"Chinese sect up in arms after attack"
CHINESE spiritual movement Falun Gong said yesterday it would file charges of human rights violations under international law in SA against China's communist leaders.
This follows a two-day visit to SA by Chinese Vice-President Qinghong Zeng. The planned action is part of a strategy to prevent future visits to SA of senior Chinese public figures.
The movement, which says that it is also a pro-democracy group, is waging an international campaign to expose China's alleged "extensive and severe" human rights violations against millions of practitioners of their spiritual lifestyle.
As a result, it has filed similar charges in 14 other countries including the UK , US , Spain, Germany Switzerland, Australia and Iceland.
The group's protest in SA during Zeng's visit was marred by an alleged attempted assassination of five of their members, when the vehicle carrying them from Johannesburg International Airport was shot at and forced off the road on Monday, leaving the driver seriously wounded.
Grant Lu, who survived the alleged attack, said yesterday that they found it strange that after their assailants had shot at and forced their car to stop on the way from Johannesburg International Airport on Monday there was no attempt to rob them.
The Chinese embassy in SA yesterday rejected claims its government was behind the attack.
Sen Supt Selby Bokaba said the police were investigating a case of attempted murder.
He said it had also been established that on the way from the airport the men took the N1 south to Bloemfontein instead of taking the N1 north.
An outlawed religious sect in China is charging the government with torturing prisoners, executing them and trafficking in their body parts.
The charge, by the banned Falun Gong group, is backed up by Chinese doctors and human rights experts who keep tabs on activities of the Beijing government.
The Chinese government has arrested hundreds of members of Falun Gong and some, according to the group and human rights activists, have been sent directly to labor camps without trials.
The U.S. Congress both House and Senate unanimously passed resolutions in 1999 criticizing the Chinese government for its crackdown of the Falun Gong. Both resolutions urged the Chinese government to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it has signed, to stop arresting, detaining and persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, to release all detained dissidents, and to respect the basic human rights such as freedom of belief and freedom of speech."
Falung Gong members are now citing specific evidence of the systematic torture and execution of members who have been arrested. Here are some of the specific cases they cite:
* Hao Runjuan of Guangzhou City was very healthy before the mother of a 2-year-old was arrested. After being continuously tortured for 22 days by police in the Baiyun Detention Center, she died. After she was tortured to death, the police authorities had the body autopsied without her family members knowing, even though the law requires the signature of a family member to approve an autopsy. When the family was told to identify the body, it had become completely unrecognizable, but there were still fresh, red bloodstains on it. Because the body was so disfigured, none of her family members believed it was Hao Runjuan, even after seeing the body twice. Then, the family had to take the 2-year-old son for a DNA blood test to confirm the body was truly his mother's.
* Ren Pengwu, 33, was distributing Falun Gong literature Feb. 16, 2001. He was arrested by the Hulan County police and then detained in the Hulan County Second Detention Center. Before dawn Feb. 21, only five days after his detention, he was tortured to death. Without obtaining the family's permission, and under the guise of a "legal investigation," they completely removed all of Ren Pengwu's organs, from his pharynx and larynx to his penis, then hastily cremated his body.
* Zuo Zhigang was 33 and worked at a computer store in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. On May 30, 2001, police from the Public Security Bureau of Shijiazhuang City abducted him from his work place and took him to the Qiaoxi District Police Station in Shijiazhuang. Later, the police interrogated Zuo Zhigang, using various torture methods, and he was beaten to death the same day. His corpse was full of scars. One of his ears was dark purple and there were two big square-shaped holes on the back of his torso. There was a mark on his neck showing that a string had been pulled tightly around it.
* Yang Ruiyu of Fuzhou City was an employee at the Real Estate Bureau of Taijiang District. On July 19, 2001, Yang was taken away from her work. Only three days later, Yang died as a result of the abuse. After Yang's death, the Fuzhou police threatened Yang's family not to leak any information. In addition, Yang's colleagues were not allowed to see her body or say goodbye, and no funeral was permitted. When the body was sent to be cremated, it was guarded by police cars, and cremated immediately upon arrival. Yang's husband and daughter were not allowed to view the body. It was reported that there was a hole in Yang's side as large as an adult's fist.
