(Minghui.org) Two residents in Tianjin were sentenced to prison on April 18, 2022 for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Li Hui and Ms. Zheng Qinglan were arrested on May 18, 2021 for talking to people about Falun Gong. Ms. Li’s mother, in her 90s, frequented the local police station and pleaded with officer Wu Tao to release her, but to no avail.

The Hebei District Court held a virtual hearing on December 29, 2021, despite the fact that the two practitioners had requested an in-person session. Both Ms. Li and her lawyer continued to protest against the virtual session during the hearing. But their requests were ignored by the judge, who proceeded to sentence Ms. Li to 3.5 years and Ms. Zheng to 4 years on April 18.

This isn’t the first time that both practitioners have been targeted for their faith. Ms. Li was previously sentenced to three years and Ms. Zheng was given two labor camp terms and a prison sentence of three years.

Past Persecution of Ms. Li

Ms. Li, a 62-year-old retired factory worker, began to practice Falun Gong in early 1997. She used to suffer from varicose veins, low blood pressure, and other ailments. She easily became exhausted and often felt very weak. Shortly after she took up Falun Gong, all of her ailments disappeared and she was full of energy.

When Ms. Li was 10, her neighbors had disputes over land use with her parents. The neighbors beat her parents with bricks and knives, causing injuries all over their bodies. For decades since then, the two families had very tense relationship. After Ms. Li’s parents also began to practice Falun Gong, they let go of the grudge and reconciled with the neighbors.

After the onset of the persecution in July 1999, Ms. Li appealed with the Tianjin government to release detained Falun Gong practitioners, only to be arrested and detained for two days herself.

Ms. Li was arrested again in November 1999 when she went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong. She was taken back to Tianjin and held at the Hebei District Detention Center for 38 days.

A group of officers broke into Ms. Li’s home on February 16, 2001 and ransacked her place. While she was held at the Hebei District Detention Center, she was forced to pick beans and make paper bags. She was later sentenced to three years in the Tianjin Women’s Prison, where she was also forced to do unpaid labor, including making fish nets, knitting scarves, making shoes, sewing pants, and packaging chocolates.

The fatigue and mental distress caused palpitation of her heart and general weakness in her. When she was released, she was so weak that she had to take several breaks while walking 100 meters. Under tremendous pressure from authorities, her husband divorced her. She stayed with her parents and was devastated to know that her sister (name unknown) had been tortured to death for upholding her shared faith in Falun Gong.

Ms. Li was arrested and had her home ransacked two more times, in July 2009 and October 2012, respectively.

Past Persecution of Ms. Zheng

Ms. Zheng was previously given a term of unknown length at the Banqiao Forced Labor Camp in 2004.

She was arrested again on October 31, 2006 for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was later given another term at the Banqiao Forced Labor Camp.

Her son visited her in the labor camp twice, first on January 28 and then on February 26, 2007. During his second visit, he was shocked to see that her hair all turned grey and she was extremely emaciated and haggard. She said that as she was receiving boxed food every day, she suspected that the guards added a toxic drug to her food.

Ms. Zheng was arrested again on March 2, 2015 and sentenced to three years in December 2016. She was taken to the Tianjin Women’s Prison in early March 2017. When her family visited her one month later, she was having high blood pressure and pain in her left leg. She also couldn’t talk clearly. An inmate monitored the entire visit.

Related report:

Tianjin Woman Secretly Transferred to Prison, Now in Precarious Condition