(Minghui.org) The month of April 2023 recorded 128 cases of Falun Gong practitioners in China sentenced for their faith, bringing the year-to-date confirmed sentencing cases to 471.

Among the newly documented cases, 30 took place between 2016 and 2021, 8 cases happened in 2022, and 90 cases were in 2023. The delay in reporting was caused by strict information censorship under the communist regime, which attempts to keep the persecution underground to avoid international scrutiny.

The sentenced practitioners hailed from 17 provinces and 4 centrally controlled municipalities (Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin). Heilongjiang reported the most cases 20. Liaoning ranked second with 15 cases. Four other regions, including Hebei, Jilin, Beijing, and Shandong, also each registered double-digit cases. The remaining 15 regions had cases between 1 and 6.

The practitioners’ prison terms ranged from six months to nine years. A woman was sentenced to seven years, despite the fact that she has become blind due to previous torture in custody.

Among the 58 practitioners whose ages were known, they were between 35 and 86 when they were sentenced, including 16 in their 60s, 21 in their 70s, and 4 in their 80s. Among the four practitioners in their 80s, one received four years, two were sentenced to three years and the fourth one was given two years. A 71-year-old woman was sentenced to two years after she previously suffered a stroke while in custody.

One of the sentenced practitioners was the mother of two U.S. citizens. One of the children is the principal dancer for the New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts company, which has been touring around the world to spread traditional Chinese culture and raise awareness about human rights atrocities in China. Another mother, who has a fifth-grade son and a daughter who is a high school senior, was also among the newly convicted practitioners. A third woman was sentenced while still mourning the passing of her husband, who died two months after her arrest.

The authorities violated every step of legal procedure in sentencing the practitioners, from arbitrarily arresting and interrogating them, to indicting and eventually convicting them. When a police officer tried to force a single father to sign his case document, he threatened him, “Don’t think about getting out of here alive if you don’t sign it. There are so many wrongful cases in China. I don’t mind adding another one. It won’t matter to anyone if you die.”

In Shandong Province, a judge posted a 40,000-yuan reward for tipsters who provide information of a dumpling restaurant owner who has been forced to live away from home, to avoid being persecuted for talking to her customers about Falun Gong.

Another judge in Gansu Province appointed two lawyers to represent a Falun Gong practitioner and enter a not-guilty plea for him, despite the fact that he already had a lawyer, who would enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

After a Heilongjiang woman was sentenced to 4.5 years with six months of house arrest, the judge ordered her to start serving her sentence immediately and did not allow her to contact anyone, including asking her lawyer to file an appeal for her.

The following are snapshots of select sentencing cases. The full list of sentenced practitioners can be downloaded here (PDF).

Family Tragedies

Mother of Two U.S. Citizens, Including a Shen Yun Principal Dancer, Sentenced to Four Years

Having lost his father to the persecution of Falun Gong, Steven Wang, a principal dancer with Shen Yun, was dealt a heavy blow when his mother was recently given a third prison sentence, also for practicing Falun Gong.

This is the eleventh time that Ms. Liu Aihua, a 69-year-old Shaoyang City, Hunan Province resident, has been arrested for her faith.

Ms. Liu’s latest arrest on July 7, 2022, came only two years after she finished serving a previous three-year term. She is being held at the Changsha City No. 4 Detention Center. The Liuyang City Court, which has been designated to handle all Falun Gong cases in the region, sentenced her to four years on March 10, 2023.

Steven Wang and his sister Lydia Wang, both U.S. citizens, suspect that the sentencing of their mother is an attempt by the communist authorities to deter Steven’s dance career in Shen Yun.

Shen Yun is a New York-based dance company with the mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. The story piece that exposes the persecution of Falun Gong is a consistent part of its production, which highlights the modern-day suppression of spirituality in communist China.

When Steven’s father died from health complications due to torture in prison in late 2009, Steven had just started a new touring season with Shen Yun. He didn’t know about his father’s death until a month later when he called home. Due to the ongoing persecution in China, he couldn’t go back to attend his father’s funeral.

When Steven got married in 2017, he invited his mother to the U.S. to attend his wedding, only to be told that she was arrested before she could leave China. That arrest led to a three-year prison sentence.

After having endured years of incarceration and torture, Ms. Liu is suffering many ailments including high blood pressure and diabetes. Steven and Lydia said they are very worried about their mother. They are calling on the international community to rescue her.

