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Defense Attorney: Persecuting Someone for His Belief Is Illegal

December 17, 2014 |   By a Minghui correspondent in Henan Province, China

(Minghui.org) “Falun Gong teaches me to be truthful, compassionate, and tolerant and to become a better person. If this is wrong, then please tell me what is right,” said Mr. Ma Jianjun during his trial less than two weeks ago. Inside the courtroom, everyone was silent, from the judge to the court staff, 610 Office agents, and spectators.

Mr. Ma, a practitioner from Hebi City, Henan Province was arrested at home on September 4, 2014. After being held in Hebi Detention Center for three months, he was tried in Qibin District Court on December 4. Although the trial was advertised as being "open to the public," two 610 Office officials and over 20 police officers were already on guard outside the courtroom half an hour before the trial started. Out of more than ten family members present, only three of Mr. Ma's children were allowed in.

Of the 48 seats in the courtroom, 15 were occupied by court staff, 610 Office agents, and others the officials had allowed in, plus Mr. Ma's three children. The remaining seats were empty.

Having a Belief Is Not a Crime

Han Xiuhong, a prosecutor in the Qibin Procurator Office, cited Article 300 of the Criminal Law to charge Mr. Ma with "using a cult organization to undermine the implementation of law.”

Wang Yajun, an attorney from Beijing, emphasized his client's right to freedom of belief by citing Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution: “Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.”

“Because freedom of belief is protected by the Constitution, my client has the right to decide what belief to follow and to tell others about it,” the attorney said. “Plus, he did not force his belief upon others.”

Wang further noted that no law in China defines Falun Gong as a cult. In other words, “persecuting a belief system [like Falun Gong] is illegal to start with.” Moreover, Mr. Ma did not harm anyone, let alone undermine the implementation of any law, he argued.

Mr. Ma explained that he started to practice Falun Gong to improve his health. Not only did he feel better, but he also discovered that, living by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, he became a better person. “I did not do anything wrong and should be released,” he said.

“Neither the Witnesses Nor the Evidence Is Valid”

Prosecutor Han listed three categories of printed materials found in Mr. Ma's home as evidence against him. Attorney Wang noted that the Constitution protects citizens' right to freedom of belief, speech, and the press. As such, he argued, there was nothing wrong with his client possessing and distributing literature on Falun Gong and literature exposing the Chinese Communist Party's persecution of Falun Gong.

The lawyer chuckled when he heard the third category of evidence—pamphlets educating people about their Constitutional rights. “That is information about the Constitution and is accessible to the public. It therefore cannot be used against my client,” he said.

Han then “called on” two witnesses by playing an audio recording of a conversation between a police officer and two car owners.

“Did you see a [Falun Gong] brochure on your windshield?” the officer asked.“Yes, I discarded it without reading it,” the driver replied.“Did you notice such brochures on other cars?” the officer continued.“No, it was too dark and I did not see anyone,” said the driver.

The other driver said he also saw a Falun Gong brochure on his car and discarded it.

Attorney Wang said neither driver could serve as a witness against Mr. Ma. First, neither saw Mr. Ma distributing flyers. Second, even if they did, it was irrelevant—people give out all kinds of promotional materials, but nobody thinks that it will “undermine the implementation of the laws and administrative rules and regulations of the State.”

Courage to Speak the Truth

Attorney Wang reiterated that persecuting Falun Gong, a belief system, simply had no legal basis. He said, “We cannot allow this persecution to continue any longer, because that means harming innocent people. We need to act on our conscience and speak out for Falun Gong practitioners.”

He concluded his defense by reading a well-known quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller in response to the rise of the Nazis in World War II:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The trial ended after an hour and a half, and Attorney Wang once against requested that Mr. Wang be released unconditionally.