The full report is available at:http:\/\/web.amnesty.org\/library\/Index\/engASA170112000\n\n\n\nLEGISLATING TO LEGITIMIZE THE CRACKDOWN\n\n\n\nSince July 1999, a whole series of \u2018decisions\u2019, \u2018notices\u2019, \u2018regulations\u2019, \u2018judicial interpretations\u2019 and other official documents have been issued by the government and judiciary to orchestrate the crackdown on Falun Gong and other \u2018\u2018heretical organizations\u2019\u2019. In October 1999, China\u2019s legislature, the National People\u2019s Congress, also adopted a \u2018\u2018decision\u2019\u2019 to legitimize the government\u2019s crackdown. Many of these official documents contain specific instructions on how to conduct the crackdown, how to use the law to charge those detained, and how to conduct trials. Some also introduce further restrictions on freedom of expression, association and belief in China. These documents are cited or examined below.\n\n\n\nOn 22 July 1999, the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued a Decision banning "the Research Society of Falun Dafa and the Falun Gong organization under its control" as \u2018\u2018illegal organizations\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\nOn 22 July 1999, the Ministry of Public Security also issued a Notice based on the above Decision by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The notice announced sweeping new prohibitions related to the ban on Falun Gong, including prohibition of the right to \u2018petition\u2019 which is guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution. These prohibitions were:\n\n\n\n\n\nThe same month, the Ministry of Personnel also issued a circular, stipulating that government civil servants were prohibited from practising Falun Gong. In a further circular issued by the General Office of the State Council (central government), local governments and departments under the State Council were asked to "properly deal with civil servants who have practised Falun Gong".\n\n\n\n\u2022 On 28 August 1999, the General office of the State Council (government) also issued a Notice on the implementation of \u2018\u2018opinions\u2019\u2019 issued by three government bodies \u2018\u2018concerning certain problems in strengthening the management of healthy Qi Gong activities\u2019\u2019. This Notice (No.77\/1999) introduces restrictions for all Qi Gong groups.\n\n\n\nThis notice was one of the first signs that the crackdown on Falun Gong might be extended to other Qi Gong groups (see above, pages 13-18). The Notice was addressed to all government departments and local governments, asking them to implement \u2018\u2018conscientiously\u2019\u2019 the \u2018\u2018opinions\u2019\u2019 it contained. It first noted that in recent years people\u2019s involvement in Qi Gong activities had developed rather quickly, but that a number of problems had appeared at the same time. One of these was the use of certain types of Qi Gong meetings to conduct \u2018\u2018illegal gatherings\u2019\u2019, which, together with other \u2018\u2018illegal\u2019\u2019 Qi Gong activities, \u2018\u2018endangered public security, disrupted social order and harmed social stability\u2019\u2019. The Notice did not elaborate on why these gatherings were \u2018\u2018illegal\u2019\u2019 or why they \u2018\u2018harmed social stability\u2019\u2019, but it made clear that they must not be allowed. It also listed other specific restrictions (see above, page 14-15).\n\n\n\nTwo months later, the National People\u2019s Congress (China\u2019s parliament) adopted a decision which legitimized the government\u2019s crackdown on so-called \u2018\u2018heretical organizations\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\n\u2022 On 30 October 1999, the Standing Committee of the National People\u2019s Congress (NPC) passed a \u2018\u2018Decision on Banning Heretical Organizations and Preventing and Punishing Heretical Activities\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\nThis Decision was said to be based on existing legislation, but it effectively called for a political crackdown against \u2018\u2018heretical organisations ... Qigong or other illicit forms". It states: \u2018\u2018All corners of society shall be mobilized in preventing and fighting heretical organizations activities, and a comprehensive management system shall be put in place.\u2019\u2019 An official from the NPC commented in December 1999 that the Decision provided "a legal system to ensure the efforts of banning heretical organizations, preventing and punishing heretical activities, safeguarding social stability, protecting people\u2019s interests and guaranteeing the smooth progress of reform, opening up and socialist modernization."(30)\n\n\n\nThe Decision states that, in carrying out the crackdown on \u2018\u2018heretical organisations\u2019\u2019, the principle of "combining education with punishment" should be followed in order to "unify and instruct the majority of the deceived public and to mete out severe punishment to the handful of criminals." Official commentaries show, however, that those liable to receive criminal punishments are more than a "handful of criminals\u2019\u2019 -they may in fact include all those who refuse to renounce their beliefs or who peacefully protest or appeal against the ban on their organization. According to such commentaries published in October and December 1999, those to be punished \u2018\u2018according to law\u2019\u2019 include not only the organisers of banned organizations, but also those \u2018\u2018active\u2019\u2019 or \u2018\u2018enthusiastic\u2019\u2019 participants \u2018\u2018who refuse to mend their ways despite repeated education\u2019\u2019. Furthermore, even those \u2018\u2018who surrender themselves to the law or have done a deed of merit\u2019\u2019 may not totally escape punishment; according to the commentaries they \u2018\u2018can be dealt with leniently, have a reduction of sentence or be granted exemption from punishment according to law.\u2019\u2019(31)\n\n\n\nIn the case of Falun Gong practitioners, this means that anyone who has petitioned the authorities or taken part in peaceful assemblies or demonstrations against the ban on the group, or who continue to practice Falun Gong despite the ban, is liable to be punished.\n\n\n\n\u2022 At the same time as the NPC Decision, the Supreme People\u2019s Court (SPC) and the Supreme People\u2019s Procuratorate (SPP) issued on 30 October 1999 a judicial interpretation entitled "Explanation on Questions Concerning the Concrete Application of Laws in Handling Criminal Cases of Organizing and Making Use of Heretical Organizations" [hereafter cited as SPC\/SPP Explanation].\n\n\n\nIn a commentary on the SPC\/SPP Explanation cited by the official Xinhua news agency on 19 November 1999, the "person in charge of the Beijing Municipal High People\u2019s Court\u2019\u2019 said that this judicial interpretation will help courts to "distinguish more accurately whether or not an offence has constituted a crime and whether or not a crime is serious. Consequently, the people\u2019s courts will be able to integrate severe punishment with lenient treatment, severely punish an extremely small number of criminal elements ... and educate and save hoodwinked people and criminal elements who have repented and rendered meritorious services".\n\n\n\nThe SPC\/SPP Explanation defines the specific activities which will be considered crimes and punished under the Chinese Criminal Law (1997), notably Article 300 of the law (see below). It shows that many activities which involve the peaceful exercise of fundamental human rights, such as peaceful assemblies and demonstrations, are treated as crimes.\n\n\n\nArticle 300 of the Criminal Law sets out the punishments for people who "form or use secret societies or heretical organizations\u2019\u2019 or who use \u2018\u2018superstitious beliefs\u2019\u2019 for certain purposes. Article 300 is divided into three sections, with sections 1 and 2 providing for the same punishments. Section 1 punishes those who use \u2018heretical\u2019 groups or superstition \u2018\u2018to undermine the implementation of the law or administrative rules and regulations of the State\u2019\u2019, while Section 2 deals with those who use such groups \u2018\u2018to deceive people and cause death\u2019\u2019. Both are punished with terms of imprisonment from three to seven years, or by \u2018\u2018not less\u2019\u2019 than seven years\u2019 imprisonment in cases which are considered \u2018\u2018especially serious".\n\n\n\nAccording to the SPC\/SPP Explanation, the activities which fall under Section 1 of Article 300 include gathering people to \u2018\u2018besiege\u2019\u2019 government institutions or enterprises, or holding \u2018\u2018illegal assemblies\u2019\u2019 or demonstrations in public places. They also include any of the following activities: resuming the banned groups or continuing their activities, instigating others into civil disobedience, publishing, printing, duplicating or distributing publications or symbols of the \u2018\u2018heretical organizations\u2019\u2019, and \u2018\u2018other activities that violate State law or administrative regulations\u2019\u2019. The Explanation states that the cases which are considered "serious" (punishable by at least seven years\u2019 imprisonment) are those involving the setting up of heretical organizations or recruitment of members \u2018\u2018across provinces\u2019\u2019, or \u2018\u2018collaboration with overseas groups\u2019\u2019, or publishing or distributing sect materials in \u2018\u2018large amount\u2019\u2019, or else instigating members to violate laws or regulations when this results in \u2018\u2018serious consequences\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\nThe SPC\/SPP Explanation also gives a definition of \u2018\u2018causing death\u2019\u2019, as covered under Section 2 of Article 300. According to the Explanation, this refers to cases in which \u2018\u2018heretical organisations\u2019\u2019 and other such organizations \u2018\u2018deceive their members or others to practice fast, inflict wounds upon themselves, or prevent patients from taking normal medical treatment, resulting in their illness or death\u2019\u2019. \u2018\u2018Serious\u2019\u2019 cases of \u2018\u2018causing death\u2019\u2019 (punishable by at least seven years\u2019 imprisonment) are those in which individuals are deemed to have caused at least three deaths or injury to many people or \u2018\u2018other special serious consequences\u2019\u2019, or those in which people \u2018\u2018who have received criminal or administrative penalties for engaging in heretical activities continue to establish or use heretical organisations to deceive people, resulting in deaths\u2019\u2019. According to the Explanation, these offences may also be treated as \u2018\u2018attempted murder\u2019\u2019or \u2018\u2018inflicting injury\u2019\u2019and punished severely under other articles of the Criminal Law.