CESNUR - center for studies on new religions

"China Sentences Sect Member to Death for Murder"

(Reuters, December 31, 2003)

A Chinese court has sentenced to death a man it said was a follower of the banned Falun Gong spiritual sect for killing 16 people with rat poison, state television reported on Wednesday. Chen Fuzhao was sentenced in the coastal city of Wenzhou, accused of killing 15 beggars by pouring a potent banned rat poison into drinks, it said. He also dumped poison into drinking water at a temple, which killed one woman, it said.
It did not say if Chen, a medical worker who had practiced Falun Gong since 1996, had already been executed.
The report said Chen's spirit was controlled by Falun Gong, which Beijing has branded an "evil cult," and that he killed the beggars to increase his spiritual strength.
Falun Gong practices a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism traditional Chinese breathing exercises and the beliefs of its U.S.-based founder, Li Hongzhi.
China outlawed the group in 1999 after thousands of adherents besieged the central leadership compound in Beijing to demand official recognition of their faith.
The group has been all but snuffed out in public in China in a relentless and often brutal crackdown.

"Jailed Falungong follower dies in China after police beating: groups"

(AFP, December 30, 2003)

An outspoken member of the Falungong group, which is banned in China, was severely beaten in a Chinese prison and has died in hospital, according to the Falungong and a right's group.
Liu Chengjun, sentenced to 19 years in March 2002 for his involvement in illegal Falungong television broadcasts, died Friday in Changchun city, the capital of Jilin province, the group said in a statement from its New York office.
Jilin prison and hospital officials told AFP they were unaware of Liu's existence and denied that any prisoner had recently died from ill treatment.
However, Frank Lu, director of the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said that Liu's death was being covered up and local officials had been told not to reveal any details surrounding it.
"I called government offices and one official, who refused to be named, confirmed the death of Liu Chengjun but refused to give detailed information," Lu told AFP.
"He said if he revealed the relevant information, his boss would punish him."
According to Falungong, Liu was repeatedly beaten and tortured during his incarceration.
"Eyewitnesses who saw Liu in October 2003 said he was incapacitated and 'hard to recognize' from the torture," the statement said.
"Despite an October 24 diagnosis of 'acute kidney failure, cardiac arrhythmia, critical condition,' repeated attempts by Lius family to secure his medical parole were denied by Chinese authorities," it said.
Liu was arrested for a series of illegal Falungong broadcasts in early 2002 which interrupted television signals of state-run broadcasters and were beamed into the homes of ordinary Chinese in Jilin and other provinces.
Since a 10,000-strong protest by Falungong supporters around the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing in April 1999, the government has viewed the Buddhist and Confucian-inspired group as the biggest threat to social stability since the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.
It has since banned the group as an "evil cult".
Falungong claims more than 1,600 members have been tortured or beaten to death in China since a crackdown was ordered four years ago.

"Falun Gong follower released from detention in China"

("Kyodo News," November 25, 2003)

TOKYO - Chinese authorities have released a Chinese woman living in Japan who was detained in China from May last year for her activities in the Falun Gong, a sect outlawed in China, Japanese diplomats there said Monday.
According to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, Luo Rong, 39, was sentenced by China to labor reeducation for about a year and a half after she was arrested May 24 in Beijing along with two Japanese while passing out Falun Gong leaflets to passersby.

"US cosmetic groups acts over Falungong claims"

(AFP, November 19, 2003)

A high-powered US congressional trio is warning Texas-based cosmetics giant Mary Kay Inc. to stand up to China's demands that sales associates swear not to join the banned Falungong spiritual group.
Representatives Tom Lantos, Chris Smith and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all well known human rights advocates, wrote to Mary Kay CEO Richard Rogers to demand action.
Lantos said he had established that Chinese authorities had ordered the Mary Kay sales force to sign a "behavioral standards" statement in August or face being fired.
But a company spokesman told AFP that the statement was already being changed, and that the firm had been a pathbreaker for women's rights in China.
"It is unconscionable that Mary Kay Inc. would make an affirmative decision to play a front-line role in enforcing the Chinese Government's brutal campaign against a particular spiritual movement in China," the letter said.
"We are shocked that an American company, particularly one which purports to put 'God first,' would be willing to enlist in the Chinese government's brutal campaign to identify and persecute members of a particular spiritual movement."
Mary Kay Inc. spokesman Randall Oxford told AFP that the firm was already in the process of changing the statement put to employees before receiving the Lantos letter.
"Our intent in developing the pledge was simply to communicate to our beauty consultants that they must operate in China as we do in every other country by obeying local laws," said Oxford.
"When we learned how the pledge was being interpreted, we knew we had to change it and we are in the process of doing that now."
He said no-one had been fired through refusing to sign the statement, but that one person saw their employment in China, where Mary Kay has a 120,000 strong sales force, terminated through "multiple illegal activities."
"In a nation where there are extremely limited opportunities for women, we have created a business opportunity in which women are able to generate significant personal and financial success for themselves and their family," said Oxford.
Falungong is outlawed in China by the government, which has branded it an "evil sect."
The group claims more than 1,600 members have been tortured or beaten to death in China since a crackdown was ordered four years ago.

"Falun Gong to sue Jiang"

by Debby Wu ("Taipei Times," November 16, 2003)

Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan stage a protest against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and other Chinese officials in front of the Presidential Office in downtown Taipei yesterday morning.
Seven Taiwanese Falun Gong members will file a genocide lawsuit tomorrow against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin.
The members, who all claim to have been abused by Chinese authorities during visits to China will also file a similar suit against former Chinese vice premier Li Lanqing and Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Luo Gan.
The group said yesterday that Jiang, Li and Luo had attempted to systematically extinguish Falun Gong by using politics and the military to persecute its members.
Theresa Chu, a Taiwanese lawyer who is a member of the New York State bar and also a Falun Gong practitioner, said that the group was making its case based on a Taiwanese law against genocide. She said that it would be the first time this law had been used since it was passed in 1953.
When asked about the issue of jurisdiction, Chu said that the group was confident that there would be no problem.
"First of all, according to the Constitution, China is still considered a part of the ROC, so anyone who breaks the law in China can still be punished by the ROC's laws," Chu said.
"Secondly, according to international customs, a major crime that breaks international criminal laws, such as genocide, fits the principle of universal jurisdiction -- that is, anyone can file a suit against this kind of crime in any country."
The group of seven includes Lin Hsiao-kai, the Falun Gong member who was detained in Shanghai for 10 days by the national security bureau last month.
Another plaintiff, Chan Pei-chun said that she was detained for three days when she went to visit some relatives in China during Chinese New Year last year.
"If we do not speak up in a free country like Taiwan, then the practitioners in China would have no chance to let their voices be heard," Chan said.

"China Sentences 5 Linked to Falun Gong"

by Ted Anthony (AP, November 5, 2003)

Pushing the government's "fight to the end" against Falun Gong, an eastern China court sentenced five people to prison terms Wednesday for illegal activities linked to the banned spiritual movement.
The Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court sentenced the five to terms of three to eight years on charges of "using the cult to sabotage the carrying out of the law," state television reported.
China banned Falun Gong as an "evil cult" in 1999. Followers insist it's a legitimate spiritual movement that doesn't threaten the country's communist leadership. China last month called for a renewed "fight to the end" against the group.
The court, quoted by China Central Television, said the five were involved in Falun Gong activities and "collaborated with forces from abroad." They also allegedly set up a company as a cover to carry out Falun Gong-related activities, it said.
"They disregarded the ban on Falun Gong entirely. This is against the law," the CCTV announcer said.
One of those sentenced, Jing Zhanyi, was identified by the official Xinhua News Agency as a retired engineer who once worked at a steel company in the northern province of Hebei. He was sentenced to eight years, Xinhua said.
Jing was accused of attributing his inventions to Falun Gong and receiving $720 in rewards from its founder, Li Hongzhi. He also was charged with selling products to fund the banned group, Xinhua said.
The reports gave no further information about the charges or the activities that preceded them.
Falun Gong, which has kept a low profile in China since the ban, claims the Chinese government has detained and mistreated thousands of followers and killed hundreds through torture or abuse since the ban started.
China denies abusing anyone but says some have died in custody from suicide or refusing food or medical care.
The group attracted millions of followers in the 1990s with its regimen of meditation and calisthenics, and a philosophy mixing Buddhism, Taoism and the teachings of Li, a former government clerk now living in the United States.
Sentenced Wednesday in Tianjin, in addition to Jing, were Yuan Huiqin, seven years; Gu Huiyun, seven years; Wang Tan, three years; and Chang Jinyun, three years.
The government has recently accused Falun Gong of a litany of offenses, from hacking various cable television stations to impeding the country's fight against SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

