(Minghui.org) The sentencing of seventy-four Falun Gong practitioners, for upholding their faith, was reported in July 2023.
Among the confirmed cases, two were in 2019, three were in 2022, 56 were in 2023, and the occurrence time of another 13 cases was unknown. The delay in reporting was caused by the strict information censorship under China’s communist regime, which essentially keeps the persecution underground to avoid international scrutiny.
The sentenced practitioners were from 17 provinces, centrally controlled municipalities, and autonomous regions in China. Heilongjiang had the most cases, 14, followed by Jilin (9), Liaoning (8) and Gansu (6). The remaining 13 regions had between 1 and 5 cases.
Among the 39 practitioners whose ages at the time of sentencing were known, 9 were in their 50s, 13 were in their 60s, 16 were in their 70s and 1 was in his 80s.
Except for six practitioners who received probation terms, the prison terms for the remaining practitioners ranged from ten months to nine years. The three practitioners who received nine years in prison included two men in their 70s and a woman from Beijing, whose husband suddenly died while seeking justice for her. A 76-year-old woman in Jilin Province was sentenced to seven years. She is in custody and is suffering from unknown health issues.
Also struggling with health issues was a man in Hubei Province, who was secretly sentenced to four years and is now blind in both eyes as a result of torture. A woman in Guizhou Province was tortured to paralysis while serving a possible six-year term.
Some of the practitioners have been repeatedly incarcerated in the past 24 years for upholding their faith. A former real estate company manager in Beijing was sentenced to 15 months, after being jailed for 12 years. A former college lecturer was given 5 years, after serving 14 years. She lost both her husband and son to the persecution.
As practitioners continued to seize all opportunities to tell people about the persecution, some were sentenced to prison for their courageous efforts. One government employee in Hubei Province received one year for putting up Falun Gong posters. A 66-year-old woman was given three years for urging a government official to stop participating in the persecution. A young mother of a four-year-old daughter was sentenced to one year after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong.
The following are snapshots of select sentencing cases. The full list of sentenced practitioners can be downloaded here (PDF).
Elderly Practitioners Sentenced
The Maonan District Court in Maoming City, Guangdong Province, sentenced local resident Mr. Zhou Huajian to nine years with a 20,000-yuan fine on July 10, 2023. He appealed the verdict and is still waiting for the result at the time of writing.
Mr. Zhou, a 72-year-old security guard, was arrested on March 26, 2020 for using a mass texting device to send out Falun Gong messages at a local market. The police took him to the Maoming City No. 1 Detention Centre, where he still remains at the time of writing.
After more than three years of detention, Mr. Zhou’s health declined quickly. He now suffers from blurred vision, dizziness, and has difficulty hearing.
The Maonan District Court scheduled a virtual hearing for April 6, 2021, with Mr. Zhou expected to join remotely from the detention centre. The presiding judge canceled the session at the last minute after Mr. Zhou’s two lawyers refused to surrender their personal laptops before entering the courthouse. By law, defense attorneys are allowed to use their personal computers during court hearings.
The second hearing took place as scheduled on January 5, 2022, with Mr. Zhou appearing virtually from the detention center. This time the lawyers were allowed to use their personal laptops, however, one of them was removed from the courtroom when he refused to follow the judge’s order to have court staff cover his laptop mic and webcam with tape. There is no law dictating that defense lawyers must disable their laptop mic and webcam during court hearings.
The third hearing was an in-person session held at the detention center on April 27, 2023. Only two of Mr. Zhou’s family members were allowed to attend, with the rest of the seats taken by street committee workers and agents from the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee, an extra-judicial agency tasked with overseeing the persecution of Falun Gong.
Two residents of Macheng City, Hebei Province were sentenced to prison in early 2023. Mr. Yi Jiahai and Mr. Yan Yingzhong, both in their 70s, were seized from their respective homes on November 6, 2021 and taken to the Macheng City First Detention Centre. Mr. Yi was later sentenced to a nine-year prison term, and Mr. Yan to eight years. Both were admitted to the Shayang Prison Group on June 14, 2023.
