When the Chinese communist regime launched the persecution of Falun Gong and vowed to eradicate this cultivation practice 18 years ago, few people dared to speak out for Falun Gong.
Now, 18 years later, given Falun Gong practitioners’ persistent and peaceful efforts to expose and counteract the ongoing persecution, more and more people have come to understand the facts. People are now willing to stand up for practitioners, including defense lawyers.
Despite the risk of being arrested and imprisoned, Falun Gong practitioners refuse to give up their faith, and continue to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. They continue to demonstrate a high moral standard and great compassion, and treat their fellow countrymen kindly.
Practitioners are exposing the persecution to the world and awakening people’s consciences. They endure, and remain peaceful despite the sacrifices they have to make.
During all the years of persecution, practitioners have never responded in kind to the oppression, refuse to answer violence with violence, and have never sought revenge against the perpetrators.
Hope for the Country
“[Falun Gong] Practitioners are the hope for China, the rebirth of traditional Chinese values and morality,” said lawyer Yu Wensheng when he defended practitioners Mr. Zhou Xiangyang and his wife Ms. Li Shanshan during a trial in the Dongli District Court on September 13, 2016.
Mr. Zhou, an engineer, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2003 for practicing Falun Gong. While in prison, he was tortured to the brink of death, but remained firm in his faith.
Despite his lengthy sentence, his girlfriend at the time, Ms. Li Shanshan, also a practitioner, waited to marry him. She did everything she possibly could to rescue him, only to be arrested and sentenced twice to a forced labor camp. After Mr. Zhou was released, she was still detained.
Soon after the couple was finally reunited after a decade of separation, both were arrested again in 2015 and sentenced in 2016 to seven and six-year prison terms respectively.
Lawyer Liu Lianhe said, “My initial understanding of Falun Gong was that it was no more than physical exercises. I had not been aware of the spiritual part of this cultivation practice. But one of my clients completely changed my impression about Falun Gong during a trial.”
He was speaking of practitioner Mr. Zhang Hongru, when a court official attempted to persuade Mr. Zhang to give up his faith during the trial.
“You are already in your 40s,” the court official said, “and you have been given an 11-year sentence. You are still single, and your mother, who is in her 70s, needs you to take care of her. If you give up the practice, at least you can take care of your mother.”
Mr. Zhang said, “One can’t live without a faith. I have no regrets. I will suffer whatever is in store for me because of my faith.”
The lawyer recounted, “I was really impressed by what he said. He was so peaceful and calm when he said that. There was no complaint, no anger. I was so touched that when it was my turn to talk, I suddenly choked up and couldn’t talk.”
Lawyers speak of the high moral code shown by practitioners, which they understand to be the result of practicing Falun Gong.
Lawyer Yu Wensheng said during the trial of Mr. Zhou Xiangyang and Ms. Li Shanshan, “Thousands upon thousands of innocent citizens have been wrongfully sentenced to prison because of their belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.”
He continued, “Defending Falun Gong practitioners is in fact safeguarding justice and the rule of law. It’s also safeguarding the universal values of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. This is fighting for justice using the law.”