Reported in February 2022: 33 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith
In February 2022, 33 Falun Gong practitioners were confirmed to have been sentenced for refusing to give up their faith, including 16 in 2021, 2 in January 2022, and 15 in February 2022.
The ongoing suppression and censorship of Falun Gong significantly limits the availability of information on confirmed cases. Consequently, it is difficult to report persecution cases in a timely manner.
The prison terms levied against the 33 practitioners ranged from six months to seven years. Twelve of them are 60 or older, including one in her 80s. The courts fined ten of the practitioners a total of 134,000 yuan ($21,094.72 USD).
The practitioners came from 14 provinces and municipalities. The provinces of Liaoning (6), Jiangxi (4), Shandong (4), Hebei (3), and Hubei (3) reported the most sentencing cases. The remaining nine regions had either 1 or 2 cases.
Last year, in February 2021, there were 61 reports of Falun Gong practitioners being sentenced. Due to the increased security and censorship measures put in place during the Winter Olympics, it is suspected that in addition to the 33 cases reported this year, many cases have yet to be reported.
Summarized below are a few of these cases.
77-year-old Woman Sentenced to Four Years
A 77-year-old woman in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, was sentenced to four years in early December 2021 for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Liu Renping was arrested on June 3, 2021, while taking care of her ex-husband, who had become seriously ill in the past few years and struggled to care for himself. The next day, her ex-husband called the police and demanded her release.
The police released Ms. Liu on June 4 but arrested her again when she went back to the police station the day after to demand the return of her confiscated Falun Gong books. The police then ransacked her home.
Learning of her mother’s arrest, Ms. Liu’s daughter, who was working out of town, took leave from work and returned to Dalian to seek her release, only to be told that the police had submitted her mother’s case to the procuratorate.
The Ganjingzi District Court later held a secret video hearing of Ms. Liu’s case without informing her family. The court sentenced Ms. Liu to four years in prison and fined her 30,000 yuan in early December 2021.
Ms. Liu insisted that she didn’t violate any law by practicing Falun Gong or having Falun Gong books at her home. She appealed to the Dalian City Intermediate Court on December 16. It’s not clear whether the higher court has ruled on her case.
Ms. Liu’s ex-husband was petrified witnessing the police ransack his place. He had trouble eating and sleeping and passed away soon after.
73-Year-Old Woman Wrongfully Sentenced to Six Years
On December 22, 2021, Ms. Zhou Xiuhua, a 73-year-old Wuhan City, Hubei Province resident, was sentenced to six years for practicing Falun Gong.
Police arrested Ms. Zhou at her home on July 15, 2020. While she and her husband were being interrogated at the police station, other officers spent hours searching their home when no one in her family was present. When the couple was released the next day, they discovered that their Falun Gong books and two valuable stamp collection books were gone.
Ms. Zhou was summoned to the police station on January 28, 2021. When she arrived, officers took her to the hospital for a physical exam. Although she failed the exam four times in a row, the police still forced the Wuhan City No.1 Lockup to accept her. She was transferred to the Wuhan City No.1 Detention Center after her case was transferred from the Dongxihu District Procuratorate to the Hanyang District Procuratorate in February 2021.
Ms. Zhou was indicted, and her case was submitted to the Hanyang District Court in June 2021. She was tried in a video conference that lasted 20 minutes on December 22, 2021. Her family had applied to represent her as a non-lawyer defender in court, but the presiding judge, Deng Wei, insisted on appointing a lawyer, who was instructed to enter a guilty plea for her.
A court clerk informed Ms. Zhou’s family on January 26, 2022, that she had been sentenced to six years. Ms. Zhou appealed the verdict that very day.
The next day, January 27, Ms. Zhou’s family filed complaints against judge Deng Wei of the Hanyang District Court, the Hanyang District Procuratorate, the Wuhan City Procuratorate, the Hubei Province Procuratorate, the Hanyang District Court itself, and the Wuhan City Intermediate Court.