The Shayang Prison Group has ten prisons, and it is unclear in which prison Mr. Yi and Mr. Yan are being held. The details of their indictments, trials, and sentencing are being investigated.
This was not the first time that both men were targeted for their faith. Mr. Yi, a retired elementary school principal, was previously arrested on October 15, 2013 and sentenced to four years on October 23, 2014. Mr. Yan was arrested several times and had his home ransacked.
Ms. Lu Zhenyue, 76, from Tonghua County, Jilin Province, was sentenced to seven years in early 2023 for her faith in Falun Gong. The details of her trial remain to be investigated. She is currently hospitalized for unknown health issues.
Ms. Lu was returning home at around 11 a.m. on July 18, 2022, when she noticed a black police cruiser parked outside her apartment building, and nine officers standing next to it. She sensed something was wrong and walked past her apartment building instead of entering. But the officers spotted her and seized her.
The police raided Ms. Lu’s home after flashing a search warrant. They searched every nook and cranny of her apartment except the bathroom. Many of her Falun Gong informational materials were confiscated.
The police spent hours interrogating her in the police station and asked her numerous questions, such as who told her about Falun Gong, how long she practiced, why she started, who gave her the magazines and other Falun Gong materials, and how practitioners passed the materials to each other.
Ms. Lu refused to answer their questions. They then showed her screen grabs from several surveillance videos recorded around late December 2021, showing her using currency with Falun Gong messages printed on the bills, to make purchases at various local supermarkets. They also showed her that they confiscated 3,800 yuan of those bills from the supermarkets in question and alleged that both the videos and the money were evidence that she had broken the law.
The interrogation lasted until nearly midnight. The police then released her on bail and warned her not to go anywhere without their permission.
Ms. Shi Jianhua, 74, from Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province was sentenced to six years and ten months in prison, and a 30,000-yuan fine, on May 31, 2023.
Ms. Shi, a retiree of the Daqing Petroleum Administration Bureau, was arrested at her home on the night of June 6, 2022, after being reported for distributing Falun Gong informational materials days earlier.
The arresting officers from the High-tech Development Zone Police Department released Ms. Shi on bail shortly afterwards. They submitted her case to the local Procuratorate. The High-tech Development Zone Court held a hearing on May 24, 2023 and announced her prison sentence on May 31.
This was not the first time that Ms. Shi has been targeted for her faith. She was previously arrested in December 2000, while protesting the persecution in Beijing. The Daqing police picked her up on January 18, 2001 and took her straight to the Harbin Women’s Labor Camp to serve a one-year term.
As soon as she was admitted to the labor camp, the guards searched her and cut her hair short. They forced her to read, watch, or listen to materials which slandered Falun Gong. They also ordered her to sit on a small stool motionless for extended periods of time, with her hands on her lap and her back straight. She also had to do hard labor without pay, including gluing together paper boxes and making counterfeit books.
Ms. Shi was arrested again on September 13, 2011 and sentenced to eight years in prison by the Ranghulu Court on January 10, 2012. Her appeal was rejected by the Daqing City Intermediate Court.
Mr. Ma Changqing, 70, from Yushu City, Jilin Province, was sentenced to four years in prison for putting up a Falun Gong poster near a hospital.
Mr. Ma was arrested around August 10, 2022, after the police observed him putting up the poster through the Yushu City Chinese Medicine Hospital’s surveillance camera. He was taken to a detention centre facility in Changchun City that day. His daughter has epilepsy and cannot care for herself, and was taken to a senior center. The Dehui City Court sentenced Mr. Ma some time in 2023. He was taken to the Jilin City Prison.
Mr. Ma retired from Yushu City’s road maintenance division. During the 24 years of persecution, he has suffered multiple arrests and detentions. His wife, Ms. Mu Chunbo, the director of the street committee, and also a practitioner, was persecuted and died in 2012. Their daughter has suffered from epilepsy since childhood. Her condition worsened over the years as she was traumatized by her parent’s persecution.
