While browsing online, a New York resident made a startling discovery: her husband in China is due to stand trial in days, over nothing more than refusing to give up his faith.
Ren Haifei, 45, is a Falun Gong practitioner in China’s northeastern port city of Dalian. The spiritual practice has been brutally suppressed by the communist regime for more than two decades. Millions of adherents have been detained or jailed.
Ren is set to face trial on July 29.
His wife, Wang Jing, knows what this means: a show trial leading to an almost certain heavy sentence. That’s the same treatment accorded to most Falun Gong practitioners by the communist regime, she said.
“I want to rescue him now,” Wang, a former nurse who now resides in New York state, told The Epoch Times in an interview.
Wang wants to save her husband from another long stint in prison. Ren previously spent seven and a half years in jail, during which he suffered from numerous forms of torture.
Ren was never supposed to be in this position again. He was supposed to escape the country with Wang in 2018 after enduring decades of Beijing’s persecution and harassment.
But when the two were about to leave, Ren’s elderly parents fell ill. He chose to stay in China to take care of them.
Fearing surveillance by Chinese authorities, the couple has limited their communications to no more than a few brief long distance calls over the past three years.
Wang was only able to find out of Ren’s trial from browsing Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that documents the persecution of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline composed of meditative exercises and a set of moral teachings centered around the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. It saw surging appeal in the 1990s, with up to 100 million people practicing by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time.
Viewing this as a threat to its totalitarian control, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a sweeping persecution campaign against Falun Gong practitioners in July 1999, with the goal of eliminating the faith group.
Wang sought help from her federal representative, congressman Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), during a recent town hall meeting.
“We stand for human rights, for Falun Gong, and for others,” Maloney said at the meeting on July 18, where he pledged to send a letter to the U.S. Embassy in China calling for Ren’s release.
After rounds of phoning the Chinese authorities herself, Wang recently was finally able to get through to Judge Jin Hua who is handling Ren’s case at Dalian’s Ganjingzi Court.
Wang told Jin about her husband’s poor health and asked the judge to immediately release him. She also mentioned the statement from Rep. Maloney.
“Do what you want,” replied Jin. “Come back to China, I’ll put you in jail too.”
The judge hung up and Wang couldn’t reach her again.
Arrest Without Warrant
A year ago, police barged into Ren’s apartment, confiscated his savings, personal belongings, and arrested him without a warrant.
While detained, Ren was sent to the emergency room after a brutal beating by police that caused heart and kidney failure. He was hospitalized for 19 days.
Then, while still in extremely poor health, Ren was imprisoned in a detention center, where guards kept giving him unknown drugs. He was not allowed to disclose the incident to a lawyer until months later. Ren’s lawyer then recounted these details to Wang.
Ren has since been held by the authorities without charge, Wang said.
After Ren’s arrest, Wang phoned every related authority in China in the hopes of connecting with her husband. All blocked her from reaching him.
Lives Turned Upside Down
In the late 90s, Wang and Ren were twenty-somethings who occasionally ran into each other during morning group meditation sessions at a local park in Dalian.
“Ren was a warm, caring, and gentle guy,” Wang said of her first impressions. “He was always eager to help people around.”
But in July 1999, their morning routine was upended when the CCP launched its persecution against the group. From then on, meditating outdoors meant arrest and beatings by police on patrol.
Wang, along with thousands of other local practitioners, went to protest two days after the persecution began. They formed a line and stood at the large field in front of Dalian’s City Hall.
“No one planned the protest,” Wang recalled. “Each of us felt like we had to do something, so we went.
“Then, the police appeared. One by one, police dragged practitioners out of our line. Some of the practitioners were knocked unconscious and then carried away. Some were bleeding,” Wang said.
“A lot of the police were young people. They said nothing while dragging the practitioners, like they’re just clearing a mission.”
Wang recalled seeing plainclothes police videotaping each practitioner present. Days later, police began to show up at their doors, their workplaces, forcing them to sign declarations renouncing their faith. Even family members were harassed and threatened.
Ren was arrested in 2001 while he was at home making flyers that aimed to counter the regime’s hate propaganda against the practice and its adherents. He ended up being jailed for seven and a half years.
Wang lost her job as a nurse. Pressured by authorities, the hospital she worked at reassigned her to mop the floors. Her previous patients would walk by looking at her with sadness and disbelief, Wang recalled.
‘Paying the Price with Blood and Tears’
Wang and Ren revived their friendship after he was released from prison in 2008.
At first, Wang couldn’t recognize Ren at all, she said. The lively young man she remembered was gone. Ren would often weep as he recounted the brutal killings of practitioners around him in prison, she said.
After a few years, the two got married and lived together until 2018.
Like others, Ren was severely tortured. He was locked alone in a three by three foot room for days on end, wearing shackles and handcuffs. He struggled to find words that could describe everything he went through, even to his wife, Wang said.
“My husband remained true to his belief and tried his best to face life with positivity,” she said. “But a dark shadow was implanted deep inside his heart.”
With days left before Ren’s trial, Wang hopes for a miracle.
“In China, there are a group of good people who just want to hold on to their faith. But they’re paying the price with blood and tears,” she said.
“The CCP is destroying their lives and their family’s lives. I hope kind people from the international community will lend a helping hand, and side with justice.”