A Win for Freedom of Belief: Charges Against Two Falun Gong Practitioners Dropped

The police arrested Ms. Wang Yu and Ms. Yang Aiping, residents of Dandong City, in August 2016 for sending text messages that exposed the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline currently persecuted in China.

The two were detained and indicted earlier this year for “using a cult to undermine law enforcement,” a standard pretext used by the Chinese regime to frame and imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

Recently, the local procuratorate dropped the charges and they were released subsequently.

The police department demanded their families post bail before they could go home. Ms. Yang’s family refused to pay, asserting that the police should acknowledge their mistake and compensate Ms. Yang for her suffering during the 16 months of detention, as the charges had been dropped. The police later drove her home.

After their arrests last year, the two practitioners’ families frequently contacted the authorities seeking their release. The families were kicked around between the prosecution and the judge. The police threatened the families, attempting to silence them.

They even told Ms. Yang’s family that Ms. Wang’s family had confessed to the crime on her behalf and that they should do so to get a lesser sentence. In fact, Ms. Wang’s family submitted a criminal complaint to the Zhenxing Procuratorate against the police and prosecutor for abusing their power to advance their personal interests.

Ms. Yang’s lawyer filed a motion to drop the case. The lawyer stated that no law in China criminalises Falun Gong and that Ms. Yang should never have been prosecuted as she was merely exercising her constitutional right to freedom of belief.

The prosecutor from Zhenxing Procuratorate still indicted Ms. Wang and Ms. Yang on January 19, 2017. Zhenxing Court twice set a date for the trial and twice canceled it. The practitioners’ case files were returned to the Procuratorate each time.

On December 13, the court decided that the prosecution should drop the charges against both practitioners due to the changes in the interpretation of Article 300.

Since the People’s Congress (China’s legislative body) has never enacted a law deeming Falun Gong a “cult,” former Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin directed the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to issue a statutory interpretation of Article 300 in November 1999, which required that anyone practicing or promoting Falun Gong be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

A new statutory interpretation that replaced the 1999 version took effect on February 1, 2017. The new interpretation made no mention of Falun Gong and emphasized that an indictment against anyone engaging in a cult must be based on solid legal grounds. Since no law in China labels Falun Gong a cult, the indictment against the practitioners lacks legal basis.

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