After serving five labor camp terms totaling ten years, Ms. Lang Dongyue from Beijing was recently sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 15,000 yuan for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Lang was arrested in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province on December 14, 2021, two years after she was forced to live away from home to avoid the persecution.
Despite their financial difficulties Ms. Lang’s husband, Mr. Wang Lianyi, hired a lawyer for her. Due to mental strain from the persecution, he collapsed on the street on April 24, 2022 when he noticed two police cars parked in front of the law firm he was about to visit. After he calmed down he and a friend walked into the law firm. He suddenly dropped dead in his front yard the next day.
Judge Zhang Yuewu of the Xuanhua District Court held a hearing on Ms. Lang’s case on March 8, 2023 and later sentenced her to nine years with a 15,000-yuan fine.
In the past 24 years of persecution, Ms. Lang was given five labor camp terms, including four terms in the Beijing Women’s Forced Labor Camp and one term in the Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in Liaoning Province. She was brutally beaten and force-fed unknown drugs in Beijing Women’s Forced Labor Camp. The force-feeding was so violent that some of her teeth were knocked out.
After Ms. Yu Yanhua, 64, from Anda City, Heilongjiang Province was sentenced to five years in prison for her faith in Falun Gong, her husband was also sentenced, to four and a half years, because he asked that she be released.
Ms. Yu Yanhua (also known as Yu Xiaohua) was arrested on July 30, 2022 because she talked to people about the persecution of Falun Gong. Her husband was arrested days later when he asked that she be released. It is unclear whether he also practices Falun Gong.
Ms. Yu’s huband was tortured while being held at the Anda City Detention Centre, and his health quickly deteriorated. The authorities released him 35 days later after his legs became very swollen, but placed him under house arrest.
His condition continued to worsen and he went to various hospitals in Daqing City and Harbin City for treatment. He was diagnosed with numerous diseases, including chronic kidney disease, type II diabetes, and heart problems. Despite his poor health, he was taken back into custody after his sentencing. His wife was released on bail at one point, but was also ordered back into custody.
Ms. Yu’s latest sentencing was preceded by numerous prior arrests and three two-year forced labor terms.
Health Declines Due to Torture in Custody
Mr. Shan Furong, a 58-year-old former employee of Jiangshan Machinery in Laohekou City, Hubei Province, was arrested on January 5, 2021, while distributing Falun Gong informational materials in nearby Gucheng County. His family knew only that he had been taken to the Gucheng County Detention Centre. They received no updates on his case from the authorities.
An insider told the family in July 2023 that Mr. Shan was now serving time at the Fanjiatai Prison after he was secretly sentenced to a four-year prison term, adding that Mr. Shan is now blind in both eyes as a result of torture.
This is not the first time that Mr. Shan was targeted for his faith. He was previously arrested multiple times and sentenced to four years following an arrest in 2015. His employer fired him after he was released in 2019. His wife could no longer cope with the regime’s pressure and divorced him. His mother was dealt another blow when he was arrested again in 2021. She died in late 2022, at the age of 86, without seeing her son one last time.
Ms. Liu Shuling from Zunyi City, Guizhou Province was tortured to paralysis while serving time for her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Liu’s ordeal began when the police raided her home on October 30, 2019. The police confiscated all of her printing equipment and supplies, which they claimed she used to produce materials that exposed the persecution of Falun Gong.
The police did not arrest her after the home raid, but they repeatedly returned to harass her. She was eventually arrested around late April or early May 2021.
Ms. Liu was held at the Zunyin City Second Detention Center before being transferred to the Guizhou Province First Women’s Prison to serve a possible six-year term. Her exact prison sentence remains to be investigated.
Ms. Zhang Guiping, 68, from Qingyuan County, Liaoning Province was sentenced to a three-and-a-half-year prison term for hanging a banner which had the words, “Falun Dafa is good.” Her health declined while she was incarcerated in the Liaoning Province Women’s Prison.
Ms. Zhang was arrested on the night of July 30, 2022, when she hung the banner along a road. The Wanghua District Procuratorate issued a formal arrest warrant for her in August 2022. The Wanghua District Court sentenced her to three and a half years in April 2023.
