(Minghui.org) Five Qingyuan County, Liaoning Province residents were recently sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 months to 3.5 years for their belief in Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a self-improvement system that benefits both mind and body. It includes five sets of gentle exercises and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The Chinese Communist Party began to suppress the group in July 1999, resulting in tens of millions of innocent practitioners being arrested and detained for refusing to renounce their faith.

Four of the Qingyuan practitioners, Mr. Ding Guozhu, Ms. Yang Xiufang, Ms. Xu Junying, and Ms. Zhang Chuanwen went to Yujiabao Village less than 20 miles away on June 21, 2018, to distribute Falun Gong informational materials and to talk with residents about the benefits of the practice. They were arrested after someone reported them to police.

Ms. Wang Haichao, the wife of Mr. Ding, was also arrested when she was unaware of the incident and visited Ms. Zhang's residence while it was being searched by police.

During the trial at Qingyuan Court on December 12, four attorneys defended the five practitioners. They pointed out inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the prosecution witnesses' testimonies. They argued that the police did not qualify as an independent forensic evidence validation agency. In addition, the police had failed to follow legal procedures in the arrest and prosecution of their clients.

The five practitioners were sentenced to prison weeks later – three and half years for Mr. Ding, three years for Ms. Wang, 18 months for Ms. Zhang and Ms. Xu, and 15 months for Ms. Yang.

The detention and sentence were a real hardship for these practitioners' families. Ms. Zhang's mother, already 93, was left unattended. Ms. Wang's parents, both deaf and mute, relied on her daily.

Related Report:

Five Liaoning Falun Gong Practitioners on Trial For Their Belief