Reported in January 2023: 117 Falun Gong Practitioners Sentenced for Their Faith

In January 2023, there were a total of 117 cases of practitioners sentenced for their faith in the Buddhist-based spiritual practice Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa).

Among the newly confirmed cases, 11 took place between 2015 and 2020, 19 in 2021, 61 in 2022, and 26 in January 2023.

The delay in case confirmation is caused by strict information censorship under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which attempts to keep the persecution underground to avoid international scrutiny.

The sentenced practitioners hailed from 15 provinces and municipalities. Shandong reported the most cases of 24, followed by Liaoning (20), Jilin (18), Guangdong (14) and Beijing (10). The remaining ten regions registered single-digit cases between one and six.

The practitioners’ prison terms ranged from eight months to 8.5 years, with an average of 3.4 years. Thirty-eight practitioners were fined between 2,000 to 100,000 yuan, for a total of 420,000 yuan and with an average of 11,053 yuan. 

Among the 59 practitioners whose ages were known, they were between 20 and 80 years old when their cases were first reported. 19 practitioners were in their 60s, 14 in their 70s and 2 in their 80s. Among the sentenced, there were teachers, engineers, bus drivers, accountants, factory workers and tax bureau directors.

The following are snapshots of selected sentencing cases. The full list of sentenced practitioners can be downloaded here (PDF).

Targeted for Speaking Up

Shandong Man Sentenced by Out-of-Province Court for Posting Information about Falun Gong Online

Mr. Li Shihai, a 57-year-old Pingdu City, Shandong Province resident, was sentenced to four years for raising awareness about the Chinese Communist Party’s 23-year-long persecution of Falun Gong.

Mr. Li was arrested on June 14, 2022, by police in Luoyang City, Henan Province, for posting information about the persecution of Falun Gong on social media. Both his and his wife’s cell phones were confiscated.

The police claimed that they found Mr. Li had established and administered two group chats on social media and posted information about Falun Gong there. The first group had over 700 users and the second had more than 3,000 users.

Mr. Li appeared in the Chanhe Hui District Court in Luoyang on January 10, 2023. His lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for him. On January 21, Mr. Li’s family was informed that he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Since the onset of the persecution, Mr. Li has been repeatedly arrested and tortured. He was held in a psychiatric hospital twice and suffered a mental breakdown at one point. Previously in 2016, he was arrested and sentenced to two years.

Elderly Practitioners Targeted

Cancer-Stricken Woman Imprisoned for Her Faith and Denied Medical Parole

Ms. Jiang Shumei is a 67-year-old resident of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. On February 26, 2021, she was arrested at home while studying Falun Gong’s teachings with 76-year-old Ms. Xu Zhenying.

Both Ms. Jiang and Ms. Xu were held at the Shenyang City Detention Center. Ms. Jiang was found to have breast cancer during the checkup upon arrival at the detention center.

The Huanggu District Court sentenced Ms. Xu to two years in May 2021 and Ms. Jiang to five years in September 2021. Both appealed with the Shenyang City Intermediate Court, but the court ruled to uphold their original verdicts. 

In October 2022, The Liaoning No. 2 Women’s Prison accepted Ms. Jiang after having denied her admission once earlier. Her family applied for medical parole for her, but the prison denied their request, claiming that she wasn’t qualified for it.

Loved Ones Deprived of Care

Once Emaciated from Torture in Labor Camp, Sole Caregiver of 85-year-old Mother Sentenced Again

Mr. Gao Hong is a 55-year-old resident of Zibo City, Shandong Province, who was arrested on August 29, 2022. He was sentenced to three years by the Zichuan District Court on December 5, 2022.

After Mr. Gao’s father passed away in 2018, he became his 85-year-old mother’s sole caregiver. Due to the pressure of the persecution, his mother struggles with high blood pressure and a severe heart condition. Mr. Gao’s sentencing left her in a dire situation.

After graduating from the China University of Petroleum with a major in automation in 1991, Mr. Gao landed a job at the Qilu Petrochemical Research Institute. In 1997, after witnessing the positive changes in his parents from practicing Falun Gong, he followed in their footsteps and took up the practice. Mr. Gao claims the practice gave him wisdom as he won several awards for technological innovation at work thereafter.

On August 26, 2008, Mr. Gao was sentenced to two years of forced labor after repeated arrests for upholding his faith and speaking up about the persecution.

In the Shandong Province No. 2 Forced Labor Camp, Mr. Gao was deprived of sleep for seven days, beaten, and handcuffed behind his back. In protest, he went on a hunger strike and refused to do the forced labor. The guards punished him for his protest by forcing him to stand for three days and sit on a small stool from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. for 81 consecutive days. On October 3, 2009, Mr. Gao was released on medical parole and was emaciated.

Mr. Gao Hong was reduced to skin and bones from being tortured in the labor camp.

On July 15, 2020, the police broke into Mr. Gao’s home when his mother, Ms. Liang Zhongxian, was alone at their shared residence. The police claimed that they found a Falun Gong brochure in their neighborhood and they suspected that it was Ms. Liang who distributed it. They took her to the police station for interrogation and confiscated their Falun Gong books, computer, printer, tablet, and a desk lamp.

The police seized Mr. Gao when he returned home from work that afternoon. He was interrogated until the following afternoon. Due to the pandemic, the police gave him a one-year bail instead of detaining him.

Practitioners from All Walks of Life Targeted

Police Officer Sentenced to Three Years

Mr. Lin Lisheng, a 65-year-old resident of Maoming City, Guangdong Province, used to work as a police officer at the Maoming Train Station. While taking the train on March 11, 2020, he was arrested by his former colleagues after they found a Falun Gong book and several pieces of paper currency printed with information about Falun Gong in his bag. 

Due to strict censorship in China, many practitioners use various ways to raise awareness about the persecution, including printing information on paper currency.

The police raided Mr. Lin’s home and held him at the Maoming City No. 1 Detention Center. His family bribed the police in exchange for his release. Fearful of the persecution, Mr. Lin stopped practicing Falun Gong. Not long after, he suffered a stroke and the doctor said they couldn’t cure him.

Upon returning home, Mr. Lin resumed practicing Falun Gong and soon regained his health. After the police found out, they arrested him again on June 27, 2021, and submitted his case to the Maonan District Procuratorate. He appeared in Maonan District Court on December 23, 2022, and was sentenced to three years.

Repeatedly Sentenced

Yunnan Woman Given Fourth Prison Term for Practicing Falun Gong

Ms. Li Qun is a resident of Yanshan County, Yunnan Province and former employee of the Yanshan County Bureau. Shortly after Ms. Li was released from serving a four-year term for practicing Falun Gong, she was arrested again and sentenced to six years in 2021.

This is the fourth time that Ms. Li has been sentenced since the onset of the persecution in 1999. 

Ms. Li was first arrested in 2004 and sentenced to four years. She was fired by her workplace after she was released on May 22, 2008. She subsequently made a living by selling merchandise in a market booth.

On April 20, 2009, Ms. Li was arrested for talking to her customers about Falun Gong. She went on a hunger strike to protest the persecution, but was tortured by force-feeding. The local court sentenced her to five years in Yunnan Province No. 2 Women’s Prison two weeks later.

Ms. Li’s third arrest was in June 2017. She was sentenced to four years on September 1, 2017, and taken to a prison around Chinese New Year in 2018 (February 16).

Based on an original Minghui article.