(Minghui.org) Two residents from Liupanshui City, Guizhou Province, were tried in the Zhongshan District Court on December 13, 2018, for practicing Falun Gong, a mind-body discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

They declined the court-appointed lawyer, who was instructed to plead “guilty” for them and testified in their own defense.

Ms. Zhao Yingcui, 81, and Ms. Deng Guixian, 68, were both charged with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by the regime to sentence Falun Gong practitioners.

Ms. Deng argued that there is no law on the books in China that says practicing Falun Gong is a crime and that Falun Gong is not one the 14 organizations identified by the Ministry of Public Security as cults. She also cited a notice issued by the China Administration of Press Publication in 2011, lifting its ban on the publication of Falun Gong books.

Unable to refute their self-defense, the prosecutor accused the practitioners of not cooperating. He asked the judge to increase his originally suggested 3 to 5 years sentences to 7 to 10 years.

The judge adjourned the trial around noon and said he would let the collegiate bench decide the verdicts.

Arrested for Talking to People about Their Faith

Ms. Zhao is a retired elementary school teacher. She was arrested on October 16, after the police saw her talking to people about Falun Gong on a surveillance camera.

Without a search warrant, the police ransacked the shared residence of Ms. Zhao and her daughter and confiscated her Falun Gong items. She was held in the police station for several hours before being released on bail.

The police threatened Ms. Zhao's daughter, ordering her to monitor her mother and not let her go out again to distribute Falun Gong materials during the government's 19th Congress.

Ms. Deng was arrested in September 2018 after she was reported to the police for talking to a college student about Falun Gong. The police ransacked her home and have held her in Dewu Detention Center ever since.

Prior to their latest arrests, Ms. Zhao had served three years in prison and Ms. Deng 11 years for not giving up their faith. They were subjected to savage beatings and verbal abuse by the guards in attempts to force them to renounce Falun Gong.