(Minghui.org) Fifteen Luzhou City, Sichuan Province residents are still being detained for their faith in Falun Gong. Two of them have been sentenced and twelve are awaiting verdicts following their court hearings. One practitioner’s situation isn’t clear.

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

Below are details of their cases.

Two Sentenced

Mr. Wang Xianshu and Ms. Yi Qunren were arrested on April 30, 2020 after attending a gathering of local practitioners. They were tried by the Lu County Court on September 1, 2020. 

Ms. Yi's court-appointed lawyer didn't inform her family of the trial. Mr. Wang’s court-appointed lawyer asked his daughter to pay him 300 yuan to cover his travel expense and the fees to make copies of her father’s case document, even though all court-appointed lawyers should work for their clients for free. 

Both Ms. Yi’s and Mr. Wang’s court-appointed lawyers entered guilty pleas for them upon the judge’s instruction.

The judge sentenced both Ms. Yi and Mr. Wang to four years with a 10,000 yuan fine on December 11, 2020. They filed an appeal on December 28, 2020 and are still awaiting the ruling by the Luzhou City Intermediate Court, which has informed their lawyers that they would not hold a hearing of the practitioners’ cases.

When Mr. Wang’s own lawyer visited him at the Lu County Detention Center in February 2021, he told the lawyer that he was struggling with some medical condition, especially a fast heartbeat, as well as thrombosis in his left leg and varicose veins in the right leg. His feet were severely swollen and he was having excruciating pain while walking. The detention center guards refused to provide any medical treatment to him, nor did they allow him to see a doctor himself.

Twelve Awaiting Verdicts

Ms. Li Shifang, Ms. Dai Qunying, Ms. Jian Hongmei, and Mr. Liu Kaisheng

Ms. Li Shifang, Ms. Dai Qunyin, Mr. Liu Kaisheng, and Ms. Jian Hongmei, were arrested at a farmers' market on August 16, 2020. They were first held in the Hejiang County Detention Center and then transferred to the Naxi District Detention Center. The police ransacked their homes while they were still detained. Their Falun Gong books, photo of Falun Gong’s founder, computer, cellphone, and some computer memory cards were confiscated. The police fabricated the number of confiscated items in the prosecution evidence against them.

The four practitioners stood trial at Hejiang County Court on April 2, 2021. Ms. Dai and Ms. Li’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea for them. Ms. Jian dismissed her court-appointed lawyer, while Mr. Liu retained his. All four practitioners also testified in their own defense and pleaded not guilty. 

Ms. Gou Zhengqiong, Ms. Deng Wanying, Ms. Lei Huanying, and Ms. Luo Taihui

Ms. Gou Zhengqiong was arrested on August 2, 2019. The other three practitioners, including Ms. Deng Wanying, Ms. Lei Huanying, and Ms. Luo Taihui, were arrested on August 21, 2019. All of them have been held at the Naxi Detention Center since.

The four practitioners appeared in Lu County Court three times, on July 13, September 15, 2020, and February 2, 2021, respectively.

During the four women’s first hearing at Lu County Court on July 13, 2020, the judge didn’t allow the practitioners’ families to attend the hearing or even watch the live streaming of the hearing in the lobby of the courthouse. 

The lawyers also pointed out several violations by the police in handling the cases, including their ransacking of the practitioners’ homes without wearing the police uniform, not having at least two officers taking part in the home-raid as required by law, as well as their not showing their IDs and search warrant, and not providing lists of confiscated items afterward.

Among the over 40 witnesses listed by the police, none of them appeared in court to accept cross-examination, nor did they articulate in their written testimonies what the practitioners have done specifically. The photos and video clips used as prosecution evidence also failed to show what the practitioners were doing for the alleged “criminal activities.”

During the second hearing, the prosecutor updated the indictment and added a few more copies of the materials allegedly to have been distributed by the practitioners. He also played a new video clip of the practitioners recorded by the surveillance camera. But the lawyers still argued that the video failed to show what illegal activities their clients were doing.

The lawyers repeated their defense argument that the persecution against Falun Gong didn’t have any legal basis and none of the evidence presented in court could demonstrate what law their clients had violated or what damage they had caused to others or to society.

For the third hearing, the court for the first time allowed the practitioners’ family members to attend. But Ms. Luo’s husband and son, who were deceived by the police to answer some questions about other practitioners, were listed as prosecution witnesses and barred from attending the session. The judge and prosecutor repeated the procedure of the previous two hearings and didn’t present any new “evidence.” The judge still didn’t announce the verdicts at the end of the hearing.

Ms. Ao Qizhen, Ms. Tang Zuqun, Ms. Peng Shaoqun and Ms. Zhang Xinglian

Ms. Ao Qizhen, Ms. Tang Zuqun, Ms. Peng Shaoqun and Ms. Zhang Xinglian, all in their 50s, were arrested at their respective homes on September 10, 2019. It has been reported that the police targeted them after seeing them putting up Falun Gong banners on surveillance footage.

The four practitioners stood trial at Jiangyang District Court on November 24, 2020. Ms. Tang and Ms. Zhang’s lawyers entered a guilty plea for her and asked for lighter prison terms. Ms. Peng was represented by a court-appointed lawyer, who also entered a guilty plea for her.

While Ms. Ao’s family hired a lawyer from Beijing to enter a not guilty plea for her, the court-appointed a lawyer for her, claiming that the lawyer from Beijing wasn’t allowed to travel to Luzhou during the pandemic. During the hearing on November 24, Ms. Ao’s own lawyer still attended the session and defended her innocence, while her court-appointed lawyer entered a guilty plea, just like his colleague who represented Ms. Peng.

Now the four practitioners are awaiting verdicts at the Naxi Detention Center, where they have been held since their arrests.

One Detained Incommunicado

Mr. Luo Qingsheng, in his 70s, was secretly arrested at home in late October 2020. He is now held at the Gulin County Detention Center and deprived of family visits.

On August 25, 2020, two months before his arrest, two officers broke into his home, confiscated his Falun Gong materials, and took him to the Gulin County Procuratorate. One prosecutor asked where he obtained the materials and to who he distributed them to.

Mr. Luo refused to answer the questions but clarified the facts about Falun Gong. He also refused to sign the two-page interrogation record prepared by the police.

One officer called his supervisor and said, “We arrested a Falun Gong practitioner and it’s a big case. What should we do? We are afraid we can’t bear the responsibility if we make the decision [about the case].” While it’s not clear how the officer's supervisor responded to him, Mr. Luo was later released. The police didn’t return the materials confiscated from him. It’s also not clear whether the August arrest prompted his latest arrest and detention.

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution