(Minghui.org) Two Taian City, Shandong Province residents were transferred to local prisons after their appeals against wrongful prison sentences for practicing Falun Gong were rejected.

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

Ms. Xie Qingling, a 66-year-old retired chemical fertilizer plant employee, and Mr. Gao Fangqiang, a 52-year-old business owner, were arrested on November 24, 2020, when they went to nearby Liangzhuang Town to deliver informational materials about Falun Gong. The police submitted their cases to the Taishan District Procuratorate, which indicted them and moved their cases to the Taishan District Court.

Both practitioners were tried through a video conference at the Taian City Detention Center on July 15, 2021, with judge Shen Yuxian presiding over the joint hearing in the courthouse along with two prosecutors and two court clerks. Only one of Ms. Xie’s family members was allowed to watch the virtual hearing in the courthouse. No one in Mr. Gao’s family was allowed to attend.

According to Ms. Xie’s family member, the video quality was very poor and sometimes they lost the audio. Ms. Xie appeared to have aged tremendously after eight months of incarceration. Her voice was raspy and she said she was suffering from high blood pressure.

Both practitioners were represented by court-appointed lawyers, who were instructed to enter guilty pleas for them. The practitioners entered not guilty pleas for themselves. When Mr. Gao was making his final statement, judge Shen interrupted him and adjourned the hearing.

Ms. Xie was later sentenced to seven years with a 20,000-yuan fine. Mr. Gao was given five years, though the amount of his court fine wasn’t clear. They appealed with the Taian City Intermediate Court, which ruled to uphold their original verdicts.

While Ms. Xie and Mr. Gao were held in the detention center, the authorities denied their family visits and refused to provide updates about their situation. Only after the families repeatedly asked about it, did the guard reveal that Ms. Xie has been taken to the Shandong Province Women’s Prison and Mr. Gao to Shandong Province Prison.

Ms. Xie’s family later received a letter from the prison, which said that they weren’t allowed to visit her due to the pandemic. According to the letter, they suspected that she was taken to the prison around early December 2021.

Perpetrators’ contact information:
Zhang Lin (张林), president of Taishan District Court: +86-538-8625101
Shen Yuxian (沈玉贤), presiding judge: +86-538-8625173Li Xiaoming (李晓明), deputy director of Taishan District Domestic Security Office: +86-18653898107Tian Lin (田琳), director of Taishan District 610 Office: +86-18562338185

(More perpetrators’ contact information is available in the original Chinese article.)

Related report:

Two Shandong Residents Tried for Distributing Informational Materials about Their Faith