Tianjin 2015: 454 Questioned, 20 Sentenced for Resisting Persecution of Their Belief in Falun Gong

According to data compiled by Minghui.org, a total of 454 Tianjin residents were targeted in 2015 for resisting the persecution of their belief in Falun Gong. Many of these practitioners were questioned by police on more than one occasion, and the number of unexpected police visits to their homes and workplaces totalled 737 in the past year.

While some of the residents received police harassment only, others were taken into custody. In particular, the police arrested 37 practitioners over the course of just three days in early March.

Many of the arrested or imprisoned practitioners were abused while in detention. One woman died 19 days after her arrest.

Starting in May 2015, many Tianjin practitioners began to file lawsuits against former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin for initiating the persecution of Falun Gong. In response, police intensified their harassment and arrest of local residents. Half of the 737 police visits in 2015 involved interrogations regarding practitioners' criminal complaints against Jiang.

Among those arrested for filing criminal complaints, one person has already been sentenced to prison, three were tried and are awaiting verdicts, and another five are facing trial.

In addition to the 454 newly targeted practitioners, 19 Tianjin residents arrested in 2014 were tried in 2015 for their faith. At the time of writing, their cases are still pending or have already received guilty verdicts.

In all, the year of 2015 ended with 20 new cases of Tianjin practitioners being given prison sentences ranging from six months to seven and a half years. The average sentence length is 3.65 years per person.

3 Practitioners Deceased

In addition to the woman who died shortly after her arrest, two other Tianjin practitioners also passed away in 2015 after years of persecution wreaked havoc on their mental and physical health.

Officers from Xingang Police Station ransacked Ms. Wang Huizhen's (王慧珍) home on March 2nd, 2015 and confiscated her belongings, including her Falun Gong literature. Despite Ms. Wang being ill at the time, the police dragged her to Tanggu Drug Rehabilitation Centre to interrogate her. Ms. Wang's physical health began to worsen due to the abuse, and the police were forced to release her in order to shed responsibility. She died on March 21st, 19 days after the arrest.

Ms. Liu Yuanjie (刘元杰), 79, used to be a senior engineer at the Ministry of Aerospace Industry. Her husband Mr. Xiong Huifeng (熊辉丰) was also a practitioner. After the persecution started, her husband was put in a labour camp for 30 months, and her son was tortured in a brainwashing centre. Mr. Xiong, close to 80, was arrested again on August 26th, 2014 and locked in Nankai Detention Centre. After years of persecution, Ms. Liu's mental and physical health had deteriorated significantly. Her husband's most recent arrest was a hard blow. She died on March 3rd, 2015, while her husband was still in detention.

Mr. Zhang Jinzhong (张金忠), 58, was once incarcerated in Tianjin First Prison for four years and tortured for refusing to renounce his faith. Mr. Zhang became mentally unstable as a result. He was later transferred to a labour camp and tortured for two more years. He was fired from his job because of the persecution. Under constant financial strain and terror amid the persecution, he never recovered from the bodily injuries he sustained from the six years of imprisonment. He died on May 28th, 2015.

20 Sentenced

The following is a list of Falun Gong practitioners in Tianjin who were sentenced to prison in 2015:

Ms. Chen Ruiqin (陈瑞琴), 4.5 years
Ms. Kong Yucui (孔玉翠), 4.5 years
Ms. Hao Shuyan (郝淑艳), 3 years
Ms. Liu Suqin (刘素琴), 3.5 years
Ms. Zhu Guilan (朱桂兰), 3 years
Ms. Wang Shuli (王淑丽), 3 years
Ms. Cui Xifen (崔希芬), 4.5 years
Mr. Xiong Huifeng (熊辉丰), 7.5 years
Mr. Shi Fuhua (史富华), 4.5 years
Ms. Wang Guirong (王桂荣), 3 years
Mr. Wang Shulin (王树林), 7.5 years
Ms. Ran Guanquan (冉官权), 3.5 years
Mr. Sun Jianyao (孙建跃), 4 years
Ms. Huang Fenglian's husband (not a practitioner), 6 months
Ms. Liu Lixin (刘立新), 17 months
Ms. Zhao Xiang (赵翔), 17 months
Mr. Dong Wencai (董文彩), 3 years
Ms. Wang Wenguo (王文果), 4 years
Ms. Guo Baohua (郭宝花), 3 years

Show Trials of Practitioners

1. Young Man Imprisoned for His Belief

Mr. Sun Jianyao (孙建跃) was arrested in January 2015 while explaining to people the persecution of Falun Gong. He was tried on May 18th. The prosecutor pointed at Mr. Sun's mother, who practiced Falun Gong for a dozen years, and claimed that she was evidence of Mr. Sun's being a practitioner. The trial lasted 80 minutes. In June, the judge at Ninghe County Court sentenced Mr. Sun to four years in prison. Mr. Sun has filed an appeal with Tianjin Intermediate Court.

2. Aerospace Expert Sentenced to 7 Years

Mr. Xiong Huifeng (熊辉丰) was arrested on August 26th, 2014. He remained detained until he was tried on August 14th, 2015, a year after his arrest. He pleaded not guilty and argued that practising Falun Gong does not break any Chinese law.

