After 22 years of relentless persecution, Chinese dictators showed zero tolerance for people with high moral standards.

Since the beginning of 2021, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sentenced 667 people to prison for their faith. Their only crime was believing in truth, compassion, and tolerance—the peaceful principles of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) meditation.

The New York-based Falun Dafa Information Center confirmed the latest prisoners of conscience were arrested from 154 cities in 26 provinces and municipalities.

“Henan (70), Liaoning (68), Heilongjiang (65), Jilin (55), and Shandong (54) are the top five provinces with the most cases,” the center said on its website. “Sixteen other regions registered double-digit cases, and the remaining five provinces had single-digit cases.”

The center identified Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, and other northeastern Chinese provinces as hotbeds for persecuting adherents.

“[Earlier in the year] Wancheng District Court alone was responsible for sentencing 26 practitioners, with sentences ranging from seven months to 13 years [in Nanyang],” the website said.

No mercy for elderly

Even the elderly are not spared, with 35 percent of prisoners of conscience having an average age of 62. These vulnerable people were even slapped with “especially lengthy” sentences despite having highly skilled backgrounds like teaching, medicine, law, engineering, and finance.

“Sixteen of the practitioners were 80 or older, 57 were in their 70s, and 76 were in their 60s,” the center said. “An 82-year-old man [was] sentenced to 10 years, an 81-year-old man sentenced to nine years, a 72-year-old woman sentenced to nine years, and another woman in her 70s also sentenced to nine years.”

Younger Falun Gong adherents tend to be sentenced for an average of 3.5 years, ranging from just four months up to 14 years.

Bookworms sentenced

The CCP has increasingly resorted to arresting and sentencing adherents in groups. Unfortunately, this often entails lengthier prison terms, even though the so-called crime could be compared to hosting a book discussion meeting.

“Six residents of Zhoukou City in the province were given sentences from three to seven years for reading Falun Gong books together,” the center said. “Police monitored the practitioners for over a month before arresting them. All had their homes ransacked.”

The CCP also imposes heavy fines on groups, with nine Fuyang City adherents each having to fork out between 10,000 to 30,000 yuan. The average annual wage in China varies between 36,539 and 97,379 yuan, according to the Statista website.

“A total of 248 (37%) practitioners were extorted by the police or fined by the court for sums ranging from 500 to 200,000 yuan, with an average of 13,909 yuan per person,” the center said.

Judges withhold verdict

Mainland Chinese court proceedings are widely criticized for being just a formality since the judge has already decided the outcome.

“Before the hearings, the judge forced the practitioners’s lawyers to leave and arranged for the court-appointed lawyers to enter guilty pleas for the practitioners,” the center said. “The practitioners’s family members were not allowed to attend the sessions in person either but had to watch online videos.”

“Thereafter, the judges refused to provide the practitioners’s families with a hard copy of the verdicts, citing a decision from their superior,” the center added. “The detention center also prevented the practitioners’s lawyers from visiting them to obtain more information about the verdicts.”

BL understands mainland Chinese prisons have a notorious reputation for mistreating inmates. For example, former Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation interpreter Han Xu spent 10 years behind bars for practicing Falun Gong.

“He was beaten multiple times, handcuffed with his arms behind his back for long hours, shocked with electric batons, and locked in solitary confinement for six years,” the center said.

Disabled woman harassed

Huichun City, Jilin Province resident Zhang Junling was under house arrest for a year. Police officers repeatedly harassed the 62-year-old despite her suffering from physical disability and severe medical conditions.

“With her high blood pressure, heart condition, and swelling and pain around the area where she had had a mastectomy years ago, she was allowed to serve time at home,” the center said. “Because the police kept going to her home to harass her, her health continued to decline.”

“The police took her back into custody on June 9, 2021 and ordered her to serve a renewed 1.5–year prison term,” the center added. “Because she can no longer wear her artificial leg (which was amputated after a train accident in 1981), she has to use a wheelchair to get around in the detention center.”