(Minghui.org) Two Falun Gong practitioners learned on the morning of August 19, 2019 that they were to be tried in a few minutes for not renouncing their faith.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body improvement practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Sheng Shuli and Ms. Qu Yuanzhi, residents of Qingdao City, Shandong Province, were arrested on January 22, 2019, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong.

They have since been held at Pudong Detention Center, where they were tried in a makeshift courtroom by Huangdao District Court on August 19.

Two lawyers entered not-guilty pleas for the practitioners and demanded their acquittals. The practitioners also testified in their own defense.

Ms. Qu's son applied to defend her, but the judge denied his request.

The Pingdu 610 Office, an extralegal agency created specifically to persecute Falun Gong, pressured Ms. Sheng into dismissing her lawyer prior to the hearing, but she reversed her decision and re-hired the lawyer on August 12.

Staff members from Pingdu 610 Office came to the detention center on August 19 and intimidated the lawyers. They also checked the IDs of all family members who came to attend their hearing of the two women, but they only allowed half of the family members to enter the courtroom.

Defense Arguments

Prosecutor Li Jianing charged the practitioners with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by Chinese courts to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

The evidence provided by the prosecutor included photos of some Falun Gong related materials that the two practitioners distributed on the day of their arrests.

The practitioners' lawyers argued that such photos were not admissible, as they failed to show the actual amount of Falun Gong related materials. The lawyers also pointed out that the prosecutor failed to specify which law's enforcement was undermined, and did not identify the victims.

The lawyers cited a notice by the Chinese publication bureau which revoked the ban on Falun Gong books and related materials in 2011. “It's totally legal for my client to possess and distribute materials related to Falun Gong. In fact, no law in China has ever criminalized Falun Gong, and the persecution has no legal basis,” one of the lawyers said.

Ms. Sheng also refuted, “I did pass out some new year's paintings bearing information about Falun Gong to people. But it didn't cause any harm to them whether they used it or not, much less undermine law enforcement. How could I have undermined the law's enforcement with a few pieces of paper?”

“It's fine if you just practice Falun Gong, but you can't distribute the materials,” prosecutor Li responded, “Haven't you watched the news? The newspaper and TV programs have been broadcast since 1999 that Falun Gong is outlawed. And you (practitioners) still go out and distribute materials. You are doing this on purpose. I'm sure you know clearly that such actions are prohibited.”

The lawyers rebutted, “How can you refer to TV programs and newspapers as laws to prosecute citizens?”

The judge adjourned the hearing two hours later. The prosecutor suggested sentencing Ms. Sheng to 3-7 years and Ms. Qu to less than 3 years.

Ms. Qu's mother, in her 70s, became paralyzed on one side of her body due to the anxiety and distress worrying about her daughter, shortly after she was arrested. She is longing for her daughter to come home.

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