Over 1,900 Chinese people in northeastern China have signed a petition calling for the release of two elderly women who were jailed for several years for practicing Falun Gong, a traditional spiritual practice that has been persecuted for over 13 years.
The two women, Zhang Mingfeng and Zhang Guizhi, who are both believed to be in their 60s, were arrested after an undercover policeman asked them for a DVD containing information about Shen Yun Performing Arts, a dance and musical performance that tours the world, presenting traditional Chinese culture independent of the regime, according to its website.
After the women handed a DVD to the officer, several police cars descended and police took them away, according to Falun Gong website Minghui. They were later jailed in the Shijiazhuang women’s prison in Hebei Province. According to Minghui and other Falun Gong websites, practitioners who have been sent to Shijiazhuang women’s prison have been subjected to torture, and have been killed in some cases.
After the two Zhangs where taken away by police, some 400 people put their names and fingerprints to a petition that was circulated around the city, said Minghui. As of this week, at least 1,889 people had signed and thumbprinted the document—a bold act in communist China, where those supporting Falun Gong can themselves be targeted for persecution.
Some locals described Zhang Mingfeng as “such a nice person” who “always helps others,” and that she is undeserving of harsh treatment. “We all support her and stand up for justice. We want to help her to get released back home,” said another, according to the website.
Minghui said that local officials in the Fenghuang District of Tangshan, where the two women were from, placed emphasis on cracking down on Falun Gong practitioners, but noted that there is a large support base for the meditation practice, putting them at odds with the local government.
Xu Tianpeng, the judge who sentenced Zhang Mingfeng and Zhang Guizhi, also jailed more than 10 practitioners of Falun Gong and intentionally concealed the location and date of the two elderly women’s trials. Xu—who faces several lawsuits from the families of jailed practitioners—also apparently denied the women’s rights to a lawyer and to a proper legal defense, and did not inform their families, which is mandated by the Chinese legal code.
As they were giving testimony in their defense, Xu interrupted them and subsequently sentenced Zhang Mingfeng to three years and Zhang Guizhi to four years in prison, according to Minghui. Their families were also denied a written verdict, which is also within their legal rights.
In China, there has been a growing trend of ordinary people standing up to support practitioners of Falun Gong.
Last April in the city of Boutu, around 300 villagers, who represented their households, signed and placed their thumbprints or fingerprints on a petition to release a Falun Gong practitioner who was detained. The petition reportedly drew the attention of the Politburo, the second-most powerful organ in the Chinese Communist Party that dictates policies nationwide.
Since 1999, the Chinese regime’s crackdown on Falun Gong has affected an estimated tens of millions of people and has left thousands of practitioners dead, according to human rights website Faluninfo.net.
- Source: The Epochtimes