(Minghui.org) The year 2021 recorded a total of 1,187 Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to prison for their faith, a mind-body practice also known as Falun Dafa that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The 1,187 cases included 7 that took place in 2019, 288 in 2020, and 892 in 2021. With the new information, the total confirmed sentencing cases in 2020 has now been updated to 910. Due to strict information censorship in China, the sentencing cases can’t always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all the information readily available.
Among the 892 cases that took place in 2021, March saw the most cases (107), followed by April (98), and December (86). Other months recorded cases ranged from 41 to 84.
The sentenced practitioners hailed from 27 provinces and municipalities. Liaoning (142), Heilongjiang (125), Jilin (109), Shandong (102), and Henan (90) were the top five provinces with the most sentencing cases. Twenty other regions had cases between 10 and 78. Fujian and Guangxi each had one case.
In particular, the courts in Nanyang City, Henan Province, sentenced 41 practitioners to prison. All were targeted in a mass arrest of over 100 practitioners on August 30, 2019. Their prison terms ranged from 7 months to 13 years.
Upon hearing about the arrest of restaurant owner Mr. Yang Jianlu in Hebei Province, 415 of Mr. Yang’s fellow villagers signed an affidavit in support of him. The villagers’ statement said, “We are from Banpo Street. We are all shocked to hear about Yang Jianlu’s arrest. People in nearby villages all know that he practices Falun Gong and is a good person. Whoever needs help, he is always willing to lend a hand. We don’t know much about the sophisticated principles of Falun Gong, but we know that he didn’t do anything wrong by being a good person. He has been detained for nearly eight months. Please release him. Let his family reunite.” Despite their plea, Mr. Yang was sentenced to eight years and his appeal was rejected by the higher court.
After Mr. Ding Guochen, a math tutor in Liaoning Province, was arrested in 2019, his wife called his students and their parents, telling them that he could not tutor any longer. Some students were so upset that they started to cry. A student’s father said to Mr. Ding’s wife, “My son is in tears. When his mother told him to sign up for a different class, he said, ‘I could never find another teacher as nice as Teacher Ding! I don’t want to change! I only want Teacher Ding to tutor me!’” Mr. Ding was later sentenced to a two-year prison term, while he remained in a coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
Except for 61 practitioners who were given probation, 34 whose terms were unknown, and another 2 who were given court fines without prison terms, the rest were given terms ranging from 3 months to 14 years, with an average of 3.5 years.
A total of 448 practitioners were subjected to court fines or police extortion totaling over 6 million yuan, averaging 14,860 yuan for each person. Among them, 204 practitioners were fined 5,000 yuan or less, 106 were fined between 5,000 and 10,000 yuan, 120 were fined between 10,000 to 50,000 yuan and 18 were fined over 50,000 yuan.
Among the 430 practitioners whose ages were known at the time of their sentencing, 32 were in their 80s, 122 in their 70s, 122 in their 60s, 102 in their 50s, 41 in their 40s, 9 in their 30s, 1 in his 20s, and the youngest at age 19.
The youngest practitioner was Ms. Li Hui, a freshman at Weifang Nursing School in Shandong Province. She was retaliated against by her school when she declined to get the coronavirus vaccine. Knowing that she practiced Falun Gong, her school reported her to the police and got her arrested. She was sentenced to seven months with a 5,000-yuan fine, as the police found Falun Gong materials in her dormitory room.
The oldest practitioners sentenced were 88, including Mr. Xin Yuliang who was given one year, and Mr. Xu Shujun who received three years. Mr. Xu’s wife, Ms. Wang Chuanyun, 82, was also sentenced to three years. A 90-year-old woman is facing a prison sentence following a hearing on October 28, 2021.
An 80-year-old man was never released after serving a three-year term for practicing Falun Gong. Instead, the authorities kept Mr. Liu Xiyong in custody and handed him another four-year term months later. He was denied medical parole despite his critical condition and he passed away on December 29.
Many of the practitioners face inhuman abuses in prison, both physical and mental, as the guards try to force them to renounce their faith. Some practitioners were forced to study Buddhism as part of the brainwashing, some were forced to do intensive unpaid labor while being starved, and many others were subjected to constant beatings, sleep deprivation, and electric shocks.
In order to shake their willpower and prevent their families from seeing their injuries, the authorities often deny the practitioners’ family visits. Some reported cases include a 68-year-old man with a disability in one leg, a 49-year-old man who suffered kidney and heart failure, and an 84-year-old woman with leg problems and impaired hearing.
Even after a Fuxin City, Liaoning Province resident in her 50s suffered a stroke at the prison, the authorities refused to release her on medical parole, but demanded 200,000 yuan from her family in exchange for her release. As her family was unable to afford the extortion, she remains detained.
In addition to denied family visits, most of the practitioners were also blocked from correspondence with their families. Although the family of a Shandong woman mailed several registered letters to her and the mail tracking system also indicated that the letters were received and signed, Ms. Wang Cuiying later told her family that she only got one letter. Around the same time, the family also received a letter, with poor handwriting imitating Ms. Wang’s that praised the prison and the guards. Her family is very worried about her and they are concerned as to why the prison withheld their correspondence and fabricated a letter to appear to be from her.
For some practitioners, the persecution continues even after their prison terms expired. The above-mentioned 80-year-old man was sentenced to another four years after serving three years, and a 76-year-old man was held in a brainwashing center for 36 days before finally being allowed to go home, after serving 4.5 years.
While making the closing statement during a court hearing for Ms. Ye Xiaobing on October 12, 2021, her lawyers said, “The political struggle against Falun Gong, ordered by the Chinese Communist Party and coordinated by the public security and the judiciary branch, is far beyond the scope of the law. The prosecutors and judges, who are supported by taxpayers, were turned into political weapons to persecute good people, and have alienated their identities of representatives for justice. Despite the national apparatus mobilized to persecute Falun Gong, its practitioners have only become more resilient after enduring twenty-two years of suppression. Countless newcomers also joined the practice around the world.
“Goodness will surely triumph over evil and each of us is faced with a choice that will determine our own future.” said the lawyers.
Below are more details of the sentencing cases in 2021. The full list of sentenced practitioners can be downloaded here.
Four Death Cases
The sentencing in 2021 caused the deaths of four practitioners, including an 80-year-old grandfather, a 55-year-old mother and a 65-year-old father.
When Mr. Li Xiyong’s family went to the prison to pick him up on April 9, 2021, they were devastated to learn that the 80-year-old man, who just finished serving three years, was taken away by police. He was sentenced to another four years four months later and developed diabetes and fluid accumulation in his chest. The authorities handcuffed and shackled him to the hospital bed while he received medical treatment.
Mr. Liu developed another serious medical condition on December 9. He was in a wheelchair which was placed inside a metal cage in the back of the van while he was taken to the hospital. His family was surprised to see that Mr. Liu’s face, hands and feet were all swollen. He appeared to be incapacitated and was unable to talk clearly. When his granddaughter tried to adjust his face mask, the guards intimidated her and didn’t allow the family to get close.
