(Minghui.org) Two women in Weiyuan County were sentenced to prison for talking to people about the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Ms. Ning Lanqing and Ms. Wu Xiurong were seized on September 13, 2016 and had their homes searched hours later. Police confiscated more than 10,000 yuan in cash, two computers, three printers, some Falun Gong books, and 500 copies of Falun Gong informational materials from Ms. Ning’s home. Ms. Wu also had several copies of Falun Gong materials taken from her home.

The two Falun Gong practitioners were issued formal arrest warrants around October 20, 2016. They appeared in court on August 18, 2017. Their two lawyers argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that their clients should never have been prosecuted for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief and freedom of the press.

Prosecutor Gu Nengyi initially recommended 1-1.5 years of imprisonment, but she increased the recommended term to 3 years after she was unable to refute the lawyers’ defense arguments. The presiding judge adjourned the session without issuing a verdict.

The hearing resumed on December 15, and the judge convicted both practitioners in a few minutes. Ms. Ning was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and fined 10,000 yuan. Ms. Wu didn’t have that many Falun Gong materials confiscated from her home, but she was sentenced to 4 years in prison and fined 10,000 yuan on the basis that “she was a repeat offender.” She was once sentenced to more than one year in prison back in 2014 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong.

Ms. Ning and Ms. Wu refused to sign on their verdicts. They were taken back to Neijiang City Detention Center, where they are considering filing appeals.