Four Ningxia Residents Tried for Their Faith in Falun Gong, Lawyers Threatened Before Hearing
(Minghui.org) Four Shizuishan City, Ningxia Autonomous Region, residents stood trial on January 12, 2021, for their faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Prior to the hearing, the court deceived the practitioners’ lawyers and families into going to the court. One lawyer was tricked into turning in his Power of Attorney and had his representation right suspended by the judge. The other three lawyers were intimidated and subjected to “political education” by the judge and police.
The remaining three lawyers entered not-guilty pleas for the practitioners during the hearing. The four practitioners also shared the positive changes they’d had after taking up Falun Gong. They argued that they didn’t violate any laws in practicing their faith and trying to be good people. The judge adjourned the hearing without issuing verdicts.
Three of the practitioners, Ms. Shi Meilan, Ms. Chen Xiuping and Ms. Yu Dezhen, were first arrested on April 30, 2020, and released the same evening. They were arrested again on May 16, together with the fourth practitioner, Ms. Liu Cuimei. The police ransacked their homes and confiscated their cellphones, Falun Gong-related materials, and some of their clothes. Ms. Liu was beaten in the police station.
During the interrogation, the police showed photos of the four practitioners taken in early May 2020 without their knowledge. Some of the photos were taken from inside a car. The police said they had been monitoring the practitioners’ daily activities since their first arrest in April. They knew exactly when they went out and whom they met and talked to.
The police took pictures of the clothes confiscated from the practitioners as evidence to match with the surveillance videos. They also collected their blood samples and fingerprints. In the evening of May 16, the practitioners were released on bail.
The practitioners were arrested again on July 27 and have since been held at the Shizuishan Detention Center. Their arrests were approved by the Dawukou Procuratorate on August 18.
Judge Intimidates Lawyers after Deceiving Them into Going to Court
In early December 2020, the Dawukou District Court informed the practitioners’ families and lawyers that a hearing had been scheduled for December 8.
When Ms. Chen’s lawyer went to the court on December 7 to process some documents, the judge and another person asked to take a look at his Power of Attorney. Not knowing that person was an officer from the Huinong District Domestic Security Division, the lawyer took out the document, only to have it snatched by the police. As the police refused to return the document, the lawyer had to give up his representation of Ms. Chen.
On the next day, the remaining three lawyers and the practitioners’ families came to the court to attend the alleged hearing. They were welcomed by the court staff members and police officers who pretended to be court personnel. Each lawyer was then brought to a separate room for interrogation and political education.
The first lawyer was asked about who recommended him to the practitioners’ families, who hired him, and who paid for his legal fees. He refused to answer the questions. A person asked to see his law license. The lawyer said that person didn’t look like a judge, so he asked to see that person’s ID. That person refused to show his ID and then left. The lawyer later learned that that person was an officer of Huinong District Domestic Security Division.
The second lawyer was asked similar questions, and he replied that the questions had nothing to do with the hearing.
The third lawyer was intimidated by a person who claimed to the vice president of the court. That person said Falun Gong cases are very sensitive and how he dared to represent a Falun Gong practitioner, traveling 700 miles from Henan Province to Ningxia to attend the hearing no less. The lawyer didn’t answer the question but instead condemned the judge for deceiving them into the court to face intimidation.
The judge tried to pressure the third lawyer’s client’s family into dismissing him but failed. The court later contacted the Justice Bureau in Beijing and Henan Province to investigate the lawyer's background.
Days later, the court informed the lawyers and practitioners’ families that they had scheduled a hearing for January 12, 2021.
Ms. Yu didn’t agree to attend the online hearing. The judge adjourned the hearing for half an hour before resuming it. Only one person from each practitioner’s family was allowed to attend the hearing.
Upon learning that her lawyer was unable to defend her in court, Ms. Chen dismissed the court-appointed lawyer who had been instructed to enter a guilty plea for her. She represented herself and defended her innocence.
Ms. Yu said she witnessed how Falun Gong cured her father’s terminal illness and extended his life for 20 years. Amazed by Falun Gong’s health benefits, she also began to practice it.
Ms. Chen remarked she also practiced Falun Gong to be a better person by living by its principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance.” She said she became a good wife, mother, daughter, neighbor, and citizen as a result of her faith. She asked the prosecutor how her distributing Falun Gong materials to raise awareness about the persecution could have violated any laws or harmed anyone.
Ms. Shi said everything she had done, including practicing Falun Gong and raising awareness of the persecution, was within her constitutionally protected rights. Ms. Liu also stated that she practiced Falun Gong to improve her health and character.
The three lawyers representing Ms. Yu, Ms. Shi, and Ms. Liu entered not-guilty pleas for them. They argued that the persecution has no legal basis and pointed out that the prosecutor failed to provide evidence on what law was violated by their clients or what harm they had caused to others or society. They urged the judge to make decisions based on the law and their conscience, not by the communist regime’s political pressure.