The guards demanded that Mr. Liu’s family pay all his medical expenses. They claimed he was in poor health prior to being arrested and said they bore no responsibility for his condition. His family’s repeated requests for medical parole were also denied.
Mr. Liu passed away at the hospital on December 29. The prison staff did not allow his son to take his body. They took it to a funeral home themselves, fearing that his family would file a complaint against them. The police guarded his body until it was cremated on January 1.
With the onset of the persecution in 1999, Mr. Liu was repeatedly incarcerated for upholding his faith and raising awareness about the persecution. He was given 2 years of forced labor following an arrest in April 2002 and sentenced to 3.5 years after another arrest on July 24, 2008. He was sentenced again to three years without a court trial, following his last arrest on April 9, 2018. While his wife desperately sought his release at the local police station, an officer said to her, “We will let him die inside this time!”
Ms. Fu Guihua passed away two months after she was admitted to prison to serve a 7.5-year term. The authorities refused to let her family see her body and moved it to a funeral home without notifying them. They continued to block her family from seeing her, unless a prison guard was present. Despite her family’s repeated requests to investigate her death, the prison officials pressured them to cremate the body as soon as possible.
Ms. Fu was arrested on August 15, 2019, along with her husband, her older daughter, her two sons-in-law and their respective parents for their faith in Falun Gong. Her younger daughter was spared since she had a three-month-old baby. While Ms. Fu’s husband and her younger daughter’s mother-in-law were released after being detained for 15 days, the rest of them were sentenced to 7 or 7.5 years in prison in February 2021.
Ms. Fu and her older daughter were taken to Jilin Province Women’s Prison on May 27, 2021. They were held in the 8th ward, where they were strictly managed. They were forced to sit on small stools for long hours every day, and denied visits from their lawyers and family members.
The third practitioner, Mr. Chu Liwen, passed away on July 1, 2021, less than five months after he was released from prison on medical parole. Mr. Chu was arrested on September 22, 2019. Although his case was rejected by the court twice due to insufficient evidence, the police refused to release him. He was sentenced to eight years on February 9, 2021, and released shortly afterward, when he became extremely ill. The police continued to harass him in April 2021, forcing him to live away from home. He passed away on July 1, 2021. He was 65 years old.
Prior to his last sentence, Mr. Chu spent nine years behind bars and was tortured. He served three labor camp terms, including one three-year and two one-year terms (he was released on medical parole after 20 days of incarceration after his first one-year labor camp term), as well as a five-year prison term.
The fourth practitioner, Ms. Hu Hanjiao, of Hanchuan City, Hubei Province, passed away 13 days after being admitted to prison to serve a four-year term. Ms. Hu was arrested on March 15, 2021, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong. She appeared in the Xiaochang County Court on June 16, 2021, and was sentenced in late June. The the Hanchuan City Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), an extra-judiciary agency tasked with overseeing the persecution of Falun Gong, pressured her husband to dismiss the lawyer and forbade him to discuss Ms. Hu’s death with other local Falun Gong practitioners.
Sentenced Despite Medical Condition
In addition to the death cases, many more practitioners have also been subjected to various forms of abuse following their arrests. Some in turn developed medical conditions, oftentimes serious or even critical, yet they were still sentenced to prison.
The family of Mr. Ding Guochen received a notice from the Jinzhou District Court in Dalian City, Liaoning Province on February 23, 2021, that Mr. Ding was sentenced to 2 years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan. At the time of the sentencing he was unconscious for nearly a month due to a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of torture. His wife, Ms. Yan Qinghua, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and fined 8,000 yuan.
Mr. Ding, a 50-year-old math tutor, and Ms. Yan were arrested on July 10, 2019. Ms. Yan was released on bail that evening, but Mr. Ding was held and tortured in the Dalian Detention Center. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and lost hearing in both ears. He was released on bail on October 1, 2019, only to suffer a second hemorrhagic stroke on January 27, 2021, due to non-stop police harassment. He was taken to an emergency room and is still in a vegetative state.
On April 30, 2021, ten days after Ms. Wang Chaoying was brought home by an ambulance, a local court sent people to her home to announce that the 67-year-old Beijing resident was sentenced to 2.5 years and fined 5,000 yuan.
Ms. Wang’s family questioned the court agents and asked why they still sentenced her when she had been tortured to emaciation and deteriorating health during the six months she was detained. The court personnel threw the verdict to the side and ran back to the police car. Ms. Wang’s family asked the police officer, “She’s already like this from the torture. You didn’t even take a look at her and still sentenced her. Do you just want her to die (from the persecution)?” The police officer said that he was just following orders from his supervisor, before hurriedly getting into the car.
Ms. Sun Yanzhi, a 78-year-old Fushun City, Liaoning Province resident, began to experience stomach pains at the detention center, shortly after she was secretly sentenced to five years for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. The doctor found a tumor in her abdomen measuring nearly 3.9 by 4.3 inches. She is now very weak and her husband is worried about her.
Similar to Ms. Sun, Mr. Fan Wei, of Benxi City, Liaoning Province, was starved in the local detention center and had trouble falling asleep at night. He was often confused and his memory quickly declined. Even though Mr. Fan, 63, almost fainted during the hearing on November 29, 2021, the judge refused his son’s request for a recess to allow him to rest. He forced Mr. Fan to plead guilty, before sentencing him to three years and fining him 5,000 yuan.
Ms. Jia Fengzhi, a Beijing resident, was taken to an intensive care unit on December 10, 2021, 22 days after she was taken to a local prison to serve a 3.5-year term. The doctor found she had a severe stomach condition and rheumatism. She also had an extremely low platelet count, about 20,000 platelets per microliter of blood. The normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter of blood.
While the prison didn’t allow Ms. Jia’s family to visit her in person, they later approved them having a video call with her. She said that she was perfectly healthy during a physical exam at the detention center. While staying in a transitory detention facility before being taken to the prison, she began to have purpura (purple-colored spots on her body). She didn’t sleep well during the first few weeks at the prison. It’s not clear whether that caused her condition to worsen.
Sentenced for Not Renouncing Falun Gong During the “Zero-out” Campaign
With the ongoing “Zero-out” campaign ordered by the Political and Legal Affairs Committee, police and residential committee staff members continue to harass practitioners on the CCP’s blacklist and order them to renounce their faith. Some were sentenced when they refused to give in to the authorities.
Mr. Zhu Zuoliang, a 52-year-old Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province resident, was approached by Cao Linwei from the local residential committee on April 19, 2021. He ordered Mr. Zhu to sign a statement to renounce Falun Gong. Mr. Zhu refused to comply and tried to explain to Cao that he didn’t do anything wrong in practicing his faith. Cao threatened to take him to the local brainwashing center or prison if he insisted on practicing Falun Gong. Four police officers found Mr. Zhu the next day and again ordered him to sign the statement. He refused and was arrested shortly afterward.
Mr. Zhu was tried by a local court on July 20, 2021, and sentenced to 4 or 5 years. The exact prison term is being investigated. He is now detained at the Jinhua Detention Center and denied family visits.
Ms. Zeng Jianjiang, a 59-year-old Hulin City, Heilongjiang Province resident, was cooking lunch at home on July 12, 2020, when a group of officers broke in and arrested her. They also ransacked her home.
The police claimed that they had been monitoring her since November 2019 in preparation for the “Zero-out” campaign, and found her mailing letters to the public about the persecution of Falun Gong. When the police took Ms. Zeng for a physical examination in preparation for her detention, she was found to have high blood pressure as well as heart and liver problems. After a few hours of interrogation, she was released on bail at midnight and forced to pay a 1,000-yuan bond.
As Ms. Zeng suffered a stroke and had difficulty walking when the police submitted her case to the Jidong County Procuratorate in May 2021, the prosecutor, Liu Ying, came to her home to ask her questions about her case.
Without any notification in advance, nine court officials showed up at Ms. Zeng’s home on September 23, when she was at home alone, to hold a hearing about her case. The judge rushed through the session in less than an hour and did not allow Ms. Zeng to defend herself. She received a 1.5-year sentence and was fined 10,000 yuan on October 2. It’s not clear at the time of this report whether she was imprisoned.
Ms. Fu Zhaocui, of Hailin City, Heilongjiang Province, was harassed at home by three officers on May 28, 2021. They initially video recorded the harassment, but later turned the camera off at Ms. Fu’s request.
Officer Wang Yuntang told her they had reported to the authorities mentioned above that Ms. Fu and her family had stopped practicing Falun Gong, in order to meet the “Zero-out” campaign’s target to transform a certain number of local Falun Gong practitioners. He demanded that Ms. Fu cooperate with them and promise that she would no longer practice Falun Gong. Ms. Fu responded that how he reported the situation was his business, but there was no way she would promise to stop practicing her spiritual belief.
The police then left, only to arrest her three weeks later on June 10. The local detention center refused to admit her and she was released on bail. The police interrogated her for three hours before letting her go. She was arrested again on July 10 but was released on bail the same day. She stood trial on December 23 and was sentenced to 9.5 years and fined 10,000 yuan. Due to her physical condition, she is under residential surveillance at the time of this writing.
After over two years of detention, Mr. Liu Liankun, a 52-year-old Tianjin resident, was sentenced to five years in October 2021. Mr. Liu was arrested on August 2, 2019, at home. Both his home and office at work were ransacked. Prior to the arrest, the police harassed him three times.
The arrest and sentencing of Mr. Liu was part of the “Zero-out” campaign. His wife was also targeted for practicing Falun Gong. Two staff members from their village committee found her on January 11, 2021, and ordered her to sign the statement to renounce Falun Gong. They said the authorities were planning to sentence Mr. Liu to seven years and would give him a lighter sentence if she signed the form. They also threatened to arrest her and suspend her pension. She refused to comply. Mr. Liu was sentenced to five years and has been taken to the Binhai Prison. The authorities did not inform his wife of his sentence.
The Elderly are Not Spared
In recent years, the persecution against elderly practitioners, including those in their 80s, became ever more rampant. Not only did the authorities sentence these elderly practitioners, but sometimes to lengthy terms.
Mr. Li Dengchen, an 82-year-old retired teacher in Shenzhou City, Hebei Province, was sentenced to 10 years in January 2021. Another practitioner, Mr. Zheng Jiajin, an 81-year-old Xinxiang City, Henan Province resident, was sentenced in May 2021 to a one-year and eight-month prison term for practicing Falun Gong. Since he had previously been sentenced to 7.5 years in 2015 but had not served the sentence, he was ordered to serve a total of nine years and two months after the latest prison sentence.
Ms. Ma Junting, an 81-year-old retired college teacher in Tai’an City, Shandong Province, was sentenced to a two-year prison term and fined 30,000 yuan in September 2021. As she was still on probation for an earlier three-year term, the judge in charge of her case suspended the probation and ordered her to serve a combined five-year term.
Ms. Ma’s sentencing dealt a heavy blow to her husband, Mr. Deng Tieliu, who was also a retired college professor. He was hospitalized and passed away on November 9.
A 78-year-old practitioner, Mr. Gong Guoqing, of Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, was sentenced to 8.5 years on April 30, 2021. Three other practitioners were also sentenced together with him, to 5.5 to 9.5 years.
Prior to Mr. Gong’s latest sentencing, he was repeatedly harassed throughout the past two decades for his faith. The mental pressure from the persecution took a toll on his wife’s health and she fell into a delirious state at times. Her vision gradually worsened and she is now completely blind.
Since she fell ill, Mr. Gong has been taking good care of her. Despite his own advanced age, he said practicing Falun Gong truly gives him good health and the strength to endure the ordeals over the years. His imprisonment has left his wife in a dire situation.
Ms. Yu Shufeng, an 84-year-old resident of Jiayuguan City, Gansu Province, was arrested in January 2020 after being recorded by a surveillance camera while hanging up a banner worded, “Falun Dafa is Good.” Despite her leg problems and impaired hearing, the authorities sentenced her and took her to the Lanzhou Women’s Prison to serve time.
The prison has denied her family visits since February 2021, with the excuse that she has refused to renounce Falun Gong. Her family is very worried that she is being tortured in prison.
Ms. Yang Wenshu, 80, and Ms. Liu Guiqing, 83, were reported by the parents of a student for talking to the student about Falun Gong on October 14, 2020. The police located the two practitioners via surveillance cameras and followed them for the next two days. The two Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province residents were arrested on October 16 when they were distributing informational materials about Falun Gong in a residential area.
After they were released later that day, the police forced them to wear GPS tracking bracelets and prohibited them from leaving a police-designated area. Ms. Liu started to have difficulty walking. The police stayed outside of the two women’s apartments to monitor them. As the two women were neighbors, they were accused of holding a gathering every time they visited each other. The police, who then submitted their cases to the procuratorate, harassed the practitioners several times, questioned them, and photographed them.
As both women refused to appear in court, the judge went to their homes on December 22, 2021, to announce their verdicts. Ms. Liu was sentenced to one year with a court fine. Ms. Yang was originally given six months, but because she refused to plead guilty and urged the court staff members not to participate in the persecution, they extended her term to one year.
In addition to arbitrarily handing down new prison sentences, the authorities also sought to imprison the practitioners with prison terms that had expired.
Ms. An Fuzi, an 82-year-old resident of Yanji City, Jilin Province, was taken to the Jilin Province Women’s Prison in late September 2021 after the authorities renewed her three-year sentence that had expired in 2019.
Ms. An’s ordeal started when she was arrested on March 3, 2016, while reading the Falun Gong teachings at another practitioner’s home. She was sentenced by the Yanji City Court to three years on April 7, 2017. She appealed the verdict, but the higher court ruled to uphold the original sentence. Due to her poor health, she was allowed to serve time at home. The police arrested Ms. An again in late August 2021. The court renewed her verdict and ordered her to be imprisoned weeks later.
Family Sentenced Together
Some practitioners were sentenced along with their family members, including parents and daughter, mother and daughter, or husband and wife.
