Another 55 Falun Gong practitioners were confirmed to have been sentenced in September 2020 for their faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The 55 practitioners, 10 of them over 65, came from 13 provinces and municipalities. Liaoning Province topped the list with 12 cases, followed by Shandong and Sichuan (each reporting 10 cases). Beijing, Heilongjiang, and Jilin each had 4 cases.
The prison terms ranged from 10 months to 9 years, with an average of 3.2 years. Nineteen of the practitioners were fined between 1,000 and 35,000 yuan, averaging 13,053 yuan per person.
The authorities didn’t only target the practitioners themselves but also convicted one practitioner’s wife and another’s brother, neither of whom practice Falun Gong, in the month of September for their support of the practitioners.
Some of the sentenced practitioners were targeted in group arrests in earlier years, including a married couple, both 76, in Sichuan Province and three women in Heilongjiang Province. The mother of one of the women in Heilongjiang passed away as a result of the mental distress from her daughter’s arrest. Another woman’s mother, in her 90s, was terrified by the police raid.
While a Shandong man was sentenced with four others arrested in the same police sweep, his daughter was also convicted after being arrested on a separate occasion.
Some practitioners have suffered long-term persecution over the past two decades before being sentenced again. A 78-year-old woman who was given two years was arrested eight times before her latest imprisonment.
A retired music teacher in her 60s was detained in a brainwashing center for three years and imprisoned for another three years before being sentenced to prison again for four years. Her pension has also been suspended and her incapacitated husband is left on his own, struggling to care for himself.
As a result of abuses in custody, some practitioners have suffered injuries, including hearing loss and ankle pain, but were denied medical treatment.
In addition to the September cases, another 26 from earlier months were also confirmed in September, including 1 in February, 1 in June, 7 in July and 17 in August, which brings the tally this year to 327 so far.
Of note, information about the sentencing cases was collected between January 1 and October 5, 2020. Due to the communist regime’s restricting of information, the actual number of Falun Gong practitioners sentenced for their faith is likely much higher.
Download/view the full list of sentenced practitioners here (PDF) [Note: the cases were sorted by month (in ascending order) and then prison terms (in descending order)].
Below are snapshots of some cases.
Elderly Not Spared
Mr. Chen Yixin and Ms. Zheng Tianqiong, a married couple in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, both 76, were seized by the police at home on the afternoon of July 10, 2019, during a group arrest of local Falun Gong practitioners. Their Falun Gong books, printer, and computer were confiscated.
Although Ms. Zheng was released on bail due to poor health three days later, Mr. Chen was sent to the Chengdu No. 1 Detention Centre. After the Xindu District Procuratorate returned Mr. Chen’s case for insufficient evidence, the police refused to release him and submitted his case one more time in an attempt to frame him.
Both of them were sentenced to 1.5 years by the Xindu Court on September 24, 2020.
Ms. Fei Jirong, 74, in Jilin City, Jilin Province, was arrested on May 21, 2020, after being reported for putting up posters about Falun Gong. The police interrogated her and handcuffed her, causing her hands to swell.
Ms. Fei was released on bail a day later. Her family was ordered to pay a 2,000-yuan bail bond. She was later indicted by the Chuanying District Procuratorate and ordered to pay another 10,000-yuan bail bond.
Ms. Fei was taken back into custody in the Jilin City Detention Centre on September 21, 2020, when she was summoned by the Chuanying District Court for the third time. She was later sentenced to one year and denied family visits by the detention centre.
After 13 months of detention, Ms. Peng Shuhua, 78, was sentenced to two years for her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Peng, of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was talking to people about Falun Gong on August 13, 2019, when a police car stopped next to her. Officers searched her bag without her consent. Finding Falun Gong materials in it, they arrested Ms. Peng and ransacked her home. She has been detained in the Shuangliu District Detention Centre ever since.
The Xinjin District Court held three hearings, on June 5, July 23, and August 13, before sentencing Ms. Peng to two years on September 10 for “undermining law enforcement with a cult organisation,” the standard pretext used by the Chinese courts to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
Ms. Peng used to suffer many ailments, including neurosis, cerebrovascular sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gastroptosis. She also had a frozen shoulder and was unable to lift her right arm. She saw many doctors, but her symptoms persisted. In 1997, she was introduced to Falun Gong. After practicing for only a short time, Ms. Peng regained her health and felt mentally and physically uplifted.
Because she is firm in her faith, after the persecution began, Ms. Peng has been arrested eight times prior to the latest arrest that eventually led to her sentencing.
