Heilongjiang Woman on Medical Parole Dies from Symptoms Developed While Imprisoned for Her Faith

A woman in Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province lost her battle with cancer fifteen months after she was released from prison on medical parole.

Ms. Guo Hongxia was arrested in October 2014 and sentenced to 3.5 years in November 2016 for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Due to maltreatment in detention before her sentencing, Ms. Guo's health had already begun to decline when she was admitted to prison in June 2017, and her condition only got worse as time went by. She was diagnosed with cancer in less than two months and released on medical parole in August 2017. She passed away on November 27, 2018. She was 57.

Judge Violated Legal Procedures during Prosecution Process
Ms. Guo was arrested along with 14 other local Falun Gong practitioners in October 2014. While ten of the practitioners were released on bail or put under house arrest, five of them, including Ms. Guo, remained captive at Shuangyashan City Detention Centre.

The Jianshan District Procuratorate submitted the practitioners' case to Jianshan District Court in May 2015. The presiding judge Gao Zhixin returned the case to the police three times in the next 17 months for more evidence.

According to the Chinese law, judges should make decisions about criminal cases submitted to them within two months, and only the procuratorate could return the case to the police, at most twice, for additional evidence.

Meanwhile, judge Gao blocked the practitioners' lawyers from reviewing their case documents. He also avoided talking to the lawyers when being asked to explain his decision.

After judge Gao finally allowed the lawyers to review the documents, he scheduled the hearing of the practitioners seven days later, when the law requires a ten-day window between lawyers' review of case files and a court hearing.

After the much prolonged detention of two years, Ms. Guo and five other practitioners (including one who was released earlier on medical parole) were tried by Jianshan Court on October 18, 2016. Their lawyers defended their innocence and argued the lack of legal basis for the persecution, as well as the judge's violation of legal procedures in the prosecution process.

Judge Gao sentenced the practitioners to prison on November 28, 2016. Ms. Guo received 3.5 years, Ms. Zhang Liyan got 7.5 years, Mr. Wang Dongsheng 7 years, Ms. Wang Yuzhi 4 years, Ms. Shan Jinli 3 years and Mr. Zu Wanhai 3 years.

The judge visited the practitioners at the detention centre on December 7, 2016 and attempted to persuade them not to appeal their verdicts.

When Ms. Guo was transferred to Harbin Women's Prison in June 2017, she was already having health issues, including frequent coughing. She was diagnosed with cancer two months later and released on medical parole in August 2017.

The Painful Forced Labour Camp Term
Ms. Guo was first arrested in October 1999 for appealing for Falun Gong in Beijing. She was fired from her job and given two years of forced labour at Xigemu Forced Labour Camp in Jiamusi City.

At the labour camp, she was given only mouldy corn mixed with chicken feed to eat and was forced to work more than 10 hours a day, mostly peeling and picking beans. She suffered enormous pain in her back and fingers.

She later held a hunger strike to protest the persecution and was force fed by the guards. The food her family sent her was confiscated by the guards.

She once recounted some of her experiences to a Minghui correspondent before she passed away. She said, “When I was released from the labour camp and returned home, the painful torture experiences had left my mind blank. I felt hollow inside. The police harassed me frequently. I became very scared of going outside, fearing the police could come to me at anytime.”

She said recalling the tortures was like reopening old wounds for her.

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