"Falun Gong man describes Shanghai ordeal"

by Debby Wu ("Taipei Times," October 30, 2003)

"The bureau wanted me to serve as an undercover agent for them in Taiwan, to investigate Falun Gong practices. They warned that they knew everything about me and they would have me exiled from Taiwan if I told the public anything about what the bureau did to me."
A tired and hesitant Lin Hsiao-kai finally showed his face to the public yesterday, revealing a spiritually battered man who has yet to recover from a nightmare trip to Shanghai.
"When I was finally released by the National Security Bureau in Shanghai and returned home, the first words I spoke to my wife the minute I saw her were, `Could I trust you? Would you betray me?'" Lin said.
Lin said that his paranoia was a result of the confusion stemming from his dealing with the Chinese security agents.
The 29-year-old Lin traveled to Shanghai on Sept. 30 to bring latest Falun Gong information to a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner.
Lin was later introduced to another Falun Gong practitioner, who turned out to be an undercover Chinese security agent.
Lin was arrested at his hotel by the security officials on Oct 7. He was released three days ago and returned home the same day.
He said that throughout his detention he had treated the Chinese officials nicely and that sometimes they were nice but they really wanted to brainwash him or get information on Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners.
He said he became confused and didn't know whether to believe what the officials said. He also said that he was so scared that he suspected people around him might be other undercover agents sent to monitor him.
"The bureau wanted me to serve as an undercover agent for them in Taiwan, to investigate Falun Gong practices. They warned that they knew everything about me and they would have me exiled from Taiwan if I told the public anything about what the bureau did to me," Lin said.
He said the bureau officials proved during the interrogations that they did know almost everything about him and that really frightened him.
He said he was forced to sign some documents admitting his "crimes" and renouncing Falun Gong.
But Lin said that he had not been physically abused
"The bureau officials changed their attitude after my wife held a press conference to publicize my detention," Lin said. "In the end it was the pressure from the media that made the bureau let me go, although the official kept saying it was the tolerance and the policy of the Communist Party."
Lin's wife, Chen Shu-ya,held a press conference on Oct. 21 to draw attention to his disappearance. She told reporters that the family had not heard from Lin since Oct. 7.
Lin said he was very grateful for the media's interest in his case.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chuang-chin said yesterday that Lin's experience was proof that China's intelligence services had penetrated Taiwan.
Chiu said he would ask national security authorities to investigate the situation.

"China releases Falun Gong practitioner"

by Tsai Ting-I ("Taiwan News," October 29, 2003)

Members of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association launch an islandwide bicycle journey yesterday to enlist public support for a campaign to push Chinese authorities to release detained practitioners. (CNA)
Chinese authorities Monday quietly released the detained Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner Lin Hsiao-kai shortly after Lin's family and his religious fellows brought his detainment to the public last week.
Lin's wife, Chen Shu-ya told the media yesterday that Lin arrived in the central Taiwan county of Changhwa, sometime between 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday. The Chinese government did not offer any explanation to Lin's release.
"He needs more time to calm himself down. He has totally no idea about what had happened in Taiwan," Chen said. "He must have been extremely tense there."
Lin, who entered China to visit friends on September 29, failed to make his return trip on October 8. His wife called a news conference at the Legislature October 21, pleading for help in rescuing her husband and urging Chinese authorities to release Lin immediately.
Yeh Huei-te, chairmen of the Shanghai-based Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, who has been dealing with Chinese authorities for Lin's case, said that Shanghai authorities have remained totally silent on Lin's release.
"Since the case is too sensitive in China, no one dares probe for reasons," Yeh said.
The semi-official Strait Exchange Foundation, meanwhile, said that public pressure on the Chinese government may have helped Lin's release, but they are keen to learn the reason for his freedom.
"We hope China can look into Lin's case. If he is innocent, they should retract the accusation against him," said Patricia Lin, chief-secretary of the SEF.
Meanwhile the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association launched an islandwide bicycle journey yesterday to enlist public support for a campaign to push Chinese authorities to release some 20 China-born TFDA members who have been detained during cross-strait visits.
Some 20 TFDA members will cycle around the island to seek the signatures of local people in support of their campaign.