Ms. Wan Fang, a 49-year-old Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, resident, was arrested on September 11, 2019, in a police sweep. The police confiscated her Falun Gong books, computer, and printer. Despite her failing the physical exam, the Harbin No. 2 Detention Centre still took Ms. Wan into custody that evening.
The police attempted to force Ms. Wan to write statements renouncing Falun Gong in exchange for her release or a lighter prison term, but she refused to compromise.
Ms. Wan’s arrest and detention dealt a heavy blow to her mother, who had already been worrying about her other daughter, who was fired by her employer and forced into displacement, also for practicing in Falun Gong. In her 80s, her mother fell ill and was hospitalised in late 2019. She passed away in March 2020, without seeing her daughter for the last time.
Ms. Wan was tried in the Harbin Railroad Transportation Court on September 9 via a video conference. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea for her. The judge announced the four-year sentence later in the month.
Two other practitioners who were targeted in the same group arrest, Ms. Dong Wenxiu, 59, and Ms. Wang Yurong, 62, were sentenced to two and three years, respectively, by the same court on September 17, 2020. Ms. Dong has appealed her verdict.
Ms. Dong’s 90-year-old mother, who lived with her, was terrified by the police raid. One female officer threatened to arrest her before taking Ms. Dong away.
Ms. Yu Shaoping, a retired music teacher in her 60s, was sentenced to four years and fined 5,000 yuan on September 11, 2020, for refusing to give up her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Yu, of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was arrested on May 14, 2019, and detained in the Pi County Detention Centre. She was tried in the Dayi County Court. Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea for her. The judge announced the verdict at the end of the trial.
Ms. Yu’s husband also practices Falun Gong. He had been sentenced twice before and held in a brainwashing center for upholding his faith. While in custody, he was subjected to relentless torture and developed high blood pressure as a result. His health kept declining after he was released, and he suffered a stroke on July 2, 2015. He lost mobility in his left hand and feet and had relied on Ms. Yu for his care the past few years, Ms. Yu’s latest arrest put him in a dire situation.
This isn’t the first time that Ms. Yu has been persecuted for her faith, which she credits for curing her many ailments, including liver and stomach conditions, as well as long term dizziness and insomnia.
Ms. Yu was arrested on March 9, 2009. She was taken to the notorious Xinjin Brainwashing Center after 15 days of detention in the police station and was held there for over three years.
She was arrested again on April 26, 2013. Her home was ransacked. The same Dayi County Court that recently sentenced her gave her three years on December 3, 2013. She was transferred to Chengdu Women’s Prison not long after.
After Ms. Yu was released in 2016, she was constantly harassed by the local authorities and required to report to the security officers at the school where she worked before she went for lunch or on break during school hours.
In addition to the harassment and incarceration, her retirement pension was suspended because of her not giving up Falun Gong.
Liaoning Man Sentenced, Despite Call for Release from His Son and Now Deceased Father
Mr. Liu Wansheng, 65, of Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province, was sentenced to six years in prison less than six months after his arrest on April 23, 2020, for talking to people about Falun Gong at a bus station.
After Mr. Liu’s arrest, his father went to the police station several times to seek his release, but to no avail. Distressed by the persecution, the elderly man in his 80s soon passed away.
The Linghe District Procuratorate approved Mr. Liu’s arrest in late April and indicted him. He was tried via a video conference by the Linghai City Court inside the Jinzhou City Detention Centre on September 4 and sentenced to six years and fined 10,000 yuan on September 30.
To seek justice for Mr. Liu after his latest arrest, his son wrote to the prosecutor and judge, detailing the positive changes in his father from practicing Falun Gong and the family’s suffering over the past two decades. He urged the authorities to release his father.
“Since the Chinese Communist Party began to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, I have never lived one day in peace. For the past 20 years, my father and mother have been arrested one after another. That’s why I’m so sick of instant noodles now, because I’ve eaten too many of them during the years when both my parents were serving labor camp terms. I was also traumatised by witnessing the police ransack my home so many times. Whenever I see police cars on the street now, I’m frozen with fear,” wrote Mr. Liu’s son.
Prior to Mr. Liu’s latest conviction, he was repeatedly arrested after the onset of the persecution and served three years of forced labor between 2004 and 2007. He was tortured in custody, including having his arms cuffed behind his back, restrained on a bed in a spread-eagle position, and deprived of sleep, as well as long hours of sitting still on a small stool and force-feeding.
The guards also tied up his legs in the full lotus position, handcuffed his hands behind his back, put earphones on his head, and played high volume propaganda smearing Falun Gong. The guards often did this for hours at a time and occasionally punched his legs or hit his head.
