NEW YORK, August 21, 2001 (Falun Dafa Information Center) -- In a flurry of show trials, the Chinese government in the last few days sentenced a series of Falun Gong practitioners to terms of up to 13 years for "offenses" such as "handing out leaflets" or "making banners." The trials came after Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s strict new legal directives for prosecuting practitioners.Jiang’s directives, reported by the media in June, targeted the very types of activities that Falun Gong practitioners have been engaging in for the last two years to raise awareness about the illegal persecution. The directives allow for much harsher sentencing, including the death penalty, for activities that, in other countries, wouldn’t even be considered crimes.The new directives also provided prosecutors with a "legal" means to formally bring to court the growing number of Falun Gong practitioners filling up the nation's detention centers under vague and often farcical charges. As AFP reported on June 11, 2001, "Police have been detaining people for these activities, but were not clear which laws they could use for prosecution."Clearly, issuing this directive was merely an attempt to lend legitimacy to the persecution, but in fact it does nothing except demonstrate that the legal system in China is being utilized as a tool in the persecution against Falun Gong.More disturbing, however, is the threat that this new legal directive carries with it the possibility of utilizing the death penalty in certain cases.Is the recent sentencing of Falun Gong practitioners to long jail terms for innocuous activities simply a prelude of far harsher punishments to come?We would like to remind Jiang Zemin that regardless of how many laws are manufactured to intensify the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, this "crackdown" remains a serious violation of basic human rights as recognized by the international community, and brings shame down upon China.We call on international media to investigate and report on these cases thoroughly so as not to let these obvious abuses of judicial power go unnoticed.