(Minghui.org) After ten months of detention, two young women in their 20s were tried by the Tongzhou District Court in Beijing on January 12, 2018, for distributing materials exposing the persecution of their spiritual faith, Falun Gong.

The women's lawyer delivered a not-guilty defense for them, arguing that their freedom of religion and expression is protected by Chinese law. The two women also spoke in their own defense. The judge adjourned the trial without announcing a verdict.

The Trial

Ms. Dong Ying and Ms. Zhang Qi were brought into the court in handcuffs and shackles. Upon the lawyer's request, the judge agreed to remove the cuffs.

Ms. Dong's aunt was the only family member allowed to attend the trial. Both practitioners' mothers were barred from the courtroom by the police.

During the two-hour trial, the lawyer argued that no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong and that many Chinese people, including officials in the judicial system, have misunderstandings about Falun Gong because of the negative propaganda spread by the communist regime.

He also argued that his clients' distributing materials about Falun Gong is their freedom of expression and caused no harm to anyone; thus the materials cannot be used as evidence to charge them.

When one trial attendee took notes of the lawyer's defense, the bailiff snatched his notebook and threatened that he wasn't allowed to take any notes during the trial.

Arrested for Talking about Their Faith

Ms. Dong Ying and Ms. Zhang Qi both started practicing Falun Gong in 2012. They credit the practice for helping them break bad habits and for allowing them to take on a new, positive outlook on life. Grateful for the practice, the two young women were eager to let more people know about Falun Gong, as well as to expose the ongoing persecution launched by the communist regime in 1999.

However, while they were distributing Falun Gong materials in a residential area in Tongzhou District, Beijing on March 28, 2017, they were reported to the police and arrested.

During their detention at the Tongzhou Detention Center, prosecutor Xiong Zhiqiang visited the young women several times, and tried to persuade them to write statements renouncing Falun Gong. He also attempted to extract information about other practitioners, telling the women that they could be released on bail if they complied.

After the two practitioners refused to renounce their belief or to incriminate fellow practitioners, their cases were forwarded to the court in December 2017.

Perpetrators' contact information:
Zhao Chengyu (赵程宇), judge: +86-18610700676, +86-15010164216
Xiong Zhiqiang (熊志强), prosecutor: +86-18601917963Guo Qun (郭群), police officer: +86-13426478421Yan Peng (闫鹏), police officer: +86-13911123710Zhu Junhui (朱军辉), head of the Tongzhou District 610 Office: +86-13901130502

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