A Beijing court has sentenced a Falun Gong practitioner to eight years in prison two weeks before the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The heavy-handed sentence again spotlights the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights violations as the regime seeks to glorify its political image during the upcoming Games, said Wu Shaoping, a Chinese human rights lawyer in the United States.
“The International Olympic Committee [IOC] should open its eyes to the current situation of human rights in China under the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] and should not continue to cooperate with it,” Wu told The Epoch Times.
“This is a shame for the IOC,” he added.
Xu, a 53-year-old painter from Beijing, is one of the 11 Chinese citizens detained in July 2020 for providing photos and information to the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times during the early COVID-19 outbreak in China.
All of them are Falun Gong practitioners. The spiritual discipline is based on the core tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and had about 70 million to 100 million practitioners in 1999. Then, the Chinese regime, deeming the practice’s popularity a threat, launched a nationwide persecution campaign to eradicate it.
“Xu Na and others are not only innocent but also meritorious,” said her defense lawyer Xie Yanyi. The lawyer was blocked from defending his client at the trial on Oct. 15, 2021. Having been held in a local detention center pending trial for more than a year since their arrest, Xu saw the recent judgment came three weeks before the Beijing 2022 Olympics.
The court sentenced Xu on Jan. 14 to 8 years imprisonment—the longest term among the 11, as the others were sentenced two to five years—according to her representative lawyer.
The communist iron fist had already torn apart the family as the world geared up for the 2008 Games.
Beijing police arrested the couple in January 2008 using the excuse of an “Olympic check.”
Xu’s husband, a folk musician, was tortured to death for his belief less than two weeks into his detention at the age of 42. Xu wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral and was later sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
The couple’s misfortune is more than enough to raise international awareness, said Wu.
The Chinese capital of Beijing is the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, despite international calls for a full boycott over the CCP’s low human rights record that should disqualify China as a host country.
“Every injustice in this world, even if it is far away, is still relevant to you, because it is always torturing your conscience,” Xu wrote in a personal statement.
Xu cannot forget the horrible pain experienced during her prolonged detention in Beijing, she said in the statement, recalling the dark days she went through.
“It makes living worse than dying,” Xu said after the first 5-year detention from 2001. The then-32-year-old suffered 11 cruel tortures and has since then spent about 10 years in total behind bars.
“How I wish I were in Auschwitz instead of a Chinese prison. In the Nazi gas chambers, one could die quickly,” Xu said in the statement. “The purpose of the Nazis’ [crime] against humanity was to destroy the Jewish body, while their [CCP’s] purpose was to destroy the human spirit, the conscience.”
Xu was allowed to sleep for an hour after police found an irregular heartbeat due to days of sleep deprivation.
When she refused to give up her faith under torture, a police officer said to her in a serious manner, “I should apply for a craniotomy and remove your brain.”
“It has violated international human rights norms,” said rights lawyer Wu, calling for a continuing appeal for boycotting the Beijing Olympics that begins on Feb. 4.
The U.S. State Department has expressed concern for the 11 Chinese citizens, including Xu, in an email to The Epoch Times last August.
“The United States calls on the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government to release journalists and their contacts detained for their reporting on COVID-19 restrictions and to cease its efforts to silence those who seek to report the truth,” a spokesperson said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, the New York-based journalist advocacy group, also called for an immediate release with all charges dropped in an August statement.
Compared to weapons, the regime is more afraid of the truth and free information, the editor-in-chief of the Bitter Winter magazine, Massimo Introvigne, said in a previous interview while commenting on the arrest.
Countries that announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games include the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Lithuania, Belgium, Denmark, and Estonia.
Luo Qiong and Chang Chun contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times