Ms. Zhang’s family did not learn of her sentencing or prison transfer, which took place on June 27, 2023, until a prison guard recently called them to say that “she was not in good shape.” He complained that she was stubborn and refused to renounce Falun Gong.
Because the court never contacted Ms. Zhang’s family during her prosecution, they were not even sure if a hearing was ever held before her sentencing.
After being imprisoned for 12 years, Mr. Pang You from Beijing was recently sentenced to one year and three months in prison, for his faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Pang, a former city planning office director and real estate company manager, was arrested on May 2, 2022, after being reported for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong two days prior, on April 30. His Falun Gong books, cell phones, and media player were confiscated. As he failed the physical examination required for detention, he was released on bail on May 3.
Mr. Pang, around 60, was arrested at home on July 28, 2022 and taken to the Changping District Detention Centre. His family received a call from the detention centre in early September informing them that Mr. Pang had been hospitalized after his feet became swollen and suppurated due to diabetes.
Mr. Pang’s lawyer was informed on November 7, 2022 that the police had submitted his case to the Changping District Procuratorate. He was indicted in early January 2023. The Changping District Court judge made him attend a virtual hearing on July 3 from his hospital room. His lawyer joined the session remotely from the courthouse. The lawyer told his family that during the attorney-client meeting days before the hearing, Mr. Pang was wheeled into the meeting room, as he could no longer walk.
It was learned in late July 2023 that Mr. Pang had been sentenced to a one-year-and-three-month prison term.
Mr. Pang’s latest sentencing was preceded by two prior prison terms for upholding his faith in Falun Gong. He was sentenced to eight years following his arrest on September 27, 2000. Less than one year after being released in 2008, he was arrested again on August 3 that year and later sentenced to four years.
Ms. Jiang Chunmei from Longjiang County, Heilongjiang Province, was sentenced in July 2023 to five years for her faith in Falun Gong. The Longjiang County Court did not give her a written copy of the verdict as required by law, and she feels that the court may have wanted to prevent her from filing an appeal.
Ms. Jiang was arrested on December 18, 2022. The police forced her to stand beside her bike, and attempted to take her photo as evidence to be used against her. She refused to comply and was blindfolded and forcibly carried into a police car. An officer punched her in the nose and chest.
While they were arresting her the police said that they were seeking to prosecute her for her earlier arrest on March 27, 2020, for distributing Falun Gong informational materials. Back then, the police took her house keys and ransacked her home. To avoid the persecution, Ms. Jiang lived away from home to hide from the police, only to be arrested again two years later.
The Longjiang County Court held a hearing of Ms. Jiang’s case on May 24, 2023 and sentenced her to five years in early July.
Ms. Jiang, a former lecturer at the Foreign Language Department of Mudanjiang City Normal College, Heilongjiang Province, has suffered relentless persecution in the past 24 years.
Both she and her husband, Mr. Jin Youfeng (also a Falun Gong practitioner), were arrested on October 22, 2003. Mr. Jin was sentenced to 13 years in Mudanjiang Prison, and Ms. Jiang was given 14 years in Heilongjiang Women’s Prison. At that time, their second son, Jin Panpan, was only 15 months old and was being breastfed.
Mr. Jin was brutally tortured in the prison. He was beaten, hung up, locked in solitary confinement, exposed to the freezing weather, starved, force-fed, and shocked with electric batons on his private parts. He contracted tuberculosis but was not released on medical parole until ten months later, in June 2008.
The couple’s older son was in his 20’s when Mr. Jin was released. Even though tuberculosis is highly contagious, he took care of his father day and night. He also became infected. Shortly after Mr. Jin passed away on January 21, 2009, his son died. He was only 23 years old.
Ms. Jiang was fired from her job after she was released. She moved to Longjiang County in Qiqihar City in 2018 to care for her parents and did part time jobs to make a living.
