(Minghui.org) After nearly three years of incommunicado detention, five Chongqing residents were recently given prison terms ranging from 5.5 to 9 years for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Zhang Shengquan and Ms. Li Jiahui were both sentenced to 9 years with 10,000-yuan fines. Ms. Li Yuhua was sentenced 8.5 years with an 8,000-yuan fine. She has been allowed to serve time outside of prison due to her physical condition. Mr. Gao Hongwei, in his 40s, was sentenced to 6.6 years with a 5,000-yuan fine. Ms. Qin Xuemei was given 5.5 years with a 4,000-yuan fine.
Mr. Zhang was arrested at around 6 p.m. on September 7, 2018, when he was cleaning his stand in a farmers’ market. He was held at the Liziba Detention Center.
The other four practitioners and a sixth practitioner, Ms. Yu Qinghua, were also arrested on the same day. Ms. Li Yuhua and Ms. Yu were held at the Shibanpo Detention Center and their families were asked to pay 1,000 yuan before being allowed to visit them. Ms. Li was later released on bail due to a medical condition. Ms. Yu’s situation isn’t clear at the time of writing.
Mr. Zhang, Ms. Li Jiahui, Mr. Gao and Ms. Qin’s families were kept in the dark of their detention location. Mr. Gao’s arrest left his two young children and wife, who doesn’t work, in a dire situation.
The practitioners were tried by the Jiulongpo District Court on September 4, 2019. But details of the hearing remain unknown. It’s also not clear why the judge waited nearly two years to announce the verdicts.
Prior to the heavy prison terms this time, both Mr. Zhang and Ms. Li Jiahui have been incarcerated for their faith before.
Mr. Zhang was once given two years at the Xishanping Forced Labor Camp (timing unknown) and severely tortured for not giving up Falun Gong. He was arrested again on November 16, 2010, and released on bail in September 2011, after being held at the Huayan Detention Center for ten months. Two months later, on November 17, 2011, he was made to stand trial at the Jiulongpo District Court. He returned home after the hearing. The police took him back into custody on February 16, 2012. Four days later, he was sentenced to four years and transferred to the Yongchuan Prison on August 2.
Ms. Li, in her 70s, was arrested in December 2005 and later given two years at the Maojiashan Women’s Forced Labor Camp.