(Minghui.org) Four Falun Gong practitioners stood trial on August 5, 2021 at the Litong District Court in Wuzhong City, Ningxia Province for their faith, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
The four practitioners hail from two neighboring cities in Ningxia Province.
Ms. Zheng Yarong, 44, from Wuzhong City, was arrested on February 10, 2021 by officers from the Litong District Police Station. She was first given 14 days of administrative detention and then criminal detention. The Litong District Procuratorate approved her arrest on March 27 and she is currently detained at the Zhongwei City Detention Center, about 80 miles from Wuzhong.
Mr. Ma Xuede, a 72-year-old retired watch factory engineer, and his wife, 69-year-old Ms. Zheng Fengying, also live in Wuzhong City. They were arrested in late February 2021 by officers from the Litong District Police Station. Their home was ransacked and they were put on criminal detention.
The couple was released in early March and put under house arrest. The Litong District Procuratorate approved their arrests in late March. They have since been taken back into custody and held at the Wuzhong City Detention Center.
Ms. Yan Ying, a 58-year-old resident of Lingwu City, about 14 miles from Wuzhong, was arrested by officers from the Litong District Police Station in late February 2021. The police also ransacked her home and put her on criminal detention. The Litong District Procuratorate approved her arrest in late March, and she is now being held at the Wuzhong City Detention Center.
The court initially scheduled the hearing to start at 2:30 p.m., but later moved it to 1 p.m. without advance notice, rendering Ms. Yan’s two out-of-town lawyers with no time for lunch. The presiding judge, Guo Xiaojuan, also attempted to block one of Ms. Yan’s lawyers from entering the courtroom, but later relented under the lawyer’s protest.
The other three practitioners were represented by court-appointed lawyers.
Ms. Yan’s lawyers entered a not guilty plea for her. They argued that no law has ever criminalized Falun Gong in China or labeled it as a cult, and that the prosecutor had no legal basis to accuse their client of “undermining law enforcement with a cult organization” (the standard accusation used to indict Falun Gong practitioners). The lawyers emphasized that the prosecutor failed to prove which law’s enforcement was allegedly undermined by their client or how their client’s practicing Falun Gong had allegedly caused any harm to any individual or organization.
The lawyers added that the police failed to provide detailed information on how and where they obtained the prosecution evidence against their client, as some items weren’t included in the supporting photos or list of confiscated items. There were also inconsistencies regarding the prosecution evidence, with different documents offering different descriptions of the same pieces of prosecution evidence.
Additionally, the search warrant and record lacked proper signatures of officials who participated in the arrest and home raid and no explanation was ever provided.
Ms. Yan testified that she believes it’s protected by the law to produce and own Falun Gong informational materials, but that she had never produced any materials herself. While interrogating her, officers at the Gaozha Police Station accused her of making the materials and fabricated evidence against her.
Due to the lack of clarity of evidence presented by the police, both Ms. Yan and her lawyers demanded that the judge re-evaluate the validity and admissibility of the evidence.
Mr. Ma also testified as to how he has benefitted from practicing Falun Gong and he stated that he didn’t violate any law in letting people know about his faith. His court-appointed lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him.
This is not the first time that the four practitioners have been targeted for upholding their faith.
Ms. Yan contracted poliomyelitis when she was a year old. She became disabled as a result and later developed many other diseases. After she started to practice Falun Dafa in May 1997, however, her symptoms soon disappeared. Ms. Yan never wavered in her faith after the persecution began in July 1999. She was detained for 15 days in March 2000 for going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. In September 2001, she was given three years of forced labor.
Mr. Ma and Ms. Zheng Fengying both regained their health after they began the practice of Falun Gong. Mr. Ma’s kidney stones were gone, so were Ms. Zheng’s rheumatoid arthritis, enteritis, and gastroptosis. Both were arrested shortly after the persecution began in July 1999, with Mr. Ma detained for 71 days and Ms. Zheng 63 days. Mr. Ma was later given two years of forced labor and twice sentenced to a total of 12.5 years. Ms. Zheng was also held in a labor camp for more than two years. She was also twice sentenced, serving a 7-year term in prison and a 3-year term outside of prison.
Ms. Zheng Yarong saw her health improve after beginning to practice Falun Gong. She was detained in 2004 and later gave up the practice under pressure. She resumed the practice of Falun Gong in 2019, only to be arrested in February 2021.