(Minghui.org) A total of 122 cases of law-abiding Chinese citizens sentenced for their faith in Falun Gong were reported in January 2024. 

The newly confirmed cases included 3 that took place in 2020, 2 in 2021, 2 in 2022, 77 in 2023 (mostly in November and December), and 38 in January 2024. The delay in reporting was caused by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) strict information censorship, which aims to keep the persecution of Falun Gong underground to avoid international scrutiny.

The sentenced Falun Gong practitioners came from 22 provinces, centrally controlled municipalities, and autonomous regions in China. Shandong topped the list with 35 sentencing cases, including 21 practitioners in Rizhao City who were sentenced by the same court in one day. Jilin, Hubei and Heilongjiang registered double-digit cases of 15, 13 and 10, respectively. The remaining 18 regions had cases between 1 and 9.

The practitioners’ prison terms ranged from five months to eleven years, with an average of three years. Eighteen practitioners were given probation. Fifty-seven practitioners were fined between 1,000 and 40,000 yuan, and the average fine was 9,702 yuan per person. 

Among the 67 practitioners whose ages were known at the time of sentencing, 6 were in their 40s, 14 in their 50s, 20 in their 60s, 23 in their 70s and 4 in their 80s. The practitioners came from all walks of life, including a former tax bureau worker, oil refinery workers and a retired medical worker. A 78-year-old man was sentenced to nine years and an 84-year-old woman was sent to prison in January 2024 to serve a four-year term she received in 2021. 

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

Sentencing of Elderly Practitioners

78-year-old Retired Health Official Gets Another 9 Years, Having Previously Spent Over a Decade Behind Bars

Mr. Hu Biao, a 78-year-old retired health official in Gulin County, Sichuan Province, was arrested on September 28, 2022. He was sentenced to nine years in October 2023 and transferred from the Gulin County Detention Center to the Jiazhou Prison on November 3, 2023.

This is not the first time Mr. Hu has been targeted for his faith during the past 24 years of persecution. He was given forced labor three times in the early years of the persecution, including one year and nine months in 1999, one year in 2001, and three years in 2004. He was arrested again in 2009 and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. He was released on September 29, 2013.

On December 13, 2019, six years after Mr. Hu was released from prison, the Gulin County Social Security Bureau suddenly ordered him to return an “overpayment” of 231,816.42 yuan by March 2020. The “overpayment” were the pension payments issued to him during his 4.5-year prison term.

When Mr. Hu refused to pay, he faced constant harassment and was later forced to live away from home. His son, a physician, ended up making the payment on his father’s behalf in order to avoid further trouble. He also paid a total of 21,500 yuan in fines levied by the local health and business agencies overseeing his clinic. He thought that would be the end of it, but the police ordered him to persuade his father to renounce Falun Gong. The police kept harassing him and threatened to shut down his clinic and implicate his wife and son. He felt helpless, and sold his clinic.

77-Year-Old Woman Sentenced to Three Years for Passing Out Falun Gong Materials

Ms. Wang Xiulian, a 77-year-old Leshan City, Sichuan Province, resident, was arrested in 2023 for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. The local court accused her of being a repeat offender, due to her previous four arrests and a three-year sentence for practicing Falun Gong. She was taken to the Sichuan Province Women’s Prison in December 2023 to serve a three-year term. The details of her indictment, trial and sentencing are not clear.

Prior to her latest sentencing, Ms. Wang was arrested multiple times and sentenced to three years following an arrest in 2003 after an elementary school student reported her for distributing Falun Gong materials. The local police and 610 Office continued to harass her after she was released.

Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province: Three Falun Gong Practitioners, Aged 72 to 80, Sentenced to Prison

Three elderly Falun Gong practitioners in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province were recently sentenced to prison for their faith. Ms. Hu Shuiying, 72, was sentenced to three years in Jiangxi Province Women’s Prison. Ms. Xiao Xinjin, 76, was sentenced to one year and fined 2,000 yuan. Ms. Wang Dongya, 80, was given seven months and fined 25,000 yuan. Both Ms. Xiao and Ms. Wang were allowed to serve time at home.

The three practitioners were arrested on the morning of August 2, 2022, while chatting with each other at a local bus stop. The police searched them and confiscated 500 yuan in cash from Ms. Xiao and a few Falun Gong brochures.

The police then raided all three women’s homes. They confiscated Ms. Xiao’s Falun Gong books, radio and other valuables. It is unclear what items were seized from the other two women’s homes. The women were held at the Xihu District Police Department for about 15 hours before being released on bail. The police ordered them to sign statements to renounce Falun Gong. It’s not clear whether they complied.

The police harassed Ms. Xiao multiple times in the next few months. They forced her to sign several documents in April 2023. She was summoned to the police station on August 3, only to be taken back into custody at the Nanchang City First Detention Center.

The Xihu District Police Department called Ms. Hu’s family in early March 2023 and ordered her to report to them on March 14. She went and was ordered to sign a statement promising to give up Falun Gong. She refused to comply and urged the police to stop persecuting law-abiding practitioners like her. The police accused her of being a repeat offender (due to her previous two prison sentences for practicing Falun Gong) and threatened to forward her case to the Xihu District Procuratorate. They took her back into custody on August 3, 2023, the same day as Ms. Xiao, and held her at the Nanchang City First Detention Center. Ms. Wang remained on bail.

The Xihu District Court initially scheduled a hearing for November 21, 2023, but later decided to postpone it after Ms. Hu’s lawyer submitted a criminal complaint against her perpetrators (it’s unclear who the defendants were).

The court held a joint hearing of the three practitioners’ cases on December 2. Ms. Hu’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea for her. It’s not clear whether the other two practitioners were represented by a lawyer.

The court then held a separate hearing on December 7 to hear Ms. Hu’s criminal complaint case, which was still pending at the time of this report.

Ms. Hu, Ms. Xiao, and Ms. Wang were convicted on an unknown date following their hearing on December 2.

Group Sentencing

Rizhao City, Shandong Province: Same Court Sentences 21 in One Day for Practicing Falun Gong

The Wulian County Court in Rizhao City, Shandong Province, sentenced 21 local residents to up to 5.5 years in prison on December 25, 2023, for “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the communist regime to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners. 

The 21 practitioners were among about 50 local Falun Gong practitioners arrested on May 12 and 13, 2023. According to insiders, the Rizhao City Police Department began to monitor the targeted practitioners on March 3, 2023, and dubbed their operation the “303 Special Case.”

Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province: Four Falun Gong Practitioners, Aged 56 to 71, Sentenced to Prison

Four Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province residents were sentenced to prison on December 22, 2023 for practicing Falun Gong. Ms. Yu Jing, 56, and Mr. Wang Jingzhong, 64, were each sentenced to four years and fined 8,000 yuan. Ms. Wang Yinghua (no relation to Mr. Wang), 71, was given three and a half years and fined 7,000 yuan. Ms. Dai Xiuhua, 60, was sentenced to one year and fined 2,000 yuan. Ms. Yu appealed the verdict.

Due to the physical abuse and mental distress, three of the practitioners are experiencing severe medical conditions in custody. Ms. Yu was found to have a 172 by 100 mm tumor in her abdomen and the doctor recommended immediate surgery, yet the authorities rejected it. Mr. Wang is struggling with extremely high blood pressure, with systolic pressure measuring over 200 mmHg, when the normal range is no more than 120 mmHg. He reported feeling dizzy most of the time. Ms. Wang also experienced dizziness.

The four practitioners were arrested between March 9 and 12, 2023, after being monitored by the police for months. The police were staked outside their homes, shadowed them on foot or in cars, took pictures of them, and even installed tracking devices on their electric bikes and button-sized listening devices on their doors.

The police later submitted the practitioners’ cases to the Linghai City Procuratorate, which indicted them and transferred their cases to the Linghai City Court. A joint hearing of their cases was held on October 31, 2023, with the second and third hearing taking place on November 8 and December 8. Except for Ms. Dai, the other three practitioners hired lawyers to represent them. One of the three practitioners was also represented by two non-lawyer family defenders.

The practitioners were handcuffed and shackled when they appeared in court on October 31. One of their lawyers, Sheng (alias), requested the handcuffs and shackles be removed, but presiding judge Huang Yanchun denied his request, and signaled for the hearing to start.

Prior to the second hearing on November 8, judge Huang attempted to pressure the son of a practitioner to quit being his mother’s family defender. He didn’t comply. The law firm that Sheng works at also received an intimidating letter, but he insisted on representing his mother in court.

The court notified the practitioners’ lawyers and family defenders that the second hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m., but when they arrived in court that morning, they learned that the start time was changed to 9:30 a.m. without their knowledge. The session was further delayed until 10:10 a.m. when it finally started. One of the lawyers had to leave early due to another hearing scheduled later that day.

Nearly 30 family members of the four practitioners came to the courthouse that day. Just when they were about to enter the courtroom after waiting for hours, they were stopped by the bailiffs, who claimed that only two people from each family would be allowed to attend.

Secret Sentencing

After 17 Years Behind Bars, Hunan Man Gets Another Five Years for Practicing Falun Gong

Mr. Yang Shiyi’s family was notified at the end of December 2023 that he was sentenced to five years, but the caller refused to reveal when the Xiangtan City, Hunan Province resident had been indicted, tried, or sentenced. His loved ones were only told that he was admitted to the Wangling Prison in You County in the same province. 

Mr. Yang’s prison sentencing followed his arrest on February 20, 2023. The police broke into his home that day and took him to the Xiangtan City Detention Center. The police called his son the next day and said, “Your father and five other people hung up Falun Gong banners. The other five suspects escaped and we only caught your father. You need to bring him some clothes.” 

Mr. Yang denied putting up the banners, but he knew that he was being targeted again for simply being a Falun Gong practitioner. The police were trying to turn his family against him, as some practitioners’ families did in order to protect themselves from being implicated in the persecution.

This isn’t the first time that Mr. Yang has been targeted for practicing Falun Gong. Prior to his latest sentencing, he served one labor camp term and two prison terms totaling 17 years. 

Jilin Man Gets Four Years after Brutal Arrest and Secret Trial

Mr. Li Yuanming’s family confirmed in January 2024 that he was admitted to Gongzhuling Prison to serve a four-year term for practicing Falun Gong. The 50-year-old resident of Nongan County, Jilin Province, has been denied family visits on the grounds that he refused to renounce Falun Gong.

The village security director and a few police officers went to Mr. Li’s home on February 28, 2023, and attempted to collect his saliva and take his photo. It’s not clear if Mr. Li complied.

After the police left, Mr. Li hid at his neighbor’s home, but was still arrested on March 3, 2023. According to those who witnessed his arrest, the officers kicked him down, held him on the ground face down, and handcuffed him behind his back. They grabbed him by his legs and dragged him. His pants were almost pulled off. They pulled up his pants and kept dragging him—all the way from his neighbor’s front yard to his front yard and to the main street behind his house, where they parked their cruiser. They took pictures of him, covered his face with his clothing, and shoved him into the cruiser.

Mr. Li’s father, who was present, attempted to stop the police, but a neighbor held him back. “The police have guns,” the neighbor said. According to an insider, many villagers were stunned by how brutally the police treated Mr. Li.

The police also raided Mr. Li’s home, confiscating his Falun Gong books, laptop, printer, and a Falun Gong banner he used at a practice site before the persecution started. Tens of thousands of yuan in cash he stored in a bag also disappeared. His father only saw an empty money bag on the ground.

The police refused to tell Mr. Li’s family anything about his situation. The family was finally able to confirm in January 2024 that he was sentenced and transferred from the Nongan Detention Center to Gongzhuling Prison. But they still don’t know anything about his indictment, trial, or sentencing.

Five Months After His Second Marriage, Jiangsu Man Arrested and Secretly Sentenced to 4.5 Years

Mr. Zou Feiyu’s wife received a notice at 10:30 a.m. on January 2, 2024 telling her to visit him at a detention center at 1:30 p.m. that day. Since it was such short notice, she did not have time to inform Mr. Zou’s mother and son because both of them lived in different provinces hundreds of miles away. She went to the detention center alone and learned that her husband was sentenced to four and a half years and that he was scheduled to be transferred to a prison the next day. 

The detention center guards refused to reveal which prison it was. Prior to that, Mr. Zou’s wife was never notified of his trial or sentencing. She only learned from an insider that he stood trial in early May 2023. 

Mr. Zou, a 49-year-old resident of Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province, was arrested on July 10, 2022, only five months after he married his second wife. His wife, who was arrested the same day, was soon released on bail and then had her bail condition dismissed. Mr. Zou remained in custody and his arrest was approved on August 18, 2022.

Mr. Zou’s mother went to the Kunshan Detention Center by herself in early May 2023 to visit him and demand his release. A guard lied to her and said her son wasn’t detained there. She was devastated and burst into tears outside the detention center. When she returned home, she told her daughter-in-law, who was not aware of her trip to the detention center, what happened. Her daughter-in-law was shocked to see how much she aged in just one day.

Prior to their latest sentencing, Mr. Zou served two prison terms totaling 13 years, including an eight-year term in 2001 and another five-year term in 2010. After witnessing the ongoing persecution of his family, his son became very depression.

Chinese Judge: “You Aren’t Allowed to Hire a Lawyer or Appeal; It’s a Waste of Money”

After two secret court hearings, a Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, resident was sentenced to three years and two months for her faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Zhou Qunhui’s family was kept in the dark about her prosecution process. The judge didn’t allow them to hire a lawyer. She also wasn’t given a copy of her indictment. 

Ms. Zhou, 67, was arrested at home on the afternoon of March 15, 2023. The police claimed that someone reported her for printing informational materials about Falun Gong at home. Her printers, laptop, Falun Gong books, and collections of experience sharing articles written by other Falun Gong practitioners were confiscated. 

A police officer said during the raid, “This is the first time I’ve done this. I’m learning while doing it.” Another one said, “We know that Falun Gong is good, but you aren’t allowed to practice it.”

After the police took Ms. Zhou to the local detention center, they didn’t provide her family with any updates about her case. In October 2023, her family learned that she was indicted and her case was sent to the Xihu District Court. They went to the court to inquire about her situation, only to be told that judge Zhang Yujuan already held two hearings of her case. They asked Zhang about Ms. Zhou’s prison sentence and she replied, “The verdict is in the drawer. It would be between one and three years,” adding, “You aren’t allowed to hire a lawyer or appeal. It’s useless and a waste of money.”

Ms. Zhou’s family was shocked to see how judge Zhang could be so unscrupulous in wrongfully sentencing a person for merely practicing her faith. They questioned Zhang as to why she held two secret hearings without informing them, and why she didn’t allow them to hire a lawyer. She did not respond. They filed a complaint against Zhang in November 2023, but nothing happened.

On December 9, 2023, judge Zhang announced to sentence Ms. Zhou to three years and two months. Her family still wasn’t informed of the sentencing hearing. They only found out about it when they went to the court to inquire about the case. 

The family also learned that the sentencing hearing was held virtually, despite there being no pandemic restrictions at the time. Ms. Zhou later told her family that the audio quality was very poor, and she couldn’t hear anything the judge said during the sentencing hearing. So far, she hasn’t been given a copy of her indictment and still doesn’t know what charges were brought against her or the basis for the sentencing. 

Decades of Persecution

Shandong Man Sentenced to Seven Years After Spending Ten Years on the Run to Avoid Being Persecuted for His Faith

After living away from home for ten years to avoid being persecuted for practicing Falun Gong, Mr. Wang Huayang was arrested and sentenced to seven years. The prison authorities barred his family from visiting him, with the excuse that he refused to renounce Falun Gong.

The ordeal of Mr. Wang, a 60-year-old Zhaoyuan City, Shandong Province, resident, began on March 23, 2012, when his home was raided by the police. His wife, Ms. Chi Ruimei, and their daughter were also seized and held in a brainwashing center. Mr. Wang escaped being arrested, but he had to live away from home to hide from the police. In order to find him, the police closely monitored his wife and daughter’s daily lives and frequently harassed them, putting them under tremendous mental pressure. Mr. Wang’s daughter was sentenced to three years in 2016 for practicing Falun Gong.

After 2017, the authorities began to harass Ms. Chi’s parents and siblings as well, sometimes knocking on their doors at night. In October 2019, the authorities installed a special surveillance camera and a search light on the utility pole outside of Ms. Chi’s home, directly facing her front door.

The persecution of Mr. Wang’s family also caused his elderly parents great distress. Their health quickly declined. Mr. Wang’s father suffered a stroke in 2014 and became incapacitated. His condition deteriorated in 2018 and he passed away in 2022.

After spending ten years on the run, Mr. Wang was arrested on July 27, 2022 at a breeding farm in Qixia City, Shandong Province, after he was reported by someone. Both the police in Zhaoyuan and Qixia participated in his arrest. 

The Zhaoyuan City Court heard Mr. Wang’s case on July 21, 2023. A lawyer from Beijing entered a not guilty plea for him. Without informing Mr. Wang’s family, the judge sentenced him to seven years. He was admitted to the Shandong Province Prison in Jinan, the provincial capital, on December 21, 2023. His family demanded to visit him, but their request was denied by the prison. A guard said Mr. Wang didn’t have a good attitude and that they would decide whether to grant him visitation the following month.

Sentenced on Fabricated Evidence

72-Year-Old Woman Given Third Prison Sentence, Accused of Talking to People about Falun Gong at a Non-existentBusiness

Ms. Wei Chunrong, 72, from Qingdao City, Shandong Province, was sentenced to three and a half years and fined 10,000 yuan on January 11, 2024, for practicing Falun Gong.

Ms. Wei, from Huanan County, Heilongjiang Province, has been living with her son’s family in Qingdao City since 2013. Her latest prison sentence stemmed from her arrest on March 2, 2023, after a food delivery worker reported her for talking to him about Falun Gong. The arresting officers from the Zhengyang Road Police Station raided her son’s home and confiscated her six Falun Gong books, five memory cards, three music players, and an e-reader.

The Jimo District Procuratorate indicted Ms. Wei on July 5. The Jimo District Court held a hearing of her case at the detention center on October 12, 2023, before sentencing her on January 11, 2024. 

Her verdict listed two prosecution witnesses – food delivery worker Chu Jiajia from the Meituan Takeout and his manager Yu Xiangqian – even though Ms. Wei only spoke with Chu. The verdict also cited a branch of Meituan Takeout in the Chengyang District as the location where Ms. Wei talked to Chu about Falun Gong. However, there is no such branch at the said location.

Other prosecution evidence included 2,242 Falun Gong-related audio and video files found on the five memory cards confiscated from Ms. Wei’s home. Prosecutor Wang accused Ms. Wei of trying to recruit Chu into the “Falun Gong organization” and of being a repeat offender (she was previously twice sentenced for her faith). The verdict also stated that Ms. Wei’s talking to Chu about Falun Gong was “authenticated” as cult propaganda even though no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong or labels it a cult.

Sentenced Despite Declining Health

67-Year-Old Man Experiences Rectal Bleeding and Weight Loss in Custody, Sentenced to 4.5 Years

A 67-year-old man in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province was sentenced to 4.5 years days after he stood trial on December 14, 2023 for his faith in Falun Gong. 

Mr. Zhao Huanzhen’s sentencing stemmed from his arrest on May 10, 2023, while he and four others were visiting 79-year-old Ms. Zhu Fengchun and her husband, 82-year-old Mr. Zhang Dehai, to read the Falun Gong teachings. Over 40 police officers were present during the arrest. They used a ladder to scale Ms. Zhu’s fence and jumped into her courtyard. They then broke in and videotaped her, her husband, and their guests. 

Mr. Zhao and the other four guests were taken to their respective police stations in their residential areas. Their homes were raided and their valuables were confiscated. 

Mr. Zhao was moved to the Qinhuangdao City Detention Center. According to his family, he started experiencing persistent rectal bleeding about six months into his detention and became very weak. His family demanded his immediate release, but to no avail.

The Funing District Court held a hearing of Mr. Zhao’s case on December 14, 2023. Only his wife and one of their sons were allowed to attend. The other family members had to wait in the hallway during the hearing. The presiding judge, Lin Shuangquan, claimed that he made the decision to protect courtroom safety. He also cited the small size of the courtroom as an excuse to restrict attendance, but there were enough seats for Mr. Zhao’s family.

Mr. Zhao’s two lawyers argued that their client didn’t violate any law for visiting other law-abiding citizens and reading Falun Gong books with them. It was a private gathering, which didn’t harm any individual or society. On the other hand, practicing Falun Gong is expressing their freedom of belief and no enacted Chinese law criminalizes Falun Gong.

The lawyers added that prosecutor Zou Sumin accused Mr. Zhao of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” but she failed to provide any evidence to support the charge. In addition, no witness accounts bore their signatures, which rendered them invalid as prosecution evidence.

Judge Lin kept interrupting the lawyers and was very rude to them. 

After the hearing ended, Mr. Zhao was quickly led out of the courtroom. His wife followed him outside to ask him if he still had blood in his stool. He said he no longer had the symptom and asked her not to worry about him. She couldn’t stop worrying about him because she saw that his hair turned gray and he had lost a lot of weight during his seven months of detention. 

When judge Lin exited the courtroom, Mr. Zhao’s wife said to him, “My husband’s health has quickly declined since his detention. He was not in good health to begin with and I’m really worried whether he...” Lin cut her off and told her to wait for a court decision.

Days later, Mr. Zhao’s wife received a call from the court saying that her husband was sentenced to four and a half years. She questioned the heavy sentence, since prosecutor Zou recommended three years at the end of the hearing. The caller said it was because Mr. Zhao had not “behaved” well the past few years, as he persisted in practicing Falun Gong. 

Download persecution data:

PDF list of practitioners reported sentenced in January 2024

Excel list of practitioners reported sentenced in January 2024 (with additional details)

Related Report:

Reported in 2023: 1,190 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith