CESNUR - Center for Studies on New Religions directed by Massimo Introvigne

"Police face call to free Falungong protesters"

("Bangkok Post," December 19, 2005)

Bangkok, Thailand - Thai practitioners of Falungong have sought the release of six Chinese practitioners, including a four-year-old boy, detained on Friday by Immigration Police. The six were among the eight practitioners arrested in front of the Chinese embassy in Bangkok while holding a peaceful sit-in to protest the alleged rape of their colleagues by Chinese police in Hebei province.
The other two members of the group were released soon after their arrest.
The four-year-old, identified as Kai Shin, was also taken to the detention cell after the boy refused to leave his father's side.
"Right now, Falungong practitioners are staging a sit-in protest in front of Thai embassies in 60 countries, petitioning for the release of their colleagues who have done nothing wrong," said Chachalai Sutakanat, a Thai practitioner of Falungong, at a press conference yesterday.
According to a statement released by the group, the detention of the six practitioners was unacceptable as the victims were all persons of concern (PoC) and under the UNHCR's protection.
The detainees have begun a hunger strike to protest their arrest which, they claim, was directed by the Chinese embassy.
Ms Chachalai also expressed concern for the boy whose mother was killed during a violent crackdown in China.
Fourteen-year-old Wang Anqi, who was arrested and then released, said her parents were still in the detention cell.
The Anqi family fled with other groups of Chinese practitioners to Thailand following the crackdown and are now holding PoC refugee status.
Ms Wang said the basic human rights of the six detainees were being violated.
The Chinese government outlawed the Falungong in 1999, naming the group the "cult of evil." The Chinese authorities often resorted to heavy-handed crackdowns to punish the practitioners. Over 2,000 practitioners were thought to have died in the suppression drive.
Falungong is a Chinese spiritual practice - a blend of qigong and religious belief purporting to improve the mind, body, and spirit. Falungong was introduced in Thailand in 1996. Practitioners provide free daily instructions at Lumpini Park.

"Falun Dafa protest decision reversed"

("Radio New Zealand," December 16, 2005)

Wellington, New Zealand - Followers of the Chinese spiritual movement, Falun Dafa, have been told they are allowed to protest outside of China's Embassy in Wellington.
Last week, three members of the movement were told by the Diplomatic Protection Squad and the Wellington City Council they were not allowed to demonstrate because they did not have a permit.
Falun Dafa practitioners say they have made small, silent protests outside the embassy for more than six years.
A spokesperson for the movement, Eric Robinson, says they are protesting against China's banning of Falun Dafa and what he says are the killings of innocent members of the spiritual group.
He says being told they could not express their views in what he calls a quiet and harmless way was shocking.
Mr Robinson says since writing to the council, the group has been told it can protest outside the embassy because it is not breaking any by-laws.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy maintains the group is protesting illegally as it does not have a permit.

"Veteran NZ Falun Gong campaigner held in Hong Kong - sect"

("Daily Times," December 07, 2004)

New Zealand diplomats are probing the alleged detention at Hong Kong airport of a veteran campaigner for the Falun Gong spiritual group, an official said yesterday.
Sect members said Jenny Lee, an elderly Chinese-born campaigner who now lives in New Zealand, was being held in the former British colony on unspecified grounds.
"She was detained on Monday night and we have not been able to find out what for," said Lu Jie, a Hong Kong-based member of the group, which is outlawed in mainland China.
"All she was able to tell us in a quick phone call was that she was being held and that her flight ticket had been taken from her."
New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokesman Jonathan Schwass yesterday said the department understood the woman had since left Hong Kong.
She had not sought any assistance from the ministry.
A spokeswoman at the New Zealand consulate-general confirmed it had been asked to investigate the alleged detention of a New Zealand passport holder believed connected to the sect.
"We are trying to get information but so far Hong Kong immigration have not given us any," she said.
Lee, believed to be in her 60s, was among 16 practitioners of the Buddhism-inspired sect who in 2002 were arrested for obstruction during a rowdy protest outside China's representative Hong Kong office.
She is believed to have travelled to Hong Kong to visit relatives and to speak to her lawyer about other Falun Gong matters.
The Falun Gong once claimed millions of followers on the mainland but has been outlawed as an "evil cult" by Beijing since 1999.
Members maintain it involves peaceful and harmless yoga-style meditation practices.
The group claims that at least 1600 of its members have been tortured or beaten to death in China since a crackdown ordered four years ago largely drove the organisation underground.
Although the sect is not banned in Hong Kong, which has its own government and legal system, members have often been stopped there by immigration officers, prompting accusations that Hong Kong is acting on the orders of officials in Beijing.
The city has repeatedly denied sect claims that it keeps a blacklist of members China wants kept from the territory.

