A Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province resident sentenced to seven years in prison for practising Falun Gong suddenly died in custody while awaiting an appeal hearing.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Wei Qishan’s family received a call from Qinhuangdao City Detention Center around 9:20 p.m. on November 23, 2019 and was told that he had just passed away. They rushed to Qinhuangdao City People's Hospital and saw his body. His eyes were half open and his right arm was completely black and purple.
A guard surnamed Zhao claimed that Mr. Wei fell around 8 p.m. that night while using the restroom and that they sent him to the hospital for resuscitation, but he still died.
Around 10 p.m., more than 10 police officers came and took Mr. Wei’s body to a funeral home. His family members tried to stop the police but were pushed aside. They were not allowed to accompany the body to the funeral home.
Mr. Wei's death is the second suspicious death of Falun Gong practitioners detained at Qinhuangdao City Detention Centre during the past 14 months.
Another practitioner, Ms. Ma Guilan, 64, died around September 2018, hours after she felt uncomfortable on one morning. According to insiders, several government agents with unknown identities came to the hospital, cut open her abdomen and removed her internal organs for some alleged examinations.
One month before Ms. Ma’s death, two other detainees (who have been confirmed to be non-Falun Gong practitioners) also died under suspicious circumstances.
Mr. Wei and his wife, Ms. Yu Shurong, who ran a milk delivery service business, were arrested on June 12, 2018 after police suspected them of putting up Falun Gong banners one month earlier.
The police ransacked their home without a search warrant and didn’t provide a list of confiscated items.
The couple was interrogated at Changjiangdao Police Station and then taken to Qinhuangdao City Detention Center for criminal detention.
The couple’s two sons went to check their parents' home the day after their arrest. The police and staff members from the neighbourhood committee soon arrived and harassed the two sons, possibly after seeing that the light in the couple’s home was turned on.
The police called the couple’s older son's wife on June 14 and threatened to sentence her parents-in-law for hanging up the banners about Falun Gong and possessing Falun Gong literature.
Mr. Wei and Ms. Yu appeared in Changli Court twice, first on December 19, 2018 and then on July 4, 2019. Their lawyer and a family member entered a not guilty plea for them.
The prosecutor charged them with “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.
Their lawyer argued that no law ever criminalized Falun Gong in China and that the prosecutor failed to provide evidence about how their practising Falun Gong undermined which law's enforcement.
The judge later sentenced Mr. Wei to seven years in prison and Ms. Yu to four years. They appealed to Qinhuangdao City Intermediate Court, which has yet to schedule a hearing of their cases.
Ms. Yu is still detained at Qinhuangdao City Detention Centre at the time of writing.
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