“Not guilty”is not allowed. That is the directive in one of two top-secret Chinese documents recently obtained by The Epoch Times that reveal some of the inner workings of the Chinese regime’s continuing persecution of Falun Gong. These documents provide a mixed picture of a crackdown made more severe even while officials worry that a court might choose not to go along with it and defense lawyers seek to prove the persecution is illegal.
The persecution of Falun Gong officially began on July 20, 1999, almost ten years ago. When the persecution began, it received very prominent media coverage in the state-run media and featured show trials of Falun Gong adherents.
In recent years, the regime’s strategy has changed. Media do not report on cases brought against Falun Gong adherents, and the courts, the legislature, and the police have enforced the persecution largely out of sight of the public.
Orchestrating the persecution behind the scences hs been the 610 Office, an extra-constitutional office with power over all levels of the state’s bureaucracy established for the purpose of persecuting Falun Gong. The regime has denied that the 610 Office exists.
The two documents confirm the existence of the 610 Office and show that office seeking to manage the persecution.
A document issued by the Qingdao Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Feb. 27 is said to be on the authority of a “unified directive from the Central, Provincial, and Municipal Party Committees.”
According to the document, Qingdao City is required to “strictly eliminate, investigate, guard against, and control the Falun Gong adherents; prevent Falun Gong adherents from watching and disseminating the New Tang Dynasty TV program; coordinate relevant departments to strengthen measures to control the Internet, radio, television, telephone, and fax; prioritize online publicity and strengthen foreign propaganda,” and so on.
According to Mr. Erping Zhang of the Association for Asian Research, “The detailed list of actions the Qingdao City officials are required by this document to take, including making sure that Falun Gong adherents not disseminate TV programs, suggests that the Falun Gong they are enjoined to ‘control’ are in fact very active.”
Prohibiting ‘Not Guilty’ Verdicts
A document issued on Feb. 10 by the 610 Office of the Tiexie District in Shenyang City describes various judicial processes used in persecuting Falun Gong.
The document requires that, “City courts implement internal audit systems, check guidelines, and strictly carry out orders to ensure ‘not guilty' verdicts are denied to Falun Gong adherents. Otherwise, the first case of a ‘not guilty' verdict will be a national political joke.
“Those charged can be, according to the individual's transformation [‘transformation' refers to coercing a Falun Gong adherent to denounce Falun Gong, inform on other Falun Gong adherents, and apologize for practicing Falun Gong], performance, and evidence, given a sentence reduction, deferred, or freed. However, the not-guilty verdict is absolutely not allowed.”
Zhang commented, "The ban on 'not-guilty' verdicts for Falun Gong adherents is not new—for ten years persecuted Falun Gong adherents have in most cases not even been allowed a trial. What is new is the need the 610 Office now feels to try to enforce 'not guilty' verdicts. The 610 Office clearly fears that a court might return such a verdict, and so they issued this document. This document is a testimony to how the Falun Gong adherents have been changing the situation in China so that the failure of the persecution is now anticipated by those charged with enforcing it."
Emerging Defense Lawyers
According to the analysis of a lawyer in Mainland China, the persecution of Falun Gong has no legal standing. According to this lawyer, the documents obtained by The Epoch Times are in fact encouraging and instigating regime officials at all levels to commit crimes.
Many more lawyers are coming out to defend Falun Gong adherents. In court, these lawyers base their defense on the claim that the Chinese law does not prohibit practicing Falun Gong or telling others the facts about Falun Gong and its persecution.
Recently, there have been reports of nine attorneys representing 13 Falun Gong adherents in Qingdao, seven lawyers pleading not guilty for Zhong Fanqing and 10 other Falun Gong adherents, and ten lawyers pleading not guilty for 6 Shenyang Falun Gong adherents.
The 2008 Shenbei Case
Around the time of the Olympic Games, four Falun Gong adherents in Shenbei, in the New District of Shenyang City, were arrested. They were Xi Changhai, Wang Sumei, Sun Yusu, and Huo Fefu. Xi Changhai is a retired 60-year-old elementary school teacher, and Sun Yusu and Huo Defu are both from the same village.
According to insiders, there was serious disagreement in the handling of the case. A public-security-bureau-level official of the Shenbei New District, suggested going through the formalities and releasing the accused.
However, the head of the local 610 Office, Sun Yong-Gang, insisted on complying with the regime’s policy and dealing with the Falun Gong adherents quickly and severely.
As a result, at the end of 2008, the Shenbei case concluded with heavy sentences. Wang Sumei was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Xi Changhai, 11 years, Sun Yusu, 8 years, and Huo Fefu, 6 years.
The sentences given the four in Shenbei appear to be part of a pattern. The Falun Dafa Information Center reports in a recent article since the end of the Beijing Olympics "a significant increase in the number of Falun Gong adherents being sentenced via criminal trials to lengthy prison terms."
The harshness of the verdicts in Shenbei pushed for by the 610 Office, occurring in the context of at least one official's ambivalence in enforcing the persecution, perhaps mirrors the essence of the confidential documents recently obtained by The Epoch Times.