(Minghui.org) Four Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province residents were tried on August 5, 2019 for not renouncing their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Zhang Fengying, 76, walked into the court with help from her daughter. Ms. Ren Qinghua, 78, was in a wheelchair. The court didn't inform the families of Ms. He Aihua, 60, and Ms. Chen Yuhua, in her 60s, of the trial. Both Ms. He and Ms. Chen have been held incommunicado since their arrests last October.

Ms. Yao Yuling, nearly 70, who was arrested together with the above four Falun Gong practitioners, was forced to live away from home after being repeatedly harassed by the police. She didn't attend the hearing.

The four practitioners on trial testified in their own defense and shared how practicing Falun Gong brought health benefits to them.

Ms. Zhang used to suffer from severe rheumatoid arthritis and had deformed joints; Ms. He suffered a stroke and was unable to lift one of her arms. Ms. Ren underwent a mastectomy to treat her breast cancer, but she suffered surgical complications and had abnormal swelling in her left arm, which became immobilized.

All of their symptoms, however, disappeared after they took up Falun Gong.

In addition to sharing their first-hand experience in practicing Falun Gong, the practitioners also argued that no law has ever criminalized Falun Gong in China and that it's their freedom of belief to seek spiritual enlightenment in Falun Gong.

The prosecutor, Ren Xingui, threatened to sentence the practitioners to heavy terms. He claimed that they would talk to people again about Falun Gong if they were released sooner.

The judge adjourned the hearing without issuing verdicts.

Arbitrary Arrests, Detention and Harassment

The five practitioners were arrested on the evening of October 19, 2018 after plainclothes officers deceived them into opening the door by pretending to be plumbers.

The officers refused to disclose their names and ransacked the practitioners' residences after the latter had been removed from their homes. The practitioners didn't know what was confiscated from their homes, and the police have refused to provide a list of confiscated items as required by law.

Both Ms. He's and Ms. Ren's husbands, who don't practice Falun Gong, were also arrested.

On the way of taking Ms. He to the police station, the police stopped by her son's home and ransacked the place. The son doesn't practice Falun Gong either.

The police interrogated Ms. He's husband until noon the next day.

Ms. Zhang, Ms. Ren and her husband were released on October 20 and placed under house arrest and closely monitored by the police. Ms. Ren's 85-year-old husband was later hospitalized after developing health issues arising from the stress of the harassment.

Ms. Chen and Ms. He were taken to Gujiao City Detention Center on October 21 despite their physical condition – Ms. He's blood pressure was 245 mmHg and Ms. Chen had some heart and hearing problems.

Ms. Yao, who was also released on bail due to health problems, was forced to live away from home after being frequently harassed by the police.

Related reports:

Three Mass Arrests in One Year in Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province

Six Elderly Falun Gong Practitioners from Shanxi Province Targeted for Their Faith