(Minghui.org) Three residents of Changle County, Shandong Province, were arrested within weeks of each other last May for their faith in Falun Gong. Two of them have been sentenced to prison after eight months of detention, while the third was tried by the same court and is awaiting a verdict.

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

Mr. Meng Xianqiang and Mr. Zhang Chengwu were sentenced to 4 and 3.5 years in January 2019 by Qingzhou Court. The judge did not inform their family members of their verdicts; the families found out about the sentences only after calling the court to inquire about their case status.

Both men are currently held at Changle Detention Center, where they have been detained since their arrests.

Another practitioner, Ms. Zhao Aihua, who was also tried by Qingzhou Court on January 21, 2019, is still awaiting verdict at Weifang City Detention Center.

All three practitioners were arrested ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit that was held in Qingdao City, Shandong Province on June 9-10, 2018. Hundreds of practitioners in nearby cities around Qingdao were harassed or arrested before the event.

Mr. Zhang was seized from his home on May 4, 2018. Mr. Meng was arrested on May 9 and Ms. Zhao on May 21.

The authorities didn't inform Ms. Zhao's family of her whereabouts until seven months later. Her grief-stricken, 80-year-old mother often cried over her arrest. Her two teenage children were also longing for her return.

Mr. Zhang appeared in Qingzhou Court on December 3, 2018. He entered a not-guilty plea for himself.

Mr. Meng was tried on January 8, 2019. The prosecution evidence included his Falun Gong books, two cellphones, two TV antennas and one TV that were confiscated from his home. He argued that it was his constitutional right to practice Falun Gong and that he did not violate any laws in holding firm to his faith.

The judge adjourned the hearing in less than 30 minutes. The prosecutor recommended a 7-8 year prison sentence.

Ms. Zhao was tried by the same court two weeks later. She entered a non-guilty defense for herself. The judge also adjourned her hearing in less than 30 minutes without issuing a verdict.

Mr. Zhang's brother visited him at Changle Detention Center in early February after the Chinese New Year. The guards denied the meeting and only allowed him to take a look at Mr. Zhang through a surveillance camera.

Related report:

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