Attorney Defends Zhang Weizhong--Gallery Member Gives Thumbs Up

In June 2011, Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Zhang Weizhong, from Fengrun District in Tangshan City, was arrested. On December 15th, a hearing was held at Fengrun District Court. His attorney, Zhang Chuanli from the Beijing Jiafa Law Firm, pleaded innocent for his client, and drew admiration from the gallery in the process of presenting his defence.

On the night of June 15th, 2011, Zhang Weizhong was returning from Sanhe City after retrieving some scrap iron, when he was stopped by traffic police in Yutian County. He was issued a citation and fine, and his vehicle was impounded since the police found copper mixed in with the scrap iron. His insurance had also expired. When he returned home to get the money to pay his fine, he was detained by Yutian County police. He later learned that the Yangguanlin Town Police Station had received information that he was involved with Falun Gong. He was charged with subverting the law because he actively spreads the facts about Falun Gong.

On December 15th, the Fengrun District Court held a hearing, and attorney Zhang Chuanli from the Beijing Jiafa Law Firm pleaded innocent on Zhang Weizhong's behalf.

Attorney Zhang Chuanli told the court in his opening statement that there was insufficient evidence to make a case and that the facts of the case were unclear. He also said that the charge of “being involved with an organisation that knowingly subverts the law” was groundless, and that Zhang Weizhong's behaviour did not violate any criminal statutes. Therefore he should be found not guilty, and should be freed immediately.

Zhang Chuanli courageously pointed out that making or distributing information related to Falun Gong does not violate Chinese law, and therefore cannot be considered illegal. He further stated that distributing Falun Gong materials is exercising the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of belief, all of which are guaranteed by China's Constitution. These activities related to Falun Gong cannot be considered violating or impeding the implementation of any legal or even administrative rules and regulations.

He continued, “Thought alone does not constitute a crime.” He also pointed out that freedom of belief is a fundamental right practiced by all civilised societies and spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China agreed to in front of the international community years ago. The 36th section of the Chinese Constitution stipulates that “Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the freedom of religious belief,” and his right to practise Falun Gong is guaranteed by the Constitution. No individual or state authority has the right to interfere. Criminal Code section 251 also reads, “If a representative of the state illegally violates a citizen's freedom of religious belief, this crime may be punishable by no more than two years of imprisonment.” Zhang Chuanli finished by saying, “The officials involved in bringing charges against my client are in violation of the Criminal Code and must be brought to trial for these criminal acts.”

In his closing statement, he said, “The goal of formulating law is to secure society's stable development, and laws that conform to this ideal of social justice will inevitably improve society. Making laws for any purpose other than ensuring social justice will, on the other hand, lead to its downfall. A judge must rely on his conscience and sense of right and wrong to deliver the highest form of social justice in deciding a case. Good laws and bad laws can be differentiated only with a human conscience. In this manner, conscience serves as not only the highest legal criterion, but also the final method that must be used to decide a case.”

He continued, “I have been asking myself this question: Why is the Chinese Communist Party so fearful of criticism, so afraid of people offering their opinions? Shouldn't the Party, as the leaders of our country, engage in introspection and throw out any public policy that is in direct contradiction to its own laws? A peaceful group like Falun Gong doesn't concern itself with the demands of political life. It's members simply want to be good people and follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. They don't violate any laws, and they don't encroach upon others' freedoms or property. Why must our leaders suppress them so harshly? Falun Gong practitioners encounter unfounded slander and persecution, and when put in situations where their freedom of speech is threatened, they have used their own incomes to produce materials which clarify the situation to the Chinese people, and expose lies told to them by the state media. In the process, they introduce the benefits of Falun Gong to people. What have they done wrong?”

Attorney Zhang Chuanli made a most admirable defence on behalf of his client. He kindly asked the judges to consider what he said and to make a fair decision following their consciences and to uphold the principles of justice. When he was done, one of the audience members gave him a thumbs up in appreciation.

Zhang Weizhong has been detained for six months, and his family and relatives are calling for his immediate release. Prior to this hearing, Deng Xiuyan, the wife of Zhang Weizhong, was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment for practising Falun Gong. She is currently being detained at Shijiazhuang Women's Prison. Zhang Weizhong's son, who just started high school, and his 70-year old mother have no source of income without him.

Chinese version available at

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