(Minghui.org) Three residents of Weifang City, Shandong Province, who were targeted during a mass arrest last year for their faith in Falun Gong were tried separately by two courts on January 18 and February 1, 2019.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

A total of 163 Falun Gong practitioners in Weifang, including the three mentioned, were arrested between April and May 2018 ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit that was later held at Qingdao City, Shandong Province, on June 9-10, 2018. Weifang authorities attempted to prevent the practitioners from going to Qingdao (about 100 miles away) to appeal for Falun Gong.

While most of the practitioners were released after the summit, some remain in custody and face further prosecution for their faith.

Ms. Qi Naihua, Ms. Xu Wanxiang, and Ms. Yang Xiaohua were arrested on April 24, 2018 and have since remained at Weifang Detention Center.

Ms. Qi and Ms. Xu, nearly 60, were tried separately by Fangzi District Court on January 18, 2019. Ms. Qi's lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for her. The details of Ms. Xu's hearing remain to be investigated.

Ms. Yang, 56, the owner of an eyeglasses store, appeared at Gaomi Court on February 1, 2019. Her lawyer also entered a not-guilty plea for her. The prosecutor alleged that the Falun Gong materials confiscated from Ms. Yang's home were evidence that she had undermined law enforcement.

The lawyer read aloud some of the materials and said that they were all about how Falun Gong teaches people to improve their character and is not as depicted by state propaganda. He argued that his client caused no harm to anyone by owning the materials, much less undermine law enforcement. He further argued that practicing Falun Gong was within his client's constitutionally protected rights and that the communist regime’s persecution of Falun gong has no legal basis.

Ms. Yang and the other two women are awaiting verdicts at Weifang Detention Center.

Related reports:

Three Shandong Women Detained for Their Faith, Families Devastated

163 Falun Gong Practitioners Arrested in Weifang, Shandong Province Ahead of SCO Summit