Lawmakers blame 11 Beijing imprisonment for sharing pandemic photos with The Epoch Times

Legislators and supporters have accused the ruling of 11 Chinese citizens imprisoned by Chinese authorities after providing the Epoch Times with material that sheds light on the victims of a Chinese pandemic.

Eleven followers of Falun Gong, a persecuted spiritual group, took pictures to record the lives of the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Beijing, the capital of China, and shared them with outlets. Did. Eight of them are millennials.

They have been detained since July 2020. On January 14, a Beijing court sentenced him to two to eight years in prison in addition to a large fine.

Their ruling, a few weeks before the opening of the Beijing Olympics on February 4, emphasizes that Chinese citizens and critics have little freedom to hear their voices, U.S. lawmakers said. Said a Chinese observer.

“This Communist dictatorship has an amazing track record of abusive intolerance to those that do not comply with government directives,” Ralph Norman (RS.C.) told The Epoch Times.

“Atrocities and tyranny”

The court documents obtained by The Epoch Times placed considerable emphasis on the promotion produced by the photographs. Some of the photos show closed shopping malls and local shops, strict blockades imposed by authorities, and police intervention in foreign journalist reports.

“These above sources distort the facts and deliberately hurt the party and the government,” the court verdict said. The photos brought tens of thousands of views online and “had a negative impact on society,” he continued.

Beijing’s prosecutor claimed that Traffic was “sufficient to prove that the defendant was” supplying “information to the Epoch Times.”

dengjingjing and Lijiaxuan
Deng Jingjing (L) and Li Jiaxuan have been sentenced to four and two years in prison, respectively. (The Epoch Times)

“This is another important reminder for the Olympics on how the CCP despises freedom of speech, association and belief,” Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times. He talked about 11 punishments. “CCP’s cruelty and tyranny are real threats, especially to those who want to exercise their freedom in China.”

When the virus first broke out in China, the administration launched an aggressive campaign to curb information about the severity of the outbreak. Police summoned a doctor who tried to share direct information about COVID-19 and arrested a citizen journalist. A huge number of trolls have been hired to eliminate critical views online. Elementary school teachers lost their education license after cross-examinating official deaths in the Chinese media.

Hundreds of police have been mobilized to arrest 11 practitioners, according to Minghui, a US-based website that has been tracking persecution since its inception in 1999.

Authorities are likely to have started surveillance of 11 after seeing pandemic photos on the Chinese version of The Epoch Times website and identifying them in surveillance camera footage, Mingi’s report said. ..

Chung Yanmei and Zhang Renfei
Zheng Yanmei (L) and Zhang Renfei sentenced to five and four years in prison, respectively. (The Epoch Times)

“These media sources shouldn’t be detained in the first place and should be even less likely to be imprisoned in heavy prisons,” Cedric Alviani, who oversees the East Asian bureau of the press freedom group, told The Epoch Times. Told. He called for their immediate release, along with “all journalists detained in China and defenders of press freedom.”

Stephen Butler, Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based advocacy group, has called for strong condemnation of the harsh ruling against those who “just provide photos to newspapers seems to be a crime.” Said that.

Yuji Chung
Chung Yujie in a photo without a date. On January 14, a Beijing court sentenced Chung to five years in prison. (The Epoch Times)

Both groups ranked Communist China as the world’s worst prison officer for journalists in their December report.

Just a few weeks before the Olympics, Butler told The Epoch Times, “more broadly reminds us of the difficult environment facing journalists working in China and China’s worst records of press freedom and human rights.”

“Heart breaking”

The 53-year-old painter XuNa faced the heaviest punishment. In addition to her eight years in prison, she was also fined 20,000 yuan ($ 3,160).

Xu was a witness to two consecutive crackdowns from Beijing. She was a participant in a student-led Tiananmen Square protest in 1989 for greater democratic freedom. She remains a taboo topic in China today after authorities have declared the protest a riot and launched a bloody military crackdown. Journalists said she didn’t want to help spread the administration’s publicity.

Since 1999, Xu has spent a total of more than eight years in prison for believing in Falun Gong. Her husband, folk singer and musician Yu Zhou, was also a victim of persecution.

The couple were arrested during the “Olympic Check” after police found a Falun Gong book in their car in early 2008, months before the Beijing Summer Olympics. Yu died 11 days later.

xuna and yuzhou
XuNa and YuZhou in photos without dates. (The Epoch Times)

“All the injustices in the world are closely related to you, no matter how they seem to have been removed,” she wrote last year in an editorial published in the Chinese version of The Epoch Times. “It’s always questioning your conscience.”

Freedom House senior Chinese analyst Sarah Cooke said the timing of Xu’s decision was “especially tragic” given that she had already lost her husband in persecution.

“It’s not tragic for his widow to be sentenced to eight years in prison for simply sharing information about the Beijing pandemic situation with foreign media outlets,” she told The Epoch Times. rice field.

“Her heavy ruling, along with others, highlights how fearing the Chinese government is to reach an international audience with informal information about COVID-19,” she said. .. “It is also close to the Olympic venue and reminds us of the harsh treatment of Beijing residents, including Falun Gong practitioners.”



Eva Fu is a New York-based writer of The Epoch Times, focusing on Sino-US relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at [email protected]