On November 25th, the Nankai District Court held a second hearing but did not inform his lawyer until the day before, so the lawyer was not able to inform Mr. Xiong's family of the court date.

The hearing ended in less than 20 minutes. Two weeks later, the verdict was sent to the detention centre where Mr. Xiong was being held.

Mr. Xiong was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on December 4th, 2015. He immediately filed an appeal. His family has not received any documentation regarding the verdict and sentencing.

3. Extremely Ill Woman Tried in Detention Centre

Ms. Kong Yucui (孔玉翠) was held at the Ji County Detention Centre after her arrest on November 2014. While detained, she suffered life-threatening medical conditions multiple times.

On January 4th, 2015, Ji County Court tried her inside the detention centre because she was too weak to appear at the courthouse.

The court allowed only her attorney to attend the proceedings, claiming that Ms. Kong would become overly excited if she saw her family, which would adversely affect her health.

Ms. Kong was sentenced to four and a half years. She immediately filed an appeal, but the Tianjin Intermediate Court threw her in prison without informing her family and attorney.

Abuse of Detained Practitioners

Ms. Wang Jingxiang (王景香), 59, was arrested in May 2014 and secretly tried in August of the same year. When her family learned about her whereabouts, she was already partially paralysed from torture in the detention centre.

Ms. Wang was later transferred to Tianjin Women's Prison. She suffered a stroke, developed diabetes, and needed help walking due to the abuse and torture.

When her family visited her in June 2015, she was emaciated and had hypertension. She was covered in bruises from guards beating her for doing the Falun Gong exercises. She was also deprived of sleep.

Mass Arrests in March 2015

The Tianjin Police Department ordered a mass arrest of Falun Gong practitioners on March 2nd, 2015. In a span of three days, 37 practitioners and their families were harassed or arrested and their homes ransacked by police. Information from the police department indicates that more than 60 practitioners were arrested. Among them, 20 were detained, 8 were tried, and one died 19 days after arrest.

Nearly 20 police officers broke into Ms. Song Huichan’s (宋惠婵) parents’ home and, without showing any documentation or identification, arrested her. In the process, officers injured Ms. Song’s mother and seized a computer and other possessions. They then escorted Ms. Song to her son’s home and seized his computers without his presence.

Ms. Song’s family was told that she was under criminal detention on March 16th, but was not given any official documents. Ms. Song was transferred to Wuqing Detention Centre in June and tried by Binhai New District Court in December. She pleaded not guilty, and the verdict is pending at the time of this report.

Police broke into Ms. Zhao Yuehua’s (赵月花) home and waited for her to come home before arresting her. Officers later interrogated her husband and her daughter separately, and attempted to deceive them into giving incriminating statements against her. Her husband's testimony was later used against her at her first hearing, which he was not allowed to attend.

Ms. Zhao’s first hearing was in August. The court allowed only her two daughters into the courtroom. The trial did not proceed because Ms. Zhao’s lawyer insisted that there must be jurors present.

The second hearing was held in September. Ms. Zhao's lawyers pleaded not guilty on her behalf. The hearing ended in 30 minutes.

Ms. Zhao's third hearing was held in November. She became too weak to stand trial two and a half hours later. The judge ordered a recess and finished the trial in the afternoon.

Late 2015 Sees More Arrests for Suing Jiang Zemin

Most practitioners in Tianjin who filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin were arrested in August and November 2015. These practitioners are from 14 districts/counties in Tianjin.

1. Xiqing District

In August 2015, agents from the 610 Office and officers from eight police stations in Xiqing District harassed practitioners on 45 occasions. Seventeen practitioners were arrested, among whom 11 were unlawfully detained for 30 to 36 days. One of the detained practitioners was tried, eight were released on bail pending trial, and one left home to avoid future persecution. The total bail amount paid to the authorities was 61,000 yuan (~US$ 9,300).

2. Ninghe County

In June, the police began a mass arrest of practitioners in Ninghe County. In the following six months, 31 practitioners’ homes were ransacked, and 27 of them were detained for 5 to 30 days. Six of the 27 detained practitioners were released on bail (total of 30,000 yuan, or ~US$ 4,600), and one was tried in court.

When Ms. Huang Fenglian (黄凤莲) was arrested, her husband tried to stop the officers, and was beaten and arrested. A passerby who recorded the process and yelled “police brutality” was also beaten and detained. The husband was later sentenced to six months in prison for “assaulting a police officer” and fined 20,000 yuan ["Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.]

3. Baodi District

Police arrested Mr. Xing Junjie (邢俊杰) while he was mailing out his complaint against Jiang Zemin in June. He was detained for seven days. On December 7th, officers broke into Mr. Xing’s home and arrested him, his wife Ms. Li Jingya (李静雅), and his parents, and seized several of their personal belongings. Mr. Xing’s family were released that night, while he was held in Baodi District Detention Centre the next day.

On December 21st, police arrested Mr. Xing’s parents, who are not practitioners, and tried to force them to sign documents without reading them. After they refused, his father was detained for five days and mother released for health reasons.

The police frequently harassed Ms. Li, who was pregnant at the time, and demanded that she pay for Mr. Xing’s bail. She refused to cooperate. Mr. Xing remains in detention as of this report.

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