“Falun in silent protest over Hu's visit”

by Louise Perry (“The Australian,” October 23, 2003)

Followers of the Chinese meditation practice Falun Gong took a leaf out of Mahatma Gandhi's book yesterday and spent the morning in peaceful protest against the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Hundreds of followers of the practice came from all over Australia and congregated on Sydney's Bondi Beach at 4am, meditating among candlelight for the rest of the morning.
Falun Gong spokeswoman Lilian Peng said the group hoped to use Mr Hu's visit to highlight human rights abuses in China.
"There are more than 100 million people who practise Falun Gong in China and still they are the victims of government persecution," she said.
"Trade agreements aside, we would like to see the Australian people and the Government stand up against human rights abuses."
The meditation practice of Falun Gong was outlawed by the Chinese Government in 1999. Since then claims of torture, beatings and government persecution have been made by followers.
"Although it is not him (Mr Hu) that has personally persecuted Falun Gong, we ask him to stop that persecution now," Ms Peng said.
Although much more low-key than the protests that have greeted US President George W. Bush, there has also been criticism of Mr Hu.
Earlier this week, the Chinese embassy emailed Australian news organisation warning them not to print "anti-Chinese" propaganda, prompting outrage form various human rights organisations.
In addition, nine Victorian MPs sent an open letter to Prime Minister John Howard asking him to seek a commitment from Mr Hu to resolve the problems in Tibet and to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

“Taiwan Falun Gong says China detained member”

(Reuters, October 21, 2003)

The Falun Gong spiritual group in Taiwan accused China on Tuesday of detaining one of its followers and demanded his immediate release.
Leaders of Taiwan's branch of the Falun Gong, labelled an ''evil cult'' by Beijing and banned in 1999, told a news conference in Taipei that 29-year-old Lin Hsiao-kai was detained during a private trip to Shanghai earlier this month.
Lin's wife said the Chinese authorities have refused to shed any light on the case, leaving the family in the dark. Lin recently quit his job at a local university to prepare for Taiwan's civil servant examination, she said.
The Falun Gong -- which combines a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, traditional Chinese breathing exercises and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi -- says more than 1,600 members have been killed at the hands of Chinese authorities.
The Chinese government, however, blames Falun Gong for the deaths of 1,900 people, most of whom it says committed suicide or died after refusing medical care.
China has jailed scores of Falun Gong leaders and adherents.

“Falun Gong blocks Chinese TV during spaceflight program”

(“Peoples Daily,” October 16, 2003)

The Falungong cult has illegally attacked the Sino-Satellite again in order to disturb TV audiences watching reports about China's successful launch of the manned Shenzhou-5 spacecraft.
The Falungong cult has illegally attacked the Sino-Satellite again in order to disturb TV audiences watching reports about China's successful launch of the manned Shenzhou-5 spacecraft.
After careful investigation, the source of the attack was traced back to Taiwan island.
During Wednesday evening's "prime time," the Sino-Satellite broadcasting CCTV and other local TV stations' programs was attacked by the Falungong cult's illicit signals.
The disruption lasted for nearly 20 minutes and interfered with normal broadcasts.
After detecting the illegal signals, affected sectors in China have taken decisive measuresto effectively shatter the cult's plot.

“Belgium throws out Falun Gong case against Jiang Zemin”

(“ABC Radio Australia News,” October 8, 2003)

Belgium has reportedly thrown out a human rights abuse lawsuit against China's former president, Jiang Zemin, under the country's revamped genocide law.
Six members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement took the case to a Belgian court, alleging Mr Jiang had put together a plan aimed at eliminating the group in China.
Reuters news agency quotes one of the six plaintiffs as saying he had been informed of the decision by the Belgian federal prosecutor to reject the case.
Reuter says the group is considering whether to appeal.
The Jiang Zemin case was the first test of Belgium's law on genocide and crimes against humanity since the government imposed severe restrictions in August on how the law can be used.
The Falun Gong movement was banned as an "evil cult" under the then president Jiang Zemin in 1999 after it mounted a massive protest in Beijing against the mistreatment of its followers by authorities.

