(Minghui.org) A Yinchuan City, Ningxia Province, woman stood trial on January 7, 2021, for her faith in Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline based on Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. It was introduced to the public in May 1992 and an estimated 100 million people in China were practicing it within seven years. The Chinese Communist Party saw Falun Gong’s quick rise and revival of traditional values as a threat to their ideology of class struggle, deceit, and violence, so it launched an all-out campaign in July 1999 to attempt to eradicate Falun Gong in China in three months.

Ms. Shan Jining was arrested on August 22, 2020, for distributing information about how the communist regime covered up the coronavirus pandemic using tactics similar to the persecution and how coronavirus patients recovered after reciting the auspicious phrases “Falun Dafa is good; Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.”

The hearing was held through a video conference. Ms. Shan had requested an in-person hearing, which her lawyer supported given that the law requires the court to seek the defendant's consent concerning the format of his or her hearing. Judge Wang Xiaojia of the Xixia District Court turned her down.

Prosecutor Ren Wei read the indictment, charging Ms. Shan with “violating Article 300 of the Criminal Law,” which stipulates that those using a cult organization to undermine enforcement of the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

Ms. Shan's lawyer refuted the groundless allegation, citing the fact that the People’s Congress (China’s legislative body) has never enacted any law deeming Falun Gong a “cult.” Former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin, however, directed the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to issue a statutory interpretation of Article 300 in November 1999, which required that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

A new statutory interpretation that replaced the 1999 version took effect on February 1, 2017. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that any indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no law in China labels Falun Gong a cult, the indictment against Ms. Shan lacked legal basis.

The lawyer asked Ms. Shan if she had joined any organization as alleged in the indictment. She responded that Falun Gong does not require membership or maintain a roster and that anyone is free to come and go. She said she distributed Falun Gong informational materials purely because of her faith in Falun Gong, not because there was any Falun Gong organization that directed her to do so.

Prosecutor Ren claimed that Ms. Shan's distribution and possession of Falun Gong materials had undermined law enforcement. Her lawyer said the only piece of prosecution evidence shown in the video conference—a picture showing a magazine cover reading “Special Edition on the Pandemic”—failed to prove his client had undermined law enforcement.

The lawyer raised several questions. First, the picture only showed the cover of the magazine, none of the content. While Ms. Shan did distribute materials about the pandemic to alert people to the regime's mishandling of the pandemic, other publications being circulated might also used the title “Special Edition on the Pandemic” and the picture itself couldn't prove the magazine was the same as that distributed by Ms. Shan. Additionally, the three documents supplied by the police—search records, confiscation records, and a list of confiscated items—only mentioned a magazine with the cover title “Special Edition on the Pandemic” with no record of the content.

Secondly, prosecutor Ren pointed out that, although quite a few Falun Gong materials were seized at Ms. Shan's residence, no such evidence was presented at the hearing. The indictment didn't describe the materials or say how many there were.

Thirdly, both the prosecutor and the police cited two notices issued by China's Administration of Press and Publications in July 1999 banning the publication of Falun Gong books. In fact, the Administration issued a repeal of the ban in 2011 so it is now completely legal for practitioners to own Falun Gong books and materials.

The lawyer also pointed out that prosecutor Wei had failed to specify which law Ms. Shan had allegedly undermined or what harm she had caused.

Ms. Shan also testified in her own defense. She said that she practices Falun Gong to be a better person and improve her health. She was concerned that people are being deceived by the communist regime and thus can’t make good decisions to protect themselves in the pandemic, so she felt compelled to tell people the truth, even though she was endangering herself. She said she had not harmed any individual or society at large, much less undermined the enforcement of any law, by handing out information.

Prosecutor Ren cited a section from the high court's statutory interpretation that anyone guilty of a past offense and who currently engages in cult activities is considered to have undermined law enforcement. She accused Ms. Shan of being a repeat offender. Prior to Ms. Shan’s latest arrest, she was incarcerated for a total of 13 years for her faith, including two three-year labor camp terms (in 1999 and 2004) and a four-year prison sentence in 2009 and a three-year sentence in 2015.

Ms. Shan's lawyer again refuted the prosecutor's groundless allegations. He argued that his client's past detentions were unlawful as she didn't break any law by practicing her faith. Additionally, she didn't engage in any illegal activity simply by distributing informational materials before her latest arrest.

Ms. Shan urged the judge and prosecutor to follow their conscience and not the persecution policy.

The judge frequently interrupted her. He adjourned the hearing around noon without announcing a verdict.

Related reports:

Ningxia Couple Detained Beyond Legally Permissible Term

Yinchuan City: Wife Sentenced to Four Years in Prison, Husband Serving Eight Year Sentence for Practicing Falun Gong

Lawyers: “My Clients Were Tried on Trumped-up Charges”

Once Incarcerated for 13 Years, Ningxia Woman Arrested for Her Faith Again