(Minghui.org) Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a traditional spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.
Ms. Wang Xiyu credits Falun Gong for returning her to health and improving her quality of life. However, her simple pursuit of happiness landed her in police custody multiple times. She was sentenced to five years in 2001 and three and a half years in 2012 for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. Between her two imprisonments, she served two years of forced labor from 2007 to 2009.
Despite her lengthy incarceration, Ms. Wang continued practicing and talking to people about Falun Gong after each release. She was last arrested on November 24, 2017 and faced trial on March 30, 2018. The hearing was held at Pudong Detention Center, where she remains since her latest arrest.
Ms. Wang's lawyer condemned the persecution and demanded his client's acquittal. He also alluded to her past imprisonment and asked, “Why is she still practicing Falun Gong? Doesn't it show that Falun Gong is good?” He then elaborated on how the charges against his client were baseless.
Ms. Wang was indicted for violating Article 300 of the Criminal Law, which stipulates that those “using a cult organization to undermine enforcement of the law” should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. Her lawyer 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.
A new statutory interpretation that replaced the 1999 version took effect on February 1, 2017. 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 Ms. Wang lacks legal basis.
Prosecutor Fu Yanjun alleged that Ms. Wang intended to “overthrow the Chinese Communist Party,” citing copies of Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party confiscated from her home. Ms. Wang's lawyer countered that the book contained nothing but facts about the ruling party and that his client's possession of that book caused no harm to anyone, much less does it undermine law enforcement.
Fu then said that Ms. Wang disturbed social order by wearing a helmet at the time of her arrest. The lawyer argued that his client would of course have a helmet on as she was riding a bike that day. He questioned Fu to explain how an elderly woman wearing a helmet broke any law. Fu had no answer, and some spectators in the courtroom couldn't help but chuckle.
Ms. Wang remarked that she had been suffering from high blood pressure for four straight weeks leading up to her court appearance. Her two daughters cried when they saw their once energetic mother appearing weak, with handcuffs and shackles on during the entire hearing.
Ms. Wang's daughters were threatened before the trial by Guo Chengyu, deputy head of the local 610 Office, an extra-legal agency tasked with eradicating Falun Gong and given power to override the judicial system. Guo said the two young women shouldn't have hired their own lawyer, whose not-guilty plea for their mother would only get her a heavy prison sentence.
Guo was seen at the detention center on the day of the trial, though he left before the hearing concluded.