Ms. Cai Yuying, 66, and her daughter, Ms. Yu Jiaoru, a 34-year-old accountant, were targeted in a police sweep on July 15, 2020. The police broke in after drilling a big hole in the door to the family’s home in Nong’an City, Jilin Province. Ms. Cai’s husband, who doesn’t practice Falun Gong, was also taken to the local police station and detained briefly. Ms. Cai was later sentenced to 9 years and Ms. Yu to 6 years. Eight other practitioners that were arrested with them were sentenced to between 2 and 10 years.
A married couple and their son from Ningxiang City, Hunan Province, were secretly tried and sentenced in September 2021. Mr. Wang Gang, 63, and his wife Ms. Yang Junying, also 63, were sentenced to 7.5 and 7 years, respectively, and each was fined 20,000 yuan. Their son, Mr. Wang Zhuo, 38, was sentenced to 3 years with a 5,000-yuan fine and allowed to serve time outside of prison.
More than 20 officers broke into the Wang family’s three-story home and ransacked it on July 24, 2020. The elderly couple’s computers, printers, tens of thousands of yuan in cash, informational materials about Falun Gong, and a photo of Falun Gong’s founder were confiscated. Their son’s camera and computer, which he used for the family’s photo studio business on the first floor of their residence, were also taken.
Another married couple and their daughter in Tianjin were sentenced to 7 to 12 years. Mr. Li Guoqing is a general manager at the local power company. In his spare time, he runs a wedding ceremony company with his wife Ms. Yu Bo and their daughter Ms. Li Lei.
Ms. Yu and Ms. Li were first arrested on May 15, 2019, while driving out of their apartment complex. The police then ransacked their home and confiscated their printer, fax machine, and three private cars. Mr. Li was arrested later that day. His father was so traumatized by the arrests that he had a stroke and was hospitalized. Mr. Li suffered from high blood pressure and Ms. Li had stomach pain while being held in the local police station. The family of three was sentenced around September 2021.
For other families, although they weren’t sentenced together, the incarceration of just one loved one left the entire family in deep distress.
One month after Mr. Tu Qingguang was released from serving a 4.5-year term for practicing Falun Gong, his wife, Ms. He Qingxiang, was sentenced to six years for their shared faith. The couple, who lives in Meizhou City, Guangdong Province, has spent less than four years together in the past ten years due to the persecution.
The couple was arrested in November 2010 and sentenced to 3.5 years each. On April 12, 2017, four years after their release, Mr. Tu was arrested again for talking to people about Falun Gong in a park, and was sentenced to 4.5 years on December 26, 2017. While he was serving time, Ms. He was arrested on January 26, 2021, just when she was about to leave home for work. She was sentenced to six years with a 60,000-yuan fine on November 5, one month after her husband was released.
After Mr. Liu Hongshu, a 54-year-old resident in Qishan County, Shaanxi Province, was arrested on September 27, 2020, for practicing Falun Gong, his parents, who are in their 80s, repeatedly went to the local police department to seek his release, but to no avail. His mother fell ill from the mental distress and had surgery. Right after she was discharged from the hospital, she went to the detention center to demand her son’s release. The guards finally allowed her to have a video chat with Mr. Liu. Upon seeing his swollen face, she burst into tears.
As the family’s wheat ripened in June 2021, his parents demanded that the police release Mr. Liu so he could harvest it, but the police denied their request again. While he was at the police station Mr. Liu’s father fell and injured his head. He fainted and was taken to the hospital. He was hospitalized for ten days and was found to have had a stroke. Unable to afford the medical fee, he returned home and passed away soon after. Mr. Liu was not allowed to see him for the last time. He was later sentenced to three years.
Ms. Zhang Cui, a Dalian City, Liaoning province resident in her 50s, has been taking care of her bedridden husband for the past eight years. Her husband became paraplegic following a work-related accident in 2013. He has since relied on her to care for him and his daily activities, including eating, bathing, turning his body in bed, and manually removing his fecal impaction. In addition to her husband, Ms. Zhang’s mother-in-law, in her 80s, also relied on Ms. Zhang to cook and care for her.
Following Ms. Zhang’s latest arrest on September 16, 2020, her husband was left unattended and their daughter had to take him to a nursing home. After a court hearing on September 16, 2021, Ms. Zhang was sentenced to a 2.5-year prison term with a 20,000 yuan fine in November 2021. The family is also facing financial distress as Ms. Zhang’s pension was suspended in June 2021.
The mental distress took a toll on her husband. He is now suffering from declining health at the nursing home. His mother also struggles to care for herself due to her worsening rheumatism.
Judicial officials called Ms. Jiang Deyuan on December 22, 2021, and told her to come to the courthouse to pick up her verdict at 3 p.m. that afternoon. Shortly after she arrived, several officers carried her out, pushed her into a police car, and took her away. Her husband was given a copy of her verdict—one year and three months in prison with a 10,000-yuan fine. He wasn’t told where she was to serve her time.
Ms. Jiang, a Huili City, Sichuan Province resident nearly 70, was targeted for seeking justice for her husband. Her pension was reduced because she practices Falun Gong.
When Ms. Jiang’s husband, Mr. Zhang Zhengyou, went to pick up his pension in June 2020, he was surprised to see it was less than usual. He called his former employer and was told that because he was given a year and a half of forced labor for practicing Falun Gong in 2012, the police in March 2020 ordered his employer to deduct the amount he had received during his incarceration from his pension.
The police claimed that according to a new policy, Falun Gong practitioners serving time aren’t entitled to any retirement benefits during their terms. Because Mr. Zhang’s employer didn’t suspend his pension back then, they were now reducing his monthly payment to recoup the money.
Both Mr. Zhang and his wife insisted that he was given the forced labor term because of the illegal persecution and that his pension was his lawful asset, not something the government can arbitrarily suspend. Both of them went several times to Mr. Zhang’s employer, urging the company to issue his full pension payment. His supervisor refused to do so and even threatened them.
Ms. Jiang wrote letters to the appeals office, local residential committee, and the police station, only to be arrested on October 12, 2020. The judge in charge of Ms. Jiang’s case arbitrarily rescheduled the hearing several times, including once when her lawyer had already traveled about 1,500 miles from Beijing to Huili. She eventually made two appearances in the Huili City Court, on May 19 and December 13, 2021. When Ms. Jiang’s lawyer was unable to attend her second hearing due to a schedule conflict, the judge appointed another lawyer to enter a guilty plea for Ms. Jiang without her knowledge.
In the verdict her husband received on December 22, the government officials she contacted to seek justice for him were listed as the witnesses to her “crime” of promoting Falun Gong. The appeal letters that mentioned Falun Gong and the Falun Gong books confiscated from her were also listed as prosecution evidence.
In addition to heavy terms, some practitioners were also given heavy terms. Mr. Ren Haifei and Ms. Sun Zhongli were sentenced to ten and seven years with 100,000- and 700,000-yuan fines, respectively, on October 14, 2021.
Both Mr. Ren and Ms. Sun, residents of Dalian City, Liaoning Province, were arrested on June 26, 2020. The police confiscated 500,000 yuan in cash and computer supplies worth more than 200,000 yuan from Mr. Ren’s apartment. They also located his car and confiscated 50,000 yuan in cash found in the vehicle.
