60 Falun Gong Practitioners in China Sentenced to Prison in August 2019 for Refusing to Renounce Their Faith
According to information compiled by Minghui.org, the month of August 2019 recorded 60 new cases of Falun Gong practitioners sentenced to prison by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) court system.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Since the CCP started persecuting the practice in July 1999, many practitioners have been subjected to arrest and detention, imprisonment, torture, forced labor, and even organ harvesting.
The practitioners were sentenced for raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong, including telling people about the practice, distributing calendars and brochures with information about Falun Gong, and disseminating information about the persecution using wifi hotspots.
These sentenced practitioners come from 18 provinces and municipalities in China, with the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang topping the list with 12 cases each. The prison terms ranged from 1 to 11 years, with an average of 3.36 years.
Due to the CCP’s information blockade, the number of Falun Gong practitioners who were sentenced cannot always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all the information readily available.
The police extorted money from, or the court fined, 24 practitioners for a total of 239,000 yuan, with an average of 11,381 yuan per person.
Eleven of the practitioners are 65 or older. Their sentences ranged from one to nine years, with Ms. Ma Yunhua, 70, sentenced to 9 years and fined 20,000 yuan.
The following are snapshots of several of the practitioners who were sentenced.
Jilin Man Sentenced to 11 Years, Two Weeks Following His Arrest for Practicing Falun Gong
A local court in Fuyu City, Jilin Province, secretly sentenced Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Liu Qing to an 11-year prison term for his faith in Falun Gong, without informing his family. His wife learned of his sentence later, from an insider.
Mr. Liu’s sentence came two weeks after he was arrested at his rental place in Songyuan City, Jilin Province, on August 15, 2019. The arrest came four years after he was forced to move to avoid persecution following an earlier arrest on July 16, 2015.
Because Mr. Liu developed serious health problems after 11 days of detention in July 2015 and was frequently harassed after being released on bail, he decided to live away from home to avoid the police.
The police reopened his case a few days after his latest arrest. He appeared in the Fuyu Court on August 27, 2019.
Without enough time to hire a lawyer, Mr. Liu defended himself and argued that he had not violated any laws by practicing Falun Gong and upholding his faith.
According to his wife who attended the hearing, Mr. Liu was emaciated. He had a bandage on his head and a feeding tube in his nose.
She initially thought that he was holding a hunger strike to protest the persecution and was being force-fed. But when she was asked to come to Fuyu Detention Center to urge him to eat on August 29, she learned from Mr. Liu that he wasn’t holding a hunger strike but had been vomiting everything he ate.
Hebei Couple Sentenced to Prison for Distributing Calendars about Their Shared Faith
A couple from Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, was sentenced to prison on August 27, 2019, for handing out calendars with information about Falun Gong.
Mr. Li Yanchun, 66, a retired hospital president, was sentenced to 7.5 years with a 20,000-yuan fine. His wife, Ms. Pei Yuxian, also 66, an award-winning oncologist, received four years and a 5,000-yuan fine. The couple said they will appeal the verdict.
The two were arrested on November 25, 2018, after being reported for handing out calendars with information about Falun Gong. The police interrogated them for over six hours.
The officers later took the couple to their home and ransacked their residence. When Mr. Li resisted, the officers slapped him in the face, causing his mouth to bleed, and forced him to kneel down with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Mr. Li was released on bail due to high blood pressure after 20 hours of detention, but Ms. Pei was taken to the Qinhuangdao City Detention Center.
They appeared in the Changli County Court on May 31, 2019. Their Falun Gong books, computer, printer, and cellphone were used as “evidence” against them.
The couple’s lawyer argued that his clients’ possession of Falun Gong books broke no law, according to a notice issued in 2011 by the Chinese Publication Bureau that revoked the ban on Falun Gong books. When the lawyer mentioned the notice for a second time, the presiding judge threatened to remove him from the courtroom should he talk about the notice again.
Two Anhui Women Sentenced to Prison for Their Faith
Two women from Hefei City, Anhui Province, were sentenced to prison on August 9, 2019, for distributing informational materials about Falun Gong.