\n\n\n\nIn addition, Section 3 of Article 300 punishes those who use \u2018heretical\u2019 and other such organisations or superstition \u2018\u2018to rape women or swindle money and property\u2019\u2019. Charges of swindling and rape are often brought against leaders of charismatic religious groups in China. \u2018\u2018Rape\u2019\u2019 is usually given a very broad meaning. The SPC\/SPP Explanation defines \u2018\u2018rape\u2019\u2019 as being the use of \u2018\u2018seduction, coercion, deception or other ways to sexually exploit women or young girls\u2019\u2019. Section 3 of Article 300 provides for this offence to be punished as \u2018\u2018rape\u2019\u2019 under article 236 of the law (by anything from three years\u2019 imprisonment to the death penalty). It also provides that \u2018\u2018using heretical organizations or superstition\u2019\u2019 for \u2018\u2018swindling\u2019\u2019 will be punished as under Article 266 of the law, by penalties ranging from \u2018\u2018public surveillance\u2019\u2019 to life imprisonment.\n\n\n\nThe SPC\/SPP Explanation also provides for members of \u2018heretical organizations\u2019 to be charged with ostensibly political \u2018\u2018crimes\u2019\u2019. It states that those who form or use \u2018\u2018heretical organizations\u2019\u2019 in order \u2018\u2018to organize, scheme, carry out or instigate activities of splitting China, endangering national unity or subverting the socialist system\u2019\u2019 shall be dealt with according to the provisions on \u2018state security\u2019 offences, as stipulated in the Criminal Law.\n\n\n\n\u2022 On 5 November 1999, the Supreme People\u2019s Court issued a Notice giving instructions to local courts on how to handle the cases of people charged with crimes for \u2018\u2018organising or using heretical organisations, particularly Falun Gong.\u2019\u2019 [Hereafter cited as SPC Notice.]\n\n\n\nThe SPC Notice (No.29, 1999)(32) was addressed to all high people\u2019s courts of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, the military affairs court of the People\u2019s Liberation Army, and the \u2018Bingtuan\u2019(33) division court of the High People\u2019s Court of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.\n\n\n\nThis Notice was issued shortly before the trials of Falun Gong leaders and organisers started. It gave an unambiguous political message, making clear to all courts that it was their \u2018\u2018political duty\u2019\u2019 to punish those charged with crimes for their role in \u2018\u2018heretical organisations\u2019\u2019, \u2018\u2018particularly Falun Gong\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\nThe Notice called on courts at all levels to \u2018\u2018unify their thinking\u2019\u2019, \u2018\u2018grasp the heretical character of Falun Gong\u2019\u2019 and the \u2018\u2018threat\u2019\u2019 it represented, and \u2018\u2018fully understand\u2019\u2019 the spirit of the important directives given by the central authorities on \u2018\u2018how to deal with and resolve the Falun Gong question\u2019\u2019. In a language reminiscent of that used in the distant past, the Notice said the courts must be \u2018\u2018fully aware\u2019\u2019 of the \u2018\u2018important, complex and long-term\u2019\u2019 nature of this \u2018\u2018struggle\u2019\u2019 (douzheng); they must make it their \u2018\u2018serious political duty\u2019\u2019 to punish \u2018\u2018every kind of heretical organizations crime\u2019\u2019 and fulfill their role by \u2018\u2018resolutely imposing severe punishment\u2019\u2019. It called on courts to correctly use \u2018\u2018the law and policy\u2019\u2019 in distinguishing between different kinds of \u2018\u2018contradictions\u2019\u2019, so as to \u2018\u2018treat leniently\u2019\u2019 people who have been deceived and \u2018\u2018punish severely\u2019\u2019 the \u2018\u2018small number of criminal elements\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\nFinally, the Notice made it plain that \u2018\u2018courts at all levels\u2019\u2019 must handle these cases \u2018\u2018under the leadership of the Party committees\u2019\u2019 and of their political-legal committees. Courts were also instructed to \u2018\u2018unite closely\u2019\u2019 with the police and the procuracy, and \u2018\u2018vigorously\u2019\u2019 bring to trial the cases presented to them for prosecution by the procuracy. Higher courts were asked to supervise lower courts and use the media to publicize some significant cases in order to increase the social impact of the trials. Other means were also to be used to publicize the results of some trials so as \u2018\u2018to educate the large masses of people\u2019\u2019 and make them aware that \u2018heretical organisations\u2019 were \u2018\u2018opposing science, humanity, society and the government\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\n\u2022 On 24 November 1999, the Ministry of Public Security also issued some "Regulations on Managing Mass Cultural and Sports Activities", which are intended to control and restrict certain types of public gatherings, including those by Qi Gong groups. They specifically ban gatherings that \u2018\u2018threaten national security and public order\u2019\u2019 without further defining what this \u2018\u2018threat\u2019\u2019 might be.