(Minghui.org) A 55-year-old woman in Qingyuan County, Liaoning Province, was admitted to Dabei Prison in Shenyang (the capital city of the province) on July 26, 2023, four months after she was secretly sentenced to three and a half years for raising awareness of the persecution of her faith, Falun Gong.
Ms. Zhang Chuanwen was arrested on December 4, 2022, with two other Falun Gong practitioners, Mr. Liu Zhenqing and Mr. Du Qinghua, after being reported for handing out calendars with information about Falun Gong. Mr. Liu’s home was ransacked. The police also attempted to ransack Ms. Zhang’s home, but she refused to take them to where she lived.
Mr. Liu and Mr. Du were both given five days of administrative detention, but the police didn’t enforce it and released them. Ms. Zhang was taken to the Qingyuan County Police Department and transferred to the Nangou Detention Center on December 9, 2022 for criminal detention. The police later submitted her case to the Wanghua District Procuratorate.
A detention center guard jabbed Ms. Zhang’s mouth with a mop, causing her teeth to become loose. Her cellmates also abused her, yet the guards turned a blind eye. Her lawyer learned of her abuse while visiting her and relayed her situation to her family. The guards and cellmates stopped abusing her after her loved ones submitted a complaint letter against them to the detention center director. She was later moved to another cell.
When Ms. Zhang’s family called the prosecutor on April 10, 2023, to ask about her case, the prosecutor said he had transferred it to the court on March 1.
The family then immediately called the court and was told that she had already been tried on March 24 and sentenced on April 1. The judge said he’d appointed a lawyer to represent Ms. Zhang and that the window for her to appeal the verdict was set to expire the next day (April 11). When the family asked the judge why he failed to inform them or their own lawyer of the trial, he said it wasn’t necessary. Given the family’s insistence on seeking justice for Ms. Zhang, he agreed to extend the deadline for Ms. Zhang to appeal the sentence by two days.
On April 12, Ms. Zhang’s lawyer visited her in the detention center. She said the guards forced her to stand for long hours at night. She was so sleepy that she could barely keep her eyes open. The inmates pinched her inner thighs and bruised them. She confirmed with the lawyer that she would appeal the sentence. It is unclear whether her lawyer managed to submit her appeal the next day (the extended appeals deadline, April 13).
Previous Persecution: 18-Month Prison Term Increased to 3 Years
Before Ms. Zhang took up Falun Gong, she had arthritis, enteritis and a serious skin disease. She was a frequent visitor to the hospital and had to take medications every day. Practicing Falun Gong both restored her health and changed her into a better person.
After the persecution started in 1999, Ms. Zhang was arrested many times and given two forced labor camp terms for not giving up Falun Gong. Unable to bear the frequent harassment, her husband was forced to leave her.
While she was in Wujiabao Forced Labor Camp and Masanjia Forced Labor Camp, Ms. Zhang was deprived of sleep and forced to work with toxic materials without pay. The guards regularly beat her and shocked her with electric batons. Her neck once became so swollen that it was as wide as her face and her skin was severely burned.
Ms. Zhang was arrested with Mr. Ding Guozhu, Ms. Xu Junying, and Ms. Yang Xiufang, on June 21, 2018, after being reported for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. Mr. Ding’s wife Ms. Wang Haichao was arrested later that day while visiting Ms. Zhang.
The Qingyuan County Court sentenced all five practitioners to prison weeks after a hearing on December 12, 2018: Mr. Ding was sentenced to three and a half years with a 5,000-yuan fine, Ms. Wang to three years with a 3,000-yuan fine, Ms. Zhang and Ms. Xu each to 18 months with a 2,000-yuan fine, and Ms. Yang to 15 months with a 1,000-yuan fine.
Prosecutors Lyu Huanhuan and Wang Zongyang of the Qingyuan County Procuratorate deemed the sentences too light and appealed to a higher court. The Fushun City Intermediate Court held a hearing in a makeshift courtroom in the Nangou Detention Center on June 4, 2019. Instead of upholding justice for them, the judge increased Ms. Zhang, Ms. Xu, and Ms. Yang’s sentences all to three years in the new verdicts handed down in August 2019. Mr. Ding and Ms. Wang’s sentences remained the same.
Ms. Zhang developed a serious medical condition in the detention center. She was unable to open one eye and lost a significant amount of weight. Yet the guards still forced her to work every day without pay. The guards often beat her if she couldn’t finish the daily quota. She, Ms. Zhang, Ms. Xu, and Ms. Yang were transferred to the Masanjia Branch of Liaoning Province Women’s Prison on September 10, 2019. She was released on June 20, 2021, only to be arrested again on December 4, 2022.
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