Three Women Sentenced to Prison for Reading a Book Together; Defence Lawyer Demands Acquittal

Three Falun Gong practitioners, Liu Rong, Guo Youzhi and Jiang Hai, were tried for a second time at the Dongchuan District Court in Kunming on December 4th, 2014. Their “crime” was reading the Falun Gong book Zhuan Falun together.

The practitioners were charged with “using a cult organization to sabotage law enforcement,” a trumped-up accusation commonly used by China's legal system to persecute Falun Gong.

Eight days later, the court sentenced Liu Rong to three years in prison. The other two practitioners were also given three years, with a five-year probation.

This was the second time that the Dongchuan District Court issued these sentences to these practitioners.

Attorney Li Xiongbing from Beijing presented sound arguments in their defence and demanded their release.

Arrest and Trial

The three Falun Gong practitioners were arrested and detained on September 4th, 2013. Arrest warrants were not issued until September 30th, 2013 and the women were put on trial by the Dongchuan District Court on May 20th, 2014. They were sentenced to prison on June 16th.

Ms. Liu Rong appealed on June 22nd, and on September 16th, the Kunming Intermediate Court sent her case back to the District Court for a re-trial due to insufficient evidence.

Second Trial

The Dongchuan District Court held the second trial of the three practitioners on the morning of December 4th, 2014. Only six family members were allowed into the courtroom, while police officers from the Domestic Security Division filled the remaining seats.

In response to Prosecutor Wu Hongwei's accusations that the practitioners “sabotaged the implementation of the law” by reading a book, Ms. Liu Rong's lawyer argued, “There is no evidence to show that my client has harmed anyone, disturbed social order or sabotaged the normal operations of government departments by practising Falun Gong.

“My client suffered an injury at work. Her condition improved after she started practising Falun Gong and she was able to support herself by selling cooking gas. You have arrested an innocent woman and put her on trial.”

He went on, “Based on the law, practising Falun Gong is not a crime. There is no doubt about it.”

Ms. Liu Rong said in her statement: “Practising Falun Gong and being a good person by following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance brings no harm to society.”

Ms. Guo Youzhi also challenged the court: “I've committed no crime by practising Falun Gong. You tell me, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, which one of the three is wrong?”

Mr. Jiang read out his two-page defence and asked the court: “Is it a crime to read a book together that teaches people to be good? Does this give the police the right to beat me, and the right for the court to sentence me? I have committed no crime. I should be released and cleared of all charges.”

Appeals for Justice Ignored

Attorney Li Xiongbing pointed out to the judges at the end of his defence: “Freedom of speech and freedom of belief is the lifeline and the highest principle of the Constitution. However, in the last fifteen years, China's Constitution exists in name only and the legal sector has been repeatedly using the same accusations to violate the civil rights of innocent citizens.”

In his rebuttal to the typical accusations, he stressed: “Facts have proven that Falun Gong practitioners are not engaged in fraud; they have not been involved in self-immolation (referring to the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) attempt to frame Falun Gong with a self-immolation incident that was proven to have been a hoax) and there is no law in China that defines Falun Gong as a cult.”

He also commended Falun Gong practitioners' kindness and sincerity.

“They have not sabotaged the law or disturbed social order, and they have not harmed anyone. In fact, they have tenaciously preserved and safeguarded traditional Chinese culture!”

Attorney Li told the court: “Falun Gong practitioners are welcomed and protected by law in Taiwan and Hong Kong, in Europe and North America, in Southeast Asia and everywhere around the world! But China is the only country in the world where they are subjected to coercive brainwashing and trial, detention, forced labour and imprisonment. They have been deprived of freedom of speech, the right to work and even the right to go to school.”

The attorney concluded, “It's time we stop making such mistakes and start anew. It's time we observe the Constitution and the Criminal Law and declare that these people are innocent!”

Ignoring the appeals for justice, the court once again unjustly sentenced the three practitioners to prison.

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