\n\n\n\nUnder the regulations, holding concerts, sports meetings, Qigong or other body exercises, and other mass congregations involving more than 200 participants in public places \u2018\u2018shall be subject to approval by public security (police) departments above the county level." Events which may involve more than 3,000 participants require approval by the public security body at or above the prefecture level, and events involving two or more localities shall get the go-ahead from a higher public security department responsible for these areas.\n\n\n\nNine categories of gatherings are specifically prohibited under the regulations, including those that "violate the fundamental principles of the Constitution, or endanger national security and public order; infringe upon customs of ethnic minorities, violate ethnic unity and instigate national separatism; propagate superstition and heresy, pornography and violence that are detrimental to the health of the people." This prohibition goes far beyond the crackdown on Falun Gong or the control of Qi Gong activities. It potentially empowers the police to prohibit any group\u2019s cultural or sport activities which they deem to be a \u2018\u2018threat\u2019\u2019. The regulations also rule that "mass congregations shall not be held near places of government agencies above the county level, radio and television stations, foreign embassies and consulates, military establishments and other vital institutions ..."(34) The regulations also empower the police to fine or detain people who do not comply with these provisions. POLITICALLY MOTIVATED CHARGES\n\n\n\nThe charges brought against most members of Falun Gong who have been prosecuted under the Criminal Law are essentially political in nature. They include "disturbing social order", "assembling to disrupt public order", \u2018\u2018stealing or leaking state secrets\u2019\u2019 and \u2018\u2018using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law". This latter charge is in fact a catch-all phrase for a variety of other accusations which range from organising demonstrations to using the Internet to disseminate information about Falun Gong. Some people have also been charged with "taking part in illegal businesses" or \u2018\u2018illegal trading\u2019\u2019 because they printed, published or sold Falun Gong publications, videos or cassettes - in most cases this referred to publishing or selling such publications before the group was banned when such activities were not illegal. Two examples of the use of such charges are given below.\n\n\n\nXu Jinliang, a manager at the Science, Technology and Culture Service Centre in Shandong province, was charged on 25 November 1999 with "using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law" and "being involved in an illegal business". He was accused of having created 4.3 million cassette tapes and videos promoting Falun Gong teachings - one of the largest such collections of videos and tapes. He also allegedly transferred large sums of money into an account for the Falun Gong. Official sources have not explained what was \u2018\u2018illegal\u2019\u2019 in these activities, apart from the banning of Falun Gong.\n\n\n\nXu Yingquan, a deputy division head of the Changchun city Public Security Bureau, was reported in October 1999 to have been charged with "gathering a crowd to disturb social order\u2019\u2019 and \u2018\u2018printing illegal publications". According to China Women\u2019s News from October 1999, Xu Yingquan was one of five people charged with this offence. He was reportedly detained for having "plotted in December 1998 to take more than 300 Falun Gong practitioners to surround Jilin TV station" and for having "gathered more than 10,000 practitioners outside Liaoning province Party Committee offices". These protests occurred long before the ban on Falun Gong.\n\n\n\nA few people who have been tried as key members of Falun Gong were also charged with "causing deaths\u2019\u2019, a vague accusation whose validity in these cases has not been demonstrated by the authorities (see above, pages 6-7 for further information on this issue).\n\n\n\nAs to the more ostensibly political charge of "leaking state secrets", it is commonly used in China against people detained in violation of international human rights standards. It has often been used against people who have published or made available to people outside China information which the Chinese government considers to be sensitive. Such information is often treated as a \u2018\u2018state secret\u2019\u2019 even though it would not be regarded as such in many other countries. In the case of Falun Gong practitioners, this charge seems to have been used mainly against people who have circulated information about the crackdown on the group, or the detention and ill-treatment of practitioners. Some examples are cited later in this report.\n\n\n\nUNFAIR TRIALS AND HARSH SENTENCES\n\n\n\nThe information available from many sources, including Chinese official sources, shows that the trials of those prosecuted for their role in Falun Gong were grossly unfair \u2013 the judicial process was biassed against the defendants at the outset and the trials were a mere formality. In most of the cases, legislation was used retroactively to secure convictions and defence lawyers were prevented from entering pleas of \u2018\u2018not guilty\u2019\u2019 on behalf of their clients. This in itself breaches fundamental principles of international law.