(Minghui.org) A married couple in Changsha City, Hunan Province stood trial on December 21, 2021 for their shared faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Chen Yang and Ms. Cao Zhimin were targeted in a police sweep on October 27, 2020, while studying Falun Gong books at another practitioner Mr. Li Zhigang’s home. Mr. Chen was held at the Changsha City No. 2 Detention Center and Ms. Cao at the Changsha City No. 4 Detention Center. The authorities assigned the Hongshanqiao Police Station to be in charge of Mr. Chen’s case and Wangluyuan Police Station to handle Ms. Cao’s case. 

Both Mr. Chen and Mr. Li were later transferred to a secret detention facility. It’s reported that Mr. Li was starved, deprived of sleep and forced to sit in a metal chair all day long in the freezing winter. Mr. Chen’s family worried he might be subjected to the same torture there. 

When Mr. Chen and Ms. Cao appeared in the Liuyang City Court after over a year of detention, the authorities kept them far away from each other. Ms. Cao testified in her own defense and she maintained that she didn’t do anything wrong in practicing Falun Gong. Her 85-year-old mother attended the hearing and she worried whether she could see them again, as the authorities threatened to sentence Ms. Cao to 3 or 4 years if she didn’t renounce Falun Gong. 

At the time of writing, seven of the practitioners arrested with the couple have been convicted. Among them, Ms. Zhang Lingge was sentenced to four years on May 8, 2021, Mr. Meng Kai to three years and six months on September 17, 2021, Ms. Wen Jing to three years and three months on December 6, 2021, Ms. Xu Lihua to three years and six months on December 7, 2021, Mr. Li to five years and three months on December 21, 2021, and both Mr. Cao Zhifang and his wife Ms. Yang Fang to three years and four months on December 24, 2021.

Mr. Chen, 53, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Hunan University. He used to work as a computer engineer at a pharmaceutical company. He took up Falun Gong in search of health improvement and spiritual elevation. 

After the persecution started, both he and Ms. Cao went to the appeals office to seek justice in October 1999 and were arrested. He was sentenced to four years in Chishan Prison and Ms. Cao to three years at the Hunan Women’s Prison.

For not renouncing Falun Gong, Mr. Chen was beaten, handcuffed and held in solitary confinement. He held a hunger strike to protest the persecution for a month in November 2002 and was force fed. A guard shocked him with electric batons in April 2003, claiming that he wasn’t afraid to torture him to death, which may get him a promotion. Five inmates stripped his clothes on April 11, 2003, whipped him with bamboo sticks, pressed his body against the wall and hit his head. His body was covered with bruises and his head and legs bled. 

Ms. Chen landed a job at Hunan Province Automobile Company after graduating Human Labor and Human Resources Vocational College in 1991. But she lost her job for upholding her faith. While filing a criminal complaint in 2015 against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution, she wrote, “Since I was 24, I’ve seen my prime years robbed by the persecution. After I was released from prison, I didn’t have any income or place to live. Deprived of everything, my husband and I lived a hard life at the bottom of the society. For 16 years, we were discriminated against, misunderstood and ignored by people around us.”

Related reports:

Changsha City, Hunan Province: Seven Targeted in Police Sweep Sentenced for Their Faith

Ten Hunan Residents Detained for Nearly a Year for Their Faith

15 Hunan Residents Face Predetermined Prison Sentences for Practicing Falun Gong

Changsha, Hunan Province: 15 Face Trial, a 16th Has Been Imprisoned, All for Their Shared Faith

Hunan Police Refuse to Meet with Falun Gong Practitioners’ Lawyers

Changsha City, Hunan Province: 17 Falun Gong Practitioners and One Family Member Arrested, Two Harassed for Their Faith

Updates on Falun Gong Practitioners Targeted in Changsha City, Hunan Province Group Arrest

13 Hunan Residents Detained Incommunicado for Two Months and Counting

Changsha City, Hunan Province: Fourteen Arrested and One Harassed for Their Faith