(Minghui.org) Five Falun Gong practitioners in Tianjin were sentenced to prison in October 2018 for talking to the public about the persecution of their faith.

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

Among the five practitioners, Mr. Li Guangyuan was sentenced to four years; Ms. Pei Shuhong and Ms. Yang Guirong both got two years; Ms. Li Mengshun and Ms. Zhao Xiufang both received one and a half years.

Ms. Pei, Ms. Yang, and Ms. Li have appealed their sentences.

Mr. Li was arrested on January 30, 2018, when he was talking to people about Falun Gong at a farmers' market. He was tried on August 2, 2018, by the Ninghe District Court. His lawyer argued that there is no legal basis for the persecution. Mr. Li also defended himself and demanded an acquittal.

The other four practitioners were arrested on March 13, 2018, when they made phone calls to the public about Falun Gong. They were tried by the same court on August 23, 2018. Ms. Pei and Ms. Yang's lawyers delivered non-guilty defense, while the lawyers representing Ms. Li and Ms. Zhao pleaded guilty on their behalf and requested lighter sentences.

Ms. Pei and Ms. Yang's lawyers pointed out that except for Ms. Li's case that was registered by the police, the other three practitioners didn't have their cases recorded in the police's system, which was a serious violation of legal procedure. On the other hand, the police also wrote their arrest date as the 14th of March on the arrest approval notice, when in fact it was one day before.

Mr. Li's sentencing came while his wife, Ms. Mo Weiqiu, is still serving her term of 4.5 years following her arrest in 2015 for filing a criminal complaint against Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999.