Young Artists Illegally Tried for Pursuing Internet Freedom
(Minghui.org) The Internet is highly censored in China, and citizens are only allowed to visit sites approved by the regime. In this way, any person caught distributing software that breaks through the blockade is subject to arrest, imprisonment, and/or torture at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Illegal Detention and Trial
For their role in distributing anti-firewall software to let more people know about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, young artists Mr. Huang Guangyu and his wife Mrs. He Wenting were tried on May 20, 2014, at the Panyu District Detention Center. Before the trial they were illegally detained for more than five months.
The detention center they were held in was in a secluded country area, and their trial was held in a small corner room at the back of that detention center. A small sign that read “Panyu District Court,” which was hung at the center's main entrance, was the only way to tell that any courtroom was inside.
Tight Security Outside the Court
On the day of the trial many people gathered in groups, ready to attend. Cars filled both sides of the street across from the main entrance, many of which were police vehicles. Two fully armed special force units stood on guard in front of the court.There were also uniformed and plainclothes officers. Some of the officers had video recorders and cameras to make a record of everyone who arrived.
When the center's doors opened for people to go in at 9 a.m., an officer shouted to the crowd: “Those here to attend the trial, have your identification ready.” A few with their IDs were allowed to pass through, but they had to be thoroughly searched first, which included taking their shoes off.
When someone reminded the officer that a public trial does not require identification to attend, an officer replied, “This is the regulation.” And when others persisted to question if such a procedure was even legal, the officer grew frustrated: “I will not explain anything! You can lodge a complaint if you'd like.”
In the end, only less than a dozen people were allowed to attend the trial, yet over a dozen officers remained stationed to “maintain order.” Many people came to attend the trial, but most were refused entry.
The Course of the Trial
At around 9:30 a.m. the couple was brought into the courtroom, and the prosecutor began to read out the indictment.
Mr. Huang calmly told everyone in the court that he had not committed any crime, and that it is not illegal to practice Falun Gong. Mrs. He added that Falun Gong is her personal belief, and she wants to share the beauty of this practice with others.
They tried to make clear the benefits that practicing Falun Gong has brought to them.The prosecutor presented evidence that consisted of a statement by the police officer who arrested the couple, blurred surveillance video recordings, anti-firewall software, Falun Gong books, and Mr. Huang's artwork.
The couples' lawyers questioned how any of the evidence was proof that what the couple did was illegal. Moreover, they pointed out that the officers had conducted their searches illegally, that the arrests were carried out without any official documents or warrants, and that the evidence was unverifiable.
In the indictment the couple was charged with “using an evil cult organization to interfere with the implementation of the law.” However, the couple's lawyers pointed out that the country's laws do not stipulate anywhere that practicing Falun Gong is illegal. Furthermore, they noted that the government did not list Falun Gong among the 14 evil cults publicly identified in the year 2000. As to “interfering with the implementation of the law,” the lawyers pointed out that ordinary citizens with no legal authority have no way to obstruct the implementation of the law.
Finally, when the judge asked Mrs. He if she had anything else to add, she began to detail the benefits that she experienced through practicing Falun Gong. The judge then stopped her and requested that she submit any additional information in writing after the trial. The trial was thus hastily closed.
Mrs. He did not want to leave and requested that she and her husband be released unconditionally. Several officers then dragged her away. Even the few people who attended the trial questioned the judge about why he refused to acquit the couple. He had nothing to say and quickly left through a side door.
To clear out the room even quicker, many officers began taking photos and video until everyone left.