Elderly Mother and Daughter Incarcerated for Faith, Denied Family Visitations

Based on an original article from Minghui.org

On April 18, 2018, Ms. Zhang Shuzhi and her daughter, Ms. Hou Xiaoyan were sentenced to 5.5 years and 5 years respectively for practicing Falun Gong. They have been incarcerated in Heilongjiang Women’s Prison and have been denied family visitation since.

The mother, in her 70s, and daughter, 44-years-old, are residents of Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province. They were arrested on October 10, 2017.

Since the imprisonment, Hou’s workplace has terminated her labor contract. She has also been restricted from spending more than 90 yuan a month and is not allowed to write to or call her family.

The persecution also has caused Zhang to have blurred vision in both eyes; although she underwent surgery, she still has blurred vision in one eye.

The pair’s arrest also leaves no one to care for Hou’s elderly father, in his 70s, (Zhang’s husband) and her teenage daughter. Hou’s father is in poor health after witnessing the persecution of his wife and daughter. The anxiety has caused him to suffer a relapsing heart condition and difficulty falling asleep at night. Hou’s daughter also has hyperthyroidism.

Details of Arrest

On the morning of October 10, 2017, officers from the Daqing Police Department went to the respective workplaces of the Hou couple and arrested them.

In the afternoon, several plainclothes police officers stalked Hou’s father (whose wife Zhang practices Falun Gong) to his home. As he opened the door to his home, officers pounced in from behind him and began ransacking his home, taking Falun Gong books and informational materials.

As Zhang was not present, officers stayed in her home awaiting her. Later, even though Hou’s father was experiencing chest tightness, the police coerced the elderly man to take them to the home of his daughter.

A separate group of officers had broken in already when the entourage arrived. They seized Hou’s laptop, printer, laminating machine, five tape recorders, satellite dishes, her husband’s video camera, and camera.

Zhang, Hou, and Zhang’s sister were held at Harbin No. 2 Detention Center and Hou’s husband was detained at Shangzhi Detention Center. Hou’s husband and Zhang’s sister, both of whom do not practice Falun Gong, were released several days later.

Trial and Sentencing

The police arrested the family on suspicion that they had distributed Falun Gong materials in Shangzhi City. It was reported that someone had been distributing Falun Gong materials in the area while the family had been visiting the city a few days prior.

Zhang and Hou were put on trial on April 18, 2018. The authorities allowed six family members to attend the trial.

During the trial, the mother and daughter denied all prosecution evidence and charges against them. They described how they had benefited from practicing Falun Gong and that they did not violate any laws by practicing.

The pair’s lawyers also demanded their acquittal, citing the China Administration of Press and Publication that repealed its ban on publication of Falun Gong books in China, saying that it is legal to publish or own Falun Gong books.

The judge did not announce the verdict after the trial, but later sentenced Zhang and Hou to 5.5 and 5 years respectively. They have since been incarcerated in the Heilongjiang Women’s Prison, where Hou is being held in the training division and Zhang is being held in the eighth division.

Prior Arrests and Detentions

This is not the first time Hou and Zhang have been targeted for their faith.

On October 15, 1999, Zhang and Hou were arrested in Beijing for appealing the right to freely practice Falun Gong. They were then taken back to Daqing City and detained at local detention centers for a month and a half before being released.

Zhang was arrested again in February 2000 and held at Datong District Detention Center for several days.

In April 2000, Zhang and Hou were doing the Falun Gong exercises outdoors when they were arrested. They were taken to Daqing Detention Center.

On June 1, 2001, Zhang was arrested for posting Falun Gong materials. She was later detained at Heilongjiang Drug Rehabilitation Labor Camp.

Zhang was then arrested again in Chinese New Year in 2005, after being reported by a taxi driver for talking about Falun Gong. She sentenced to 4 years in Heilongjiang Women’s Prison.

On October 21, 2015, Hou was taken to the police department and interrogated for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong.

She was taken to a detention center and detained for seven days. She was released on October 28, after going on a hunger strike for six days.

Original Article: https://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2021/4/22/191984.html