Trend: Suppression of Legal Representation

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Since the start of the persecution, Falun Gong practitioners have had difficulty securing lawyers to represent them because of the reprisals and intimidation attorneys taking such sensitive cases could face. Beginning in 2003 and accelerating in 2005 alongside the broader “rights defense movement” in China, dozens of rights lawyers started to try to represent Falun Gong. Many lawyers who defended Falun Gong practitioners have themselves been disappeared, tortured, and imprisoned, such as Gao Zhisheng and Wang Quanzhang.

Despite the long-standing efforts of the regime to stifle legal representation for Falun Gong believers, the implementation of the policy has become more blatant in recent years. In 2020, guidance was issued to lawyers in Jilin Province explicitly telling them not to represent Falun Gong.[1] The document, named Document No. 226, formalizes the prohibition on defending innocent Falun Gong believers, “In principle, no lawyer is allowed to represent cases that are related to a heretical religion.”

The guidance has reportedly been upheld strictly in courts across the province. For example, Judge Wang Rongfu from the Dehui Court in Jilin Province told the family members of a detained practitioner in April 2021, “Don’t argue with me whether my order is against the law. The higher court told us that Falun Gong-related cases are special, and the practitioners don’t have the right to be defended. A murderer can hire a lawyer. Falun Gong practitioners can’t.”

[1] “Secret File Prevents Lawyers From Defending Falun Gong Cases,” Falun Dafa Information Center,  ​​https://faluninfo.net/secret-file-prevents-lawyers-from-defending-falun-gong-cases/