Elementary School Teacher Arrested for Her Faith Instead of Thief Who Stole From Her
A Hebei school teacher was arrested and later sentenced to prison after a thief, who stole from her, reports her for having Falun Gong materials. Her husband was later arrested and daughter fired for seeking justice for her.
Zhu Surong, A 45-year-old elementary school teacher in Baoding City, Hebei Province, was sentenced to three years and ten months with a 50,000-yuan fine on September 24, 2020, for her faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Zhu was arrested at home on October 11, 2019, when a thief in her village who had stolen her electric bike reported her to the police after finding Falun Gong materials in the bike’s basket. Instead of arresting the thief, the police arrested Zhu.
More than 300 local villagers signed a petition within a few days following Zhu’s arrest, demanding her release. The police continued to hold her in custody and submitted her case to the procuratorate.
The villagers’ petition also reflects a new trend in China wherein ordinary citizens are no longer afraid to speak out against the injustices of the Falun Gong persecution as they once were.
At one point, the police promised Zhu that they would release her immediately if she signed a statement to renounce Falun Gong, but she refused to comply. Zhu then appeared in Gaoyang Court on May 12, June 19, and July 6, 2020, before being convicted.
During Zhu’s first hearing on May 12, her lawyer pointed out that it was illegal for the police to ransack his client’s home without a search warrant and that they had failed to provide a list of items confiscated from her as required by law.
The lawyer added that the number of confiscated Falun Gong materials on the police’s record was different from both their submitted confiscation list and Zhu’s indictment, suggesting fabricated evidence.
To seek justice for Zhu, her family filed complaints against police officer Bian Jihui, who led her arrest, as well as prosecutor Hou Zhiyong, who framed her based on unlawful charges.
Zhu’s second hearing on June 19 lasted about two hours. The prosecutor was twenty minutes late and the judge ordered a recess of about 45 minutes, leaving less than one hour for the plaintiff and the defendant to present their arguments.
The police added a document to Zhu’s case and said that they had made a mistake in counting the items confiscated from her. “Please refer to the indictment for the correct number,” a police representative said.
During the hearing, Zhu said she was unable to hear what the prosecutor said. None of the evidence included in the indictment was presented in court.
On June 23, four days after Zhu’s second hearing, the police broke into her home and searched it in front of her younger daughter. One week later, on July 1, Ms. Zhu’s older daughter was fired by the kindergarten she worked at after being pressured by the police, and Ms. Zhu’s husband was arrested and fined 600 yuan.
Prior to Zhu’s third court session on July 6, her lawyer asked to have police officer Bian Jihui appear in court to be cross-examined. Bian never appeared.
The police issued another document stating that they had a typo while printing the confiscation list. Zhu’s lawyer pointed out that it was illegal for the police to arbitrarily change the number of confiscated items on their own without third-party verification.
Zhu’s older daughter, who was also defending her in court, said, “How can the police make such careless mistakes? They counted it wrong or typed it wrong? Or could they just come up with a number however they want? How did the police do their job?”
She added that no matter how many Falun Gong materials her mother had at home, they were her mother’s lawful possessions and couldn’t be used to support the allegation that she had violated any laws or undermined the enforcement of any laws.
On September 27, 2020, Zhu’s older daughter received her verdict. She was forced to struggle in caring for her newborn son, school-age sister, and elderly grandmother. Zhu’s older daughter said it pained her heart to see her mother being convicted for her faith, yet she doesn’t have any means to seek justice for her.