(Minghui.org) A married couple in Wuzhong City, Ningxia Province, was transferred to prison in January 2022 to serve time for their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Ma Xiongde, 73, a retired watch factory engineer, and Ms. Zheng Fengying, 70, also retired from the same factory, were arrested on February 22, 2021. The police first put them on criminal detention and then changed to house arrest on March 21. Their arrests were approved by the Litong District Procuratorate on March 27.
The couple stood trial at Litong District Court on August 5 and both were sentenced to 1.5 years with 5,000 yuan fine on September 14. They were taken to the Incarceration Education Center under Ningxia Prison in early January 2022.
Prior to their latest sentencing, both husband and wife have been repeatedly targeted in the past two decades for upholding their faith.
Arrests for Writing Appeal Letters
The couple wrote several appeal letters to the National Appeals Office and Ningxia Appeals Office in February 2000. They were arrested on March 1, 2000 and given 15 days of detention each.
The couple was arrested again on October 20, 2000 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. After one month of detention, Ms. Zheng’s toes festered due to the poor living condition. She was released on the 48th day. Mr. Ma was detained for another 12 days and extorted 3,000 yuan when being released.
Forced Labor Camp Terms
Wang Wenzhang, the head of Wuzhong City Domestic Security Office, led a TV reporter and a cameraman to the watch factory on February 9, 2001. They ordered the factory’s employees who practiced Falun Gong to denounce the practice. As Ms. Zheng remained silent, she was arrested and given two years at the Yinchuan Women’s Forced Labor Camp on the same day. As she refused to renounce Falun Gong when her term expired, the authorities extended her term for two more months.
When Mr. Ma visited her in September 2001, the labor camp guards found the Falun Gong lecture he kept in the clothes delivered to Ms. Zheng. He was also arrested and given two years of forced labor. He was released in July 2004.
Couple’s First Prison Terms
Only one month after Mr. Ma was released, he and Ms. Zheng were arrested again. He was sentenced to five years and Ms. Zheng to three years with three years probation by the Litong District Court on December 28, 2004. Mr. Ma was first held at the Guanmahu Prison and then transferred to the Huinong Prison.
On March 15, 2005, while Ms. Zheng was still on probation, a group of officers arrested her and took her to a local brainwashing center, where she was held for a month.
When Mr. Ma was released in December 2008, he was also held at the brainwashing center for 14 days, before being allowed to go home.
Couple’s Second Prison Terms
Ms. Zheng’s next arrest was in March 2009. While she was released on bail a day later, the police submitted her case to the procuratorate. She was forced to live away from home to avoid being sentenced, when she received the notice to appear in Qingtongxia City Court in November 2009.
A group of officers broke into Mr. Ma’s home on July 9, 2010 and tried to force him to reveal Ms. Zheng’s whereabouts. As he and his son refused to comply, the police took them to the police station. His son, Mr. Ma Zhao, was released on the next day and Mr. Ma himself was taken to the Wuzhong City Detention Center.
After nearly three years of wandering about, Ms. Zheng was located by the police and arrested on September 1, 2012. her husband was also seized and taken to the Wuzhong City Detention Center with Ms. Zheng.
Ms. Zheng was sentenced to seven years by the Qingtongxia City Court on January 15, 2013 and Mr. Ma was given seven and half years by the Litong District Court on January 23, 2013. Both of them appealed with the Wuzhong City Intermediate Court, which ruled to uphold both of their verdicts in February and March, respectively.
Ms. Zheng served time at the Yinchuan Women’s Prison and was released on November 10, 2018. Mr. Ma was incarcerated at the Yinchuan Prison and released on January 29, 2019.
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