Name: Xie Chunlan
Occupation: PhD Medical Student in Jilin University
Date of Most Recent Arrest: September 29th, 2009
Most Recent Place of Detention: Harbin City Second Detention Centre
Persecution Suffered: arrest, interrogation, detention
Xiangfang District Court in Harbin City opened its trial of Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Xie Chunlan at 10:00 a.m. on January 13th, 2010. The presiding judge had intended to hand down an immediate verdict, but failed to do so after Ms. Xie's lawyers convincingly argued for her defence.
Before the trial, the local authorities in the Xiangfang District made numerous troubles for Ms. Xie's family, attempting to force them to drop her lawyers. As a result, her family had to change lawyers three times. The court also kept changing the trial location, eventually settling on a very small courthouse in the district. Moreover, they didn't notify the defence lawyers of the location until 30 minutes before the trial was to begin. Despite the court's despicable ploys, Ms. Xie's lawyers still made a rigourous defence on her behalf.
Arrested for Applying for a Passport
Ms. Xie previously had many illnesses. After she began practising Falun Gong, all her illnesses disappeared.
On September 26th, 2009, she went to the Port of Entry Authority of Harbin to inquire about a passport application for her work needs. She was told that she needed to get a proof of residence from her local police station. That same day she went to the Xiangfang District Police Department to request a proof of residence. An employee told her that it couldn't be processed during the weekend, so she had to wait until Monday. The following Monday, after 8:00 a.m., when she arrived at the Xiangfang District Police Department, she was arrested and detained by officials from the Domestic Security Division in the Xiangfang District until 1:00 p.m. She was then detained at the Yaziquan Detention Centre without any right to a due process of law.
After Ms. Xie was arrested for her passport application, her family went to the police department numerous times requesting her release. Wang Dianbin, Yuan Zhaoxiang, and Li Xiaowei from the Domestic Security Division threatened to hand her a heavy sentence.
Communist Regime Police and Legal Departments Set Obstacles for Lawyers
Ms. Xie's family hired Mr. Du, a lawyer from Beijing, to defend her. He was not deterred by intimidation from the Beijing Judicial Bureau and Xiangfang District Judiciary Bureau and went to Harbin City Court to review the documents of the interrogation of Ms. Xie and visited her at the detention centre. In the end, he decided to defend her with a "not guilty" plea.
As the lawyer got more involved in the case, the Beijing Judicial Bureau, the Xiangfang District Judiciary Bureau, and the Xiangfang District Court intensified their harassment of Ms. Xie's family and Mr. Du. Seeing that their threats failed to work, they forcibly closed the law firm Mr. Du belonged to and suspended his licence.
Mr. Du then transferred the case to another Beijing lawyer, Mr. Liang. However, the Xiangfang District Court, the Harbin Judiciary Bureau, and the Beijing Judiciary Bureau kept making phone calls to prevent Mr. Liang from getting involved. They didn't notify him of the trial date until Friday, just three days before the scheduled date. They told him the trial was set for Monday and asked if he would still come to Harbin to review the case. If he couldn't come on Friday, then he had to arrive on Monday, the trial date. They didn't want to allow Mr. Liang any time to review the files so that he would drop the case. Given the circumstances, Mr. Liang had to quit.
According to insiders, Xiangfang District Court had planned to follow the order from the 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong) to hand down a heavy sentence for Ms. Xie. But the trial wasn't held on Monday. When Ms. Xie's family went to inquire about the trial, they were told that it was re-scheduled for Wednesday at the Liming Courthouse in the Xiangfang District.
Realising they still had two days before the trial, Ms. Xie's family immediately hired two other lawyers from Beijing. Lawyers Mr. Lan and Mr. Zhang rushed to Harbin on Tuesday and went to the court and the detention centre in order to get their legal paperwork completed so they could defend Ms. Xie.
Due to the time limitation, the two lawyers weren't able to see Ms. Xie in the detention centre on Tuesday. They had to go back to the detention centre at 8:00 a.m. on the morning of the trial. Right after the meeting was over, the police from Xiangfang District Court arrived to pick up Ms. Xie for the trial. The lawyers' car simply followed the police car, but found they were not headed to Xiangfang District Court, but Liming Courthouse. At 9:30 a.m. when the trial began, the court then notified the lawyers that the trial had been changed to Liming Courthouse. In spite of the court's efforts to disrupt the trail, they were unable to prevent Ms. Xie's lawyers from defending her in court.
Defence Lawyers: Belief in Falun Dafa Is Not a Crime
The court stationed police officers and unidentified personnel outside the courthouse, not allowing anyone to enter. Inside, around 26 people occupied the seats in the gallery, and no one knew who they were.
During the proceedings, Ms. Xie said, "I used to be an average worker with poor health. After I began my practice of Falun Gong, my slipped disk was cured. Falun Gong helps people improve their morality. How can I not practise something so outstanding? Everything we do is voluntary. Whoever wants to practice practices and whoever wants to learn learns. I practise Falun Gong because it makes me a good person. I was arrested simply because I went to apply for a passport. I didn't commit any crime and you shouldn't have arrested me!"
The defence lawyers explained below from a legal perspective why believing in Falun Gong is justified and that clarifying the facts is not a crime.
The Xiangfang District Prosecutor's charges lacked evidence and were not clear. They also failed to cite proper laws, meaning the indictment was not based on legal grounds. By all appearances, the court should have acquitted Ms. Xie.
The court and the prosecutor presented the job Ms. Xie had at Harbin City Ziya School as evidence. What she taught at Ziya School involved traditional Chinese culture, which by no means violated any law. Moreover, she did not sign any documents during her initial interrogation.
According to Criminal Law, she did not commit any crime even though items related to Falun Gong were found at her home and she distributed leaflets exposing the persecution of Falun Gong in public.
"It is with regret that we see law-enforcement personnel violate numerous citizens' right to freedom of belief, which is granted by the Chinese Constitution. Especially on the issue of Falun Gong, law-enforcement personnel have seriously violated the freedom of belief established by the constitution.
"The investigations and trials of Falun Gong practitioners contain numerous loopholes. For instance, the authorities impose restrictions on the degrees of lawyers getting involved in Falun Gong cases, neglect to respect defendants' right to defend themselves, and fail to open the trials to the public. Moreover, the various 610 Offices often intervene, and, with the help of legal and judiciary departments, extort confessions by means of torture. It is also not uncommon for practitioners to be detained beyond their terms. We feel that the political and radical campaign against Falun Gong practitioners is unlawful and has violated fundamental legal procedure."
The defence lawyers ended their argument by asserting: "The case appears to be a normal criminal case, when, in fact, it is an unusual constitutional case that concerns citizens' freedom of belief. We hope all the judges will respect citizens' constitutional rights and rightfully uphold their historic responsibility. We'd like to see you accept the facts and make a fair verdict in acquitting our client."
After the lawyers' arguments, the police stationed inside the courthouse were rendered speechless and looked defeated. The public prosecutor still attempted to argue against Ms. Xie but was stopped by the presiding judge. In the end, the court did not pass down a verdict and ended the trial around noon that day.
Xia Jinsong, Xiangfang District Judiciary Bureau: 86-451-82105190
Bureau of Education: 86-451-53920009
Liming Street Committee: 86-451-82681262, 86-451-82681258
Related report: "Ms. Xie Chunlan from Harbin Arrested, Family Hires a Lawyer to Appeal" http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2009/12/3/112796.html
Chinese version available at http://minghui.ca/mh/articles/2010/1/26/216986.html
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