Ms. Ding Shumei was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined 50,000 yuan and Ms. Huang Liping was sentenced to five years and fined 30,000 yuan. Both have appealed the verdicts.
The women were arrested in a residential area on October 30, 2017. It was reported that the police had been monitoring the women for months and waited for the two to go out together to arrest them.
The Gaoxin District Procuratorate indicted them on August 6, 2018, and submitted their cases to the Gaoxin District Court, which held two hearings, on November 9, 2018 and May 31, 2019, via teleconferencing.
The practitioners’ lawyers pled not guilty on their behalf and the women also testified in their own defense. The judge frequently interrupted them.
The judge convicted them two months later on the grounds that Ms. Ding handed out more than 1,400 copies of Falun Gong materials and Ms. Huang distributed over 700 copies.
This is the second time that both women have been sentenced for their faith.
Ms. Ding was previously sent to a forced labor camp for a year and given a five-year prison term in 2011 by the same court. She was also fired from her job with China Electronics Technology Group Corporation No. 38 Institute.
Ms. Huang was sentenced to eight years by the Luoyang District Court in 2006.
70-year-old Woman Given Another Nine Years for Her Faith after Eight Years of Incarceration
Ms. Ma Yunhua, 70, of Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, was sentenced to nine years and fined 20,000 yuan on August 22, 2019, for talking to people about Falun Gong. The sentence came nine months after Ms. Ma appeared in the Lianhu District Court on November 1, 2018. She has appealed her sentence.
This was not Ms. Ma’s first arrest. She was sent to a forced labor camp for a year in March 2000 and her company was pressured by the authorities to fire her.
When Ms. Ma was sent to a forced labor camp again in April 2001, this time for three years, she managed to escape but was captured again months later and sentenced to seven years in Shaanxi Province Women’s Prison, where she was savagely beaten, water-boarded, hung up, and not allowed to use the restroom.
Ms. Ma was severely injured and traumatized by the time she was released in 2008, but she was arrested three more times—in 2010, 2012, and 2013. She was held in brainwashing centers for months each time.
Because the authorities stopped her pension during her imprisonment, Ms. Ma went to the local police station to seek compensation in April 2014, only to be arrested again.
She escaped from a hospital during a health checkup that was required for further detention and was then put on a nationwide wanted list as a fugitive.
After her latest arrest on February 6, 2018, the police reopened Ms. Ma’s case and vowed to give her a long prison term.
Her older sister, who is deaf and in her 80s, frequented different agencies to seek her release, only to be threatened by the police.
73-Year-Old Sentenced to Prison in Illegal Trial
Ms. Wang Jianhua, 73, from the Nanguan District, Jilin Province, was arrested by officers from the Nanlingjie Police Station in the Nanguan District around 8 p.m. on April 14, 2018. She was taken to the Changchun City No. 4 Detention Center at 1 a.m. on April 16.
She first appeared in court on May 10, 2019, and then on August 9, 2019. The combined time of the two court hearings was 15 minutes. Ms. Wang was given a four-year prison term and fined 10,000 yuan at the end of her second hearing.
Three Family Members Sentenced to Prison for Practicing Falun Gong
Three family members in Maoming City, Guangdong Province, were sentenced to prison by the Maonan District Court on August 13, 2019, for their faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Lin Lizen and her son Mr. Wu Chaoqi were each sentenced to five years with a 10,000 yuan fine. Her younger sister, Ms. Lin Yanmei, was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison and fined 8,000 yuan.
The practitioners’ lawyers complained to the judge about the heavy terms. The judge implied that he only announced the verdicts that had been predetermined by the 610 Office and he didn’t have any say on it. “Feel free to appeal it if you don’t agree,” he told the lawyers.
The 610 Office is an extralegal agency tasked with eradicating Falun Gong and given power to override the judicial system.
Ms. Lin Yanmei’s son, Wang Ruixin, applied to attend their trial in the makeshift courtroom inside the Maoming No.1 Detention Center, but he was turned down.