Now a father himself, Steven looks forward to the day when he can reunite with his mother and have a place he can call a complete home.

Single Father Given Second Prison Term

A 53-year-old father in Zhongwei City, Ningxia Autonomous Region, stood trial on March 31, 2023, and was sentenced to five years on April 13.

Mr. You Haijun used to work as an engineering vehicle driver. His wife divorced him less than a year after their daughter was born. The baby girl, You Qing, frequently fell ill. She developed epilepsy when she was three. Every time she had an episode, she would foam at the mouth and lose consciousness.

Mr. You sought many treatments for his daughter, but none had any effect on her. In 2004, when she was four, he heard about Falun Gong’s health benefits and taught her the exercises. Three days later, she stopped having the episodes and recovered. Mr. You also started to practice Falun Gong himself and his asthma disappeared as well.

On May 16, 2021, Mr. You was stopped by the police near a middle school. The police arrested him after finding 39 copies of Falun Gong booklets and two cell phones in the top box of his motorcycle. The police also accused him of distributing another 12 Falun Gong booklets found in the nearby neighborhood. A total of 51 booklets, 88 electronic Falun Gong books, 39 audio files, and eight pictures found in his cell phones were submitted by the police as prosecution evidence against him.

The Shapotou District Procuratorate indicted Mr. You on August 25, 2021, and forwarded his case to the Shapotou District Court. During the hearing on March 31, 2023, Mr. You’s lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him. His daughter appeared in court as his family defender.

Mr. You’s lawyer argued that the prosecution evidence submitted by the police couldn’t support the charge that Mr. You “undermined law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners. He said that no law identifies Falun Gong as a cult. The fact that the General Administration of Press and Publication lifted the ban on Falun Gong literature in 2011 meant that his client didn’t violate any law in possessing or distributing Falun Gong materials.

Mr. You testified in his own defense and maintained his innocence in practicing Falun Gong and distributing Falun Gong materials.

Mr. You also testified that Zhou Xu, the director of the Zhongning County Domestic Security Office, interrogated him at the local detention center and ordered him to sign a case document. Zhou became incensed as Mr. You refused to sign it. Zhou threatened him, “Don’t think about getting out of here alive if you don’t sign it. There are so many wrongful cases in China. I don’t mind adding another one. It won’t matter to anyone if you die.”

Mr. You’s family present at the hearing was shocked to learn that Zhou had made such threats. Zhou, who also attended the hearing, immediately left the courtroom.

The prosecutor recommended a heavy sentence on the grounds that Mr. You was a repeat offender, citing the 3.5-year term given to him by the Zhongning County Court on May 30, 2014, also for practicing Falun Gong.

The judge announced on April 13, 2023, that Mr. You was sentenced to five years with a 10,000 yuan fine. The detention center originally allowed Mr. You’s family to visit him on April 29, but reversed their decision two days before the visit.

Jilin Woman Sentenced to Prison Six Months after Persecution Death of Husband

Two months after Ms. Chen Qinglan was arrested for her faith in Falun Gong, her husband passed away, after enduring two decades of mental distress due to the persecution of their shared faith. While still mourning her husband’s passing, Ms. Chen was sentenced to three years with a 3,000 yuan fine four months later, in early April 2023.

Ms. Chen, 70, of Shulan City, Jilin Province, was arrested on August 23, 2022, after several rounds of harassment in the months prior. The police searched everywhere in her home, even under the beds. They confiscated two of her Falun Gong books and several paper currency bills with short messages about Falun Gong printed on them (as a way to raise awareness about the persecution given the strict censorship in China).

The harassment and home-ransacking further upset her husband, Mr. Meng Xiangfu, who already had trouble walking and talking due to the distress of the suspension of his pension since 2020. His health quickly declined and he passed away on October 24, 2022. Ms. Chen wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral.

Prior to Ms. Chen’s sentencing, she was previously arrested multiple times and given a one-year term at the Heizuizi Women’s Forced Labor Camp in late November 2003. After one month of intensive brainwashing in the labor camp, she was forced to do free labor from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., with less than 20 minutes breaks for meals and limited restroom use. Because she greeted a practitioner who was about to be released, she was slapped in the face and stomped on her legs by the guards for a long time.

Sentencing of Elderly Practitioners

86-year-old Woman Sentenced to Three Years

An 86-year-old Shenyang City, Liaoning Province resident was recently sentenced to three years and fined 20,000 yuan for her faith in Falun Gong.