While Ms. Sun was released the next day due to poor health, Mr. Ren, 46, was hospitalized for 19 days. He suffered heart and kidney failure due to savage beatings by the police. Mr. Ren was later transferred to the Yaojia Detention Center. The once healthy man developed severe diabetes and was forced to take unknown medicine. When his lawyer was finally allowed to visit him after being turned away initially, the lawyer noticed that he was emaciated and looked haggard.
When Mr. Huang Zhili, 48, was arrested at his rental apartment in Mengyin County, Shandong Province on December 18, 2020, the police confiscated the 170,000 yuan in cash he had prepared to buy a home with and refused to return it. Mr. Huang has since been denied family visits. He was sentenced to three years in July 2021 and has been taken to the Shandong Province Prison.
Mr. Huang used to work at the technical department of a gypsum board factory and won a “10 Under 30” award. He lost his job after he was sentenced to three years in April 2007. While he was serving time, his wife returned to her parents’ home in Mengyin with their 8-year-old son. Mr. Huang also moved there after he was released. After the Xuzhou police found out, they tracked him down in Mengyin and threatened to cancel his family’s household registration in order to force him to renounce Falun Gong.
Ms. Wang Jiemei, a 60-year-old retired teacher in Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was sentenced to 3.5 years on November 3, 2021, for talking to people about how her various ailments were resolved by practicing Falun Gong. Her family was recently dealt another blow when the local social security bureau suspended her pension and demanded the return of pension payments issued to her since her arrest on February 21, 2021.
The social security bureau claimed that a new policy ruled that retirees serving time are not entitled to any pension. Ms. Wang’s family argued that Chinese labor law has no such stipulations, and that the pension is lawfully hers, not something the government can arbitrarily suspend. The social security bureau threatened to file a lawsuit against Ms. Wang should she fail to pay her “debt” to them.
Targeted for Speaking Out
In the past 22 years, Falun Gong practitioners in China have never stopped raising awareness about the persecution, especially when the Chinese communist regime further tightened up information censorship in China during the pandemic. For some, their courageous efforts were met with retaliation by authorities, including arrests and prison sentencing.
Ms. Lou Yahong, a 56-year-old former accountant in Xuchang City, Henan Province, was sentenced to four years for simply displaying couplets on her door, which read, “Blessings from Heaven; Cultivating the heart for goodness, one will be blessed with happiness, longevity and health; Honoring Heaven and virtue, one will have good fortune and luck,” and, “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”
A married couple in Beijing, Mr. Xing Guoqing and Ms. Zhang Jie, were sentenced to twelve and ten months respectively on December 3, 2021, after being accused of going door to door to distribute informational booklets about Falun Gong.
Two Tieling City, Liaoning Province residents, Ms. Qiu Tieling and Ms. Wang Jinhui, were arrested on June 4, 2021, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. Their two electric motorcycles were impounded and their Falun Gong books, photo of Falun Gong’s founder, and cellphones were confiscated. The police also forcibly photographed them and collected blood samples.
When they appeared in court on October 26, Ms. Qiu’s ailing, wheelchair-bound husband took a taxi with other family members’ help and arrived at the court before 8 a.m. When the court opened at 8:30 a.m., the bailiff refused to allow him to enter. The practitioners’ families learned on December 8 that Ms. Qiu was sentenced to three years with a 2,000-yuan fine, and Ms. Wang was sentenced to eight months with a 2,000-yuan fine.
While most practitioners were arrested and sentenced by their local police and courts, there were a few cases in 2021 in which the practitioners in Hebei, Chongqing, and Liaoning were targeted by the Internet police in Henan Province, who traveled hundreds of miles to arrest the practitioners after finding them posting Falun Gong related messages online.
Ms. Sun Lijuan, a Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province resident, was arrested at home on April 25, 2021, by local police and their counterparts in Jiaozuo City, Henan Province, after being found by the Internet police in Jiaozuo for posting information about Falun Gong on WeChat. None of the over 20 officers were wearing police uniforms or showed their IDs.
The Jiaozuo City Domestic Security Office later transferred the case against Ms. Sun to the Linghe Police Station in Jinzhou, which then submitted it to the Linghai City Procuratorate, with the charge of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners. After a hearing held on November 11, she was sentenced to five years and fined 10,000 yuan.
Ms. Kang Qihui was sentenced to 4.5 years with an 80,000-yuan fine, for telling people how Falun Gong enabled her to stand again after being bedridden for 11 years. She detailed the reasons why she started to practice Falun Gong during the court hearing on November 27, 2020. She said that she used to struggle with poor health and also contracted a rare disease after giving birth to her daughters. She was unable to work. Every day when her daughters returned home from school, the first thing they did was check whether she was still alive. But shortly after she began practicing Falun Gong, her condition disappeared. Although the judge was surprised to hear about her health recovery through practicing Falun Gong, he still sentenced her to prison.
Because of the strict information censorship in China, many practitioners work together to use various channels to raise awareness about the persecution. When the police discover this, it often leads to mass arrests and subsequent group sentencing. In the numerous group sentencing that took place in 2021, the authorities handed down many heavy terms, sometimes up to 13 years. Another 11 citizen journalists who were arrested for sending photos of empty streets in Beijing during the pandemic to overseas media are currently awaiting verdicts following a hearing on October 15, 2021.
In particular, the courts in Nanyang City, Henan Province sentenced 41 Falun Gong practitioners. The Nanyang Political and Legal Affairs Committee and Public Security Bureau ordered a mass arrest of Falun Gong practitioners in the early morning hours of August 30, 2019. More than 100 practitioners were targeted and held in the Nanyang Detention Center. Among them, 27 practitioners were sentenced by the Wancheng District Court, with prison terms ranging from 7 months to 13 years. Another 14 practitioners were given sentences from 2 to 9 years, although it is not clear which court convicted them.
Below are details from a few group sentencing cases.
Thirteen Tangshan City, Hebei Province residents stood trial at the Luannan County Court on July 20, 2021, for practicing Falun Gong and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to ten years.
The thirteen practitioners were arrested in a police sweep on August 12, 2020, when over 100 police officers were mobilized to terrorize, arrest, and torture more than 50 practitioners, in an attempt to force them to give up their faith. A few practitioners in nearby Tianjin, a centrally-controlled municipality, were also arrested. Mr. Dong Jianquan died on October 25, 2020 as a result of the tremendous pressure.
While most of the practitioners were later released and cleared of prosecution, the cases against thirteen practitioners were submitted to the procuratorate. Among them, Ms. Zhang Zhilan, Ms. Cui Shuyu, Ms. Li Yuying, and Ms. Tong Xiulan were detained at the Tangshan City No. 1 Detention Center. Mr. Hou Jianguang and Mr. Wang Baozhu were held in the Fengnan District Detention Center. Mr. Liu Weili, Ms. Wang Huilin, Ms. Liu Jinying, Mr. Hu Yincang, Mr. Lu Lifa, Mr. Zuo Desheng, and Ms. Bi Guanqin were put under house arrest.