* Sun Ruijian was 29 and left home Nov. 7, 2000, to appeal for Falun Gong in Beijing. He was arrested by Beijing police. On Dec. 1, his family was told that he had died. They claimed that two Fujian police were sent to bring him back from Beijing and that he died after jumping out of the train at 4 p.m. on Nov. 29, someplace between the cities of Shunchang and Xiayang.
"According to insiders, some evil police officers in Mainland China are colluding with greedy doctors and looking to sell the organs of Falun Gong practitioners for large sums of money," claims a Faun Gong statement. "Needless to say, their plans are cruel and heartless to the extreme. One source indicates that a certain hospital in the city of Shijiazhuang that specializes in Chinese medicine has received six such requests. Everyone, especially the families of the practitioners who are in jail, are asked to pay close attention to this development. The only way to prevent your loved ones from being persecuted in such a way is to expose the evil deeds of the authorities."
The group also charges that some prison guards offered drug addicts narcotics if they beat up Falun Gong members.
The stories, as horrifying as they seem, are backed up by a Chinese doctor who defected to the United States.
On June 27, 2001, Wang Guoqi, a doctor specializing in the burn victims unit at the Paramilitary Tianjin General Hospital in Tianjin, testified before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights of the United States House of Representatives. He said in his testimony that he was sent by the hospital to remove skin and corneas from the corpses of over 100 executed prisoners at a crematorium.
Dr. Thomas Diflo also testified. Diflo, who is working in the NYU Medical Center, wrote in his article published in a May issue of the New York Village Voice that six of his patients who had kidney transplants in China came to him afterwards for medical care. These patients all told him that their new kidneys came from executed prisoners.
"We call on organizations, governments, people of conscience around the world, and the United Nations to please pay attention to this severe problem," said a Falun Gong statement.
The number of death sentences passed, as the number of executions carried out, are classed as state secrets in China. But, according to international monitors, China is clearly the leader in the world.
In 2003, according to a judicial source, 5,000 people were executed in China. Chen Zhonglin, a member of the People´s National Congress in Beijing, said that China carries out 10,000 executions every year. His declaration was published on the China Youth Daily in March 2004. This was the first time that a similar declaration was published by a state-controlled newspaper.
China's Attorney General Han Zubin has called for measures against "separatists, terrorists and adherents to evil cults" to be stepped up for the sake of "national security." In the five years up to 2003, some 3,500 people had been charged with "crimes against the state," including murder, bomb attacks and arson, but also non-violent political dissent. Han confirmed that the total included suspected practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement branded an "evil cult" by the communist authorities and outlawed in 1999.
It's illegal to buy or sell organs in China. But a 1984 law allows organs to be transplanted from an executed prisoner if family members don't claim the body right away. Amnesty International says Chinese media reported 1,060 judicial executions in 2002. But it says the actual figure may be as high as 15,000. Most harvested prisoner organs are sold to medical "visitors" from Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore.
"Falun Gong dissident shot in Joburg"
A member of China's banned Falun Gong movement has been shot in a Johannesburg drive-by attack - and the group claims the Chinese government is responsible.
Nine Australia-based members of the group, which has for years claimed it is being persecuted and its members' human rights abused in China, entered the country on Monday on a trip coinciding with the official visit to South Africa by Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and Commerce Minister Bo Xilai.
Their purpose was to protest outside South Africa-China Binational Commission (BNC) meetings and to launch a lawsuit alleging human rights abuses and torture against the Chinese government in terms of international human rights law - a routine Falun Gong tactic.
'we think that the vice-president and the minister have hired people to kill us'
Ironically, after the two countries signed several agreements on Tuesday, Zeng thanked South Africa for recently blocking a United Nations debate into China's human rights record.
