Belated News: Shaanxi Woman Dies While Serving Second Term in Prison for Her Faith

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It was recently confirmed by that a woman from Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, died in late 2019 while serving time in Shaanxi Women’s Prison for practicing Falun Gong. Ms. Song Xianlan was 64.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Song had retired from the Baoji Construction Machinery Factory. She took up Falun Gong in 1998 and credited the practice for improving her health.

After the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, Ms. Song raised awareness about the persecution in her spare time. She was arrested around April 2008 and sentenced to eight years in prison.

By the time she was released from Xi’an Women’s Prison in 2015, her husband had divorced her. She’d moved back to her residence in Xi’an before she married, only to be arrested again on July 12, 2016, for talking to people about Falun Gong. She was detained for over a month in Xi’an Detention Center and released on July 28.

Ms. Song was arrested one more time, on March 21, 2017. The Lianhu District Court held a secret hearing in July, two weeks after her indictment. Her family was not informed of the hearing, nor did they have time to hire a lawyer to represent her.

Nonetheless, her family hired a lawyer to request a retrial. The court told them that judge Huo Biao had gone on vacation and refused to arrange a new trial.

Three months later, on October 8, Ms. Song was sentenced to four and a half years and fined 10,000 yuan in the Lianhu District Court.

Ms. Song and her lawyer immediately appealed the sentence to the Xi'an Intermediate Court and demanded an open hearing.

When the lawyer went to the Intermediate Court, judge Luo Chengxing claimed that Ms. Song made a request to him in person that he not hold an open hearing in her appeal case.

The lawyer questioned whether that was Ms. Song’s true intent. To seek clarification, he traveled a long way to visit her in the detention center. Ms. Song was so shocked that she almost fainted when the lawyer repeated the judge's remarks.

She was on an IV at the time, but she pulled out the needle to write a statement with a shaking hand. She stated that she never told judge Luo that she did not want an open hearing and that she intended to continue her appeal.

When the judge learned that the lawyer had heard differently from Ms. Song, he became agitated and threatened to investigate the lawyer.

The lawyer contacted the judge two months later and asked if he would schedule a hearing in Ms. Song's case. The judge said he would not.

On August 21, 2018, the lawyer received the verdict from judge Luo—he had ruled to uphold Ms. Song's original sentence.

Ms. Song was perfectly healthy when she was arrested. But due to the abuses in custody, she suffered a stroke and developed high blood pressure. Despite her critical condition, she was taken to the Shaanxi Province Women’s Prison on September 13, 2018. She died in prison a year later.

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