 21, 2020, stating that the judicial qualifications are personal privacy and they wouldn’t release such information.
Days later, the families raised their request with the Liaoning Province Justice Bureau. The agency responded to them on January 6, 2021, ruling that the Benxi City Justice Bureau made a mistake in applying the privacy law regarding the judges and prosecutor’ judicial qualifications. The Benxi City Justice Bureau were ordered to review their decision in not publicizing the officials’ judicial qualifications. They have as yet to issue a new ruling at the time of writing.
In addition to the above agencies, the practitioners’ families have also sought justice with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Liaoning Province Political and Legal Affairs Committee, the Benxi City Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Benxi City People’s Congress. All agencies accepted their cases, but have not yet announced any decisions about them.