(Minghui.org) Two residents of Dandong City, Liaoning Province were tried by Zhen'an District Court on March 18, 2019, for their faith in Falun Gong.

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

Mr. Zhang Ming's lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him. Mr. Li Quanchen defended himself after dismissing the lawyer hired by his family and the one appointed by the court, both of whom were planning to plead guilty on his behalf.

Prosecutor Cong Shu charged the two men with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” the standard pretext used by the Chinese authorities to sentence Falun Gong practitioners.

Mr. Zhang's lawyer argued that no law in China ever criminalizes Falun Gong or identifies it as a cult.

Prosecutor Cong responded, “This is common sense. The CCTV (China Central Television) news has said so, and everybody knows this.”

Mr. Zhang's lawyer refuted that the prosecution of criminal charges should be based on facts and laws, not China's state propaganda news outlets.

The lawyer went on to cite a notice by China Administration of Press and Publication, in which they revoked its ban on publication of Falun Gong books in 2011. The lawyer also argued that the prosecutor failed to provide any evidence of how the practitioners' practicing of Falun Gong has caused harm to society or undermined law enforcement.

Both practitioners denied the allegations against them and demanded an acquittal.

The judge adjourned the trial after two hours and didn't issue a verdict.

Mr. Zhang and Mr. Li were arrested on June 29, 2018, after the traffic police found Falun Gong materials in their car. The police ransacked their residence, interrogated them and kept them at Kuandian Detention Center.

Both men developed some medical conditions during detention. Mr. Zhang suffered from high blood pressure (200/140 mmHg) and Mr. Li had severe tuberculosis. The authorities refused to provide medical care or grant them medical parole because they refused to renounce their faith.

Mr. Zhang's daughter, Ms. Zhang Hongyu, currently resides in the United States. She is calling on the authorities to release her father.

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