(Minghui.org) Following an arrest in August 2014 for distributing Falun Gong literature, an elementary school teacher in Kunming City, Yunnan Province, was sentenced to 7.5 years in Yunnan Province Second Women’s Prison. The guards forced her to do intensive labor without pay, tortured her, tried to brainwash her, gave her little food, and barely allowed her to wash up or use a toilet.
When Ms. Wang Juzhen was released in August 2020, one and half years ahead of time, she realized that her school had fired her, even though she was an outstanding teacher with several county and provincial education bureau awards to her credit. With no means to support herself, she is now struggling to resume a normal life.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Latest Arrest and Sentencing
Ms. Wang and three other Falun Gong practitioners, Mr. Wang Zhengli, Ms. Bi Jinmei, and Ms. Li Xiaoling, went to neighboring Xundian County on August 16, 2014, to raise awareness of the persecution.
They happened to give a brochure to Gui Mingxing, the secretary of the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee, an extra-judiciary agency tasked with overseeing the persecution. Gui reported them, and officers from Xianfeng Police Station soon came. To prevent the practitioners from driving away, the police fired shots at their tires and arrested them. An officer beat them and slapped them in the face. One of Ms. Bi’s teeth was knocked out.
The officers and agents from the 610 Office held the practitioners overnight in the Xundian Police Department, handcuffed to iron chairs. The next day, the police transferred the three women to Kunming City Women’s Detention Center and Mr. Wang to Xundian County Detention Center.
Songming and Xundian County police broke in and ransacked the practitioners’ homes. They confiscated 10,000 yuan worth of belongings, including computers, DVD burners, printers, Falun Gong books, and cash.
The practitioners appeared in Xundian County Court on April 10, 2015, charged with “sabotaging law enforcement,” the standard pretext used to criminalize Falun Gong. Outside the courthouse, hundreds of police officers surrounded the building, and the courtroom was occupied by the police and judiciary officials. Only two family members per practitioner were allowed to enter the courtroom.
The prosecutor listed several witnesses in the indictment, but none of them appeared in court to accept cross-examination. Ms. Wang’s lawyer asked that the evidence be exhibited in the courtroom, but the judge ignored the request.
The lawyers entered not guilty pleas for the practitioners. They argued that the practitioners’ freedom of belief was protected by the Constitution and should not be infringed upon by the government. They emphasized that the prosecutor failed to present any evidence to show how their clients undermined law enforcement with their spiritual belief. They requested that the practitioners be acquitted.
When Ms. Wang testified in her defense, the judge interrupted her repeatedly and didn’t allow her to continue.
The judge handed down the sentences on May 4, 2015: Ms. Wang, Mr. Wang, and Ms. Bi were each sentenced to seven and half years, and Ms. Li to three years with four years probation. Ms. Wang appealed to Kunming City Intermediate Court, which ruled to uphold the original verdict on July 20.
Songming County Bureau of Education administrators fired Ms. Wang on September 17, 2015, even though she had contributed 27 years of her life to public education.
One Year of Forced Labor in Detention Center
Before she was transferred to prison, Ms. Wang spent over a year in Kunming Women’s Detention Center, where she had to work in a sweatshop. Every day from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. she assembled light bulbs and pushed them into the lamp sockets. She had to complete over 1,000 each day and put in extra hours if the demand was higher. Her fingers blistered and bled until calluses formed. Some of the products were exported.
Ms. Wang had to work 12 hours a day, but she was given barely anything edible, such as cabbage covered in insects or squash for several months straight. Potatoes were considered a luxury, as they were only offered when the supervising officials came to inspect the place or during the holidays.
Tortured in the Women’s Prison
Ms. Wang and Ms. Bi were taken to the Yunnan Province Second Women’s Prison on September 23, 2015. The guards ordered an inmate to strip Ms. Wang and take her clothes and shampoo. She later found out that the inmate had given her belongings to other inmates, and she was left with only a few pairs of underwear and a bar of soap.
A guard ordered two inmates to watch Ms. Wang around the clock. Unlike other new inmates, who could use rice bowls provided by the prison, the practitioners were given food in used instant needle bowls.
For the first nine months of her imprisonment, the guards put Ms. Wang under strict management. She had to sit still on a tiny stool for 13 hours a day, which hurt her back and leg tremendously. The guards wouldn’t let her sleep when she refused to memorize the prison rules. They also tried to force her to read books that slandered Falun Gong and write reports on her thoughts. In the winter when other inmates had to wear two coats to stay warm, Ms. Wang had only a thin shirt. The inmates verbally abused her around the clock, and the guards turned a blind eye to it.
The guards tried to score points with their superiors by making the practitioners renounce their faith publicly. In a room full of people, Ms. Wang went first to the podium and said, “Falun Gong practitioners are not guilty for what they believe. When I leave this prison, I will spend the rest of my life suing the prison authorities for persecuting the practitioners.” The guards put her under strict management right away.
She was banned from talking to anyone, including her family during that time. She had to put in an application if she wanted to write or receive letters or have family visits. The application needed to be approved by a dozen guards and reviewed in a meeting. The guards did not let her get her meals or water on her own, so the inmates assigned to monitor her had to do it for her. They were not happy about the extra work and cut down on the amount of food she got and limited her use of hot water.
She had to sit still on a tiny stool from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with only two hours of walking time in between. The guards gave her one bucket of clean water per week and made her bathe and wash her clothes in half an hour. On the other days, she was given only enough water to brush her teeth. She could only go to the toilet six times a day, under the supervision of the inmates. They forbade her from talking to others or looking around.
The inmates, most of whom were inside for drug trafficking, were given absolute power and could take the practitioners' belongings at will. They included Wang Ping, who was sentenced to life; Song Jing, Wang Ruxin, Gu Shangqiong, and Yu Boxiang, who were all sentenced to 15 years; and Gui Fen, who was sentenced to 12 years. They constantly came up with different ways to frame the practitioners so that the guards could put the practitioners under strict management and torture them.
After finding out that Ms. Bi gave another inmate a roll of tissue paper, those who were monitoring her accused her of communicating without permission. Ms. Bi was then placed under strict management.
Persecution Continues after Release
Only one month after Ms. Wang was released on August 17, 2020, the authorities came and harassed her. The director of the 610 Office sent someone to threaten her family on September 16. The person said that she had to report to the police and that if she didn’t, they would monitor her family and shut off their cell phone service. Songyang Town Police Station officers called six days later, ordering her to report to them again.
The officials and police called and visited Ms. Wang and her family to harass them in October 2020 and January 2021.
An official from the Political and Legal Affairs Office called her in December 2021 and told her to stop by the office. Ms. Wang warned the person that practicing Falun Gong was her constitutional right and that the harassment needed to stop. The person threatened her, “You just indicated that you still practice Falun Gong. I will send the police over.”
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