(Minghui.org) Three Falun Gong practitioners were tried on August 1, 2019 for not renouncing their faith, a spiritual tradition that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Jiang Shisheng, Ms. Wang Pingsheng, and Ms. Dong Yuexiao, all residents of Zhucheng City, Shandong Province, were arrested on April 20, 2018, prior to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held in Qingdao on June 9-10, 2018.

Such large events in China are usually dubbed as sensitive days and authorities often ramp up persecution against Falun Gong practitioners during such times in attempts to prevent them from spreading information about the persecution.

While Ms. Wang and Ms. Dong were released on bail for medical reasons, Mr. Jiang has been held at Huangdao District Detention Center since then and denied family visits.

All three practitioners were indicted by Huangdao District Procuratorate in December 2018 with the charge of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by the authorities to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

They appeared in Huangdao District Court on August 1, 2019. Mr. Jiang's lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him and demanded his acquittal.

The lawyer argued that Mr. Jiang practices Falun Gong to improve his health and that he thrives to be a good person by following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, which doesn't break any law.

In addition, the lawyer said that the informational materials about Falun Gong his client distributed didn't cause harm to anyone, and it's his freedom of expression to raise awareness about the persecution of his faith. He said that a regular citizen couldn't undermine the state's law enforcement just by handing out a few copies of fliers.

When the lawyer pointed out that the persecution of Falun Gong doesn't have any legal basis, prosecutor Tang Wei responded, “We definitely have internal documents to support the prosecution of Falun Gong.”

The lawyer refuted that judicial agencies could only use formal laws to prosecute an individual, not some secret internal document.

All three Falun Gong practitioners testified in their own defense. They shared how practicing Falun Gong improved their health and character. They reiterated that they didn't violate any law in telling people about their faith.

The judge adjourned the hearing and said he would inform the practitioners of the next hearing date later on.

Ms. Wang and Ms. Dong returned home after the hearing. Mr. Jiang was taken back to the detention center.

Related report:

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