The Lin sisters’ 86-year-old father, Mr. Lin Tong, was depressed to learn that his daughters had been sentenced. “Why do they persecute good people like this? I will go to the city government to appeal for them,” he said.
While arresting the three family members in late August 2018, Chen Changxing (director of the 610 Office) and Lu Shanghui (director of the Domestic Security Division) said, “We’ve finally arrested you all. Now we can get a bonus.”
Arrested While Visiting a Relative, Jiangxi Man Secretly Sentenced to Three Years in Prison
Mr. Geng Decheng of Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province, was recently sentenced to three years in prison for his faith in Falun Gong. He was arrested on February 27, 2019, when he travelled 70 miles to Jinxi County in Fuzhou City to visit a relative.
Mr. Geng’s wife learned of his sentencing four days later after she went to inquire about his case on August 7, 2019.
Fu Shuhua, the head of Jinxi County Domestic Security Office in Jiangxi Province, said that Mr. Geng was sentenced by the Linchuan Intermediate Court in Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province.
When Mr. Geng’s wife demanded to know why she wasn’t informed of the hearing, Fu claimed that she had attempted to call her, but no one answered the phone.
Mr. Geng’s wife next went to the Jinxi County Detention Center to deliver clothes to her husband. The guards denied having any knowledge of his sentencing. Only one security person said he overheard people talking about Mr. Geng’s prison term.
Mr. Geng’s wife didn’t stay at the detention center for too long, because she had to rush home to take care of their daughter, Weiwei, who had suffered a mental breakdown after witnessing repeated home-ransackings, arrests, and the detention of her parents for their faith in Falun Gong when she was still a little girl.
When the police ransacked Mr. Geng’s home on February 28, 2019, following his latest arrest, they even confiscated his daughter’s flash drive with her favorite music. She was so terrified that her face turned pale and she began to mumble to herself.
Four Practitioners in Jilin Province Sentenced to Prison
Three practitioners from Yushu City, Jilin Province were sentenced by the Dehui City Court on August 13, 2019.
Mr. Liu Fengbao, in his 60s, was given three-and-a-half-years in prison and fined.
Ms. Ding Lijie, in her 40s, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years and fined.
Ms. Yang Yanjie, 52, was sentenced to two years with two years’ probation and fined 10,000 yuan.
Mr. Liu, Ms. Ding, and Ms. Yang were followed and arrested by officers from the Zhengyang Police Station when they were hanging banners that said “Falun Dafa is good!” on January 7, 2019.
The homes of Ms. Ding and Ms. Yang were ransacked. Mr. Liu’s electric car was impounded and his Falun Gong materials were confiscated. The three practitioners were detained for 15 days before being transferred to a detention center four or five days later. They were officially placed under arrest by the Procuratorate on January 29, 2019.
A fourth practitioner, Ms. Guo Yuzhen, 72, from Wukeshu Town, Yushu City, was given a three-year prison term and fined by the Dehui City Court on August 5, 2019.
Ms. Guo was arrested by Wukeshu Town Police Station officers when she was distributing calendars with information about Falun Gong on December 31, 2018. She was detained for 15 days. She was then transferred to the Yushu City Detention Center on January 14, 2019. She was officially placed under arrest by the Procuratorate about two weeks later.
The four practitioners were tried in the Dehui City Court on April 29, 2019. Mr. Liu Fengbao said in court, “Practicing Falun Gong brings a person health and fitness. If everyone practiced Falun Gong, they would be healthy.” A lawyer was assigned to Ms. Guo by the court, but she declined to accept him.
Mr. Liu has previously been arrested six times for his faith. He was twice sent to the Chaoyanggou Forced Labor Camp in Changchun City, where he was mentally and physically abused.
Mother of Canadian Resident Sentenced to Four Years for Speaking Up for Her Faith
An award-winning teacher in Beijing and mother of a Canadian resident was sentenced to a four-year prison term for distributing calendars with information about Falun Gong a week after she appeared in the Shijingshan District Court on August 16, 2019. She is currently detained in Beijing Women’s Prison and her family is preparing to file an appeal for her.
Ms. Chen Yan, 51, a chemistry teacher at Beijing No. 9 Middle School, was arrested on December 3, 2018. Her case has received widespread attention in and outside of China.