Ms. Liang Shuzhi was arrested at home on June 8, 2021. After strong demands from her family, she was released later that day.

The police claimed that a surveillance camera recorded Ms. Liang placing Falun Gong materials on cars near a police station in March 2021. By monitoring her daily activities, they also discovered that other Falun Gong practitioners were printing materials at her home. They claimed that this was a serious crime and that they intended to put her in prison.

The Heping District Domestic Security Office submitted Ms. Liang’s case to the Liaozhong District Procuratorate. A police officer called her family on May 9, 2022, threatening them that she would stand trial at Liaozhong District Court soon.

Ms. Liang’s family later learned that the prosecutor returned the case to the police on June 6, 2022, due to insufficient evidence. The police submitted her case again on June 17.

A group of officers and a prosecutor went to Ms. Liang’s home on August 2, 2022, attempting to force her to sign her indictment. She refused to comply.

Judge Lin Xiaojiao from the Liaozhong District Court, called Ms. Liang’s family on January 31, 2023, threatening to take Ms. Liang into custody after the Lantern Festival on February 5 if she didn’t renounce Falun Gong.

As Ms. Liang refused to give up Falun Gong, she was made to stand trial on February 8, 2023. Her lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for her. The judge announced her verdict on March 27, 2023.

While the Shenyang City No.1 Detention Center denied Ms. Liang’s admission due to her health condition, judge Lin is still trying to send her to prison.

77-year-old Woman Twice Sentenced in Two Years, Ordered to Serve a Total of 6.5 Years

A 77-year-old woman in Luoyang City, Henan Province was sentenced to 4 years for passing out flyers about Falun Gong. As Ms. Yang Mei had previously been given a 3.5-year term but had never served time due to her poor health, the judge in charge of her latest case combined the two prison sentences and ordered her to serve a total of 6.5 years, with a one-year reduction given her advanced age.

Ms. Yang’s two recent prison sentences stemmed from an earlier arrest on July 29, 2019, while studying Falun Gong books at home with several other practitioners. When the Jianxi District Court held a hearing of her case on November 22, 2019, she testified that many of her ailments disappeared as a result of practicing Falun Gong and that she didn’t violate any law in upholding her faith. The judge kept pressing her to be more brief in her defense arguments and ended the hearing in less than 20 minutes.

Ms. Yang was arrested again on April 17, 2020, after being reported for putting up informational posters about Falun Gong. The Jianxi District Court handed down a 3.5-year sentence against her on August 13, 2020. When she was taken to the local detention center to serve time, she was denied admission after she failed the required physical examination. The court thus postponed the enforcement of her prison term.

Ms. Yang’s latest arrest was on August 29, 2022, for distributing Falun Gong materials. The Jianxi District Court sentenced her to another 4 years with a 10,000-yuan fine. With her previous 3.5-year term, the judge ordered her to serve a combined term of 6.5 years. She still had to pay the full court fine of 18,000 yuan.

71-year-old Woman Suffers Stroke in Custody, Gets Two Years for Her Faith Months Later

An ailing 71-year-old woman in Changchun City, Jilin Province, was sentenced to two years in prison on April 11, 2023.

Ms. Zang Hongyan was arrested on September 16, 2022, one month before the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Congress. She was held at a COVID-19 quarantine center. The Chaoyang District Procuratorate indicted her and moved her case to the Chaoyang District Court in January 2023.

On January 19, Ms. Zang was found to have high blood pressure and symptoms of a stroke. She was transferred to the police hospital, where she continues to be held, and is denied family visits.

The Chaoyang District Court heard her case on February 7 and handed down the verdict on April 11.

Before she was indicted, her family made repeated requests to hire a lawyer to defend her, but the presiding judge, Jiang Hui, found all kinds of excuses to turn them down. He promised to inform them of her hearing, but he never did. Even on the day of the hearing, Jiang lied when Ms. Zang’s family defender went to the court to submit paperwork to represent her. Instead of telling the family defender about the hearing, Jiang said it would take a few more months before he could schedule one.

Jiang denied the family defender’s request to represent her in court but said they could hire a local lawyer (though not an out-of-province lawyer). The lawyer they hired found out about Ms. Zang’s sentencing when he visited her.

Over the past 24 years of the persecution of Falun Gong, Ms. Zang has been arrested and detained over ten times. She was given four labor camp terms but was exempted from serving one term due to her poor health. When she was not in detention, the police harassed her and raided her home numerous times.

