(Minghui.org) A 65-year-old Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province resident stood trial on March 7, 2023 for his faith in Falun Gong, a mind-body practice that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Mr. Tian Shujun was arrested on July 29, 2020 and released on house arrest on August 15 that year. The police harassed him frequently after he returned home. 

Mr. Tian was arrested again around April 13, 2022. After 21 days of quarantine at the police hospital, he was taken to the Qinhuangdao City Detention Center and held there since.

During his hearing at the Funing District Court on March 7, 2023, his lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him. He also testified in his own defense. 

The prosecutor accused Mr. Tian of sending information about Falun Gong with his cellphone. But Mr. Tian’s lawyer argued that the cellphone confiscated by the police didn’t even have a sim card and one could not possibly send out messages with it. Two of the three witnesses who claimed to have received text messages from Mr. Tian gave testimonies inconsistent with police reports regarding when the alleged texts were sent. 

The prosecutor also accused Mr. Tian of being a repeat offender because he had served labor camp terms for practicing Falun Gong before. Mr. Tian’s lawyer refuted that the forced labor system itself was illegal and has been abolished in 2013. The fact that Mr. Tian was given labor camp terms only showed that he was persecuted for his faith and could not be used as evidence to charge him again.

The judge and the prosecutor didn’t interrupt the lawyer’s defense statements. The hearing was adjourned in less than two hours. 

Mr. Tian took up Falun Gong in 1997. He went to the government to appeal for the right to practice his faith shortly after the persecution started in 1999 and was arrested. The police injured his wrist and then dripped burning wax onto the wound. He also served two labor camp terms, during which time he was tortured and forced to work without pay.