Forty-two cases of Falun Gong practitioners sentenced for their faith were reported in May 2022. Two were sentenced in 2020, seven in 2021, and 33 in 2022, including two in January, four in February, one in March, six in April, 19 in May, and one with an unknown sentencing month.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999. Since then, countless practitioners have been arrested, detained, sentenced, and tortured for upholding their faith. But due to strict information censorship in China, the incidents can’t always be reported in a timely manner, nor is all the information readily available.
The sentenced practitioners, 26 (62%) of them women, came from nine provinces. Liaoning Province had the highest number of sentencing with 9 practitioners sentenced. Six of these practitioners were arrested in a police sweep that police referred to as a “gift” to the Chinese Communist Party for its centennial celebration on July 1, 2021.
Fifteen (36%) of the practitioners were 60 and older, including three in their 80s and seven in their 70s.
Prison terms ranged from six months to eight years, including four cases of probation. Some were sentenced for reading Falun Gong books in private homes, while others were targeted for talking to people about the persecution. Twenty-one practitioners were fined a total of 188,000 yuan (~ $27,800 USD), averaging 8,952 yuan (~ $1,300 USD) per person.
Two of the sentenced practitioners were former police officers themselves. Others included a teacher, a nurse, a motorcycle taxi driver, and an IT professional.
While some elderly practitioners were allowed to serve time at home due to their advanced age, they are ordered to report to the local justice bureau on a weekly basis and have frequent video calls with the authorities to confirm that they stay at home. Some of their children were also ordered by the authorities to monitor them and prevent them from contacting other Falun Gong practitioners.
Some of the practitioners have suffered repeated persecution since 1999. A 78-year-old man who was sentenced to three years has already served two prison terms totaling 11.5 years. A woman who has served 15 years was sentenced again to eight years.
The sentenced practitioners included two mothers and their daughters. The mother and daughter in Liaoning Province were secretly sentenced as the authorities kept their family in the dark of their whereabouts and case status.
In another case in Shandong Province, the judge hid the practitioner’s verdict from his family in an attempt to prevent them from appealing on his behalf.
Below are snapshots of selected cases. The full list of sentenced practitioners can be downloaded here (PDF).
Having served a ten-year prison term and losing his father to the persecution of Falun Gong, a Jiangyou City, Sichuan Province, man was sentenced again to six years. He has appealed the verdict.
For upholding his faith in Falun Gong, Mr. Wei Bin was first sentenced to ten years in Deyang Prison in 2002. He was beaten and forced to stand under the scorching sun for long hours. While he was still serving time, his father, Mr. Wei Chaohai, was arrested in September 2009 and sentenced to seven years, also for practicing Falun Gong. The elder Mr. Wei was also taken to Deyang Prison in 2011 and tortured to death in the prison on January 1, 2013.
Wei Bin’s latest arrest took place on June 18, 2021. Earlier that day, his mother was also arrested. The police stole her backpack and house keys. One group of officers took her to a detention facility with her eyes covered, while other officers broke into her home with her keys and arrested Mr. Wei. The police ransacked the mother and son’s shared residence, confiscating their Falun Gong books, bank deposit cards, and many other valuables.
While Mr. Wei’s mother was released on bail on July 2, he remained in custody. For two weeks, the police kept him handcuffed and deprived him of sleep. Occasionally, he was allowed to sleep for two or three hours. Most of the time, the police kept interrogating him and forced him to admit that he made automated phone calls to the general public about Falun Gong.
The Jiangyou City Court held a total of four hearings on Mr. Wei’s case. His lawyer attended the first three hearings, but not the fourth, due to the 21-day pandemic quarantine requirement. When the prosecutor presented the prosecution evidence submitted by the police during the hearing, it was two sheets of Mr. Wei’s phone call records, not the automated phone calls the police claimed were criminal. The judge sentenced him to six years with a 6,000-yuan (~ $900 USD) fine on April 29, 2022. (Link)
Seven Chaoyang City, Liaoning Province, residents stood trial on December 16 and 17, 2021, for practicing Falun Gong. All were sentenced to prison.
