(Minghui.org) Eight Falun Gong practitioners in Guan County, Shandong Province, were sentenced to 3 to 7.5 years in prison on January 4, 2023. They were charged with promoting Falun Gong and making informational materials about it. Most of them have appealed the verdicts. 

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

The eight practitioners, most of whom are farmers, were arrested between May and August 2022. They stood trial at the Guan County Court on December 21, 2022. The presiding judge was Fan Bin, and judges Zheng Lianfei and Hu Quanming were also present.

Ms. Zhang Yuxiang argued that no law has ever criminalized Falun Gong in China. She pointed out that by practicing Falun Gong and gaining good health, practitioners have saved their employers and the country a lot of medical expenses. They didn’t violate any law by exercising to keep fit and trying to be good people.

The prosecution evidence against Ms. Zhang and the other seven practitioners included the couplets, Falun Gong-themed new year paintings, and ornaments confiscated from their homes, but neither the prosecutor nor the judge provided an explanation as to how the practitioners undermined law enforcement by having those items. 

Below are the details about the eight practitioners and their sentencing: 

Ms. Zhang, 51, was sentenced to 7.5 years and fined 18,000 yuan. She was arrested on August 18, 2022, and put on criminal detention on September 13. When the police ransacked her home, they also took away the 20,000 yuan in cash from her.

Mr. Xu Hengkui, 60, was also sentenced to 7.5 years in prison and fined 18,000 yuan. He was arrested on May 13, 2022, and released on bail in early June due to his health condition. He was previously given two years of forced labor on February 28, 2002.

Mr. Kong Dequan, 61, was arrested on July 29, 2022. He was sentenced to seven years and four months, with a 16,000-yuan fine. He was previously given three years of forced labor on May 5, 2001. 

Mr. Zhou Chunbao, 48, and former deputy tax bureau director, was arrested on May 15, 2022. He was interrogated multiple times and deprived of sleep for three days. He was sentenced to four years and fined 10,000 yuan.

Ms. Gao Shuzhen, 47, was sentenced to four years and fined 10,000 yuan. She was previously arrested on March 1, 2022, and detained briefly. The police harassed her on May 13 and confiscated her computer. She was arrested again on July 26. The police put her on residential surveillance on July 30 and then criminal detention on September 22. 

Mr. Han Zhenlin, 71, was arrested on July 28, 2022. He was also sentenced to four years with a 10,000-yuan fine. The police claimed that he was held at the Guan County Legal Center, but her family couldn’t find any information about the place online. Prior to his latest sentencing, he was detained five days following another arrest on November 18, 2015. 

Mr. Zhang Bingliang, 68, was arrested on August 19, 2022. His 200,000 yuan in cash from selling fertilizers were confiscated by the police. He was sentenced to four years with a 10,000-yuan fine as well.

Mr. Wang Ruixiang, 55, was sentenced to three years and fined 8,000 yuan.