“Thailand to ask Falun Gong members to leave before APEC summit”

(“BBC News,” October 3, 2003)

Bangkok, 3 October: Thai Interior Minister Wanmuhamadnoor Matha said Friday [3 October] he was preparing to ask key members of China's banned " Falun Gong" sect to leave Thailand.
Although international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are welcome in Thailand, they are not allowed to use Thailand as a base from which to denounce the governments of other countries, the minister stressed.
Confirming reports that two or three key members of "Falun Gong" had entered Thailand to protest against the Chinese government during the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok, Wanmuhamadnoor said the leaders in question would be asked to leave the kingdom.
He said any NGO members on the Thai government's blacklist would not be allowed to pass immigration at Don Muang Airport.
"In the case of foreigners, the Thai government does not allow them to use Thailand as a base to protest against any other government in the world. This is a question of Thailand's sovereignty. If they are coming for academic meetings, they must only engage in activities for which they have been given permission," he said.
He also urged Thai nationals to be good hosts for the APEC summit.
"I call on you to be good hosts, and act with good manners towards the guests from all 21 economic areas. Journalists from 100 countries across the world will be covering this event. If the news is good, it will have a positive impact on tourism and investment."

“Falun Gong seeks to reinstate civil suit against JiangZemin”

(AFP, October 01, 2003)

US lawyers representing members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have appealed a judge's decision to throw out a civil suit against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, attorneys in the case said.
The motions filed in US district court in Chicago ask the judge in the case to reconsider his decision and to admit an amended complaint, charging that Jiang personally directed the persecution of Falun Gong members to consolidate his power base, enhance his stature, and increase his personal wealth.
Judge Matthew Kennelly tossed a suit accusing Jiang of genocide and mass torture earlier this month, citing Jiang's former head-of-state immunity from prosecution.
But in the motions filed here Monday, the attorneys argued that there are clear legal precedents for former heads of states being held to account for their private or criminal actions by international courts, notably former Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet, and former President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
In the case of Jiang, the attorneys argued that the veteran Chinese politician essentially forfeited his immunity by violating his "nation's laws and international norms," through the persecution of China's Falun Gong followers.
"The torturer has become ... an enemy of all mankind," lawyer Terri Marsh said in a statement, citing a landmark US lawsuit that set the stage for trying foreign officials for gross human rights violations.
"Indeed the entire campaign of persecution has taken place outside of the normal and legally established governmental procedures. This is Jiang's personal campaign."

“Falun Gong File Suits Vs. Chinese Leaders” by Christopher Bodeen

(AP, September 26, 2003)

They tried street demonstrations and mass telephone-call campaigns against Chinese government persecution. Now, followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement are doing what many aggrieved parties do: They're suing.
Over the past 18 months, followers of the group banned in China as an "evil cult" have filed at least a dozen suits in foreign courts against Chinese officials they accuse of rights abuses. Their biggest target is former President Jiang Zemin.
Legal action is the latest tactic in a campaign to draw attention to China's often brutal 3-year-old crackdown on the group. If the goal is to rile China's leaders, protected at home by the Communist Party's political monopoly, it seems to be working.

“China calls on other nations to throw out Falungong lawsuits“

(“ABC News,” September 24, 2003)

China is urging other nations not to accept lawsuits filed by the Falungong spiritual sect against Chinese leaders.
Beijing says the lawsuits aim to stigmatise and defame the Chinese government.
It says it hopes the relevant countries can take effective and concrete measures to an end such actions.
The Falungong has filed at least 12 international lawsuits in nine countries over the past two years accusing high-ranking Chinese officials or government bodies of crimes against humanity.
Last week, a US judge dismissed a lawsuit that accused former Chinese president Jiang Zemin of torture and genocide, on the grounds that he enjoys diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
The group, whose followers practice meditation to improve their physical and mental well-being, says more than 1,600 members have been tortured or beaten to death in China in the past four years.
It says 500 have been given prison sentences of more than 20 years, 1,000 have been interned in mental hospitals and more than 25,000 are in work camps.
The Falungong alleges another 100,000 followers are being held without trial.

