Three Falun Gong cult members jailed in south China

Three Falun Gong cult followers have been imprisoned by a court in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to local authorities.

In the first instance judgment issued by the People's Court of Babu District of Hezhou City, suspects surnamed Zhang, Xian and Huang were on charges of using the cult to obstruct law enforcement. They were sentenced to terms from one year to two and a half years.

Acting on tip-offs, police raided a residence in Cangwu County of Wuzhou City on Sept. 11, 2015, where they found Falun Gong propaganda with anti-government content.

According to the verdict, the three women started to practice Falun Gong in 1996. In 2013, they started to download Falun Gong materials from illegal websites, bought printing equipment, and put together books and posters of cult material.

Before their arrest, they had handed out and posted cult propaganda in their neighborhood. They were also found to have sent Falun Gong material to primary school students.

All three claimed they began to practice Falun Gong for health and fitness. They suffered various chronicle diseases and delayed treatment because of blind faith in the cult.H "I really regretted it and feel deeply sorry for my family and society. I should've believed in science instead of superstition," said Xian, one of the convicted.

The government banned the cult in 1999, accusing the group of using religion to brainwash practitioners, extracting money from them, and even encouraging practitioners to set themselves alight.

According to Chinese law, a cult is an illegal organization that tries to control people by deifying the sect leader, deludes members under the guise of religion or in other names, and engages in activities that harm society.