Ms. Wan was arrested on September 8, 2021, while the other six were seized on June 11, 2021, in a police sweep that the police referred to as a “gift” for the Chinese Communist Party’s centennial celebration on July 1, 2021. At least 27 practitioners were arrested on the same day.
Mr. Wang and his wife Ms. Wu are retired from the Lingyuan Steel Company. During their arrest, the police turned their home upside down and confiscated their printer, computer, Falun Gong books, and even printing paper. Their front door was left open when the police departed. The arrest of Ms. Wu, an only child, left her father, who is in his 90s, struggling to care for himself.
Mr. Zhang, also retired from the Lingyuan Steel Company, had his home ransacked at 6 a.m., even though he wasn’t home when the police came. A crowd watched the police load their car with his Falun Gong books, photo of Falun Gong’s founder, and other Falun Gong materials. An onlooker said he recalled seeing the police ask nearby residents about Mr. Zhang with a photo of him in hand.
Mr. Zhang was held in the Lingyuan City Detention Center. Mr. Wang was kept in a detention facility in nearby Jianping County. The five female practitioners were taken to the Chaoyang City Women’s Detention Center.
The Lingyuan City Court heard the practitioners’ cases on December 16 and 17, 2021, via video conferences. The judge barred the practitioners’ lawyers and families from attending in person, citing the pandemic as an excuse even though all the other hearings in the same court were held in person. (Link)
Ms. Hu Yulian, a 78-year-old Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province resident, was sentenced to five years with a 20,000 yuan (~ $3,000 USD) fine on April 26, 2022, for practicing Falun Gong.
Ms. Hu, who was retired from the Daqing Oilfield, lived alone. She was harassed twice by the police around mid-November 2021. They deceived her into opening the door on November 19 by having her son knock on the door. They took Ms. Hu for a physical exam and then sent her home, saying that they would come back the next day at lunchtime.
When the police returned the next day, they said the COVID test she’d taken the day before wasn’t valid. They deceived her into going with them for another test, only to take her to the Dumeng Detention Center. The police initially told Ms. Hu’s family that she would be detained for ten days. But they refused to release her when the 10-day detention ended and then submitted her case to the procuratorate for prosecution.
Ms. Hu was tried in the Ranghulu District Court on January 18, 2022. The judge didn’t allow her family to attend the hearing, citing the pandemic as an excuse. Ms. Hu acted as her own lawyer and entered a not guilty plea. (Link)
Ms. Shui Qionghua from Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, was arrested on May 13, 2021, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong at a farmers’ market.
During her trial in the Shuangliu District Court on April 28, 2022, the prosecutor charged her with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used against Falun Gong practitioners. He listed the Falun Gong informational materials confiscated from Ms. Shui’s car and home as evidence and recommended a three to seven-year prison sentence.
Ms. Shui’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea for her. He argued that no law in China has ever deemed Falun Gong a crime or labeled it a cult. He added that the prosecutor failed to provide any evidence to show how his client had allegedly undermined which law. In addition, the Falun Gong materials confiscated from her couldn’t show how she had harmed anyone or anything.
The prosecutor insisted that it was an indisputable “fact” that Falun Gong was a cult. Someone in the courtroom tried to insist that the prosecutor provide evidence to support the claim but the bailiff stopped him.
After a brief adjournment, the judge sentenced Ms. Shui to two years.
When the judge issued the verdict on April 26, he said that he originally intended to sentence her to seven years, but due to her advanced age, he reduced that by two years. (Link)
Ms. Zhu Mingrong, 48, was arrested on October 24, 2021, after being reported by a student’s parents for talking to the student about Falun Gong. The Leshan City, Sichuan Province, resident was secretly sentenced to eight years either in April or May 2022. Her family has never received any notice about her case.
Since the persecution began, Ms. Zhu has been repeatedly targeted. She has already been incarcerated for a total of 15 years for practicing Falun Gong. She was first arrested in October 1999 when she went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. She was detained for 15 days and later sentenced to three years. She was given two more prison terms, both for six years, in 2003 and 2010. (Link)
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