Repeatedly Persecuted for Upholding Their Faith

Blinded from Torture, Yunnan Woman Sentenced to Seven Years for Her Faith

A woman in Kunming City, Yunnan Province who became blind from torture while incarcerated was recently sentenced again to seven years with a 20,000-yuan fine.

A judge from Xishan District Court went to Ms. Yang Xiaoming’s home on March 14, 2023, to deliver the verdict. Knowing that Ms. Yang was blind and unable to file a paper appeal, the judge omitted to tell her that according to Criminal Procedure Law, “Defendants who lack the ability to appeal in writing may appeal orally or be given legal assistance in writing.” Instead, he told her to “appeal in ten days if she didn’t agree with the verdict.”

Ms. Yang Xiaoming

Ms. Yang, 54, had suffered from eye disease when she was little. Her eyes recovered completely after she learned Falun Gong. Because she refused to renounce her faith after the persecution started, she was forced to have an abortion, and her husband divorced her out of fear of the communist regime’s retaliation. She was given two forced labor camp terms between 2001 and 2008 for a total of 5 years. Her eyes were injured from the beatings, and she went completely blind in 2012.

Ms. Yang’s latest arrest took place on May 28, 2022. The police attempted to deceive her into opening the door by claiming to be from property management to check whether her pipes were leaking. When Ms. Yang refused to open the door, the police broke in and handcuffed her. Without showing any ID or proper paperwork, the police raided her place and confiscated her valuables and 16,000 yuan in cash.

The police took Ms. Yang to the Zongshuying Police Station and interrogated her in a small room. She refused to answer any questions but urged them not to participate in the persecution.

While taking her to the hospital for a physical exam, the police pushed Ms. Yang from behind. She fell and hit her left eye on the ground, resulting in severe bleeding. The police also handcuffed behind her back and taped her mouth shut to prevent her from talking.

After the doctor found multiple severe diseases while examining Ms. Yang, the police took her back to the police station and held her there overnight, while keeping her handcuffed and shackled.

Despite her condition, the police took her to the Kunming City Detention Center the next day at noon. As the guards refused to admit her, the police put a black hood on her head and took her back to the police station. She was released on bail later in the afternoon. The police withheld 2,000 yuan from the cash confiscated from her as bail bond and refused to return her other valuables.

The Xishan District Court held a hearing of her case on February 1, 2023, and sentenced her to prison on March 2.

Once Incarcerated for 11 Years, Guangdong Man Gets Another 5 Years for His Faith

Having served one labor camp term and two prison terms for a total of 11 years, a Zhanjiang City, Guangdong Province resident was recently sentenced to another five years for his faith in Falun Gong.

Mr. Wu Haibo

Mr. Wu Haibo, 58, was arrested on March 5, 2022, and sentenced to prison by the Chikan District Court on March 24, 2023.

Mr. Wu, a former pharmaceutical company technician, has been repeatedly targeted over the past 23 years for practicing Falun Gong. He was brutally tortured in custody and barely survived.

Two-Year Labor Camp Term

Mr. Wu went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong in early 2001. After the police found out about it, they attempted to arrest him at work in April of that year. With his colleagues’ help, he escaped and stayed away from home to avoid persecution. He was arrested six months later when he returned home and was taken to the Sanshui Forced Labor on November 20 to serve a two-year term. He was subjected to various forms of torture, including having toothpicks inserted under his nails.

Sentenced to Four Years

Mr. Wu was arrested again on April 17, 2007, and sentenced to four years in Yangjiang Prison by the Xiashan District Court on January 23, 2008.

Five-Year Sentence

Mr. Wu was next arrested on December 2, 2015. He appeared in the Xiashan District Court on April 14, 2016, and was sentenced to five years on June 8, 2016.

In Sihui Prison, Mr. Wu was forced to squat for long hours, deprived of sleep, denied restroom use, and verbally abused. The inmates shouted at him, “We will beat you until you are maimed, then cure you, and then beat you to disability again.”

Mr. Wu’s head bled, his arms were fractured, and all ten of his toenails either fell off or became necrotic. Having barely survived, he was released in December 2020, only to be arrested again in March 2022.

Convicted for Speaking Out

Chongqing Woman Given Third Prison Term for Speaking Up for Her Faith

A 67-year-old Chongqing resident was sentenced to a 4.5-year prison term on March 30, 2023. This is the third time that Ms. Yu Hong has been sentenced since the Chinese communist regime began the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.

Ms. Yu was arrested at home on October 25, 2020, by the police from both Chongqing and Shangshui County, Henan Province. The police spent four hours ransacking her home and confiscated her computer and a flash drive.

Ms. Yu’s arrest came months after the Internet police in Shangshui County arrested another Chongqing practitioner, Ms. Yu Xiurong (no relation to Ms. Yu Hong). The police in Shangshui accused Ms. Yu Xiurong of publishing information about Falun Gong on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging website. They traveled over 700 miles to arrest her on December 31, 2019.

Following Ms. Yu Xiurong’s arrest, three more practitioners in Chongqing, Ms. Han Weifang, Ms. Wang Daiqing, and Ms. Yuan Rong, were also arrested by the police from Henan in July and October 2020. The Chuanhui District Court in Zhoukou City, Henan Province sentenced the three practitioners to prison: Ms. Han and Ms. Yuan each received five years, and Ms. Wang three years.

Suspecting Ms. Yu Hong for submitting information about the arrests of four other practitioners to the Minghui.org website, the police arrested her and held her at the Chongqing No.1 Detention Center.

Ms. Yu Hong’s incapacitated mother, in her 90s, was in a confused state, and incontinent. Her daughter was her sole caregiver. Following Ms. Yu’s arrest, her mother was taken to a senior living center and died there four months later on February 11, 2021.

When Ms. Yu appeared in Jiulongpo District Court on February 9, 2023, her son and other family members went to the court to attend the hearing, but the bailiff lied by saying that her hearing wasn’t on that day to drive them away. The family was shocked to find out that the hearing did take place that day and they were even more devastated to hear about Ms. Yu’s sentencing on March 30.

One Falun Gong Flyer Leads to a Three-year Prison Sentence

A 43-year-old Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province resident was sentenced to a three-year prison term and fined 10,000 yuan on April 6, 2023, for giving out one flyer about Falun Gong. His sentencing left his 15-year-old son, who has an intellectual disability due to an accident when he was younger, in a dire situation.

Mr. Cai Huaxing

For placing a flyer in front of a local resident’s home on the evening of March 19, 2022, Mr. Cai Huaxing was reported to the police and arrested two days later.

Mr. Cai was tried through a virtual hearing at the Baiyun District Detention Center on November 2, 2022. The prosecutor couldn’t provide any evidence to show how Mr. Cai undermined law enforcement or what harm he had brought to society or any individual.

Mr. Cai’s lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him. He also testified in his own defense and said that he merely wanted to be a good person by practicing Falun Gong. The judge announced Mr. Cai’s verdict on April 6, 2023.

Mr. Cai was only 19 years old when the persecution started in 1999. As he remained firm in the practice, he was given a term at the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp and held in the local brainwashing center. The labor camp guards forced him to stand outdoors in the winter wearing only a thin layer of clothing for hours on end. He was also hung up by his handcuffed wrists and beaten, for protesting the persecution.

Shanghai Engineer, a Mother of Two, Given Second Prison Sentence in Less Than Two Years

A senior engineer in Shanghai was recently sentenced to sixteen months by a court in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, for practicing Falun Gong. This is the second time that Ms. Yang Hui, in her 40s, has been convicted for her faith since she took up the practice in 2018.

Ms. Yang has a fifth-grade son and a daughter who is a high school senior and will take the college entrance exam in June this year. The mother of two was arrested in early June 2022 while on her way to Lanzhou for a business trip, after being reported for talking to another passenger about Falun Gong.

After being held at a police station in Tianshui City, Gansu Province for a few days, Ms. Yang was transferred to the Lanzhou City No. 1 Detention Center on June 12, about 200 miles away. The Lanzhou police submitted her case to the Lanzhou Railroad Transportation Procuratorate on September 22, and she was indicted on October 17, 2022. The procuratorate next moved her case to the Lanzhou Railroad Transportation Court. She stood trial on March 16, 2023, and was recently sentenced to sixteen months.

Ms. Yang’s arrest came only seven months after she was released from serving a one-year term. She was previously arrested on November 8, 2020. When a prosecutor of the Pudong New District Procuratorate interviewed her on February 19, 2021, he attempted to force her to plead guilty, but she refused to comply. The Fengxian District Court held a trial of her case on October 26, 2021, and sentenced her to one year.

Related reports:

Reported in March 2023: 116 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith

Reported in February 2023: 110 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith

Reported in January 2023: 117 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith