Ms. Chen Huixia was arrested in June 2016 for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. Her family hadn’t been allowed any contact with her until January 12, 2019, when they received a call from Ms. Chen for the first time in two and a half years.
Calling from Shijiazhuang Women’s Prison in Hebei Province, Ms. Chen told her family that she had begun to serve a 3.5-year prison term there.
Ms. Chen, a 62-year-old resident of Shandong Province, was arrested on June 3, 2016 while attending a gathering of Falun Gong practitioners in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province.
She was held in solitary confinement for nearly a month at the Dongyuan Police Station, tied to a chair and subjected to constant brainwashing. Her health deteriorated as a result and she became very weak and unable to walk.
According to Ms. Lu, “The police attempted to send my mother to a detention centre. She was refused admission because of her health issues. On another attempt, the police forced the Shijiazhuang No. 2 Detention Centre, which was notorious for torturing Falun Gong practitioners, to accept her. We weren’t allowed to call her. No one would tell us how my mother was doing. We spend days and nights worrying about her.”
Ms. Chen was denied family visits or any form of contact with her family after she was taken to the Shijiazhuang No. 2 Detention Centre on July 15, 2016.
Her family hired a lawyer to represent Ms. Chen in November 2016. As many human rights lawyers have experienced retaliation from the authorities for seeking justice for Falun Gong practitioners, it wasn’t easy for Ms. Chen’s family to find an attorney who was willing to represent her.
Despite the lawyer’s efforts, any information obtained about her case was still very limited.
The lawyer’s request to review Ms. Chen’s case file in January 2017 was turned down by the Yuhua Court judge. The same judge later sentenced Ms. Chen to 3.5 years in September 2018, after two hearings on May 12, 2017, and January 4, 2018.
Ms. Chen’s lawyer submitted her appeal to the Shijiazhuang Intermediate Court in October 2018. Judge Wang Feng decided to uphold the verdict on December 6 without a court session or ever talking to the lawyer.
The lawyer didn’t receive judge Wang’s notice to uphold the verdict until the end of December.
Ms. Chen began to practice Falun Gong in 1998. Her liver problem, chronic gastroenteritis, and abnormal uterus tissue growth all disappeared shortly afterward.
Ms. Lu recalled, “My mother’s health improved significantly within a short period of time. Her character also changed, as she followed the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance in her daily life.”
Because of not giving up her faith after the communist regime launched the campaign of persecution against Falun Gong in 1999, Ms. Chen was detained for three months in 2003 and constantly harassed by the police afterward.