\n\n\n\nIn addition, before the trials started, it was made clear to the courts that they should \u2018\u2018fully understand\u2019\u2019 the political importance of these cases and treat them accordingly. This usually means finding the defendants guilty, whatever the charges or the evidence against them. A Notice issued by the Supreme People\u2019s Court on 5 November 1999, for example, gave clear political messages to all local courts, instructing them notably to do their \u2018\u2018political duty\u2019\u2019 in bringing to trial and punishing \u2018\u2018severely\u2019\u2019 those charged with \u2018\u2018heretical organizations crimes\u2019\u2019, \u2018\u2018particularly Falun Gong\u2019\u2019, and to handle these cases \u2018\u2018under the leadership of the Party committees\u2019\u2019 (see above, page 22, for further information on this notice).\n\n\n\nAt least 40 members of Falun Gong are known to have been tried in various places in China since November 1999. The total number of those tried is believed to be higher, with some trials being held secretly or without being publicly reported. Chinese official sources have publicised the trials and sentences passed against some alleged leaders or key members of Falun Gong, most of whom have received harsh sentences. Most of these trials have been closed to the public, though selected information on the cases has been widely publicized by the state media. In one particularly significant trial held in Beijing in late December 1999, part of the court hearing was shown on Chinese central television. Despite the high profile given to these cases, the Chinese authorities have not provided evidence that the defendants were involved in activities which would legitimately be regarded as \u2018crimes\u2019 under international standards. In other cases, trials have been held behind closed doors and, in some cases, even the relatives of the defendants were denied access to the court.\n\n\n\nThe information available on a number of cases shows that these trials have been grossly unfair. Some of these cases are described below. Amnesty International believes that the prisoners have been arbitrarily detained, convicted and sentenced for the peaceful exercise of fundamental human rights, in violation of international human rights standards.\n\n\n\n\u2022 LI XIAOBING AND LI XIAOMEI\n\n\n\nLi Xiaobing and Li Xiaomei, two sisters from Beijing, were among 22 Falun Gong practitioners who were tried in secret in Beijing on 28 January 2000, in three separate sessions of the Dongcheng district Court. Li Xiaobing and Li Xiaomei were tried in one of the court sessions and sentenced to seven and six years\u2019 imprisonment respectively. Their case illustrates in several respects the arbitrariness of the judicial process against members of Falun Gong.\n\n\n\nThe two sisters were charged with and convicted of \u2018\u2018illegal trading\u2019\u2019. This charge referred to the sale of Falun Gong publications by the two sisters, who were running a bookstore in Beijing before their arrest. Both, however, had been arrested on 20 July 1999 \u2013 two days before Falun Gong was banned - and the sale of Falun Gong publications was not illegal before the ban. Following their detention by police, they were held for over three months without charge, in violation of the provisions governing the time limits for detention without charge in the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law. They were denied contact with their family throughout their detention and their relatives were not allowed to attend their trial.\n\n\n\nOn 15 August 1999, before formal charges were even issued against them, the official Xinhua news agency published accusations against them, showing clearly that they were already considered guilty. The Xinhua report described them as \u2018\u2018key members\u2019\u2019 of the \u2018\u2018outlawed\u2019\u2019 Falun Dafa Research Society in Beijing and accused them of earning large sums of money from the sale of Falun Gong publications and audio-visual material since 1997, with most of the money being given to another \u2018\u2018leading\u2019\u2019 member of the Falun Gong, Yao Jie (f), who was tried and sentenced in Beijing in December (see below). Xinhua also said that the two sisters had contracted and registered a bookstore in Dongcheng district in 1998 \u2018\u2018in the name of others\u2019\u2019, \u2018\u2018using it as a base to spread the fallacies of Falun Gong\u2019\u2019. According to unofficial sources, the Ditan bookstore and audio-video shop, which the sisters run, was a legal business. It belonged to the Wenhua Publication Corporation, itself subordinated to the Ministry of Culture. Furthermore, the sale of Falun Gong books and other material was not illegal until the group was banned on 22 July. This fact however appears to have been ignored and legislation was used retroactively to convict them. According to unofficial sources, their lawyer was put under pressure not to present a plea of \u2018\u2018not guilty\u2019\u2019 at their trial.\n\n\n\nIt is clear that several fundamental principles of international law were violated in these cases, and that some standards of Chinese law itself were ignored or bent in order to convict Li Xiaobing and Li Xiaomei. They were illegally detained for three months without charge; legislation was used retroactively in order to charge and convict them; they were presumed guilty long before they were tried; they were tried in secret and their right to defence was severely restricted.\n\n\n\n\u2022 LI JIANHUI\n\n\n\nLi Jianhui is another member of Falun Gong who is reported to have been denied the right to plead not guilty at his trial, in violation of international standards for fair trial and of Chinese law itself. Li Jianhui, a Falun Gong contact person in the southern city of Shenzhen, was detained together with his wife, Dai Ying, in September 1999. Dai Ying was released in November without being charged, while Li Jianhui was charged with \u2018\u2018using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law\u2019\u2019. According to various sources, shortly before his trial on 24 January 2000, the Futian district court in Shenzhen forced Mr Li\u2019s chosen defence lawyers to withdraw from the case because the lawyers had decided after studying the case to plead \u2018not guilty\u2019. The court appointed another lawyer instead, reportedly denying him too the right to plead not guilty by telling him that he could only plead for \u2018\u2018leniency\u2019\u2019. Li Jianhui\u2019s trial was reportedly postponed after two hours without a verdict being reached. There has been no news of his case since then.\n\n\n\n\u2022 GU ZHIYI\n\n\n\nGu Zhiyi, aged 63, female, a retired senior lecturer of the Chongqing Taxation School, Sichuan province, and a Falun Gong contact person in Chongqing, was detained on 20 July 1999 \u2013 two days before the government banned the Falun Gong. She was charged with "using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law" and indicted on 3 November 1999, according to the Chongqing Daily of 4 November. She was tried by the Yuzhong district Intermediate People\u2019s Court in Chongqing on 21 November 1999. The trial is said to have lasted over 10 hours but it ended without the court announcing a verdict. There has been no news about her case since then. According to Falun Gong sources, Gu Zhiyi was tortured during interrogation while in police custody, including by being given electric shocks.\n\n\n\nGu Zhiyi, a member of Falun Gong since 1992, was accused of leading the organization in Chongqing, of inviting Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi to give lectures there, and of having received materials from Wang Zhiwen, who was later tried in Beijing as a \u2018\u2018key\u2019\u2019 Falun Gong member (see below). She was also accused of having organized several thousand followers to "besiege" the offices of two newspapers to get them to apologise for the publication of two articles about the Falun Gong entitled "Free: Beautiful Temptation and Trap" and "Inebriated, confused and stupefied woman hospitalized after becoming possessed from practising Falun Gong."(35) These protests against the newspapers had taken place in October and November 1998. There is no indication that these protests were violent and no action was taken by the authorities at the time against the alleged organisers.\n\n\n\nAccording to unofficial sources, during her trial, Gu Zhiyi\u2019s defence lawyer did not attempt to plead \u2018\u2018not guilty\u2019\u2019, but he pointed out several times at inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the prosecution\u2019s evidence against her, and questioned why a key prosecution witness had not been brought to testify in court. The judge, however, ruled against all the attempts made by the defence lawyer to challenge the prosecution\u2019s evidence. The trial was reportedly open to members of the public who had been given admittance tickets in advance. In view of this, it is believed that the trial ended without a verdict due to the obvious inadequacy of the prosecution\u2019 evidence. There has been no further information about the verdict.\n\n\n\nNone of the accusations against Gu Zhiyi would constitute \u2018\u2018crimes\u2019\u2019 under international standards. Furthermore, they relate to activities which were not considered illegal in China at the time they were carried out. It is clear that the charges against her were politically motivated and that her detention and trial violate international human rights standards.\n\n\n\n\u2022 LI CHANG, WANG ZHIWEN, JI LIEWU AND YAO JIE\n\n\n\nThe most high-profile trial to have taken place to date is that of Li Chang, Wang Zhiwen, Ji Liewu and Yao Jie (female). They were described by Qian Xiaoqian, Director General of the State Council Information Office, as "four former senior government officials". All four were members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Li Chang, aged 59, is a former departmental deputy director at the Ministry for Public Security; Wang Zhiwen, aged 50, is a former official with a company under the Ministry of Railways; Ji Liewu, aged 36, was the manager of a Hong Kong subsidiary of a government metals company; and Yao Jie, 40, was the Communist Party secretary of a large real estate company in Beijing.\n\n\n\nAll were accused of holding leadership positions within the Falun Gong movement. They were charged on 19 October 1999 with "organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law", \u2018\u2018causing deaths by organizing and using a heretical organization\u2019\u2019 and "illegally obtaining and leaking state secrets". These charges referred to their activities before Falun Gong was banned. Li Chang was detained on 20 July - two days before the ban - and it is believed that the others were detained around the same date.\n\n\n\nOn 26 December 1999, after a hearing at the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People\u2019s Court, the defendants were found guilty as charged and sentenced. Li Chang was sentenced to 18 years\u2019 imprisonment, Wang Zhiwen to 16 years\u2019 imprisonment, Ji Liewu to 12 years\u2019 imprisonment and Yao Jie to seven years\u2019 imprisonment.\n\n\n\nPart of the trial was \u2018open\u2019 to a selected audience of government cadres and reporters from the official media. The hearing of the \u2018\u2018state secrets\u2019\u2019 charges was held behind closed doors. Only one family member per defendant was permitted to attend the \u2018open\u2019 part of the trial and, according to Falun Gong sources, relatives of the four defendants were detained ahead of the court hearing \u2018\u2018as a warning\u2019\u2019. Foreign reporters were excluded. They were told that "their presence was a violation of regulations controlling news gathering\u2019\u2019 and were ordered to leave.(36)\n\n\n\nThe official news agency Xinhua reported on 26 December that \u2018\u2018during the trial, some of the defendants argued that they had no idea which laws they had broken\u2019\u2019.(37) According to official reports, the main accusations against the defendants related to their alleged role in setting up the structure of Falun Gong and in organising a number of protests, including the peaceful demonstration by 10,000 people in front of the Zhongnanhai CCP leadership compound in Beijing on 25 April 1999. The defendants were accused of having set up \u2018\u201839 command posts, more than 1,900 training centres and more than 280,000 contact posts\u2019\u2019 of Falun Gong across the country, and of having \u2018\u2018plotted and directed\u2019\u2019 78 protests, including the 25 April demonstration. They were also accused of \u2018\u2018stealing 37 state secrets\u2019\u2019 and of disseminating them or including them in protests letters. No detail was published about the nature of the alleged \u2018\u2018state secrets\u2019\u2019. According to Falun Gong sources, this referred to the contents of official documents about the crackdown on Falun Gong. Official reports also indicate that the charge of \u2018\u2018causing deaths\u2019\u2019 was not substantiated beyond the general accusation that Falun Gong activities \u2018\u2018caused deaths\u2019\u2019, as previously alleged by official sources (see above, pages 6-7), and that no evidence was presented of a direct link between the alleged deaths and specific actions of the defendants. The Xinhua report of 26 December said that some of the defendants had \u2018\u2018claimed\u2019\u2019 that they were in no way responsible for these deaths. Xinhua cited a Chinese legal expert\u2019s comment that the deaths \u2018\u2018were the result of cult activities which the defendants helped to organise\u2019\u2019 and that \u2018\u2018if the defendants had directly caused or forced the deaths or suicides, they would have been charged with homicide and received more severe punishment.\u2019\u2019\n\n\n\nAccording to official sources, Li Chang, who received an 18 years\u2019 prison sentence, and Yao Jie, who received seven years, had been treated \u2018\u2018leniently\u2019\u2019 because they had made \u2018\u2018confessions\u2019\u2019. There are grounds to be concerned about the way in which these \u2018\u2018confessions\u2019\u2019 were obtained - according to unofficial sources, the defendants were held incommunicado for several months after their arrest.\n\n\n\nThe trial and verdict against the defendants received wide coverage by the state media. Part of the trial was subsequently shown on Chinese central television news. The four defendants were shown admitting to having organized group activities, including the 25 April 1999 demonstration in front of Zhongnanhai. Yao Jie was said to be in tears and to have expressed regrets for having "caused trouble for the Party." Commenting on the trial on 28 December, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman described the four defendants as "backbone elements\u2019\u2019 of the group, and said that their sentencing was "an embodiment of China\u2019s principle of ruling the country by law."\n\n\n\nThis trial \u2013 described above as an embodiment of China\u2019s \u2018\u2018rule by law\u2019\u2019 - was grossly unfair. It was clearly staged by the authorities as a show trial for which the verdict was determined in advance.\n\n\n\n\u2022 SONG YUESHENG, CHEN YUAN, JIANG SHILONG AND LIANG YULIN\n\n\n\nThe first trial of Falun Gong practitioners took place on 12 November 1999 at the Intermediate People\u2019s Court in Haikou, the capital of Hainan province in south China. According to a court official, the trial lasted seven hours. The defendants, Song Yuesheng, Chen Yuan, Jiang Shilong and Liang Yulin (female), were accused of having organized a number of peaceful protests against the ban on Falun Gong. They were found guilty of the charges of "using a heretical organisation to undermine the implementation of the law" and "seriously disturbing social order".\n\n\n\nSong Yuesheng was sentenced to 12 years in prison; Chen Yuan to seven years\u2019; Jiang Shilong received a lesser sentence of three years\u2019, reportedly for showing "sincere remorse", and Liang Yulin reportedly admitted her "guilt with a good attitude" as a result of which she was given a \u2018\u2018lenient\u2019\u2019 prison sentence of two years.\n\n\n\nDetails of the trial proceedings have not been disclosed. An official report by Xinhua on 12 November 1999 merely cited the accusations against the defendants. It described Song Yuesheng as an "organiser, schemer and commander" of Falun Gong in Hainan. He was accused of having organised 13 illegal protests in Hainan between 22 July 1999, when Falun Gong was banned, and 9 September 1999. One of these protests, on 8 August 1999, was an exercise session in a Haikou park attended by 183 people, which caused "grave consequences", Xinhua said. Song Yuesheng reportedly escaped from police custody in August. He was also accused of having travelled to 10 other cities \u2018\u2018inciting\u2019\u2019 fellow practitioners to join in a civil disobedience campaign. The four defendants were given ten days to appeal against their sentences. On 30 November 1999 the Haikou High People\u2019s Court rejected their appeals, upholding the original sentences as "appropriate" and the verdict as "correct".\n\n\n\nNone of the accusations against the defendants relate to activities which would legitimately be regarded as crimes under international standards. Amnesty International believes that they are arbitrarily imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of fundamental human rights.\n\n\n\n\u2022 YU CHANGXIN\n\n\n\nYu Changxin, 74 year old retired air force lieutenant general, is reported to have been sentenced to 17 years\u2019 imprisonment in a secret court-martial on 6 January 2000, for his alleged links to Falun Gong. He was reportedly detained in July 1999, suspected of having masterminded the 25 April 1999 demonstration outside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, though according to some sources he had nothing to do with it.(38) Yu Changxin was reportedly accused of helping Falun Gong to expand its membership and publish books, and held responsible for the deaths of practitioners who refused medical treatment when ill, like other alleged leaders of Falun Gong.\n\n\n\n\u2022 LI FUJUN\n\n\n\nLi Fujun, a 37-year old assistant professor at Xinxiang Medical College in Henan province, was sentenced on 30 December 1999 to four years\u2019 imprisonment on the charge of \u2018\u2018using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law\u2019\u2019. A court official subsequently confirmed the verdict to a foreign news agency, but gave no further detail of the case.(39) Unofficial reports suggest that Li Fujun was charged with this offence for having written an article arguing that Falun Gong could help cure illness, which was posted on the Internet.(40) Li Fujun had been detained on 29 October 1999, after taking part in a silent protest with other practitioners in Beijing\u2019s Tiananmen square, and indicted on 19 November.\n\n\n\n\u2022 XU XIANGLAN AND WANG HANSHENG\n\n\n\nA husband and wife, accused of being leaders of the Falun Gong in Wuhan, Hubei province, were sentenced on 6 January 2000 after being found guilty of \u2018\u2018organizing and using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law\u2019\u2019. The Wuhan Intermediate People\u2019s Court sentenced Xu Xianglan (female) to eight years\u2019 imprisonment and her husband, Wang Hansheng, to six years\u2019 imprisonment. According to a Xinhua report of 6 January, prosecution proceedings began against the couple on 12 December 1999 and a public hearing began on 23 December, with a public trial and sentencing being held on 6 January 2000. Xu Xianglan was described as the \u2018\u2018principal criminal\u2019\u2019 and her husband as an \u2018\u2018accessory\u2019\u2019.\n\n\n\nXu Xianglan was accused of having set up the Wuhan branch of Falun Gong, and taken a leading role in setting up other branches in several provinces and coordinating their relations. She was also accused of having mobilized Falun Gong practitioners on nine occasions in June 1998 to "illegally gather" outside the offices of the Changjiang Daily newspaper \u2013 each of these gatherings involved several dozen people, the Xinhua report said. Both she and her husband were additionally accused of having published, copied and sold a large amount of Falun Gong books and other materials between May 1996 and May 1999. Their activities were said to have "seriously undermined social order".\n\n\n\nAll the accusations against them referred to their Falun Gong activities before the group was banned. The Xinhua report cited the court as saying that Xu Xianglan was given a \u2018\u2018light\u2019\u2019 sentence and Wang Hansheng had his sentence \u2018\u2018reduced\u2019\u2019 because \u2018\u2018they had confessed their crimes after they were arrested and showed a good attitude\u2019\u2019, \u2018\u2018resolutely pledged to cut off their ties with Falun Gong and displayed repentance".\n\n\n\n\u2022 XU XINMU\n\n\n\nXu Xinmu, deputy director of Shijiazhuang City\u2019s personnel division, Hebei province, and a Falun Gong contact person in Shijiazhuang, was reportedly tried in secret and sentenced to four years\u2019 imprisonment in late December 1999 or early January 2000 for \u2018\u2018leaking state secrets\u2019\u2019. He had been detained on 20 July 1999, two days before the government officially announced the banning of Falun Gong. According to Falun Gong sources, he was accused of having forewarned Falun Gong practitioners via the Internet that President Jiang Zemin had issued a directive to government authorities to crack down on Falun Gong.