(Minghui.org) Two women in their 60s in Shandong Province were sentenced to prison on December 20, 2018, for hanging up a banner about Falun Gong, a mind-body improvement system that has been persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Wang Chuanying was sentenced to 3 years and 10 months, and Ms. Ren Xiuying to a year and 8 months. Both of their families are appealing the verdicts with the intermediate court.

Ms. Wang and Ms. Ren were arrested on March 25, 2018, after they were reported to the police for hanging up a banner with a message about Falun Gong near a bridge.

The police ransacked Ms. Wang's home and confiscated a pickup truck full of her personal belongings. They also arrested Ms. Wang's daughter, confiscated her cellphone, and interrogated her in the police station.

The police extorted 4,000 yuan from Ms. Wang's family and 5,000 yuan from Ms. Ren's.

The two women were detained in Laiwu Detention Center. Ms. Ren was released on bail after 37 days of detention while Ms. Wang remains in custody.

The police continued to harass Ms. Ren after she was released and demanded that she return to the police station to report to them periodically. When she stopped doing that, the police arrested her again in October and took her back to the detention center.

Ms. Wang and Ms. Ren appeared in the Gangcheng District Court on November 28 and again on December 11. They were charged with “using a cult organization to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese courts to criminalize and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

After their second hearing, the judge deceived Ms. Wang's family into paying a 10,000-yuan fine before issuing a verdict.

Ms. Wang began to practice Falun Gong in the 1990s. She used to suffer from frequent coughs and colds, as well as rheumatism, that left her in a perpetual bad temper. Her ailments disappeared after she began to practice Falun Gong and she became calmer.

She was targeted and imprisoned for raising awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong.