Chinese human rights lawyer Ren Quanniu revealed more details about local authorities’ decision to revoke his license.
Via a Twitter post on Jan. 5, he explained that the justice department of Henan Province served him a notice, in which it claimed that he violated a courtroom regulation during the trial of Falun Gong practitioner Zhang Minglang two years prior.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice centered around meditation exercises and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Amid Falun Gong’s growing popularity in mainland China, the Chinese regime, fearing the practice would threaten its rule, launched a sweeping suppression campaign in July 1999.
Millions of Falun Gong adherents have since been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities in China, with hundreds of thousands tortured while incarcerated, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Ren represented Zhang after the latter was arrested in December 2017 for his faith.
The license revocation notice alleged that Ren violated Article 39, Item 3 of the“Administrative Measures for the Practice of Law,” which states that an attorney may not “reject the characterization of a heretical organization by the state,” and that Ren’s behavior was “egregious” and “severely damaged” the law profession.
The Chinese regime has labeled Falun Gong and many other minority faiths as “heretical organizations” in its propaganda to vilify adherents.
On Twitter, Ren thoroughly refuted these claims, stating that there is no law classifying Falun Gong as a heretical group, so it was not possible for him to reject the characterization.
Ren added that he was never informed of the justice department’s investigation into him.
According to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China, Zhang was 82 years old when he stood trial on Nov. 7, 2018.
Zhang was charged for “undermining the law using a heretical organization.”
Zhang entered a not guilty plea. During the trial, Ren argued that his client had caused no harm to society and that there was no legal basis for the charge.
“Falun Gong believers, whether practicing in groups on the street corner or in public squares, or practicing alone in their homes, do not endanger others or interfere with anyone’s life, work, or studies. If they do not hinder or disturb others and, like the square dancers that gather at morning and dusk, have the same right to assemble and practice exercises outside, then why do Falun Gong practitioners not have the freedom to practice their faith?,” Ren said in court.
After 12 hours, the judge adjourned the trial without a verdict. Months later, on Jan. 7, 2019, Zhang was sentenced to five years in prison.
Ren’s license was revoked soon after he defended a client in the case of 12 Hongkongers who were arrested by Chinese coast guards as they attempted to flee to Taiwan for political asylum.
He represented Wong Wai-yin, who was among eight people sentenced to seven months by a court in Shenzhen city for “illegally crossing the border.”
Ren also represented citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who was arrested for her coverage of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan city last year. She was recently sentenced to four years imprisonment.