After hearing about Ms. Chen’s arrest, many of her former students called the Shijingshan District Procuratorate and demanded her release.
On the other side of the globe, her daughter, Karen, who currently resides in Montreal, Canada, took to the streets to call for more international support to secure her mother’s release.
At the same time, Amnesty International initiated a campaign to rescue Ms. Chen. They urged people to contact Wang Chunfeng, the prosecutor in charge of Ms. Chen’s case, and Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States.
Many Canadians who’ve heard about her case wrote letters to the prosecutor and some posted information about Ms. Chen’s case on social media.
In response to the global rescue efforts, the prosecutor said that they would release her if she wrote a statement to renounce Falun Gong. Ms. Chen refused to betray her faith.
Having Served 12 Years, Shandong Man Gets Three More Years for His Faith
A Linyi City, Shandong Province, man was recently sentenced to three years for practicing Falun Gong.
Mr. Gong Maohai’s latest sentence came only five years after he served 12 years in prison, also for his faith.
When Mr. Gong was released two years ahead of his previous 14-year term in 2014, his hair had turned gray, his teeth were loose, and he suffered from hearing loss as a result of lengthy physical and mental abuse.
With no place to stay, as his wife had abandoned him and his daughter had gotten married, Mr. Gong did odd jobs to make a living in Linyi City. The police still monitored his phone and tracked his daily activities.
Mr. Gong was arrested again while visiting a practitioner on September 29, 2018. He was tried in the Lanshan District Court on July 11, 2019. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him.
Yunnan Woman, 69, Sentenced to 3.5 Years for Her Faith
A woman from Kunming City, Yunnan Province, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and fined 5,000-yuan on August 30, 2019, for not renouncing her faith in Falun Gong.
Ms. Li Zhuxiu, 69, was arrested on February 27, 2019. The police never informed her family of her situation, and it took them months to find out on their own that she had been taken to the Kunming City No.1 Detention Center following her arrest.
Ms. Li appeared in the Yiliang County Court on July 30, 2019. According to her family who attended the hearing, she looked exhausted and a bailiff had to help her into the courtroom.
Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.
Given her condition, Ms. Li’s lawyer requested twice to have her handcuffs and shackles removed, but the judge refused.
Prosecutor Li Haibo accused Ms. Li of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the typical pretext used to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
Her lawyer argued that no law criminalizes Falun Gong in China and that the prosecutor failed to specify what law’s enforcement was undermined by his client and how. The lawyer also challenged the prosecutor for attempting to use her previous imprisonment for her faith as evidence to charge her again.
Ms. Li testified in her own defense and argued that she practices Falun Gong to improve her health and hadn’t violated any law in upholding her faith. The judge interrupted her.
Because she refuses to renounce her faith that freed her from kidney stones and stomach problems, Ms. Li has already spent a year-and-a-half in a forced labor camp and three years in prison.
Guangdong Woman Convicted for Spreading Information about the Persecution of Her Faith
A Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, woman was recently sentenced to three years and three months in prison after she appeared in the Nanshan District Court on April 18, 2019.
Ms. Fu Xiufang, 51, was arrested on October 25, 2018, and indicted by the Nanshan District Procuratorate on February 14, 2019, for disseminating information about the persecution of Falun Gong using wifi hotspots.
Sichuan Teacher Sentenced to 4.5 Years in Prison
Mr. Xia Chenghui, an elementary school teacher in Luzhou City, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in August 2019 and is currently incarcerated in Jiazhou Prison.
Mr. Xia and his wife, Ms. Liu Xiaolin, were first targeted in 2015 for filing criminal complaints against former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin for launching the persecution of Falun Gong. Ms. Liu was arrested in November 2015 and later sentenced to five years in prison. Mr. Xia escaped arrest but was forced to live away from home for more than two years.
On March 6, 2018, hours after Mr. Xia finally returned home, he was arrested, interrogated, and detained. The police released him on bail 15 days later when he became critically ill. He recovered at home by practicing Falun Gong, only be to taken back into custody months later.