(Minghui.org) Two Chongqing residents were given heavy prison sentences on August 18, 2023, for refusing to give up their shared faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999.
Mr. Wang Hong, 48, and Ms. Dai Shufang, 71, were arrested on September 20, 2022. Mr. Wang was later sentenced to nine years, and Ms. Dai to eight and a half years. They were each fined 15,000 yuan.
Taking up Falun Gong Despite the Persecution
Mr. Wang and Ms. Dai both started to practice Falun Gong after the persecution began. Mr. Wang came across Zhuan Falun, the main teaching of Falun Gong, in September 2000. He was immediately drawn to its profound principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and saw hope again despite the chaos and quickly declining morality around him. His practice, however, was met with repeated persecution.
He was arrested on March 6, 2001, for distributing Falun Gong flyers and sentenced to four years in prison. He was brutally tortured and forced to do hard labor (sometimes up to more than 20 hours a day) while serving time in the detention center and in Yongchuan Prison. The police continued to harass him after he was released and forced him to live away from home.
He was arrested again on June 14, 2011, while visiting another practitioner, Mr. Wang Jinxiu, and given one year in the Xishanping Forced Labor Camp. Years later, he was put in a brainwashing center. After he was released on December 18, 2017, the local authorities kept harassing him at home. He had to leave home and move repeatedly.
Ms. Dai, a wine seller, started practicing Falun Gong in July 2007 and soon recovered from her numerous health problems, including heart diseases, bronchitis, severe headaches, severe bone hyperplasia, and enteritis. On September 3, 2009, several people whose identities she never ascertained broke into her wine shop and tried to arrest her. She escaped but was later forced to close her shop and live away from home.
Mr. Wang and Ms. Dai later met and became housemates in a shared rental apartment. The Yubei District Police Department officers broke into their place on September 20, 2022, and arrested them. The police confiscated their Falun Gong books, computers, printers, and more than 10,000 yuan in cash (including some banknotes with Falun Gong messages printed on them as a means to raise awareness of the persecution).
They were taken to the Yubei District Detention Center. The Yubei District Procuratorate issued formal arrest warrants in October 2022 and forwarded their cases to the Jiangbei District Procuratorate. Shortly afterward, Mr. Wang and Ms. Dai were transferred to the Jiangbei District Detention Center.
The Jiangbei District Procuratorate indicted Mr. Wang and Ms. Dai in January 2023 on charges of “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
The Jiangbei District Court held a hearing on May 19, 2023. There was heavy police presence both inside and outside the courthouse. All the spectators had to show their IDs.
Mr. Wang and Ms. Dai, however, were nowhere to be seen. Their families and lawyers were told that they’d be joining the trial remotely from the detention center. The court never gave any explanation for why the format of the trial was changed from in-person to remote for the two defendants. People in the courtroom saw from the virtual hearing video that Ms. Dai was brought into a room at the detention center in a wheelchair.
Mr. Wang explained how Falun Gong restored his health and taught him to be a good person when his lawyer asked why he practiced Falun Gong. He emphasized that he broke no law by exercising his constitutional right to freedom of belief. His lawyer concurred and further pointed out that no enacted law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it as a cult.
Ms. Dai also testified in her own defense and demanded an acquittal. The court later returned the case to the procuratorate. It is unclear when the procuratorate resubmitted the case, but the court sentenced both Ms. Dai and Mr. Wang on August 18, 2023, without holding another hearing.
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