On October 30, the case of two Falun Gong practitioners Liu Jinglu and Sun Lixiang was brought before a court in the city of Jixi in Heilongjiang Province.
The couple is married and has a 6-year-old son. They were arrested on June 2 in Taiping County while handing out fliers that detailed the persecution of Falun Gong.
Most Falun Gong practitioners arrested in China are denied due process, illegally sent to labor camps without trial. When a case does go through the judicial process, it is mostly for show. In many cases Falun Gong adherents are not allowed legal representation; in cases where they may be allowed representation, they often have trouble finding an attorney.
Lawyers in China have been disbarred, threatened, and even tortured for trying to defend Falun Gong practitioners. As a result many of them are unwilling to be involved in these cases.
So it is particularly notable in the case of Liu Jinglu and Sun Lixiang that the couple has four lawyers defending them. Three of the lawyers—Jiang Tianyong, Li Xiongbing, and Tang Jitian—discussed the case in an interview with The Epoch Times.
The attornies emphasized that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s persecution against Falun Gong practitioners is against the fundamental principle and rule of law in China, and an obstacle to its development. They also stressed that the CCP should end this persecution right away.
Jiang Tianyong said that as people in China start to understand Falun Gong, their attitudes toward Falun Gong have changed, and that this is being reflected in the judicial system. “Even though some ‘public hearing’ cases are actually done in secret trials, more and more Falun Gong cases are now going through the judicial process," Jiang said. "Since last year, an increasing number of lawyers have been defending Falun Gong, especially this year. This is an inevitable situation, as people’s awareness is raised.”
However improved the situation may be for Falun Gong in the judicial system, many aspects of this trial, and others, reveal it to be propaganda, mainly for show.
The 610 Office
On the afternoon of October 27, lawyers and relatives sought permits from Judge Tang Jingjie to be in the audience during the trial. Tang Jingjie's reply was, “The forty permits have been taken by the 610 Office, go ask them.”
The 610 office is an extra-judicial agency, created specifically by the CCP to persecute Falun Gong. In practice it has power over each level of administration in China's government—including the justice system—and it reports directly to the CCP politburo.
“These cases are all determined by the 610 office; I have no authority over this,” Tang added.
During the first day of the trial, despite the fact that they had hundreds of supporters outside, the couple were eventually allowed three observers in the court room—this granted only after protesting to court administrators.
Their lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, said that aside from these three, all other observers in the court were members of the 610 Office.
Judge Tang Jitian also stated that the 610 Office has no authority to intervene in the legal system, and that this is a serious offense. The lawyers protested against this and demanded these unlawful acts be stopped.
Defense lawyers also pointed out that, aside from the technical violation of the case, charges against Falun Gong are untenable.
Liu Jinglu and Sun Lixiang were accused of “using an evil teaching to undermine law enforcement” for handing out fliers in public.
Lawyer Li Xiongbin said that faith does not constitute a crime. He says that the Falun Gong case falls within the category of freedom of belief, and that Falun Gong practitioners have the freedom of their cultivation and the spread of beliefs. Faith and the spread of beliefs do not harm the community and cannot be ruled by law. The so-called “undermining law enforcement” is untenable.
Lawyer Jiang Tianyong pointed out that Falun Gong practitioners have been accused on charges that are not only unconstitutional but also conflict with universal principals. He said that Falun Gong practitioners have freedom to spread their beliefs. Their passing out fliers does not constitute any crime.
Jiang remarked that the outcome of the case is still unpredictable, but that he feels the defense process was meaningful, regardless of outcome.
The First Day of Trial
According to lawyer Tang Jitian, Sun Lixiang told the court about the torture she received after her arrest, which consisted of beatings and electric shocks. She solemnly swore to the court that she was innocent of any crime.
Soon after lawyers asked the court to investigate the torture, the prosecution then requested an adjournment—which the judge granted at 11:00—before the day was half over.
“Since the prosecution knew that they were in the wrong, they requested the adjournment.” said Tang Jitian. He went on to explain that the prosecution was trying to turn the case into nothing more than a common political task, where they absolve themselves of responsibility by jailing the practitioners based on precedent.
However, Tang said, “We strived to protest. We demand that, since we are going through law proceedings, we need to rule out any political factors, and to solve the issue within the framework of the law.
“The persecution of Falun Gong has brought great disasters to the Chinese people, and taxpayers are forced to pay a lot of money. I hope that the persecution of Falun Gong ends soon. The sooner it ends, the sooner Chinese people will benefit.”