"U.N. torture rapporteur cancels visit to Shandong"

("Kyodo," November 25, 2005)

Beijing, China - The U.N. special rapporteur for torture said Thursday he canceled part of his China visit that would have let him investigate complaints by practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Manfred Nowak, who is visiting China this week and next after a 10-year application to the Chinese government, said for scheduling convenience he will not travel to Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, to look into charges that Falun Gong-related prisoners had been abused.

"APEC organizers expel two reporters from U.S. company with Falun Gong ties" by Alexa Olsen

(AP, November 15, 2005)

Busan, South Korea - Two reporters with a U.S.-based Chinese television company known for its coverage of Chinese government human rights abuses were kicked out of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Tuesday for breaking the meeting's media rules, an official said.
One of the journalists, who work for New Tang Dynasty Television, alleged that their expulsion was the result of Chinese government pressure, a charge APEC organizers denied.
Chang Sik Lee, a Seoul-based reporter with New York-based NTDTV, said he was told to turn in his pass and leave the exhibition center serving as the meeting's main venue after he and a colleague attempted to cover a bilateral meeting between South Korea and China.
Organizers told Chang and his colleague that they had violated the rules by not pre-registering for the event. Other journalists present who had also not preregistered were not asked to leave.
"This is just an excuse, the real reason is the Chinese Communist Party is afraid of our media, so they want to expel us from the whole APEC conference," Chang said.
NTDTV, which was founded in 2001, has been denounced by Chinese authorities as a mouthpiece for the Falun Gong spiritual movement which Beijing has tried to shut down as a dangerous cult. The TV station insists it is independent, although many of its staffers are Falun Gong practitioners.
Chang said both he and his colleague, Choi Seon Hee, practice Falun Gong.
"Their appearance at the (meeting) venue upset everyone who had organized this huge event," said Cho Wonhyung, director general of APEC's media and communications department.
Cho said NTDT was "closely related to Falun Gong, which always does some demonstrations."
Asked whether the two were asked to leave because of their association with Falun Gong or because of pressure from the Chinese delegation, Cho said: "They made a very big mistake...there is no other reason."
Earlier this year, the International Federation of Journalists accused leading satellite operator Eutelsat of bowing to pressure from Beijing when it refused to renew a contract allowing NTDT to broadcast into China. The media watchdog said Beijing had warned that business opportunities linked to broadcasting 2008 Olympics would might be at risk, a claim that Eutelsat denied.

"Bush urged to raise crackdown on Falun Gong with Chinese leaders"

(AFP, November 14, 2005)

Washington, USA - US President George W. Bush was urged to raise Beijing's crackdown of the Falun Gong spiritual group during his talks this week with Chinese leaders.
"President Bush must bring up the Falun Gong in his public meetings with President Hu Jintao and China's leaders, and call for, in unambiguous terms, an end to the suppression," the group's spokesman Erping Zhang said.
"It is imperative China's leadership hear in strong terms that what they are doing to Falun Gong is unacceptable and needs to stop," he said in a statement.
Zhang claimed that there had been a rapid increase in the number of Falun Gong deaths from "torture and abuse in custody."
The Chinese communist leaders consider the rise of Falun Gong as a mass movement and a threat to its power, rights groups say.
The US State Department last week expressed regret over the "suffering" of Falun Gong followers in China while releasing its annual report on international religious freedom. In the report, China received a "poor" record for respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.
John Hanford, the US envoy for international religious freedom, said "while the Falun Gong are not officially a religion, more a spiritual movement, the suffering that they have endured is unspeakable.
"There have been so many who have been arrested -- thousands and thousands, many who have died in police custody and the problem just doesn't seem to abate. And so this is something we all are deeply concerned about."
Twenty-one US legislators had written to Bush to highlight alleged human rights abuses, including torture, when he visits Beijing on October 19.
The leader of the opposition Democrats in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said human rights should be "a top priority" in the bilateral agenda.
"We once again call on Beijing to release the thousands of prisoners of conscience whose only crime was to demand their basic human rights," she said.