Mr. Jiang Minghui, a 50-year-old resident of Lanzhou City, Gansu Province was sentenced to six years and fined 20,000 yuan on July 10, 2023.
Mr. Jiang’s prison sentence stemmed from his arrest on August 4, 2021, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. After the Chengguan District Procuratorate approved his arrest on August 20, his wife, Ms. Wang Xiaojing, submitted a letter to the police, urging them to release her husband. The police still submitted his case to the Procuratorate, resulting in his indictment.
Judge Teng Xiaoqiong of the Chengguan District Court appointed a lawyer to represent Mr. Jiang and enter a guilty plea for him. He also deceived Mr. Jiang into signing an agreement to accept the court-appointed lawyer. He handed down a six-year prison sentence against Mr. Jiang on July 10, 2023.
Mr. Jiang, a former deputy director of Lanzhou City Machinery Bureau, was previously arrested in December 2004 for distributing information about Falun Gong. He was sentenced to seven years by the Chengguan District Court in July 2005. He was fired by the Machinery Bureau and his wife divorced him.
While incarcerated in the Lanzhou Prison, he was forced to do intensive unpaid labor, often peeling garlic for over ten hours a day. He had cuts all over his hands and the irritating odor and garlic juice only made the working conditions worse. After sitting in the humid and filthy room for long hours, he and many inmates developed scabies all over their bodies.
Mr. Jiang was held in a solitary confinement cell for over 50 days in early 2007 and was watched by four inmates. He was deprived of sleep, and the guards always kept the light on all night.
Sentenced for Speaking Up
A government employee in Anlu City, Hubei Province, was sentenced to one year in prison on July 3, 2023 for his faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Fan Jinhe was arrested on January 26, 2023. The police claimed that through surveillance cameras they saw him putting up posters with information about Falun Gong.
Mr. Fan was first given 15 days of administrative detention, and then another 15 days of criminal detention. His arrest was approved on February 24, 2023. The police submitted his case to the Anlu City Procuratorate, which charged him with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used by the CCP to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.
The Anlu City Court held a hearing of Mr. Fan’s case on June 20 and sentenced him to a one-year prison term on July 3.
Prior to his latest ordeal, Mr. Fan had been arrested for appealing for the right to practice his faith shortly after the onset of the persecution. He was also given two years at the Shayang Forced Labor Camp in October 2000.
Ms. Cui Yanling, 66, from Changchun City, Jilin Province was sentenced to three years in prison for urging a government official to stop following the Chinese Communist Party to persecute law-abiding Falun Gong practitioners like her.
Ms. Cui was arrested at home on the morning of September 9, 2021. The police targeted her per orders from an official at the Jilin Province Public Security Bureau. The official received a letter urging him to stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners. After they viewed surveillance videos, the police concluded that it was Ms. Cui who mailed out the letter, and they tracked her down to her home.
Ms. Wang Ying, another Falun Gong practitioner who happened to be visiting Ms. Cui when the police came, was also arrested.
The Chaoyang District Court sentenced Ms. Cui to three years and Ms. Wang to two years and eight months on June 13, 2022. Both women were admitted to the Jilin Province Women’s Prison on July 14, 2023.
A young mother in Miyun District, Beijing was recently sentenced to one year in prison for raising awareness of the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of her faith, Falun Gong.
Ms. Gao Yu talked to a man about the persecution of Falun Gong at a bus station in early 2023 when a woman named Liu Ling spotted her and video-recorded their conversation. Liu then reported her to the police.
Two officers from the Xibinhe Police Station broke into Ms. Gao’s home after 5 p.m. on February 6, 2023. They took her and her four-year-old daughter, Ranran, to the police station. Later that night, the police called Ms. Gao’s husband to pick up the little girl. With his wife detained, the young father had to turn to his mother, in her 60s, to help care for the child. The elderly woman is the main caregiver for her husband who has poor vision. She struggled to look after her granddaughter.
Ms. Gao went on a hunger strike for three days to protest the arbitrary detention. The police promised to release her if she signed a statement to renounce Falun Gong. She held firm to her faith and the police submitted her case to the Miyun District Procuratorate.
The Miyun District Court held a hearing on July 20, 2023 and sentenced Ms. Gao to one year in prison.
Violation of Legal Procedure
Two residents of Jinning District, Kunming City, Yunnan Province were each sentenced to three and a half-year prison terms in May 2023 for their faith in Falun Gong.
While both Mr. Gao Peifa, 60, and Mr. Gao Wenlong, 59, have been in custody since their arrests late last year, the Anning City Court ordered that their prison terms would start on the day of the sentencing, not the days of their respective arrests.
According to China’s criminal law, each day that a defendant spends in detention prior to their sentencing must be deducted from the prison term. The Anning City Court refused to acknowledge the days that the two Mr. Gaos already spent in custody, on the grounds that those happened during the COVID pandemic.
The court also did not notify the two men’s families of their virtual hearing. The families did not learn of the sentencing until they received a copy of the verdict in the mail from the court.
Mr. Gao Peifa, an employee of Erjie Town Factory 450, was arrested at work on October 10, 2022, while Mr. Gao Wenlong was arrested at home on November 1, 2022. Both men were transferred to the Anning City Detention Center on December 5, 2022.
The Anning City Court held a virtual hearing for the two practitioners’ cases in the Anning City Detention Centre in May 2023 without notifying their families. They were each sentenced at the end of the hearing. Their families were surprised to receive their verdicts in the mail and learn that their prison terms started on the day of sentencing, not the day of arrest.
After Ms. Jiang Guixiu, 65, from Zhaoyuan City, Shandong Province lost her appeal against a wrongful prison sentence, her husband filed a motion to reconsider her case, only to be given the runaround, and harassed by police.
Ms. Jiang Guixiu was arrested at home on May 17, 2022. Her husband, who does not practice Falun Gong, was also taken to the police station for interrogation. The police deceived her husband into revealing information about her Falun Gong practice, which was later used as prosecution evidence against her.
The Zhaoyuan City Court heard Ms. Jiang’s case on November 24, 2022. The presiding judge planned a second hearing in mid-December, but later canceled it and sentenced Ms. Jiang to three years in prison with a 10,000-yuan fine on December 21. She filed an appeal six days later, and the Yantai City Intermediate Court ruled on April 4, 2023 to uphold the original verdict, without holding a hearing.
In mid-June 2023, Ms. Jiang’s husband submitted a motion to reconsider her case to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and some agencies in Shandong Province.
He received a text message from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in late June, stating, “We’ve received your motion. After reviewing it, we determined that it did not fall under our jurisdiction. We’ve forwarded your motion to the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate.”
Ms. Jiang’s husband received a text message in early July from the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate, which said that the case was not under their jurisdiction and that they forwarded it to the Yantai City Procuratorate, which oversees the Zhaoyuan City Procuratorate (the one that indicted Ms. Jiang following her arrest).
Around the same time, he also received a notice from the Shandong Province Judicial Bureau, which also stated that they were not in charge of handling his motion and that he should file his motion with the appropriate agencies.
A man from the Zhaoyuan City Court called Ms. Jiang’s husband in mid-July, and asked him not to file any motions to reconsider his wife’s case, since her appeal had already been rejected. He also said no agency would accept the motion because she refused to sign her original verdict and the appeals ruling. He refused to disclose where Ms. Jiang was being held.
Ms. Jiang’s husband vowed to keep fighting for justice for her. The caller then said he needed to submit three copies of the motion with his fingerprints to the Yantai City Intermediate Court and the Shandong Province High Court. He did so, and is still waiting to hear back from the two courts at the time of this report.
During the entire process, Ms. Jiang’s husband also faced constant harassment from the Zhaoyuan City Domestic Security Office.
Following her arrest, Ms. Jiang’s extended family initially did not tell her 94-year-old father about it, given his advanced age. But he grew suspicious as time went by and was eventually told everything. The once healthy and sharp man was so devastated that he suddenly fell ill. He was hospitalized and is still in the intensive care unit at the time of this report.
Chinese version available