“China vows to intensify crackdown on Falungong”

(AFP, September 8, 2003)

China said an ongoing crackdown on the Falungong spiritual group was a matter of national stability after the movement accused Chinese leaders of torture, genocide and crimes against humanity.
"We should be fully aware that the fight will be long, arduous and complicated, and therefore, we must be vigilant against the Falungong cult and should in no way relax our efforts," a commentary carried by the official Xinhua news agency said.
Recently, the cult has intensified its collusion with "Western anti-China forces" to launch attacks against both the government and the people, it said.
"Any tolerance toward the cult will lead to extreme harm to the general public," it said, stressing that "to eradicate the Falungong cult will help create a harmonious and stable environment for the country's socialist construction and benefit both the country and the people."
"More and more people have come to see through the anti-scientific, anti-human and anti-social nature of the cult and have devoted themselves to the struggle," the commentary said.
China banned Falungong as an "evil cult" in July 1999 after some 10,000 followers of the group surrounded the Communist Party leadership compound in central Beijing, protesting a pending government crackdown.
Beijing considers the organization the most serious threat to its rule since democracy protests in 1989 and has sentenced without trial thousands of followers to labor camps.
Countless others have been driven underground, the group, spearheaded overseas by founding guru Li Hongzhi, says.
Late last month, six Falongong followers filed a lawsuit in Belgium against ex-president Jiang Zemin and two senior aides for crimes against humanity, under a new Belgian law.
The 30-page suit accuses Jiang - who remains China's military head - of "torture, crimes against humanity and genocide," said lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier after handing it to federal prosecutors.
The suit also targets Luo Gan, head of the political and legislative affairs committee, and Li Lanqing, former head of a Beijing office described as a kind of "gestapo" to pursue Falungong members.
"Jiang's horrific form of genocide ... is a terror that does not just destroy lives, but destroys faith. It is a terror that should not be allowed to exist in the modern world," said Beauthier.
The action was part of the group's international efforts to bring charges against China's leaders under a "universal competence" law recently amended in Belgium.
Similar class action suits have been filed against Jiang in the US District Court and against Li Lanqing in a French criminal court.
Falungong, whose followers practise meditation to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, says more than 1,600 members have been tortured or beaten to death in China.
More than 500 have been given prison sentences of over 20 years, over 1,000 interned in mental hospitals and more than 25,000 held in work camps.
Some 100,000 others are being held without trial, it said in a news release Monday.
In its annual human rights report earlier this year, the US State Department said Falungong practioners were subjected to "beatings, detention under extremely harsh conditions, and torture (including by electric shock and by having hands and feet shackled and linked with crossed steel chains)."

“Falun Gong man loses fight to stay”

(“AAP,” August 27, 2003)

A Chinese man who fears persecution in his homeland for practising with the Falun Gong group today lost an appeal to stay in Australia.
The man, who can't be identified, took his case to the Federal Court after a Refugee Review Tribunal found that his study of Falun Gong meditation, outlawed in China, was contrived to obtain a protection visa.
The Federal Court today dismissed the man's appeal, meaning he must return to China as soon as possible.
The man, who came to Australia in 1996, claims to have joined Falun Gong in China in 1994 and practised with a Melbourne Falun Gong group in Flagstaff Gardens from 1997.
He claimed that in China anyone associated with Falun Gong would be treated as a criminal and arrested and said he feared persecution if forced to return.
Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a spiritual health movement whose followers preach "truth, compassion and forbearance" and practise meditation and tai chi-like exercises.
The movement has been branded an evil cult in China and banned since 1999.
Falun Gong has responded with ongoing claims of persecution, torture and murder of its practitioners by Chinese authorities.
But the Refugee Review Tribunal did not accept that the man was ever a genuine or committed practitioner of Falun Gong and did not believe he would be identified as a practitioner and subjected to persecution in China.
The tribunal said a letter put to it by the man which claimed to have been written by a Falun Gong group in China's Zhabei district, claiming that the man would be arrested if he returned to China undermined his case.
They said information cited in relation to Falun Gong found that a practising group would not have an office or official stationery.
The man appealed the decision to the Federal Court and today judges Jeffery Spender, Brian Tamberlin and Susan Kenny dismissed his appeal, ordering him to pay the costs of the respondent, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Philip Ruddock.
After today's judgment, an Immigration Department spokeswoman said she was not able to comment on individual cases, but confirmed that an unlawful non-citizen who had exhausted all their legal options was required by law to be removed from Australia as soon as practicable.
A spokesman from Melbourne's Falun Gong group said the idea that Falun Gong practitioners would not be persecuted in China unless they were seen to be genuine or committed to the movement was not true.
"Anyone who is a practitioner and is involved in just practising or raising awareness is to be persecuted, it's an official policy of the government," the spokesman said.
Federal legislation prevents the court from publishing the real names of applicants in immigration cases, because if they are unsuccessful they may face difficulty when they return to their home country.