Five of the Falun Gong protesters became lost while travelling to Pretoria on Monday, ending up on the N1 South to Bloemfontein. Near Nasrec, their car came under gunfire from occupants of another car, and driver David Liang sustained gunshot wounds to his feet.
Falun Gong spokesperson Leon Wang said: "One gunshot penetrated his left foot and exited on the other side while another smashed his right heel."
Speaking from his bed in Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on Tuesday, Liang said: "Our attackers just accosted us and in the process started to fire several shots. I was surprised when I saw these people driving at high speed, like us. When I slowed down, they would also slow down.
"We did not see them, but we think that the vice-president and the minister have hired people to kill us. After shooting at us, they did not rob us and simply sped away. We are sure the Chinese government is involved," Liang said.
However, the Chinese embassy in South Africa dismissed the allegations as ridiculous, describing the group as a cult.
Qian Jin, press officer at the embassy, said Falun Gong was a sect which encouraged members to commit suicide.
He claimed they had killed some of their own followers by instructing them not to use any medicine when they got sick.
"Every spring festival, the Chinese Christmas, the Falun Gong members set fire to themselves. We detained (members) not for their religious beliefs, but for harming other people," Qian said.
But Wang laughed off the Chinese government's response as "typical", saying they normally created such "stories to justify the bannings and persecution of people supporting Falun Gong".
National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi's spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Selby Bokaba, said police were probing charges of attempted murder and malicious damage to property.
However, Bokaba said it would be premature to speculate on the cause of the incident.
"I would advise the media that it is not fair for them to take only one side of a story and say it was an attempted assassination. Our job is to investigate what happened and only then will we be able to determine what was the actual cause," Bokaba said.
A handful of Falun Gong protesters picketed yesterday outside the BNC meeting at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria, where South Africa and China signed agreements involving education, business and agriculture.
"We share views on a number of issues and there are many similarities between our countries," said Deputy President Jacob Zuma, explaining that South Africa and China had agreed to work together both economically and politically.
Zeng thanked the South African government for helping it kill a debate on its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva recently.
He said the BNC meeting had greatly strengthened the strategic partnership between China and South Africa, including their international co-operation.
"Your government has advocated a one-China policy and supported China at this year's UNHRC, which we deeply appreciate," Zeng told Zuma.
In Geneva, as in the past, China submitted a "no action motion" to ensure its human rights were not debated.
South Africa had previously opposed this motion on the principle that China's human rights record - like anyone else's - should at least be aired.
But official sources said last year that South Africa had departed from this principle itself, by proposing a "no action motion" on a proposal to debate Zimbabwe's human rights record. China supported this motion.
Having abandoned the principle of opposing no action motions, South Africa could no longer oppose the "no action motion" on China this year, the sources said.
South African Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa on Tuesday refused to comment on the Falun Gong allegations that the Chinese government was involved in the attack on its members.
"Ottawa urged to sway China on Falun Gong policy"
Followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement say Canada could be doing more to stop China's persecution of those who follow the group.
Three Vancouver residents held a news conference Thursday to say Chinese police have arrested their relatives. Two years ago Michelle Zhang's sister vanished when she was picked up by Chinese police after handing out flyers about the Falun Gong.
"The Canadian government has adopted a behind-closed-doors policy when talking about human rights in China," she said.
"It's not that effective."
Zhang said the Canadian government is more worried about trade with Chinese than talking about human rights violations.
She said her brother-in-law was tortured to death in a Chinese labour camp in November 2000.
She said her only sister was also abducted by Chinese police.
Raymond Zhang, no relation to Michelle, told the news conference his mother has been arrested three times because as a physician she talks to her patients about Falun Gong.
He said his mother was picked up by police after officers broke into her home, ransacked it and abducted her.
He said his mother shouted "Falun Gong is innocent" as she was being led away.
His sister was later arrested, though she was released on bail, Zhang said.
Falun Gong is based on the 1992 teachings of a Chinese man, Li Hongzi. It uses meditation and gentle exercises to enhance well-being.