The Luannan County Court initially scheduled hearings for January 20-21, 2021, but later canceled the hearings due to the local coronavirus outbreak.
It has been confirmed that Mr. Liu was sentenced to ten years, Ms. Wang six and a half years, Ms. Zhang seven years, Ms. Tong three years, Mr. Zuo two years and six months, Mr. Hou one year, Mr. Wang eleven months, both Mr. Lu and Ms. Bi to six-month terms, and Ms. Cui to one year with two years’ probation. The terms of Ms. Liu, Ms. Li, and Ms. Hu remain to be investigated.
Ms. Wang, who suffered a medical condition on her way to the court, was later sentenced at home while still being confined to bed.
Mr. Ma Minqing, 52, was sentenced to 7.5 years with a 10,000-yuan fine on December 20, 2021. He was the last one of the nine practitioners arrested on July 9 and 10, 2019 to be sentenced by the Haizhu District Court. The nine residents of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province were targeted after the police suspected them of sending Falun Gong information through a wifi network at a subway station.
The other eight arrested practitioners include Mr. Ma’s mother, Ms. Wang Xuezhen, Ms. Lin Zuoying, Mr. Zeng Jiageng, Ms. Tan Chuying, Ms. Wu Lijuan, Ms. Liang Huichan, Ms. Zhang Hui, and Ms. Yang Zhigang, mostly in their 70s and 80s.
Prior to Mr. Ma’s sentencing, Ms. Lin was sentenced to one year with two years of probation and a 2,000-yuan fine on July 13, 2020; Ms. Wu was sentenced to one year and three months in the second half of 2020; Mr. Zeng was sentenced to five years on July 28, 2021; Ms. Tan was sentenced to two years with three and a half years of probation around August 2021; and Mr. Ma’s mother, Ms. Wang, was sentenced to four years on March 17, 2021. The verdicts against Ms. Liang, Ms. Zhang, and Ms. Yang are not clear.
Mr. Ma’s mother, 77-year-old Ms. Wang, suffered excruciating back pain and was sometimes unable to walk, so she had to crawl on the floor. She asked to see a doctor, but the guards ignored her. Someone familiar with her situation told her family in late October 2020 that she was subjected to the stretching torture in the Haizhu District Detention Center. She was so badly injured that she was unable to stand up straight or walk. She was in a wheelchair when her lawyer visited her again on November 3, 2020.
Mr. Zeng, 79, experienced life-threatening high blood pressure and a heart condition two months after his arrest. His family and lawyer applied to have him released on bail but were turned down.
Seven Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province residents were arrested on April 7 and 8, 2020, for making phone calls to the public about how the communist regime covered up the pandemic, as well as how coronavirus patients recovered by reciting the auspicious phrases “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”
The police accused them of making “propaganda” calls and violating Article 300 of the criminal law, i.e., “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” which has become the standard pretext used by the authorities to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.
The practitioners appeared in the Ranghulu District Court four times, on December 17 and 29, 2020, and June 22 and October 21, 2021. Their families filed several complaints with the district and city government and discipline department against prosecutor Feng and judge Xue for wrongfully seeking prosecution of their loved ones. They also demanded that the authorities replace the prosecutor and the presiding judge handling the case. No agencies ever responded to their complaints or requests. Judge Xue announced the verdicts against the practitioners on November 17, 2021.
Mr. Li Lizhuang was sentenced to ten years and eight months with an 80,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Tang Zhuyin was sentenced to nine years and four months with a 50,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Zhao Lihua was sentenced to seven years and five months with a 40,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Huo Xiaohui was sentenced to seven years and three months with a 40,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Ding Yan was sentenced to four years and two months with a 30,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Jiao Qihua was sentenced to four years with a 30,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Li Yanqing was sentenced to one year and ten months with a 20,000-yuan fine.
Mr. Li, Ms. Tang, and Ms. Huo have appealed the verdicts.
Ms. Tang, a retiree from the Harbin Tungsten Platinum Material Factory in her 70s, has been arrested and incarcerated several times in the past two decades. She was first arrested in September 1999 for going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. Guards at the Chaoyang District Detention Center in Beijing tortured her and poured cold water on her head.
Ms. Tang was given two labor camp terms, in April 2001 and August 2006, for a total of three and a half years. At the Wanjia Forced Labor Camp, the guards tied her legs, hung her up by her handcuffs, and shocked her head, arms, and hands with electric batons. The injuries on her left arm and hand took a long time to heal. The guards told her, “We are following our superiors’ orders. We are merely their tools. If you want to seek justice, you need to talk to Jiang Zemin (the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution in 1999). This is our job and we don’t have a choice.”
Mr. Li, a 48-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, was fired from his hospital and given two labor camp terms and one prison term, totaling six and a half years. He suffered appalling torture and sexual assault while in custody and had to sell clothes on the street to make a living after he was released.
Four Luzhou City, Sichuan Province residents were sentenced to prison in early August 2021 by the Lu County Court for practicing Falun Gong. Ms. Deng Wanying was sentenced to nine years in prison, Ms. Lei Huanying to five years, Ms. Luo Taihui to three years and a half, and Ms. Gou Zhengqiong to three years.
Ms. Gou was arrested on August 2, 2019, and the other three practitioners, all store owners, were arrested on August 21, 2019. The four practitioners appeared in the Lu County Court on July 13 and September 15, 2020, and again on February 2, 2021.
During the four women’s first hearing at the Lu County Court on July 13, 2020, the judge did not allow the practitioners’ families to attend the hearing or even watch the hearing while it was being live streamed in the courthouse lobby.
The lawyers pointed out several violations by the police in handling the cases, including their ransacking the practitioners’ homes without wearing police uniforms, failure to have at least two officers be present during the home-raid as required by law, as well as failure to show their IDs and search warrants, or provide lists of confiscated items afterward.
Among the over 40 witnesses listed by the police, none appeared in court to accept cross-examination. They also did not articulate in their written testimonies what the practitioners did specifically. The photos and video clips used as prosecution evidence also failed to show what the practitioners were doing during their alleged “criminal activities.”
During the second hearing, the prosecutor updated the indictment and added a few more copies of the materials allegedly 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 had no legal basis, and none of the evidence presented in court demonstrated what law their clients violated or what damage they caused to others or to society.
During the third hearing, the court for the first time allowed the practitioners’ family members, who had not seen their loved ones for one and a half years, to attend. Ms. Luo’s husband and son, however, were barred from attending the session, after they were deceived by the police into answering questions about other practitioners and then listed as prosecution witnesses without their knowledge.
The judge and prosecutor repeated the procedure of the previous two hearings and did not present any new “evidence.” The four practitioners maintained that they had done nothing wrong by practicing their faith. Two of their lawyers demanded their acquittal, but the judge responded that there was no way for him to do that.
After a Group Arrest, Authorities Split Practitioners’ Cases for Separate Sentencing
The authorities in Changsha City, Hunan Province dispatched nearly 70 police officers to patrol outside of the Liuyang City Court, when Ms. Zhang Lingge was tried on May 8, 2021. The 53-year-old was sentenced in December 2021 to four years with a 15,000-yuan fine.
