(Minghui.org) More than 20 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in Nong’an County of Jilin Province on July 15, 2020. Among them, over 10 were arbitrarily sentenced to terms ranging from two to 10 years. All of the sentenced practitioners were also fined in amounts ranging from 5,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan.
This incident highlights the financial persecution that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed on practitioners, which has escalated year-over-year since the suppression started in 1999.
From Brutality to Financial Measures
CCP leader Jiang Zemin started to crack down on Falun Gong in July 1999. He established the 610 Office across all levels of government, from the central CCP committee to provincial, city, and district-level government agencies, all across China. Prisons also had their own branches.
This was to ensure the thorough implementation of Jiang’s Falun Gong persecution policy to “to ruin their reputation, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically.”
There were no crimes to charge practitioners with, so officials had to make things up. At first, practitioners were charged with subversion. Since this was too absurd of a charge, Article 300 of the Criminal Law (using a so-called cult organisation to sabotage implementation of the law) began to be generally applied as a standard pretext in all Falun Gong cases.
Later on, the Supreme Court and Supreme Procuratorate rolled out a so-called judicial interpretation regarding Article 300 of the Criminal Law. The interpretation was very detailed and was intended to justify the mistreatment of practitioners.
In 2017, Supreme Court and Supreme Procuratorate updated their judicial interpretation on Article 300 of Criminal Law. Not only were more details included, any supposed violation of this law also became a finable offense.
The 610 network includes the 610 Leadership Team and 610 Office. Directors of the 610 Leadership Team tended to also hold the position of Party secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC). Luo Gan (2002 – 2007), Zhou Yongkang (2007 – 2012), and Meng Jianzhu (2012 to 2017) were three such examples.
The PLAC oversees all law enforcement bodies, including the police force. Party secretaries of the Central PLAC were always members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of the CCP’s apparat. This explains why the top-down persecution of Falun Gong could mobilise all law enforcement bodies and abuse the law to achieve its agenda.
Underneath the 610 Leadership are the individual 610 Offices. The directors of 610 Offices are typically deputy Party secretaries of the PLAC. The 610 Offices in lower levels are often in the same division as the State Security Bureau.
Initially launched after the Soviet Security Services (the KGB’s predecessor), the Chinese state security service also had many names over time. Currently known as the State Security Bureau in lower-level government agencies, its main function is to target Falun Gong practitioners—innocent citizens who want to be better people through the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
From relatively light sentences to heavy sentences, from prison terms to fines, they are all signs of the Party’s systematic escalation of the suppression of Falun Gong.
What happened to Nong’an practitioners in the beginning of this article is only one of the many tragedies that have occurred. Here are more examples.
Seven practitioners were sentenced at the Ranghulu Court in Heilongjiang Province on November 17, 2021. Mr. Li Lizhuang was sentenced to 10 years and eight months with a fine of 80,000 yuan. Ms. Tang Zhuyin, about 70, was sentenced to nine years and four months with a fine of 50,000 yuan.
Mr. Mu Yadong, a practitioner from Pingdingshan City of Henan Province, was sentenced for keeping Falun Gong information on his computer. His sentence gave him an eight-year prison term with a fine of 100,000 yuan.
Mr. Zhang Tingxiang from Guizhou Province was sentenced to 10 years and a fine of 50,000 yuan. In addition, police confiscated 80,000 yuan when ransacking his home. Ms. Zhang Wei, also from Guizhou Province, was sentenced to a eight-year term with a fine of 30,000 yuan.
Such heavy fines could be imposed for any reason. After handing out Falun Gong information to neighbors, 82-year old Ms. Ma Junting from Shandong University of Science and Technology was sentenced to a four-year term. Her judge fined her 30,000 yuan and the police fined her 40,000 yuan. Similarly, after giving out calendars containing Falun Gong information, Ms. Yuan Lixin from Heilongjiang Province was detained for 15 days and fined 50,000 yuan.
Statistics from Minghui showed that Chinese officials extorted 711,400 yuan from 63 practitioners sentenced in November 2021 across 17 provinces. 343,000 of the 711,400 yuan was from court fines, and the remaining 368,400 was from police extortion.
In the past 23 since the persecution began, Falun Gong practitioners have suffered incalculable losses.
Besides fines, the financial persecution of Falun Gong practitioners also includes other forms, including forced termination of employment and denial of pensions. When practitioners were let go from their jobs and sought new opportunities, officials would threaten potential employers that were looking to hire them.
As a result, many practitioners suffered from financial difficulties. Many practitioners were left with broken families; they couldn’t afford to care for their elderly or support their children, and oftentimes children would be let unattended as their parents sought to eke out a living.
In addition to fines, officials would also freeze practitioners’ bank accounts and confiscate the money. When ransacking homes, police for took away all the money they could find, ranging from dozens of yuan, hundreds of yuan, to over 100,000 yuan. They even took any jewelry they saw. All these confiscations were made with no receipt or record.
When practitioners in the countryside were detained, the authorities left their farms deserted, which removed their primary source of income. With no income plus heavy fines, these practitioners faced dire straits. Many were forced to divorce their spouses, and they couldn’t afford to care for their children or the elderly.
A Family in Misery
In a letter to her local Social Security Bureau (SSB) in 2021, Jinzhou resident Ms. Wang Guixia in Liaoning Province described the misery of her family after her pension was stopped in August 2020.
After Ms. Wang was arrested and sentenced to a four-year prison term, her family collapsed. Her mother-in-law was devastated and died in five days. Her husband had a heart attack and was hospitalised. Her two children were so worried that their hair turned gray overnight.
Ms. Wang and her husband had been living with the family of their son. Since her husband passed away two years ago, Ms. Wang’s pension became the family’s only income. Her grandson was epileptic. Besides auditory hallucinations, he was extremely weak and was not able to work.
Ms. Wang’s daughter-in-law had numerous illnesses and was also unable to work. Ms. Wang’s son, on the other hand, had suffered from cerebral hemorrhage and has also undergone surgery due to a lung nodule.
“Because of that, my family had to borrow over 60,000 yuan to cover his medical expenses,” Ms. Wang wrote.
“After he was discharged from the hospital, his workplace planned some layoffs. He had to go back to work despite of his poor health.” she continued, “In the past year, the only income for our entire family comes from my son, who is forced to work even though he is very ill.”
There are many heartbreaking stories in China where practitioners were detained and tortured physically, humiliated and traumatised mentally, while extorted from and persecuted financially. We sincerely hope that the people of the world can help end this atrocity, so that practitioners in China are able to practice their beliefs freely without fear of retribution.
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