Despite Public Outcry, Falun Gong Practitioner Sentenced

A practitioner of Falun Gong, whose persecution by Chinese communist authorities prompted an outpouring of anger at the regime, was sentenced to three years in jail by a local court on Aug. 13.

Wang Xiaodong and his family appealed the sentence given at the Cangzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Hebei Province and are expecting a second trial.

Wang, a schoolteacher, was arrested on Feb. 25 by the Botou Domestic Security Team, who accused him of creating DVDs that expose the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

The Falun Gong spiritual discipline, which Wang practices, was supported by the regime in the 1990s before former Party chief Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide persecution in 1999. The practice had between 70 million and 100 million adherents, who were attracted by the discipline’s five meditative exercises and strong moral focus, based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

Wang’s arrest left his 6-year-old child and elderly mother to fend for themselves, and infuriated the village he was a part of.

A member from each of 300 families in the village to put a thumbprint on a petition that demand Wang’s release.

According to a source in Beijing, the petition shocked some central Party leaders.

For 13 years the public has been told only official propaganda about the discipline, but the Wang Xiaodong petition indicates a level of grassroots resistance to a mass campaign unprecedented in Chinese communist history.

Two Beijing lawyers sent by Wang’s family, Cheng Hai and Li Changmin, were turned away when they attempted to visit him at the Botou detention center. Their complaints to the Public Security Bureau did receive a response.

Wang’s first trial was conducted in secret by the Botou court on July 18. Before the opening of the court session, the two lawyers hired by his family were forced to leave and were replaced by a lawyer assigned by the regime. Wang’s family were not informed of the trial.

A senior lawyer from mainland China who is familiar with Wang’s case said that Wang was stripped of legal rights in the first trial, and that the verdict is therefore unconstitutional and illegal.

His family was not informed about the verdict of the trial until Aug. 14, when the deputy director of the Botou detention center called. The caller told them that Wang had asked to appeal and to see a lawyer.

Wang’s mother and sister went to the Botou court and demanded a written verdict, but did not receive it until Aug. 20.

After much pleading, Wang’s family members were permitted to visit him on Aug. 18. The meeting was monitored by the security officers and police, and allowed to last only 15 minutes. Wang told his family that the court threatened to extend his sentence if he did not sign off on the verdict.

“This is a battle between good and evil—in the language of politics, the pursuit of freedom and democracy,” said Tang Jinglin, human rights lawyer in Guandong Province, “Those repressed must stand up for themselves and for justice.”

Tang said that the Chinese people are now openly resistant because they can no longer hold back their anger and contempt at the regime’s human rights’ violations. He praised the courage of the Chinese people and sees the current period, where people are much more conscience of their rights, and willing to defend them, as an “awakening” and a “new era for the people of China.”