(Minghui.org) Four Chengde City residents were sentenced to prison on February 15, 2017, for talking to people about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime. They are now appealing the verdicts.

Mr. Yu Dali and Mr. Bian Qunlian were each given 6 years and fined 20,000 yuan. Mr. Yu Hailong was given 4 years and fined 10,000 yuan. Ms. Jiang Yuhuan was given 3 years and fined 10,000 yuan.

The four Falun Gong practitioners were arrested on July 8, 2016. The three men have since remained in the Chengde County Detention Center, while Ms. Jiang is being held at Chengde City Detention Center.

The police raided Mr. Yu Hailong’s home on the night of his arrest and confiscated 150 Falun Gong books, 1 laptop, 1 printer, and materials with information about the persecution of Falun Gong.

Mr. Yu Dali, who began practicing Falun Gong only three years ago, was roughed up the moment he was admitted to the detention center. Two guards ordered a few inmates to pour cold water over his head nonstop, leaving him struggling to breathe. He moved a bit and was kicked so hard that he hit a metal basin. He got a long cut on his left leg that required 12 stitches.

Mr. Bian, who was sentenced in 2005 to 8 years in prison for his faith, was also abused. The guards slapped him in the face with the sole of a shoe.

The four practitioners first appeared in court on December 29, 2016. Judge Wang Fu kept interrupting the lawyers as they defended their clients’ constitutional right to freedom of belief. Mr. Yu Hailong’s lawyer quit midway through the hearing in protest of the judge’s violation of his legal right to defend his client.

The second hearing was held on January 5, 2017, with Wang still presiding. This time, though, there were two more prosecutors and many more police officers both inside and outside the courthouse. Only three family members of each practitioner were allowed inside, and they were videotaped during the trial.

The judge adjourned the hearing after nine and a half hours. He issued guilty verdicts against all four practitioners in mid-February.