A successful entrepreneur said Chinese authorities coerced her into surrendering her Canadian citizenship then imprisoned her for practicing meditation.

Two-time Hurun Report rich lister Qian Sun is accusing the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) of arbitrarily detaining and torturing her for three years in Beijing’s Number One Detention Center until she finally agreed to give up her Canadian citizenship. On June 30, 2020, Chaoyang District People’s Court of Beijing sentenced the 55-year-old founding vice president of Beijing Leadman Biochemistry Co. to eight years in prison.

The defendant’s only crime was practicing the peaceful Falun Dafa spiritual movement, also known as Falun Gong, which comprises of four standing exercises, a sitting meditation, and behaving truthfully, compassionately, and tolerantly in everyday life.

Sun revealed her many years of hard work and success brought serious consequences to her well-being, and she suffered from a toxic mix of heart palpitations, cardiac arrest, liver necrosis, and depression. After unsuccessfully trying different remedies, she turned to Falun Dafa in 2014 and found her symptoms disappeared soon after, according to the Minghui website.

However, her improved health attracted the attention of CCP authorities who arrested her at home in Beijing on Feb. 19, 2017. She and other Falun Dafa adherents have since been persecuted at the Beijing Number One Detention Center.

From its founding in 1992 to 1999, Falun Dafa enjoyed immense popularity, with an estimated 70 million to 100 million people practicing in mainland China alone. The practice has also spread to the United States, Canada, and more than 70 countries. Falun Dafa books have been translated into over 40 different languages.

However, the CCP grew increasingly unsettled by the group’s rapid growth and the high number of influential party members who joined. In late 1999, CCP dictator Jiang Zemin decided to arbitrarily arrest and torture adherents to death, confiscate and destroy more than 2 million Falun Dafa books, and order state-run media to publish hundreds of articles that defamed the practice.

The two-decades-long human rights crisis has caused at least 4,363 known Falun Dafa adherents to be persecuted to death, with “tens of thousands more [cases] to be confirmed” according to the latest data collected by Minghui. The CCP’s policy to cremate the dead bodies of victims without asking permission from family members has only added to the difficulty in ascertaining exactly how many Falun Dafa adherents have been persecuted to death since 1999.

Sun’s family members used their wealth to hire a total of 13 attorneys to help free the businesswoman but 11 of them dropped the case after being pressured and intimidated by the CCP, according to Minghui. One lawyer, who visited Sun three months after her being arrested, found evidence of bruises and cuts on the woman’s wrists from wearing handcuffs and shackles nonstop for 14 days, including toilet breaks and sleep time.

Qian Sun’s sister Zan revealed that after meeting with a lawyer, that the woman was allegedly shoved to the floor by four male guards and sprayed in the face with hazardous chemicals. She was then reportedly tied to a metal chair, pepper-sprayed, and prevented from changing her clothes for 10 days in a row.

Former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who advised Sun on her lawsuit, believes the confession his client provided was null and void because it was obtained through torture. “If someone is tortured into making a false confession, that does not mean we have to acquiesce and accept it,” Cotler told the Globe and Mail. “I believe she should still be regarded by us as a Canadian citizen.”

The Falun Dafa Association of Canada urged the Canadian government to demand Sun’s immediate release. “Ms. Sun is innocent and should not have been arrested in the first place,” association president Li Xun said in a statement. “The persecution of Falun Gong violates the United Nations Charter and other international human rights conventions. It also violates China’s own Constitution and laws.”

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) confirmed it has expressed concern with the CCP about its handling of Sun’s case. “We have raised her case directly with Chinese counterparts in keeping with our commitment to promoting and protecting human rights and engaging on consular cases in China,” GAC spokeswoman Krystyna Dodds told the paper. “Canada continues to closely monitor the case of Ms. Sun and Canadian officials are providing consular assistance to her and her family.”

Sun’s jail sentence came just days after the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in favor of extraditing Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou from Vancouver to the United States to face charges of stealing trade secrets.

Canadian authorities arrested Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. government while she was in transit at Vancouver International Airport during December 2018.