(Minghui.org) A man in Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province, was sentenced to 14 months on November 29, 2021, after he was arrested in a nearby province for talking to people about Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Mr. Zhao Huanzhen was arrested in Suizhong County, Liaoning Province, about 45 miles from Qinhuangdao, on August 22, 2021, after being reported for talking to people about Falun Gong at a community fair. He was first taken to the Suizhong County Domestic Security Office and later transferred to the Suizhong County Detention Center.
Mr. Zhao’s latest arrest came only a few months after he finished serving another 1.5-year term. He had been arrested on May 19, 2019, also for talking to people about Falun Gong, that time in Suizhong.
The Lianshan District Court of Huludao City in Liaoning heard Mr. Zhao’s case in the detention center on November 18, 2021. The court didn’t inform his family of his hearing, but they happened to find out about it when they called the court about something else.
Mr. Zhao’s lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and argued that the evidence provided by the police did not support the charge of “undermining law enforcement” leveled against his client.
Since the onset of the persecution, the Chinese courts have used the standard pretext of “undermining law enforcement” to sentence countless Falun Gong practitioners, although not one of the judges or prosecutors was able to articulate which law’s enforcement was undermined or how.
Mr. Zhao’s family was informed by the court on November 29 that he was sentenced to 14 months and fined 5,000 yuan.
During the hearing, witness Wang Fengtai testified that she saw Mr. Zhao distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. Two Falun Gong keepsakes and two booklets titled The Facts of the 1400 Fabricated Death Cases Against Falun Gong were presented as evidence for the prosecution.
The lawyer asked Mr. Zhao, “Why do you hand out these things?”
“I hope that people can understand the facts about Falun Gong. It’s not a cult as the government claims. Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance (Falun Gong’s tenets) are universal values for mankind.”
“What is the booklet The Facts of the 1400 Fabricated Death Cases Against Falun Gong about?” the lawyer asked him.
Mr. Zhao explained that, before the government began to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, he never saw any negative reports about it. With the onset of the persecution, propaganda began to appear on TV and in the newspapers. One item of propaganda claimed that 1,400 people died from practicing Falun Gong. But, in fact, none of the people who died were real Falun Gong practitioners. Many of them had mental issues; some died after they had long given up practicing Falun Gong; some were bribed to frame Falun Gong; and some were completely made-up victims.
During his cross-examination, the lawyer read parts of the booklet, including an article about the Tiananmen self-immolation hoax, an appreciation letter from the Chinese Public Security Bureau to the founder of Falun Gong for his contribution to society, and how famous singer Guan Guimin and former government commerce official Zhang Yijie recovered their health after practicing Falun Gong.
The lawyer said that the examples of people recovering their health did not support the charge of “undermining law enforcement” and that if prosecutor Long Dan had questions about the authenticity of those accounts, he could investigate them.
The lawyer went on to say that the phrases “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance is good” on the keepsakes had nothing to do with “undermining law enforcement,” nor did the pictures of lotus flowers or celestial maidens.
The lawyer added that no law in China has ever deemed practicing Falun Gong a crime and that Mr. Zhao was only exercising his freedom of belief and expression to practice Falun Gong and share it with others. Only if one harms someone or something can they be charged for committing a crime. He said that, throughout Chinese history, only during movements like the Cultural Revolution have people been charged with speech crimes.
The judge accused Mr. Zhao of being a repeat offender and attempted to include his previous prison sentence as evidence to charge him. But the lawyer argued that his previous sentence in 2019 was illegal in the first place and he had already filed complaints against the police back then for beating Mr. Zhao during his interrogation and changing the number of items confiscated from his home from 33 to 53 in order to press for a heavier sentence.
In his final statement, Mr. Zhao said to judge Li Fushan, “I understand that this is your job. But if one day justice is upheld and the world experiences a great catastrophe, I hope you can be protected for your kindness towards Falun Gong.” Li cut him off and adjourned the hearing.