Former Art Teacher Sentenced to 6.5 Years After Installing Window for Elderly Falun Gong Practitioner

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Mr. Sun Shiwei, a 68-year-old former art teacher, has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison following his latest arrest in April 2020 after helping an elderly woman, also a Falun Gong practitioner, install a window.

Sun was also imprisoned in 2005 for eight years for singing a song expressing Falun Gong practitioners’ gratitude to the founder of Falun Gong. The resident of Muleng City, Heilongjiang Province lost his job after he was released in 2013. 

Sun has filed an appeal against his second prison sentence. 

From Despair to a New Life

Sun was a fine arts instructor at Muleng City Teacher Training College. He used to have several illnesses, including heart disease, rhinitis, and hemorrhoids. While he was 5 feet and 11 inches tall, he weighed less than 50 kilos (110 pounds). He was also weak and his hands did not function well. He also suffered severe chronic pain, causing him to often contemplate suicide. 

His family spent a fortune on his medical care, but his illnesses only became worse. At the lowest point in his life, in 1997, Sun heard about Falun Gong and took up the practice. In about one and a half months, all his illnesses disappeared. His health recovered and he became energetic. He was very thankful for Falun Gong. 

Living by Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, Sun also became a better person. Because of his excellent teaching performance, the president of his college especially requested a pay raise for him. Later, he was also awarded “Teacher of the Year” in Muleng City. 

Eight Years in Prison for a Song

During an event in 2005, Sun sang a song composed by a Falun Gong practitioner to express his gratitude of the founder of Falun Gong. But someone reported this to the police. On September 23 of that year, the police broke into his home and arrested him. 

Sun’s wife, their two sons, and his elderly mother led a difficult life while he was incarcerated. As Sun is an only child, his mother missed him greatly, to the point that she suffered dementia and became bedridden. 

With no other source of income, Sun’s wife worked as a street vendor every day. It fell to their older son to take care of his grandmother. The boy tried his best to accommodate her needs. However, as a result of anxiety and stress, the elderly woman developed stomach cancer and later went blind. She died in 2012, unable to see her son before she passed. 

Sun was released from prison in 2013. Upon returning home, he found that his job had been terminated and he had been disqualified from receiving a pension even though rights by law guaranteed his pension benefits. 

Sentenced 6.5 Years After Installing a Window

On the afternoon of April 24, 2020, Ms. Cao Shufang, a Falun Gong practitioner in Muleng City, found that she had a broken window. Sun and another Falun Gong practitioner, Mr. Gao Pengguang, offered to help install a new window for her. At Cao’s house, the two men ran into Gao’s sister, Ms. Gao Yongli, also a Falun Gong practitioner, at Cao’s home.

After Sun and Gao installed the window, they left Cao’s home together with Ms. Gao. As they exited the gate of Cao’s apartment complex, several police officers emerged and arrested Sun, Gao, and Ms. Gao. Cao was also later arrested, along with practitioner  Ms. Shi Ying.

Following the arrests, the police ransacked all five practitioners’ homes. 

Cao was denied admission due to high blood pressure and was released on bail by early next morning. The Gao siblings and Sun, however, were placed in criminal detention at the Bamiantong Town Detention Center. Shi was first detained at the Hailin Detention Center and then transferred to the Mudanjiang Detention Center.

Sun’s latest arrest has brought endless sorrow to his family. His wife fainted several times. She has been suffering from advanced breast cancer, with her right breast oozing pus and blood. The couple’s older son had planned to go to a foreign country to reunite with his wife, but has had to change his plans and stay in China to take care of his mother. 

In addition to her physical pain, Sun’s wife also suffers tremendous mental anguish. She often tells people she feels heartbroken because her husband has been wronged and detained for simply trying to be a good person.

“Our family is a traditional family that values virtue and integrity. We are honest people who always treat others well. Influenced by my husband, I never cheat my customers while working as a street vendor and people trust me very much,” she explained, “I hope that the authorities could consider the situation and release my husband soon.”

Jiang Xinkun, a judge for the Hailin Court in Heilongjiang Province, held a hearing on July 16 this year for several practitioners, including Sun, the Gao siblings, and Shi. The lawyers of the latter two parties pleaded not guilty on their behalf. 

Jiang announced guilty verdicts against all four practitioners on July 20, 2021. Ms. Gao was sentenced to 6 years and 10 months, Gao to 6.5 years with a fine of 20,000 yuan, Sun to 6.5 years with a fine of 20,000 yuan, and Shi to 1 year and three months.

On August 15, 2020, Cao was also summoned to the Hailin Court and threatened with a jail term of up to 7 years. It remains unclear whether she was sentenced.

Sun has appealed to the Mudanjiang City Intermediate Court. He is very worried about his wife. He fears her condition may worsen during his detention and that— like the case of his mother— he may never be able to see her again. 

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