“Falungong followers rally in Japan”

(AFP, August 24, 2003)

Some 200 followers of the Falungong spiritual movement rallied in Japan, accusing former Chinese president Jiang Zemin of massacre charges.
They made demonstrations in a park in this port city southwest of Tokyo on Sunday and held a mock trial for Jiang, finding him guilty of unfair prosecution of the movement and torturing hundreds of members to death.
They then march through streets, with one of their banners reading: "Bring Chinese Dictator Jiang Zemin to Justice!"
Falungong says its followers practise meditation to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, but Beijing brands the group a dangerous cult.
China banned the Falungong four years ago after some 10,000 followers of the group surrounded the Communist Party leadership compound in central Beijing to protest a government crack-down.

“China denounces Falungong's Belgium lawsuit”

(AFP, August 22, 2003)

China condemned Thursday a lawsuit filed by the Falungong spiritual movement in Belgium against former president Jiang Zemin, saying it is an attempt to harm Sino-Belgian relations which will fail.
The Chinese embassy in Brussels said the suit, filed by six Falungong supporters alleging genocide and crimes against humanity by Jiang, was an attempt to blacken Beijing's international image.
"This type of sect is trying to take legal action on the basis of human rights, which is totally ironic," said the embassy. "Its real aim is to disrupt and sabotage the proper development of Sino-Belgian relations and to blacken China's image internationally.
"The attempts by Falungong are destined to fail," it added.
On Wednesday six Falungong followers, including a Belgian and one Chinese national who has lived in Belgium since 1996, filed the suit under a new Belgian law which has just replaced controversial legislation.
The 30-page suit accuses Jiang -- who remains China's military head -- of "torture, crimes against humanity and genocide." It also targets two other senior Chinese leaders, Luo Gan and Li Lanqing.
"Jiang's horrific form of genocide... is a terror that does not just destroy lives, but destroys faith. It is a terror that should not be allowed to exist in the modern world," said lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier.
The suit was brought under new legislation adopted by Belgian lawmakers on August 5, to replace the controversial so-called "universal competence" law which led to cases against US and Israel leaders.
The old law, under which suits could be brought regardless of nationalities of those involved or where the alleged crimes took place, resulted in intense diplomatic pressure on Belgium, notably from Washington after President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were targetted by legal action.
The new law, which covers "serious violations of international humanitarian law", allows cases to be brought only if there is a link between the alleged crimes and Belgium.
Belgian authorities declined to comment on the lawsuit. A foreign ministry spokesman said that the matter was entirely a matter for the courts.
China banned the Falungong four years ago after some 10,000 followers of the group surrounded the Communist Party leadership compound in central Beijing to protest a government crack-down.
Falungong, whose followers practise meditation to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, says that over 1,600 members have been tortured or beaten to death in China, over 500 have been given prison sentences of over 20 years, over 1,000 interned in mental hospitals and more than 25,000 held in work camps. Some 100,000 others are being held without trial, it says.
The Chinese embassy said Thursday that Falungong was "an anti-human and anti-social sect," adding that acts by the movement "have threatened the interests of public order."
"It is precisely to better protect people's human rights that the Chinese government banned Falungong, and implemented a policy of persuasion and education directed at the majority of its members so that they can escape the mental grip of Falungong" it added.
Beauthier said he is confident the Belgian lawsuit will at least be accepted as valid by prosecutors. Asked if Jiang could one day face arrest, he cited the case of ex Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet, detained in Britain in 1998.

What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne
"Falun Gong 101. Introduzione al Falun Gong e alla sua presenza in Italia" (in italiano), di Massimo Introvigne


CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors

[Home Page] [Cos'è il CESNUR] [Biblioteca del CESNUR] [Testi e documenti] [Libri] [Convegni]

cesnur e-mail

[Home Page] [About CESNUR] [CESNUR Library] [Texts & Documents] [Book Reviews] [Conferences]