Ms. Zhang was arrested at her mother’s home at 11 p.m. on October 27, 2020. Around the same time, hundreds of police officers arrested another two dozen practitioners, including seven at Mr. Li Zhigang’s home while they were reading the Falun Gong teachings together.
The police later submitted the cases of 15 of the arrested practitioners to the Liuyang Procuratorate, which returned the cases for insufficient evidence between March and April 2021, before finally indicting the practitioners.
But different from past group arrests, the prosecutor submitted the practitioners’ cases to the court separately, instead of a joint case. A person familiar with the cases revealed to some practitioners’ families that the court hearings were only a formality and some of their prison terms had already been determined by the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee, an extrajudicial agency tasked with overseeing the persecution.
In addition to Ms. Zhang, Mr. Li Zhigang, whom the authorities accused of organizing practitioners’ gatherings, was sentenced to five years and three months on December 21. Mr. Meng Kai, a lawyer himself, was sentenced to 3.5 years. A married couple, Mr. Cao Zhifang and Ms. Yang Fang, were sentenced to three years and four months each on December 24.
Some of the practitioners sentenced in 2021 have been repeatedly targeted for practicing Falun Gong. Some lost their jobs, others were expelled from school, and some have served lengthy terms and barely survived brutal torture.
Ms. Deng Rongfang, a 63-year-old former engineer at the port authority in Fangchenggang City, Guangxi Province, was sentenced to 7.5 years following her latest arrest in July 2020. Since the persecution began in 1999, Ms. Deng has served four labor camp terms for a total of 8.5 years. She was fired from her job and subjected to various torture methods, including sleep deprivation, restricted bathroom use, beatings, and drug administration.
Having served two labor camp terms and a prison term totaling 7 years, Mr. Li Lanqiang, a former math teacher in Beijing was sentenced to a 5-year term following his latest arrest on April 23, 2021 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong.
Mr. Luo Wenbin, a 43-year-old former middle school teacher, suffered a mental collapse and became incapacitated after being imprisoned and tortured for more than 11 years for practicing Falun Gong.
When he started to recover, Mr. Luo went out to distribute informational materials about the persecution, only to be arrested on September 1, 2020. While he was being held in the Nanchang County Detention Center, his elderly mother fell in February 2021 and later passed away. His father applied to the authorities for Mr. Luo to attend her funeral, but the request was denied. Mr. Luo was also denied family visits. He was secretly sentenced to one year in prison.
Mr. Chen Yan, a 59-year-old man in Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province, was arrested on April 23, 2021 after being reported by a child’s grandfather for talking to the child about Falun Gong. It came just one year after he was released from serving a previous five-year term. He appeared in court in September 2021 and was sentenced to five years. In addition to the prison terms, he has also served two labor camp terms for a total of four years.
Even though Ms. Zhang Yuzhen was incapacitated and in serious condition after over one year of detention, the 54-year-old Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, resident was still sentenced to seven years. A single woman whose parents passed away due to the mental distress from the persecution, Ms. Zhang did not have any close family members to seek justice for her.
Prior to her latest sentencing, Ms. Zhang was arrested 12 times and incarcerated for a total of nine years. While serving time at the Jiangxi Province Women’s Prison, she was hung up by her wrists behind her back for 11 hours on September 19, and 3 hours on September 20, 2005. Her arms became disabled. She is still unable to completely extend her arms, make a fist, or extend her fingers. She also suffers from wrist drop, a condition in which the person cannot extend their wrist, and it hangs limply. Her upper limbs are in constant pain and her hands quiver. She has occasional sharp pains in her chest, neck, and shoulders.
Ms. Yu Minghui’s wish to reunite with her parents was shattered again when her 63-year-old mother was sentenced to four years in prison for practicing Falun Gong.
Since the persecution began in 1999, Ms. Yu’s family of three in Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province has spent less than two years together. Her father was arrested in 2001 and was sentenced to 15 years. Her mother was arrested in 2003 and was sentenced to 11 years.
As a teenager, Ms. Yu struggled to grow up by herself. After being admitted to the Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts in 2010 to study fashion design, she moved to the U.K. and hasn’t been able to return to China.
When her father was released in 2016, two years after her mother returned to the empty home, they applied for passports in order to travel to the UK to visit Ms. Yu. The police denied their application and told them that their passports would never be approved.
On March 31, 2020, Ms. Yu’s mother, Ms. Wang Meihong, a geological engineer, was arrested again for talking to people about Falun Gong. After a year of detention, she was sentenced to four years in early May 2021, and has been admitted to the Heilongjiang Women’s Prison to serve time.
Other practitioners who have been repeatedly persecuted include a former businessman who was sentenced to 3 years after 10 years of imprisonment and a 65-year-old man in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province who was sentenced to four years, also after serving ten years in prison.
Violation of Legal Procedure
The authorities have violated legal procedures at every step of the prosecution process of the practitioners, from arbitrary arrests, violent interrogation and fabricating evidence, to blocking the practitioners’ legal representation or secretly sentencing them, sometimes even without their knowledge.
Ms. Lei Xiaoli, a Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province resident, was arrested on March 25, 2021, after the police accused her of “leaving Falun Gong booklets at an ATM machine.” Officer Ma Cong ordered Ms. Lei to plead guilty while interrogating her at the police station. As she has very poor vision, Ma ordered her family to read certain materials to her and have her sign the paper. Ma asked for her family members’ phone numbers, but did not give them his. Ma and a group of officers ransacked her home in April, without a search warrant.
Ms. Lei was taken to the Lianhu District Detention Center the day after her arrest and has been held there since. Her family later learned that the police had informed the property management of their intention to arrest her in early 2021. The property management did not inform the family, but instead worked with the police to arrest her.
The police submitted the case against Ms. Lei to the Lianhu District Procuratorate in mid-June. The prosecutor, Zhang Yanhua, indicted her weeks later. The prosecution evidence submitted by Zhang was only a photo of an ATM machine confiscated from Ms. Lei’s home. Ms. Lei wasn’t in the photo, nor were the Falun Gong booklets that were mentioned by the police.
Ms. Lei appeared in Lianhu District Court on August 13, 2021, and was sentenced to three years with a 5,000-yuan fine on December 20, 2021.
Ms. Li Guiling, a 55-year-old resident of Changchun City, Jilin Province, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for practicing Falun Gong on September 26, 2021, after a 5-minute hearing four months before.
Ms. Li was arrested at home by officers from the Guigudajie Police Station on January 6, 2021. None of the officers showed their IDs. They forced Ms. Li to fingerprint the list of confiscated items after ransacking her home. When she was taken to the hospital for a physical examination, the police slammed her head on the door. She protested the brutality. The officers held her arms, covered her mouth, and pinched her face and neck, leaving bruises all over her arms and face. Two officers then carried Ms. Li to the restroom for a urine test. They put her on the ground and kicked her. A male officer threatened that if she didn’t cooperate, he would submit his own urine as hers. He also threatened to burn her Falun Gong books in front of her.