Two brothers in Weifang City, Shandong Province, were secretly sentenced to prison one year after they were arrested for trying to stop the police from ransacking their mother’s home for practicing Falun Gong.
The Kuiwen District Court announced on September 28, 2020, that Mr. Zhang Chao, a 50-year-old Falun Gong practitioner, was sentenced to four years in prison. His brother, Mr. Zhang Ping, who does not practice Falun Gong, was given six months with one-year probation.
The court gave Mr. Zhang Chao ten days, including holidays and weekends, to appeal the verdict. With the then-upcoming eight-day national holiday break (October 1-8), which included the Mid-Autumn Festival and the anniversary of the communist regime’s founding, both of which fell on October 1, Mr. Zhang’s family suspected that the court deliberately sentenced him on September 28 to prevent him from appealing his case.
On October 31, 2019, the Zhang brothers’ mother, Ms. Wang Zhen, was reported for talking to people about Falun Gong and was arrested. The police went to her home around 3 p.m. to search it. It happened that her sons were visiting Ms. Wang. The brothers attempted to stop the police and Mr. Zhang Ping was arrested. Although Mr. Zhang Chao escaped, he was arrested two days later, on November 2, 2019.
The brothers were held in Weifang City Detention Centre. Ms. Wang was released on bail due to a health condition on the evening of October 31.
The Kuiwen District Procuratorate approved Mr. Zhang Chao’s arrest on December 6, 2019. He was charged with “endangering public security and disrupting public service with dangerous actions.”
Mr. Zhang Chao’s family hired a lawyer to represent him, but the authorities kept the lawyer and his family in the dark on the status of his case.
Mr. Duan Tianjun from Hefei City, Anhui Province, was recently sentenced to 5.5 years with a 5,000-yuan fine for his faith in Falun Gong. His wife, who doesn’t practice Falun Gong and was detained for six months after her arrest, was given ten months of probation.
Mr. Duan was arrested on February 16, 2019, while accompanying his wife, Ms. Pan Nengcun, to the pharmacy. Ms. Pan had begun to suffer from mental issues a few years ago after she was traumatised by the police during an earlier arrest of her husband.
The police followed the couple and broke into their home to arrest them. They also ransacked the home.
The police submitted the couple’s cases to the Shushan District Procuratorate, which indicted them and forwarded the cases to the Shushan District Court. The Shushan District Procuratorate and the Shushan District Court have been charged with handling all Falun Gong cases in the Hefei region.
Sentenced after Being Targeted in Group Arrests
Four Benxi City, Liaoning Province, residents were sentenced to prison on September 4, 2020, for their faith in Falun Gong. Mr. Deng Yulin and Ms. Yang Liwei were each sentenced to four years and fined 20,000 yuan. Ms. Zhang Limin received three and a half years with a 15,000-yuan fine. Mr. Zhang Pengzhu was given three years and two months and fined 10,000 yuan.
The four were arrested on May 23, 2019, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. A fifth practitioner, Mr. Hu Lin, who was arrested with them, was sentenced to two years on June 20, 2019, as he had been on the Wanted List after he escaped a previous arrest. Mr. Hu passed away in Kangjiashan Prison on February 16, 2020, as a result of abuse in custody.
The four surviving practitioners’ arrests were approved on June 28, 2019, and the Hengren County Procuratorate indicted them on August 13, less than ten days after the police submitted their cases.
Ms. Yang suffered multiple organ failure due to abuse in detention and was released on bail. The other three practitioners remained in custody and were denied visits by their lawyers and families.
The Hengren County Court tried Ms. Yang in a virtual hearing in her home on July 3, 2020. The other three practitioners were tried in their respective detention centres on August 18, 2020.
Their lawyers, who were present in the courthouse, entered not guilty pleas on their behalf. Their lawyers noted that no witnesses appeared in court to accept cross-examination and the video clips, which were used as prosecution evidence and played at the hearing, were blurry and failed to show that their clients were at said places doing said things as the prosecutor alleged.
Despite family members’ demands to see their loved ones, the judge refused to allow them to attend the hearings, citing the coronavirus epidemic. The lawyers, however, noticed that the court didn’t have such restrictions for non-Falun Gong-related cases.
The judge announced the four practitioners’ verdicts on September 4, 2020.
Six Shandong Residents Jailed for Their Faith, Including Five Seized in a Group Arrest and One of Their Daughters Arrested on a Separate Occasion
Six Qingyun County, Shandong Province, residents, including a father and his daughter, were sentenced in September 2020 for their faith in Falun Gong.
