(Minghui.org) Two Tianjin residents appeared in court on October 30, 2017 to face charges that they “used a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese communist regime in its attempt to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

Mr. Yang Qiuren and Ms. Yang Jinhua were handcuffed and shackled when they were brought into the courtroom. The presiding judge ordered the removal of their handcuffs only upon their lawyers’ strong request. By law, the shackles should also be removed in the courtroom.

The lawyers refuted the charges against their clients and demanded their acquittal. They argued that the People’s Congress (China’s legislative body) has never enacted a law deeming Falun Gong a “cult” and that former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin directed the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to issue a statutory interpretation of Article 300 in November 1999, which required that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

The lawyers pointed out that a new statutory interpretation took effect on February 1, 2017 to replace the 1999 version. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no law in China labels Falun Gong a cult, the indictment against Mr. Yang and Ms. Yang lacked legal basis.

The prosecutor said that Mr. Yang and Ms. Yang were found to have mailed Falun Gong informational materials to the local police, stating that it was “more than enough evidence against them.” The lawyers countered that it was their clients’ constitutional right to disseminate information about Falun Gong.

The prosecutor proceeded to present another piece of evidence – Falun Gong books confiscated from Mr. Yang’s and Ms. Yang’s respective homes. He alleged that possession of Falun Gong books broke the law, though he failed to specify which law. He only cited as legal basis two notices issued by China's Administration of Press and Publications in July 1999 to ban the publication of Falun Gong books.

The lawyer argued that the Administration issued a repeal of the ban in 2011 and that it was fully legal for practitioners to own Falun Gong books.

Mr. Yang testified in his own defense. He questioned the presiding judge as to which law he'd broken by mailing out Falun Gong informational materials. The judge didn’t answer.

Mr. Yang and Ms. Yang remain at the Tianhe District Detention Center following their arrest on May 12, 2017.

Related Report:China Administration of Press and Publication Repealed Its Ban on Publication of Falun Gong Books in 2011