After Mr. Wei Guoshen, a 66-year-old resident of Tangshan City, Hebei Province, was arrested on June 18, 2020, the police handcuffed his hands behind his back. They sprayed an unknown drug into a plastic bag and placed the bag over his head, forcing him to breathe in the fumes. Police director Li Jijun also smeared the drug liquid accumulated in the bottom of the bag on Mr. Wei’s chin. Another officer sprayed the drug directly into his eyes which made Mr. Wei’s eyes tear up.
Police placed the bag over Mr. Wei’s head three times within a few hours. By the time he was interrogated, Mr. Wei was foggy-headed and under the influence of the drug. He repeated whatever the police told him to say. Later when he was released on bail, his family noticed that the flesh on his face was dark, the corners of his eyes were swollen, and there were signs of corrosion and burns on his chin and other parts of his face.
Mr. Wei was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison and fined 5,000 yuan on October 15. The police refused to return the 8,400 yuan confiscated from him and forced him to fingerprint a receipt that stated the money had been returned.
When Ms. Guan Yanfeng, a Hulin City, Heilongjiang Province resident, stood trial on November 18, 2020, the prosecutor presented a list of confiscated items from her. Ms. Guan argued that she was not present during the raid and some of the listed items were not hers. The judge claimed that Ms. Guan’s husband signed the list for her, but her lawyer argued that her husband suffered a brain injury and lacked basic cognitive ability, so his signature could not be considered valid evidence.
Ms. Guan also pointed out that a police officer surnamed Niu beat her, in an attempt to extract a confession from her. The judge denied that there was an officer surnamed Niu. But when they played the video of the police interrogating Ms. Guan, it showed that officer Niu savagely beat Ms. Guan twice. Ms. Guan was sentenced to two years with a 50,000 yuan fine around July 2021.
Sentenced Without a Trial
Ms. Zhang Guijun, a 72-year-old Benxi City, Liaoning Province resident, was suddenly notified by a police officer on August 6, 2021, that the Nanfen District Court sentenced her to prison and gave her ten days to appeal the verdict. It’s not clear how long the prison sentence is or whether Ms. Zhang filed an appeal.
Ms. Li Xiaoxia, of Benxi City, Liaoning Province, was arrested at home on October 15, 2020, by officers from the Xiaoshi Police Station. The police came in four cars and confiscated many of her personal belongings.
Ms. Li was released on bail after she failed to pass the physical examination required for detention. Staff members from the Nanfen District Court and officers of Xiaoshi Police Station went to her home twice to interview her. Her husband, who doesn’t practice Falun Gong, was also questioned.
A staff member from the Nanfen District Court went to Ms. Li’s home on December 23, 2021, and delivered the verdict to her without ever having a trial. She was sentenced to 4.5 years and fined 10,000 yuan.
Sentenced Inside a Car
Ms. Sun Jing owns an inflatable boat company in Weihai, a coastal city in Shandong Province. She was sentenced inside a car to eight years. As Ms. Sun Jing was refused admission to a local detention center due to her high blood pressure, the police threatened to reevaluate her health in February 2022 to determine whether she would be imprisoned.
Ms. Sun has more than 30 employees. The police broke into her home and factory on the morning of January 6, 2021, and searched both places. All of her employees were forced to turn in their cellphones to the police and were not allowed to call anyone or receive any calls. The police even followed them when they used the restroom or had lunch. They were not allowed to leave until evening.
After the police forced the detention center to accept Ms. Sun despite her high blood pressure, she became depressed and her blood pressure remained very high. She was released on bail on March 21, 2021, after 76 days of detention.
Ms. Sun’s lawyer went to her home on December 3, 2021, connected to a video conference with the Rongcheng City Court, and attended a hearing of her case. The police returned on December 17 and took her for a physical examination. Because the detention center still refused to admit her due to high blood pressure, the police had to take her home.
When the police took Ms. Sun to the court for the sentencing hearing on December 21, she was too dizzy to get out of the car. The judge then went outside to the car and announced that she was sentenced to eight years.
Police and Judges Do Not Follow the Law
Ms. Hu Hui, a 54-year-old Xingtai City, Hebei Province resident, went to another practitioner’s home to read Falun Gong books on August 28, 2020, only to be followed and arrested by the police. Her family and lawyer found the arresting police officers on September 24 and tried to seek justice for her. Shortly after her lawyer began to talk about her arbitrary detention, Song Jiaxi, head of the Domestic Security Office, ordered his officers to drag the lawyer away. Song shouted at the lawyer, “You can go ahead and file a complaint against me for illegally detaining your client.”
Ms. Hu appeared in the Xiangdu District Court on August 17, 2021, and was sentenced to two years with a 3,000 yuan fine around October.
When sentencing Mr. Yang Huaming, a Chengdu City, Sichuan Province resident, the presiding judge indicated that they don’t follow the law in prosecuting Falun Gong cases, but only listen to the 610 Office, an extralegal agency created on June 10, 1999, specifically to persecute Falun Gong.
Mr. Yang, a 53-year-old staff member of the Sichuan Province Maternal and Child Health Hospital, was arrested on October 1, 2019, when he went back to his hometown in Shehong. Police from Chengdu and Shehong participated in the arrest.
After the police submitted the case against him to the Wuhou District Procuratorate, the prosecutor returned it twice, citing insufficient evidence. The police threatened Mr. Yang and his family that if he didn’t plead guilty, he would be given a heavy sentence.
The prosecutor indicted Mr. Yang after the police officer’s third attempt. Mr. Yang appeared in the Wuhou District Court on April 21, 2021. He pleaded not guilty and argued that there is no law in China that states practicing Falun Gong is illegal. He further stated that the Chinese Publication Bureau lifted the ban on Falun Gong literature in 2011.
Despite the lack of legal basis, the judge still sentenced Mr. Yang to four years with a 10,000-yuan fine on May 12, 2021.
Wang Rongfu, the presiding judge overseeing the case against eight Falun Gong practitioners in Nong’an County, Jilin Province did not allow their lawyers to review their case documents or defend them in court. He used insulting and humiliating language while talking to the practitioners’ families, saying things like, “We have asked higher-level courts about it and this (not allowing lawyers to defend practitioners in court) is what I was told.” “Don’t talk to me about whether it is legal or not – this is how we do things. Let me tell you something: Falun Gong cases are special.” “No defense is no defense. Yes, we have violated the law, so what?! You can sue wherever you want.”
Wang also claimed, “Murderers can hire lawyers, but not Falun Gong practitioners!” He cited a secret document issued by the Jilin High Court to justify his violation of legal procedures in handling the Falun Gong cases.
Neither the judge nor other relevant agencies ever showed the practitioners, their lawyers, or families this secret document, but from what happened to the practitioners, it is believed the secret document is about depriving Falun Gong practitioners of their legal right to a fair trial.
All eight practitioners were wrongfully convicted for their faith in Falun Gong. After their family members appealed the verdicts for them, judge Zang Wancheng of the higher court also demanded the lawyers and family defenders submit documents showing that they don’t practice Falun Gong. Zang also pressured the local post offices and forbade them from mailing any legal documents for the families, after he refused to accept the materials in person. He also instructed the detention center to block the lawyers from visiting the practitioners.
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