(Minghui.org) Seven residents of Zhongwei City, Ningxia Autonomous Region, including a married couple, lost their appeal against wrongful prison sentences on July 17, 2023.

They were arrested together with two other locals on October 25, 2020 for their shared faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. All nine of them were convicted on May 6, 2023 after a court hearing on April 18, 2023.

Prison Sentencing and Status Update

Below are the practitioners’ prison sentences.

Ms. Yang Jie, 53, was sentenced to six years, with a 20,000-yuan fine.Mr. Zheng Yongxin (Ms.Yang’s husband), 56, was sentenced to five years and ten months, with a 15,000-yuan fine.Ms. Chang Xiue, 54, was sentenced to four years and two months, with a 7,000-yuan fine.Ms. Jing Yuling, 58, was sentenced to three years and ten months, with a 6,000-yuan fine.Ms. Huang Yuxia, 62, was sentenced to three years and six months, with a 5,000-yuan fine.Ms. Wang Shunqin, 59, was sentenced to two years and ten months, with a 4,000-yuan fine.Ms. Wen Jing, 60, was sentenced to two years and eight months, with a 3,500-yuan fine.Ms. Wen Yuxiu, a 70-year-old retired middle school teacher, was sentenced to two years and four months, with a 3,000-yuan fine.Ms. Zhang Yulian, 57, was sentenced to two years and two months, with a 2,500-yuan fine.

Ms. Yang, Mr. Zheng, Ms. Chang, Ms. Jing, Ms. Huang, Ms. Wang, and Ms. Wen Yuxiu appealed with the Zhongwei City Intermediate Court shortly after their prison sentencing, only to be rejected months later.

After losing their appeals on July 17, 2023, Ms. Wang was released on August 24, 2023 (the day her term expired); Ms. Yang, Ms. Chang, Ms. Jing, and Ms. Huang were transferred to Ningxia Women’s Prison (located in the capital city of Yinchuan) in late August 2023, and Mr. Zhang to the Shizuishan Prison in Ningxia on September 2, 2023. The family members of the four imprisoned female practitioners have been denied visits with them on the grounds that they still held firm to their faith.

Ms. Zhang didn’t file an appeal. She and Ms. Wen Yuxiu had both been released on bail on December 1, 2020, but there was no follow-up report about them yet. It is unclear whether they have been taken back into custody. Except for the two, all other practitioners’ terms commenced on October 25, 2020, the day they were arrested together. 

Ms. Wen Jing’s term expired on June 24, 2023. The intermediate court ordered that she be released on bail. It is unclear why the court made such a decision because she did not file an appeal. Even if she did and lost her appeal at that time, by law she’d have simply finished her term without facing any other consequences. 

More About the Appeal

After Ms. Yang, Mr. Zheng, Ms. Chang, Ms. Jing, Ms. Huang, Ms. Wang, and Ms. Wen Yuxiu filed appeals with the Zhongwei City Intermediate Court, the Zhongwei City Procuratorate submitted a legal opinion saying that its indictment of the appellants was grounded in law and that the trial court’s sentencing of them was accurate. The procuratorate asked that the intermediate court uphold the original verdicts. 

The seven practitioners and their appeals lawyers reiterated the key defense points they made in their trial. No enacted law has ever criminalized Falun Gong or identified it as a cult. The Falun Gong books, exercise music, and informational materials confiscated from their homes were all their lawful possessions and caused no harm to any individual or society at large, much less undermine law enforcement. As such, their prison sentencing for “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement” was without any legal basis and lacked evidence.

Ms. Yang also testified against the police for raiding her home without showing a search warrant and fabricating interrogation records (she saw things she never said recorded as her words).

The practitioners had requested an open hearing but the intermediate court issued its ruling on July 17 without honoring the request. Presiding judge Zhang Yu (+86-13723332245), judges Li Mingzong and Liu Jing (+86-15109556866), assistant to judges Li Zhiqiang, and clerk Gao Ru (+86-17795589979) took part in the appeals case.

Related reports:

Zhongwei City, Ningxia: Nine Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced to Prison

Ningxia Man in Serious Condition While Detained for His Faith

Cases Against 7 Falun Gong Practitioners in Ningxia Province Put on Hold, They Remain in Detention

After Years of Incarceration and Torture, Ningxia Couple Arrested for Their Faith Again