Six Chinese court cases involving adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice banned by the communist authorities, were dismissed by the procuratorates in the provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, and Anhui. Eight people who had been unlawfully charged were released.
It’s a rare—but increasingly common—act of legal clemency in the nearly 18 years of persecution practitioners of the meditative discipline have suffered since the Chinese Communist Party launched its all-out anti-Falun Gong campaign in July 1999.
Practitioners of Falun Gong, which gained massive popularity in China before then-CCP General Secretary Jiang Zemin deemed it a threat to the regime, have been detained by the millions. While in prisons and labor camps many have been tortured, sometimes to death. A large but still indeterminate number, feared in the hundreds of thousands, have been murdered in hospitals across China for their organs.
But with a slight shift in the political climate since the 2000s, some officials and police in various parts of China have ignored Falun Gong practitioners petitioning against the persecution. And more recently, some practitioners have even seen previously unheard-of successes in the CCP-controlled courts.
In the city of Wu’an, Hebei Province, Falun Gong practitioner Bai Jingjie was detained by police in August 2016 for spray-painting phrases like “Falun Dafa [another name for Falun Gong] Is Good” and “Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance Are Good [the main tenets of Falun Gong]”in public areas.
In Tieling County, located in China’s industrial northeastern province of Liaoning, practitioners Li Shimian and Lin Youyan were detained unlawfully for distributing New Year’s calendars with Falun Gong motifs among villagers.
Their defense lawyers argued that from a moral and legal perspective, there was no basis for charging the Falun Gong practitioners, so the court handed the case over to the procuratorate, where it was dismissed in February.
Bai Jingjie’s case in Hebei Province was dismissed in January.
Further south, similar incidents also occurred in Anhui Province, where five Falun Gong adherents charged for various activities were released.
It was reported by Minghui.org, a website run by Falun Gong adherents to document the persecution, that the authorities’ decision to dismiss the cases was in part due to phone calls made by Falun Gong practitioners outside China persuading them not to take part in suppressing Falun Gong.
A major factor in the apparent let-up in the persecution of Falun Gong is the mass purge of high-ranking officials by the administration of current Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Many among the disgraced cadres were promoted to their positions by Jiang Zemin and followed him faithfully in carrying out the suppression of Falun Gong.
But the persecution still continues on a large scale, as the CCP has not changed its policy toward Falun Gong. According to incomplete statistics by Minghui.org, 1,162 practitioners were sentenced last year. From the beginning of this year to Feb. 5, 137 people were reported sentenced and 412 in total detained for Falun Gong-related reasons.