(Minghui.org) In the city of Dongying, on Shandong Province's northern coast, 17 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested during the period of Nov. 21-24, 2018.

Four remain in custody and face further charges, while 13 others, held in detention for a month, were eventually released.

The first arrests occurred on Nov. 21, when police grabbed three practitioners who had gathered to practice their faith and read the teachings of Falun Gong, together.

Three days later, on Nov. 24, police arrested 14 others. Their homes were ransacked, and they were further interrogated at the police station.

One practitioner is now homeless, forced from his home. Mr. Yang Jianjun had his home raided by police but escaped arrest, and his whereabouts is unknown.

Reports indicate the November arrests were triggered by the group's involvement in attempting to provide legal assistance for four Falun Gong practitioners arrested earlier in the year.

Police had body-searched the four at a train station in April of 2018, finding a flash drive containing information about Falun Gong. They were then arrested and held in detention.

Local practitioners in Dongying offered assistance, hiring lawyers to aid in the defense of those arrested. Because of this, they were noticed by police and subsequently monitored, resulting in the group arrests in November.

Still in Custody

The four still in custody are Mr. Gao Hongwei, Ms. Zhang Aili, Mr. Wang Zizhong, and Ms. Shang Zhaoxiang.

Mr. Gao is a manager at a water purification company. His wife An Yajun, an acupuncture therapist, was one of those arrested. She was forced to shut down her private clinic after being held in detention for a month, and was released in late December.

Ms. Zhang, 65, is a retired registered nurse. She is currently being detained at the Dongying Detention Center. Witness reports indicate the elderly woman was forced to sit on a small stool for long hours each day, causing numbness in one of her legs.

Her son, Zhang Yi, lives overseas, in New York. He is calling on the communist regime to release his mother immediately.

At this time, no further information is available on the condition of practitioners Wang Zizhong and Shang Zhaoxiang, still held by police.

The other targeted practitioners are: Mr. Wang Xueyong, Mr. Wang Lianzhong, Ms. Xie Jufang, Ms. Qi Shifeng, Ms. Lu Yuanqing, Mr. Yu Desheng, Ms. Meng Fanyun, Ms. Hu Xiaoling, Ms. Li, Mr. Pei, Ms. Wen, and Ms. Yin.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body discipline that emerged in China in the early 1990s. Popular with the Chinese people, it was openly practiced by millions until the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) - led by Jiang Zemin - began a brutal campaign of persecution against it in July of 1999.

The persecution of Falun Gong continues to this day.

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