Married Couple in Their 70s Sentenced to Prison for Their Shared Faith

Based on an original report from Minghui

Mr. Geng Lutang and Ms. Zou Peixia, a married couple in their 70s from Dongying City, Shandong Province, were recently sentenced to three years and three months for their faith in Falun Gong. The couple had been arrested on September 17, 2019, and although police told their family they would be released in a month, they were instead sent to detention centers.

Post Arrest

The police ransacked the couple’s home the day following their arrest and confiscated their Falun Gong books and banknotes that had information about Falun Gong printed on them. (a creative way which practitioners raise awareness about the persecution amidst the strict information censorship in China). The police returned a few more times and confiscated more items from them, including a satellite dish that they used to receive uncensored overseas TV programs.

When the couple’s family went to seek justice for them, the police claimed that they would release them in a month. But a month later, they reneged on their promise, even though the prosecutor had returned the couple’s cases for insufficient evidence. Mr. Geng was then sent to the Hekou Detention Center and Ms. Zou to the Dongying Detention Center.

The couple’s family hired a lawyer to seek justice for them. But when the lawyer tried to visit Zou at the detention center, he was blocked by the police. The lawyer later filed a complaint against the police but to no avail.

Later, Mr. Geng was released, but Ms. Zou was kept in custody.

The couple was tried by the Dongying City Court on November 2, 2020. Mr. Geng attended the virtual hearing from home and Ms. Zou was tried in the detention center. Their two lawyers entered not-guilty pleas for them at the court.

Their family recently confirmed that both practitioners have been sentenced to three years and three months with a 30,000 yuan fine.

The couple’s arrests and detention also caused tremendous mental stress to Mr. Geng’s mother, who was around 100 years old. Worried about Ms. Zou’s prolonged detention, her health quickly deteriorated, and she passed away in January 2020, a few days before the Chinese New Year.

Past Persecution

When Mr. Geng and Ms. Zhou began to practice Falun Gong in 1996, many of their ailments soon disappeared. They live by Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. At home, they are good parents and children; and before he retired, Mr. Geng won many awards at work.

After the communist regime ordered the persecution in 1999, Ms. Zou went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong, but was arrested instead. She was then held at a brainwashing center, and fined. The police also put them on the government’s blacklist and began to harass them on a regular basis.

Then, Ms. Zou was given a term at Shandong Province Women’s Forced Labor Camp in October 2000. The guards tortured her by forcing her to stand or sit on a small stool for long hours without moving. They also beat her, held her in solitary confinement, restricted her restroom use, and forced her to do unpaid labor.

In addition to the physical torture, she was forced to watch propaganda videos demonizing Falun Gong every day. The mental pressure and agony caused her to suffer a mental collapse, and she became delirious.

After being released in March 2002, she remained deeply traumatized by the torture. By then, both she and her husband had been forced to give up practicing Falun Gong. Although Ms. Zou was no longer in a delirious state, she suffered from severe depression. She became withdrawn and sometimes did not eat or drink for days. She went to many hospitals and tried different treatments, but none had much effect on her.

When they felt they had lost all hope for life, the couple decided to resume practicing Falun Gong in 2007. Within a short period of time, Ms. Zou began to have a smile on her face again, and Mr. Geng quit his 30-year habit of drinking.

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