(Minghui.org) After nearly ten months of detention, a 28-year-old young man is facing trial for his faith in Falun Gong, a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Li Zongze was arrested at his residence in Beijing on July 19, 2020. Arrested on the same day were another ten Beijing residents, including Ms. Xu Na (a widowed artist), Mr. Li Lixin, Ms. Jiao Mengjiao, Mr. Liu Qiang, Ms. Meng Qingxia (48, a painter and teacher), Ms. Zheng Yanmei, Ms. Deng Jing, Ms. Zheng Yujie, Mr. Zhang Renfei, and Ms. Li Jiaxuan.

While the police never provided any explanation of the practitioners’ arrests, Ms. Xu’s lawyer, who visited her at the Dongcheng District Detention Center on April 22, 2020, revealed that they were targeted for publishing photos and articles online to expose the severity of the pandemic in China. The authorities charged them with “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese courts to criminalize Falun Gong practitioners.

It’s reported that the practitioners were interrogated, subjected to brainwashing sessions and ordered to write statements to renounce Falun Gong, while being held in the detention center.

The eleven practitioners have been indicted on April 2, 2021 by the Dongcheng District Procuratorate and have their cases moved to the Dongcheng District Court. The judge assigned to the case ruled that only when all the lawyers representing the eleven practitioners came to the court at the same time, will he allow them to review their case documents. Additionally, the lawyers aren’t allowed to make copies or take photos of the documents, nor will the court provide any paper or electronic copies of the files. 

Some of the lawyers filed complaints against the judge's ruling, as it violated relevant Chinese laws that stipulate that procuratorates and courts grant lawyers opportunities to review and make copies of case files at their convenience. The law also prohibits procuratorates and courts from setting upper limits on how many times or how long lawyers can review case files. The judge's ruling severely restricted the practitioners' lawyers' ability to review cases at their own convenience, which may in turn affect the lawyers' ability to defend the practitioners to the best of their ability and influence the legal outcome of the case.

The lawyers' complaints, however, didn't get addressed by the relevant agencies.

Talented Young Man Targeted for His Faith

Mr. Li Zongze

Since he was 14, Mr. Li began to write poems and received many awards for his excellent academic performance. After graduation from college, he worked as a project manager in a wide range of areas, including technology finance, blockchain and home furnishing.

The awards Mr. Li has received

According to Mr. Li’s friends, he is an honest, kind, and trustworthy person. He is very knowledgeable and has the ability to explain complicated issues in simple terms. 

Mr. Li’s parents said he developed asthma when he was a child and sometimes had trouble breathing when the attack happened. After taking up Falun Gong, he gradually recovered.

Mr. Li’s parents recalled that the first job Mr. Li found after graduation was a teaching position. His manager didn’t pay him for five months. He thought that his manager had given him some clothes and treated him nicely, so he didn’t fight with his manager for the salary. Additionally, he used his own money to buy snacks for the children and they all liked him. One of the parents said he was the best teacher they’d ever seen. When Mr. Li left for another job, his manger, who was touched by his kindness, still gave the salary to him.

Following Mr. Li’s arrest in July 2020, as the police kept his family in the dark of his situation, it took them two weeks to find out that he was being held at the Dongcheng District Detention Center.

On August 3, his parents went to the Hepingli Police Station to inquire about his case. They asked officer Wu Weiyang why the police did not send them a copy of the detention notice. Wu printed a copy for them but demanded that they date their signature retroactively as July 20 instead. Wu also refused to give them the keys to Mr. Li’s rental apartment.

Mr. Li’s family hired a lawyer to represent him. When the lawyer went to officer Wu and asked for Mr. Li’s keys, Wu threatened to arrest Mr. Li’s parents. The police also refused to provide any updates about Mr. Li’s case when his parents called them later on.

When Mr. Li’s family finally entered his rental apartment two months later, they were shocked to find his place in a mess. The refrigerator door was left open the entire time and food was spilled all over the kitchen floor.

After they later confirmed that the police had submitted his case to the Dongcheng District Procuratorate, the prosecutor rejected their request to review his case documents.

In early January 2021, the police informed Mr. Li’s family that his arrest was approved in August 2020 and his case was submitted to the procuratorate on October 21. But his family didn’t receive any official documents with the development in his case. 

After Mr. Li was indicted, the judge still rejected his family defender’s request to meet him at the detention center, without providing any reason. The defense statement and basic legal knowledge that Mr. Li’s family mailed to him weren’t delivered to him either.

Related reports:

Incarcerated Artist: I Can’t Stay Silent to Protect My Own Interests

11 Beijing Falun Gong Practitioners Remain Detained Despite Return of Cases Against Them for Insufficient Evidence Again

Eleven Beijing Residents’ Cases Returned to the Police for Insufficient Evidence

12 Beijing Residents Arrested Near Anniversary of Persecution of Falun Gong

Beijing Resident Still Detained Seven Weeks After Arrest for His Faith

Chinese version available

Category: Accounts of Persecution