(Minghui.org) Three residents of Pingshan County, Hebei Province were tried in a closed-door hearing and sentenced to prison two months later.

Ms. Bai Zhiying, Ms. Hou Yanying, and Mr. Liu Wenshu were arrested in Yu County, Shanxi Province on January 15, 2016 after being reported for distributing information about Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline being persecuted by the Chinese communist regime.

The three Falun Gong practitioners’ court date was set for June 30, 2017. Their families drove hundreds of miles from Pingshan to Yu County to attend the trial, only to be told that the hearing was not open to the public.

The more than 10 family members waited under the scorching sun for more than two hours before they were allowed to see their loved ones briefly after the hearing.

The practitioners told their families that their lawyers entered not guilty pleas for them, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and they were merely exercising their constitutional right to freedom of belief and freedom of the press.

One lawyer questioned the judge why the hearing was closed to the public, and the judge said it was an order from higher-ups.

Another lawyer refuted the prosecution evidence, which included calendars bearing Falun Gong messages. The clerk recording the court proceedings scolded the lawyer, and a third lawyer asked him to stop, as he was not allowed to talk to lawyers.

The judge convicted all three practitioners in July, sentencing Ms. Bai and Ms. Hou to 3.5 years each, and Mr. Liu 1.5 years.