(Minghui.org) A married couple in Benxi City, Liaoning Province were both sentenced to three years for practicing Falun Gong. The husband has been denied family visits since his arrest.

Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Ren Guifen and her husband Mr. Li Hongjun, both 60, were arrested on December 8, 2021. Ms. Ren stood trial on June 22, 2022 and months later was sentenced to three years. It’s unclear when Mr. Li was tried but he was also sentenced to three years around the same time.

Ms. Ren was admitted to the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison on November 2, 2022. The authorities never notified her family of her husband’s whereabouts since his arrest. It took the family a lot of effort to finally find out that he had been taken to the Shenyang City First Prison. They went to the prison numerous times but were denied visits with him each time. Mr. Li was finally allowed to phone his loved ones in late August 2023 but he is still denied family visits as of now.

This is not the first time that the couple have been targeted for their faith. Mr. Li was previously given three years of forced labor and served ten years in a prison. Ms. Ren served twelve years in prison.

Details of Latest Persecution

The couple and Ms. Ren’s sister, Ms. Ren Guie, were arrested on December 8, 2021, and held in the Benxi City Detention Center.

The sisters were tried by the Nanfen District Court on June 22, 2022, in a virtual hearing. Ms. Ren Guifen acted in her own defense and entered a not-guilty plea. She argued that no law in China has ever deemed Falun Gong a crime and that the Chinese Publication Bureau lifted the ban on Falun Gong books in 2011.

The judge later sentenced Ms. Ren Guifen to three years. It’s not clear if her sister was convicted.

Mr. Li suffered from extremely high blood pressure in the detention center. After he was taken to the hospital, the Nanfen District Court planned to try him virtually in the hospital. It’s not clear if a hearing took place before he was sentenced.

Past Persecution

Mr. Li was given three years in the Benxi City Forced Labor Camp in 2000 for going to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong. Although he was released in September 2001 to serve the remaining time at home, the authorities kept harassing him. Three months later he left home to avoid the persecution.

Mr. Li was arrested again in Liaoyang City on May 12, 2002, for trying to put up informational materials about Falun Gong. The Hongwei District Court secretly sentenced him to ten years in August 2002. He was admitted to Shenyang First Prison two months later and transferred to another prison a month after that. His family was not allowed to visit him or even told where he was incarcerated.

Ms. Ren was also given three years in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in the early years of the persecution. She was constantly beaten and subjected to intensive brainwashing. She was also forced to work without pay for at least 16 hours a day.

Ms. Ren’s next arrest was in July 2003. She was sentenced to 12 years by the Pingshan District Court in early November 2003. In Liaoning Province Women’s Prison, she had to work without pay until 9 p.m. and then stand from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. or later. The inmates took turns watching her. They beat her if she dozed off. The inmates also monitored her during the day while she was working and beat her if she got sleepy. Her spine was severely injured as a result of the continual beatings and forced labor. She suffered lower back pain for many years.

Related reports:

Couple in Liaoning Province Convicted for Their Shared Faith

Two Sisters Tried and One of Their Husbands Faces Trial, All for Their Faith in Falun Gong