The practice has spread to millions of people in countries around the world including Canada, although the largest group of adherents remains in China.
The Chinese government, however, branded Falun Gong - also known as Falun Dafa - a dangerous cult that threatens the country's security.
Five years ago, Jiang Zemin, the Communist leader of the country ordered a crackdown.
Zhang said the Canadian government should make it easier for people like his mother to immigrate to Canada.
"France under pressure to pull the plug on Falun Gong TV"
Beijing is putting pressure on France to knock broadcasting by Falun Gong members to the mainland off air.
Set up by Falun Gong supporters, New Tang Dynasty Television started broadcasting to the mainland on Eutelsat's W5 satellite in April. Eutelsat is a French-registered company.
"We're afraid that the broadcast will be cut off due to Beijing's pressure," said a station spokeswoman.
"We know that the Chinese ambassador and diplomats have been meeting with the French government, with our commercial partner Eutelsat.
"This is a test case for freedom of expression."
Falun Gong has been banned on the mainland as an "evil cult" since 1999.
The mainland has already had some success against the station. Media association Reporters Sans Frontieres said that three days after the station started broadcasting on a satellite owned by the NSS company based in the Netherlands, NSS encrypted the signal following threats of economic sanctions against the company by Beijing.
The Chinese embassy in Paris declined to comment on the latest case.
Eutelsat, one of the world's leading satellite companies whose 24 satellites provide coverage to nearly 90 per cent of the world's population, also declined comment.
The French Foreign Ministry confirmed that Beijing had contacted it about the station.
But a Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "It is an issue for [France's] Supreme Audiovisual Council, which is an independent administration that takes its decisions independently."
The council, which issued a broadcasting licence to the station on March 30, said it had not been contacted by either China or the French Foreign Ministry about the station.
"The [council] has issued its authorisation to the channel. There is no going backwards on our part," said a spokeswoman.
But council officials privately say it is likely the station will be knocked off Eutelsat's W5 satellite.
"Eutelsat is likely to interrupt [the station's] broadcasts to China," said a Supreme Audiovisual Council official.
The Falun Gong religious movement hails from China, a country that is not participating in the G-8 Sea Island Summit, but small groups staged quiet demonstrations Tuesday in Savannah and Brunswick.
About 15 Falun Gong members from Atlanta moved through Tai Chi and meditation practices in Savannah's Reynolds Square. They plan to meet there each day during the summit.
Posted around the group were 30 to 40 photographs of Falun Gong demonstrations around the world.
In Brunswick, about 40 yellow-shirted Falun Gong protesters lined U.S. 17 at Overlook Park. They held banners, acted out graphic displays and distributed literature accusing the Chinese government of routinely torturing and killing their members.
Gruesome photo displays depict people beaten to death, with frostbitten toes, broken limbs and burns, all from torture in labor camps, the followers said.
Giang Chen, 34, says he knows firsthand.
"The local police threw me in a labor camp. Just because we practice Falun Gong. No other reason was needed," he said.
Chen, now a U.S. citizen working in the import-export business, said his torture included being kept awake 15 hours straight and bound with his chin against his knees.
"I could not walk for two weeks after that torture," he said.
For all the protests against President Bush during G-8, he has a friend in Chen who credits Bush and eight House members with getting him out of China.
Yeong-ching Foo of Santa Clara is working for the release of her fiance, Dr. Charles Lee, an American citizen and member of Amnesty International. Lee traveled back to China where he was arrested at the airport as he tried to show a tape, she said.
Sentence to three years hard labor, Lee has been force fed and beaten, Foo said.
"Right now he's being forced to do slave labor. They're trying to get him to confess to a crime he didn't commit and to renounce his beliefs," she said.
Foo noted that the G-8 leaders will talk about terrorism.
"I want to tell them about terrorism," she said.
The demonstrators were quick to say Falun Gong is not a religion but is instead an ancient discipline that teaches self-improvement.
Foo acknowledged it is very unlikely their protest site, about 10 miles from Sea Island, will be seen by any G-8 leaders.
She said she will still try to get the word out for Lee.
"I'm able to talk to you," she told a reporter. "He is there. He may not be able to see the sun."
"Falun Gong asks court to reinstate lawsuit against Jiang Zemin"
An attorney for China's banned Falun Gong spiritual movement urged a federal appeals court Thursday to reinstate a lawsuit accusing former Chinese President Jiang Zemin of waging a campaign of torture and genocide against the group.
Attorney Terri Marsh argued that Jiang should not be considered immune simply because he was a head of state when the lawsuit was filed in 2002.
"Dismissal of this case would dismantle the entire framework of Nuremburg," Marsh said after arguing before a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
But Douglas Letter, appellate litigation counsel for the Department of Justice, said the lower court acted correctly in throwing out the lawsuit because a visiting head of state cannot be sued in this country.
"They're like diplomats," Letter said.
The court did not indicate when it would rule.
Falun Gong, banned in China since 1999, has sued Chinese officials in more than a dozen foreign courts, typically applying laws such as the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act to crimes allegedly committed in China.
U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly threw out the Chicago lawsuit last year after the U.S. government intervened as a friend of the court, arguing it should be dismissed on the grounds of sovereign immunity. Under that doctrine, courts can exempt foreign leaders from civil lawsuits in the United States if the government advises.
The lawsuit cataloged an array of alleged human rights abuses, including torture, genocide and arbitrary imprisonment. It said a number of Falun Gong followers now living in the United States had been subjected to such tactics.
Neither Jiang nor the Chinese government responded to the lawsuit.
Jiang was visiting Chicago in October 2002 when a police official guarding him was served with the lawsuit. The lawsuit also named as a defendant a Chinese agency it described as the Falun Gong Control Office.
Falun Gong has attracted millions of followers with a mixture of calisthenics and doctrines drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi, a former government clerk.
Since China banned the group, describing it as an "evil cult," practitioners say followers have been arrested, tortured and in some cases murdered.
The Chinese government denies killing anyone but says some detainees have died from hunger strikes or after refusing medical attention.
"Falun Gong members seek refugee status"
Several Chinese members of Falun Gong, a sect outlawed in China, on Tuesday called on Japanese immigration authorities not to detain them amid fears they will be deported to China where they face possible persecution.
The call by the Falun Gong members and their supporters was made in the wake of moves by the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau starting this month to detain Falun Gong followers or instruct them to present themselves to bureau officials moves seen as a possible precursor to their detention or deportation.
"Falun Gong Condemns Hong Kong For Turning Away Members"
A Falun Gong group condemned the Hong Kong government Monday for turning away members who went to Hong Kong for a May 1-2 conference with their Hong Kong counterparts.
The Taiwan Falun Gong Association said in a statement that more than 20 of its members who went to Hong Kong for the 2004 Hong Kong Falun Gong Exchange Meeting were turned away at the Hong Kong airport, despite holding valid visas.
Before they were put on planes back to Taiwan, the Falun Gong practitioners were detained and questioned by officials from the Hong Kong Immigration Department, their mobile phones, cameras and recorders were seized, and their luggage was ransacked, said the association.
Furthermore, they were supposed to have been able to call lawyers during the interviews but were not informed of this right. They only found out about this after they were given notices when they were aboard planes bound for Taiwan and noticed that their signatures on the notices had been forged, the association claimed.
One of its members, Ho Hsiu-erh was allegedly given an injection of "unknown" medicine in her feet before being escorted aboard, which gave her pain throughout her body, the association further claimed in its statement.
Noting that Hong Kong Falun Gong Association is a legal group in Hong Kong, the Taiwan Falun Gong Association questioned why its members were denied entry "for security reasons."
The statement said Taiwan Falun Gong practitioners were well treated in Hong Kong prior to 1997, when it was still under British rule, but have been subject to random arrest and detention after the former British colony was returned in 1997 to the rule of Beijing, which considers the group to be an illegal cult, although it is legal in Hong Kong.
The association said the Hong Kong Government has trampled its own laws in its treatment of the Taiwan Falun Kong Association members.
"Falun Gong followers protest Chinese suppression"
Hundreds of Falun Gong followers protested on Sunday against Beijing's crackdown on the meditation group in mainland China, where it has been banned since 1999 as an "evil cult".
"The persecution of Falun Gong is still continuing," said Sharon Xu, a spokeswoman for the group in Hong Kong. "What they are doing against Falun Gong is wrong."
Wearing their trademark yellow T-shirts and holding banners reading, "Rescue Falun Gong practitioners persecuted in China," more than 400 members marched peacefully from a downtown park to the mainland Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong.
Many demonstrators were visitors from other countries who came to Hong Kong for a Falun Gong conference on Saturday. Among them were Taiwanese, Japanese, Koreans, Indonesians, Malaysians and Americans.
"We are here to appeal for human rights in China," said Erik Meltzer, a 19-year-old college student from Boston on his first trip to Asia. "The persecution in China can no longer be tolerated."
Falun Gong claims that at least 949 followers have died in Chinese custody and many thousands more have been detained. China denies abusing any Falun Gong practitioners in custody, but independent verification is impossible to obtain.
Falun Gong remains legal in Hong Kong and frequently protests in the territory against the crackdown, which began under former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Despite a guarantee of Western-style freedoms after its return from Britain to China in 1997, Hong Kong has gradually tightened its grip on the group, Falun members say.
Nineteen Taiwanese and six Macau followers who intended to take part in the conference have been barred from entry to the territory and sent back since Wednesday, Xu said. Immigration officials declined to comment.
"Hong Kong turns four Taiwanese Falun Gong members away"
The Falun Gong meditation group complained Friday that at least four of its members from Taiwan were barred from entering Hong Kong for "security reasons."
China has banned Falun Gong as an "evil cult" but the group remains legal in Hong Kong, which returned to China from British rule in 1997 and maintains its own administration and Western-style civil liberties.
The four members were coming to Hong Kong for a Falun Gong conference this weekend, but were turned away and sent back to Taiwan on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said Sophie Xiao, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the group.
Xiao said the group's members in Taiwan told them that four more Taiwanese have since been denied entry into Hong Kong, but they were still trying to confirm this and had no details.
"This is unreasonable and absolutely wrong," said Kan Hung-cheung, another Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesman, late Thursday.
The four barred Taiwanese said in a statement that Hong Kong immigration authorities had denied them entry for "security reasons," but didn't elaborate.
Kan said officials searched the four and their luggage before putting them on planes back to the Taiwanese cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung.
He also claimed that an official injected unspecified medicine into the leg of one of the members, a woman.
Hong Kong's Immigration Department said in a statement that officials wouldn't comment on individual cases but, said that they'd acted according to the law. It also said officials were not allowed to administer medicine to anyone barred from entry.
The group frequently protests in Hong Kong to demand the right to practice its beliefs on the mainland, creating a dilemma for the territory's government, which allows freedom of speech but doesn't want to offend Beijing.
Falun Gong expects 800 members - including some from Macau, Taiwan and Japan - to attend a two-day conference here starting Saturday.
They also planned a march to China's representative office in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Security is usually tight when the group holds conferences in Hong Kong. Kan said 80 foreign Falun Gong members were barred from entry to Hong Kong for a similar conference in February last year, but the government has declined to confirm this.
Falun Gong members believe they can improve their health, morality and peace of mind through meditation and slow-motion exercise.
Importer Leejun Ivie had looked forward to celebrating her 41st birthday with her family in Beijing this year.
Instead, she said, she was kidnapped by Chinese authorities and interrogated for 10 hours about her Falun Gong activities in the United States.
"It's outrageous," said Ivie, a naturalized American citizen. "They started telling me what I do in America that not a lot of people know. They had to have either read my mail or listened to my phone calls. That concerns me because they spied on an American citizen."
She said government agents demanded two more meetings and in the end threatened to punish her family if she refused to spy on other Falun Gong followers in the U.S. When she tried to return to China this month, she and her fiance were deported.
The United States has formally protested Ivie's treatment to the Chinese government, said Stuart Patt, spokesman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department.
But the Chinese deny anything happened.
"The (Chinese) Ministry of Foreign Affairs told us later that they have no record of this happening," Patt said. "Whoever they were, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs either didn't know them or they were operating outside their purview."
China in 1999 outlawed the practice of Falun Gong, which combines meditation, slow-moving exercises and a self-improvement philosophy based on Buddhism, Taoism and founder Li Hongzhi's ideas. Thousands of Chinese have been jailed for continuing to practice, and foreigners have been arrested as well.
Chinese authorities consider Falun Gong a cult, claiming followers have refused medicine, committed suicide or killed other practitioners.
Although Ivie has been active with Falun Gong groups in the United States, she said she has never been involved with activities in China.
"That's why I'm so angry, so outraged about this whole thing," she said. "I have sent materials to friends (in China) who wanted to know what Falun Gong was all about because they can't get information about Falun Gong from the Chinese. I think the Chinese people deserve to know."
But Falun Gong was the last thing on her mind when Ivie, who imports Asian furniture, decided to visit China this year.
"I was just visiting my family," she said. "I left China 14 years ago and I lost a lot of contacts there."
Ivie arrived in Beijing on Jan. 20 and celebrated the Chinese New Year on Jan. 22 at her parents' home. Her mother practices Falun Gong and taught Ivie about it during a visit to the U.S. seven years ago.
But about 3 p.m. Jan. 24, her birthday, she was riding in a car with family members when she noticed a black sedan was following them.
"All of a sudden, three cars cornered us against a cement wall, and the entire street flooded with unidentified people, and I see my sister and my brother-in-law dragged out of the car," she said.
"They didn't say a word. In a blink of an eye, my car was hijacked."
The kidnappers whisked her to Daxing Hotel, about 15 minutes away. There, security agents interrogated her into the night about the purpose of her trip and her involvement with the Falun Gong movement.
"They wanted to do a body search, do a search of my purse and threatened to ransack my parents' house," Ivie said. "They were looking for anything related to Falun Gong so they can accuse me of violating Chinese law."
They also told her what they knew of her activities in the United States.
Ivie's sister and brother-in-law were questioned at the hotel until 7:30 p.m., the same time other agents went to her parents' home to pick up her brother to interrogate him.
Ivie and her brother were released about 2 a.m.
A few days later Ivie called her fiance, investor Jim Taylor, 59. They spend winters in Avon and the warmer months in Saratoga, N.Y. Taylor hired American attorney, Patrick Norton, in Beijing.
"I was upset," Taylor said. "I was not surprised that they had spies on Falun Gong followers here. I was surprised at the extent of their knowledge."
He then flew to China.
"My concern was to make sure that Leejun was able to get out of the country."
While visiting Norton on Jan. 28, Ivie received a call demanding she return to the hotel for more questioning. She brought Norton with her, even though she was told it wouldn't do any good.
"(The agent) said, 'It's no use to hire an American attorney because they don't know Chinese law or the Chinese situation,' " Ivie recalled.
"Then he turned around and said, 'It's no use to hire a Chinese attorney, because they are afraid of me and afraid of my agency.' "
Once at the hotel, the two were separated.
"They tried to brainwash him that Falun Gong was not good for China," she said. "During the two hours of my interrogation, they were trying to convince me that I was violating Chinese law."
Ivie said an agent also demanded that she sign a statement, promising that she would limit her Falun Gong activities in the U.S. and report back every time she returned to China.
"They wanted to know about Falun Gong activities in America," Ivie said. "They wanted names, they wanted to know what they do. They also gave me names and asked about them, but I told them I don't know them.' "
After two hours, she was released. But on Feb. 2, another meeting was ordered.
"I said I was not going to the meeting because I have nothing to talk about," Ivie said.
"He got very angry on the phone. He said, 'Unless you spy on our behalf on other Falun Gong practitioners in America, we'll deny every visa to China for the rest of your life.' "
She said the agent gave her three months to consider the offer.
"If I decide not to, they will retaliate against me," she said. "He said, 'We will make your family (in China) suffer.' "
Traumatized, Ivie left China three days early on Feb. 3.
"I have bad dreams about it," Ivie said. She tried to return to China Saturday, but both she and her fiance were turned away.
Since her return, Ivie has sought help from elected officials.
Lawrence Pacheco, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Boulder, said his office has sent an inquiry to the U.S. ambassador.
"The embassy is going to deliver a formal diplomatic note in the near future to protest her treatment," Pacheco said. "They have been in contact with her in the U.S. and are willing to assist her in any way possible."
She said she was also promised help from U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's office, but representatives of the Colorado Republican would not comment.
Ivie met recently with state Rep. Frank Weddig, D-Aurora, who sponsored a resolution last year condemning the Chinese government's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.
"I was appalled that she ran into these problems," Weddig said. "It's always beyond belief for that kind of mistreatment to occur. It's pure and outright intimidation. I think it's appropriate to speak up at the state level."
Earlier this month, Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, introduced another resolution that condemns various forms of Chinese oppression, including that of Falun Gong followers.
"China has become a major trading partner with the U.S., and we can use the leverage of our economic relationship with China to bring about reform," Tupa said.
Falun Gong practitioners around the world are expected to stage a variety of events to commemorate the April 25, 1999 gathering of 10,000 practitioners outside Chinas State Office of Appeals, which is located near Zhongnanhai, the seat of Chinas central government in Beijing.
The Falun Dafa Information Center says panel discussions, photo exhibits, marches, candlelight vigils, and sit-ins outside Chinese embassies are planned to call for an end to a five-year campaign of suppression.
Practitioners from across Beijing and elsewhere had come together the morning of April 25 to protest a ban against publishing their books and the detention of adherents in Tianjin. They also called upon the police to stop disrupting their exercise sites. The Chinese premier at that time, Zhu Rongji, met with demonstration leaders and the Tianjin practitioners were promptly released.
Its a bittersweet occasion, said Erping Zhang, a Falun Gong spokesman. April 25th was a peaceful response to police brutality and months of illegal activity by security personnel. Whats tragic is the regimes head, Jiang Zemin, used the occasion and launched a campaign to eradicate Falun Gong."
Three months after the unprecedented demonstration, then-President Jiang outlawed the spiritual practice and launched a crackdown that the Information Center says has led to nearly 1,000 deaths to date.
"Greens lament silencing of Falun Gong protest"
The ACT Greens say the rights of Falun Gong members to protest has been further diminished by the Federal Government.
Falun Gong protesters outside the Chinese Embassy in Canberra have already been told they cannot erect protest banners at the site.
Greens' MLA Kerry Tucker says they have now been told they are not to attach protest banners or paint slogans on cars either.
Ms Tucker says the protesters are being penalised in bid to maintain good relations with the Chinese Embassy.
"This Government and [Foreign Minister] Alexander Downer are quite prepared to reduce that right to protest in order not to offend a trading partner - this cannot be accepted," she said.
"Falun Gong complaint going before UN"
High profile Gold Coast lawyer Chris Nyst travels to Geneva, Switzerland, today to formally lodge a complaint with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights alleging an Australian citizen was persecuted in China four years ago.
Mr Nyst and human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson have compiled the complaint, with the assistance of a number of law students from Griffith University's Gold Coast campus.
Mr Nyst believes it is the first complaint on behalf of an individual - a female Australian citizen - to the United Nations about the treatment of people practising the Falun Gong religion.
"She travelled to China in 1999 and 2000. During that time she was detained during a period of up to 8 months during which time we say that she was tortured, she was arbitrarily detained, she was denied her rights of consular representation and she was subjected to quite harsh and inappropriate behaviour," Mr Nyst said.
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
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