"Falun Gong supporters fail in legal action against Chinese minister"

(AFP, November 09, 2005)

London, England - A British court rejected an application by the Falun Gong religious movement to have Chinese trade minister Bo Xilai arrested for allegedly torturing its members.
Judge Timothy Workman said Bo - who is part of Chinese President Hu Jintao's delegation currently visiting Britain - could not be detained because he had diplomatic immunity.
The application related to Bo's time as governor of Liaoning province, northeast China, and his alleged promotion of the torture and ill-treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.
The Falun Gong Association in Britain alleges Bo was "actively involved" in persecuting, torturing and even killing their members.
Judge Workman told Bow Streets Magistrates Court, central London: "The real issue in this case is whether the proposed defendant is immune from prosecution.
"I am told that Mr Bo is the Minister for Commerce including International Trade for the People's Republic of China. As such, I have concluded that his functions are equivalent to those exercised by a Minister for Foreign Affairs."
Under international law, Bo had immunity from prosecution because otherwise he would not be able to perform his functions unless able to travel freely, Workman stated.
His immunity was further reinforced by his status as part of an official delegation for a state visit under Article 31 of the UN Convention on Special Missions 1969, he added.
Lawyer John Hardy, for the Falun Gong, raised the case of former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet, who was detained on a visit to London in 1998 and held under house arrest for more than a year.
But Workman said comparisons between Pinochet and Bo did not apply, because the former Chilean premier was no longer a head of state.
Dee Ling, of the Falun Gong Association in Britain, said they planned to lodge an appeal of the decision at a higher court as early as Wednesday.
She told AFP: "We know we are under pressure of time because Bo is leaving on Thursday but we will try our best."
It is the second time the association has applied for but failed to get an arrest warrant against the minister in Britain.
A file was passed to London's Metropolitan Police in May 2004 but the force did not proceed, again citing Bo's diplomatic immunity.
The Falun Gong movement - also known as Falun Dafa - is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline for the mind and body, according to its British website.
It claims 100 million followers throughout the world but has been outlawed in China since the time of the previous president Jiang Zemin, since when supporters claim the ruling Communist Party has illegally detained thousands of its members Britain-China-justice.

"China shuts down a rights lawyer's firm"

by Philip P. Pan ("The Washington Post," November 07, 2005)

Shanghai, China - Judicial authorities in Beijing have shut down the firm of a prominent civil rights lawyer, after he refused to withdraw an open letter urging President Hu Jintao to respect freedom of religion and to stop persecuting members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Gao Zhisheng, who is viewed as being among the most daring of a generation of self-trained lawyers who have been pushing the Chinese government to obey its laws, said the Beijing Bureau of Justice on Friday had ordered that his firm suspended from practice for one year.
The move was made hours after Gao filed an appeal on behalf of an underground Protestant pastor accused of illegally printing Bibles and other Christian literature.
According to Gao, the government said the firm was being suspended because it had failed to register with the authorities after moving into a new office this year. But he said the action followed his refusal to renounce the open letter to Hu and withdraw from politically sensitive cases as demanded by officials during a series of recent meetings.
Gao said that his firm had notified the government when it moved, but that officials had not allowed the firm to register at the new address.
''We're very angry," Gao said by telephone Saturday. ''By doing this, the Chinese Communist Party is demonstrating it defies all laws, human and divine. They are saying that anyone who believes in law, who criticizes the political system . . . will be targeted."
Officials are cracking down on religion, media freedoms, and other civil liberties; the move also reflects Hu's government wish to take action to restrict the influence of members of China's budding legal profession. Lawyers such as Gao have been at the forefront of a campaign to inform citizens of their rights.
Gao said he plans to fight his firm's suspension at a formal hearing this week.

"Australian dancer expelled from China"

("AAP," October 06, 2005)

Sydney, Australia - A Sydney Dance Company performer has been expelled from China amid claims he was carrying material published by the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
The 43-year-old dancer was detained by officials in Shanghai yesterday and ordered to leave China.
"We are aware that a 43-year-old Australian man from NSW was briefly detained by Chinese officials in Shanghai on 5 October," a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokeswoman said.
"The man was alleged to have Falun Gong material in his possession and was asked to depart China on 5 October.
"The Australian Consulate General in Shanghai provided the man with consular assistance."
China regards Falun Gong as an evil cult and has banned the spiritual organisation.

"Falungong accuse Hong Kong gov't after meeting cancelled"