Five of them, including Ms. Zhao Junxiang, Mr. Du Quancun, Ms. Wang Shujuan, Ms. Yu Binglan, and Ms. Zhang Lianyun, were targeted in a group arrest on November 18, 2018, while they were reading the Falun Gong teachings together.
While Ms. Yu and Ms. Zhang were released on bail, Ms. Zhao and Ms. Wang were taken to the Dezhou Detention Centre and Mr. Du to the Qingyun County Detention Center. All three were denied family visits.
The police fabricated evidence against Ms. Zhao, accusing her of making Falun Gong materials for other practitioners. Several practitioners were forced to sign documents prepared by the police.
The police submitted the practitioners’ cases to the Xiajin County Procuratorate in December 2018. Indictments were handed down and their cases were forwarded to the Xiajin County Court.
The practitioners were tried in the Xiajin County Court on January 15, 2020. Only two relatives from each family were allowed to attend the hearing.
Mr. Du, in his 70s, staggered into the courtroom, with his hands cuffed and feet shackled. Ms. Wang, in her 50s, also staggered. All of her hair has turned gray. Ms. Zhao lost a few teeth and was unable to speak clearly.
Ms. Zhao’s and Mr. Du’s lawyers entered not guilty pleas on their behalf. The lawyers argued that no law in China deems Falun Gong a crime and that the constitution guarantees freedom of belief. They demanded their clients be acquitted. Ms. Wang testified in her own defense and denied the charge.
Mr. Du, Ms. Zhao, and Ms. Wang were taken back to the detention centres after the hearing. Ms. Yu and Ms. Zhang returned home.
The judge announced the verdicts on September 10, 2020: Ms. Zhao was sentenced to eight years, Mr. Du to four years, Ms. Wang to three years, and Ms. Yu and Ms. Zhang to two years each.
While Mr. Du was detained, his daughter, Ms. Du Xiaojing, was arrested in late September 2019 for talking to people about Falun Gong in the restaurant where she worked. She was held in the Dezhou City Detention Centre and sentenced to three years in September 2020.
Ailing in Custody
Mr. Nie Guangfeng of Shanghai was arrested on November 13, 2019. The police ransacked his home and confiscated his two computers. He was criminally detained in the Minhang Detention Centre.
Mr. Nie’s case was submitted to the Minhang District Procuratorate on February 19, 2020. He was tried in the Fengxian District Court, which has been charged with handling most of the Falun Gong cases in Shanghai, on September 9, 2020, and sentenced to two years.
According to Mr. Nie’s lawyer who visited him in early 2020, Mr. Nie suffered severe hearing loss in the detention center. His reactions were slow and he limped. It’s not clear whether he was tortured in the detention centre.
Ms. Zhang Shuqin from Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province was sentenced to three years and four months in the Yimei District Court on September 28, 2020. She is now in the process of appealing the sentence.
According to Ms. Zhang’s family, who attended her sentencing hearing, she said she was subjected to severe abuse during her six months of detention and was emaciated. She was also crippled due to severe swelling of her ankle.
Ms. Zhang said she had excruciating ankle pain due to injuries. The Yichun City Detention Centre guards refused to take her to a doctor despite her repeated requests. Although they later had her ankle X-rayed, the guards claimed she was fine, even if she was still having pain. It’s not clear whether Ms. Zhang incurred the ankle injury before or after her arrest.
Ms. Zhang, who owns a family-run hotel, was arrested on March 5, 2020, while on her way to deliver food to a friend. When she struggled to get away, she suffered a heart attack and collapsed. One officer kicked and verbally abused her.
She was tried via a video conference in the detention centre on August 19, 2020. Her lawyer and her daughter pled not guilty for her.
Decades of Persecution
After Seven Years of Incarceration, Sichuan Woman Gets Another 3.5 Years
Ms. Tan Haiyan, a 58-year-old retired lab technician in Panzhihua City, Sichuan Province, was arrested on March 17, 2020, and transferred to Wanyaoshu Detention Centre the next day. The Dong District Procuratorate approved her arrest on April 23. She was sentenced to 3.5 years in the Dong District Court shortly after her hearing on August 18.
Ms. Tan’s latest sentencing was preceded by six years in prison and one year of forced labor for upholding her faith, which she credits for changing her bad temper.
She was tortured in detention, including with electric shocks, sleep deprivation, and force-feeding. Her access to drinking water, the restroom, and showers were also restricted.
Due to frequent harassment by the police, her husband divorced her in 2010 while she was still serving time.
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