Her family said in their complaints that, according to the law, if a defendant already has legal representation, the court shouldn’t appoint additional legal representation. But even when judge Deng was aware that Ms. Zhou had entrusted her family member to defend her, he still appointed a lawyer for her without seeking her family’s consent or even informing them. The judge also ignored how the police illegally confiscated her personal belongings, searched her home without her family’s presence, and kept her family in the dark about the hearing.
Single Father Sentenced to 4 Years, Leaving Teenage Daughter to Fend for Herself
On June 8, 2021, at 8:00 am, as Mr. Chen was about to go out, a dozen police officers surrounded him and broke into his home. They confiscated his Falun Gong books, a printer, a computer and more than 10,000 yuan in cash ($1,580 USD), filling four big bags and a suitcase.
The police took Mr. Chen to the Shuanglong Police Station where they interrogated him. Shortly after, they took him to three different facilities for physical examinations. Once it was determined at all the facilities that he had very high blood pressure, the police released him on bail in the evening. The next morning, the police ordered him to sign a 6-month house arrest notice at the police station.
That same morning, the police submitted his case to the Jiangbei District Procuratorate, which then indicted him and moved his case to the Jiangbei District Court.
Mr. Chen appeared in court on December 23, 2021.
Prosecutor Liu Jie read the indictment and Mr. Chen then stated that no law has ever criminalized Falun Gong in China. (The Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong was an extra judicial order by the Chinese Communist Party, which violates China’s Constitution). Mr. Chen’s lawyer also added that he has not caused any harm to anyone by practicing Falun Gong.
Before Mr. Chen could read his final defense statement, the presiding judge Sun Hongtao stopped him and adjourned the hearing. He said to Mr. Chen, “Why do you have to be so stubborn? If you didn’t have a minor to care for, we would have arrested you much earlier.”
Two months later, on February 18, 2022, the judge sentenced Mr. Chen to 4 years in prison with a 13,000 yuan ($2,050 USD) fine.
Woman in Her 80s Sentenced
Ms. Cai Zefang of Nanchong City, Sichuan Province, was harassed at home on the evening of October 29, 2021. She insisted that she couldn’t sign the prepared statement to renounce Falun Gong, and the police left after a one-hour standoff. They submitted her case to the procuratorate shortly after.
The Yingshan County Court later sentenced Ms. Cai, in her 80s, to 1.5 years in prison with a 3,000-yuan ($472.27 USD) fine. It’s not clear if there was ever a trial.
Ms. Cai was taken to the Nanchong City Detention Center on February 16, 2022. The guards refused to accept her due to her dangerously high blood pressure. She was released the same day.
Couple in Their 70s Sentenced Multiple Times to Prisons and Labor Camps
A couple in Wuzhong City, Ningxia Province, was transferred to a prison from an “Incarceration Education Center” in January 2022 to serve time for their faith in Falun Gong.
Mr. Ma Xiongde, 73, a retired watch factory engineer, and his wife Ms. Zheng Fengying, 70, also retired from the same factory, were arrested on February 22, 2021. They stood trial in the Litong District Court on August 5 and both were sentenced to 1.5 years with a 5,000-yuan fine on September 14. They were taken to the Incarceration Education Center under Ningxia Prison in early January 2022.
Prior to their latest sentencing, both husband and wife had been repeatedly targeted in the past two decades for upholding their faith. They were first arrested and detained in 2000 for writing appeal letters and distributing informational materials.
When Ms. Zheng refused to work with a local TV station to produce propaganda videos smearing Falun Gong in February 2001, she was arrested again and given two years of forced labor. While she was still serving time, Mr. Ma was also arrested and given two years of forced labor after the labor camp guards found the Falun Gong teaching he kept in the clothes delivered to Ms. Zheng during his visit.
Only one month after Mr. Ma was released, he and Ms. Zheng were arrested again. He was sentenced to five years and Ms. Zheng to three years with three years probation on December 28, 2004.
The couple was arrested together one more time, in September 2012. Ms. Zheng was sentenced to seven years and Mr. Ma to seven and half years in January 2013. Their appeals were rejected by the higher court.
Based on an original report from Minghui.org: Reported in February 2022: 33 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith