(Minghui.org) Three Falun Gong practitioners from Zaozhuang City, Shandong Province, were tried by the Xuecheng District Court on November 29, 2018, for putting up posters on World Falun Dafa Day to celebrate the public introduction of their faith.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body discipline based on meditation and three universal principles, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It was introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi on May 13, 1992. Because of its fast growing popularity in China and the appeal of its traditional moral teachings, former communist regime leader Jiang Zemin felt threatened and ordered a nationwide campaign in July 1999 to eradicate the practice.

Falun Gong practitioners outside of China began to celebrate the anniversary of Dafa's public introduction in 2000, designating May 13 as World Falun Dafa Day. The celebration was also echoed by practitioners in China, but because of the ongoing persecution, practitioners on the mainland often adopted less public ways to celebrate the occasion.

Arrested After Being Reported and Followed by the Police

Mr. Liu Jie and Mr. Wei Yanjing were reported to the police by a grocery store employee who saw them putting up posters about World Falun Dafa Day on May 11, 2018. The police began to monitor Mr. Liu's home afterwards.

Unaware of the police surveillance, Mr. Liu went out with Mr. Wei over the next two days to put up posters again, and they were arrested on May 13. The police ransacked Mr. Liu's home after taking his house keys. A third practitioner, Mr. Zhou Changfa, who was also involved in putting up the posters, was arrested on May 14.

Mr. Zhou was released on bail after one month of detention, but Mr. Liu and Mr. Wei remain in custody at Yuelou Detention Center.

In August, the three practitioners' case was submitted to the Xuecheng District Procuratorate, which returned the case to the police one month later. The police resubmitted the case in October, but this time they sent it directly to the Xuecheng District Court, which held a hearing of the practitioners on November 29.

Lawyers Defend Practitioners' Innocence

The practitioners were charged with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by the communist regime to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.

Mr. Liu and Mr. Wei's families hired lawyers to defend them.

Mr. Liu's lawyer pointed out that the police didn't follow legal procedure in ransacking his client's residence and the items confiscated from his home couldn't be used as prosecution evidence. He also argued that it is his client's constitutional right to freedom of belief to practice Falun Gong, and he cannot be charged for practicing his faith.

Mr. Wei's lawyer argued that his client's putting up the posters didn't cause any harm to anyone, let alone undermine law enforcement. He demanded Mr. Wei's acquittal.

Mr. Liu also defended himself, explaining to the court that he practices Falun Gong for mind and body improvement. The Falun Gong books and computer confiscated from his home are his personal property and are necessary for him to practice his faith.

Judge Wang Tao responded to the lawyers and practitioners' defense by saying “How can we control the people if there are Falun Gong posters everywhere?” He later adjourned the trial without announcing a verdict.