by Mark McCord (AFP, September 30, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - Supporters of a religious organization banned in China as an evil sect were forced to cancel an international conference in Hong Kong Friday amid accusations of mainland interference.
Participants from all over the world, including a Canadian legislator, had gathered in this southern Chinese territory for the forum, which was to debate human rights and political issues in China.
An hour before the first guest speaker was to take the stand, however, organizers from The Epoch Times newspaper were told the hotel ballroom they'd booked weeks in advance was unavailable.
"They gave us no warning and would not find an alternative room for us," said the Epoch Times Amy Chu. "They would not help."
The Falungong mixes martial arts and meditation in a creed that claims to have thousands of believers in China. Beijing authorities have branded it a counter-revolutionary threat and banned it on the mainland.
Although it is not banned in Hong Kong, a former British colony ruled by China since 1997, sect leaders fear followers are discriminated against by authorities under pressure from China.
One of the invited speakers, right-wing Canadian MP Rob Anders, accused local authorities of giving in to pressure from Beijing.
"I had heard of this sort of intimidation from China but now I have seen it with my own eyes," Anders fumed.
"By caving into this sort of intimidation Hong Kong people are jeopardizing their own freedoms," he added.
Staff at Hong Kong's Conrad Hotel, where the meeting was to take place, told organizers the room was unsuitable because it had suffered water damage.
A spokeswoman would not comment on the incident and the resident manager was unavailable.
After the cancellation, however, three security staff were posted at the ballroom's locked doors preventing an Agence France-Presse reporter from inspecting the room.
Guests eventually gathered for their debate in a park across the road from the hotel.
Former legislator Szeto Wah, a veteran figurehead of a movement calling for democratic reforms in Hong Kong, was also due to speak.
"The hotel said its reputation would have been hurt if it had let us use a wet ballroom, but this has done far worse damage to the reputation of the hotel and Hong Kong," Szeto told a hastily arranged press conference in one of the hotel guest rooms.
The Falungong says thousands of its worshippers have been jailed or tortured in China.
In Hong Kong four practitioners are appealing against their deportation in 2003 when scores of believers from Taiwan were prevented from entering the city.

"Falun Gong group gives update on lawsuit against HK"

by Jean Lin ("Taipei Times," September 25, 2005)

Taipei, Taiwan - Four representatives of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Institute, who are suing the Hong Kong government for the forced repatriation of 80 Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners two years ago, gave a progress report on their case yesterday, one day after their return to Taiwan.
The four were among the 80 practitioners repatriated in February 2003 after going to Hong Kong to attend a Falun Gong activity.
The 80 practitioners were taken into custody at the Hong Kong airport and some were victims of police violence, according to Chang Chin-hua, representative of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Institute.
One of the plaintiffs, lawyer Theresa Chu, said that there was no legitimate reason for the repatriation.
"Repatriating us because we are Falun Gong practitioners is a violation of religious freedom and human rights," Chu said. "We all had the correct visas and none had criminal records. The repatriation was illegal."
The four plaintiffs were again detained at Hong Kong's airport as they arrived for their court appearance and were forbidden to leave, because of what the the Hong Kong Immigration Department called "security reasons."
"The Hong Kong government's action, in repatriating Falun Gong practitioners with no criminal records under mere assertions of security, is purely irrational," Chu said.
The group's Hong Kong lawyer, Paul Harris pointed out the illegal action of the Immigration Department and demanded the reasons for the listing of the four plaintiffs on the territory's "Immigration Watchlist."
"The Chinese government is suppressing human rights in both Taiwan and Hong Kong by not allowing Falun Gong practitioners to enter the country," Chu said. "The Hong Kong government should respect the judiciary and not give in to suppression."

"Journo jailed for Falun Gong stories"

(AFP, September 24, 2005)

Beijing, China - CHINA has sentenced a journalist to seven years in prison for writing articles for an overseas dissident newspaper linked to the banned Falun Gong spiritual group, rights groups said today.
Zheng Yichun was sentenced on Wednesday by a court in Yingkou city, in the north-east province of Liaoning, for "inciting subversion" through his writings, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
He was the third Chinese journalist jailed this year for transmitting information and opinions online, according to the CPJ.
Authorities detained the freelance writer on December 3, 2004 after he criticised Communist Party leaders in his writings.
Zheng, a former professor, had written hundreds of articles for online news sites that are blocked in China, but the CPJ said sources familiar with the case believed the government was especially opposed to his writings for Epoch Times, which is associated with the Falun Gong group that has been banned by the government.
They believe Zheng's harsh sentence may be linked to Chinese leaders' objections to the Epoch Times series Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, a widely read and controversial look at the ruling party's history and current practices, CPJ said.
Epoch Times is openly circulated in news stands in US cities with large Chinese immigrant populations.
Zheng was initially tried in April. No verdict was announced. He was tried again in July on the same charges. As in the April trial, the proceedings lasted just three hours, CPJ said.
"Zheng has done nothing more than express his opinions, a right that is guaranteed to all Chinese citizens," CPJ executive director Ann Cooper said.
The Chinese government's determination to keep the internet and journalists on a tight leash also saw the sentencing this year of Shi Tao to 10 years in prison and Zhang Lin to five years.

"Falun Gong members claim human rights violations at Expo"

("Kyodo," September 22, 2005)

Tokyo, Japan - Practitioners of China's outlawed Falun Gong claimed Thursday that their human rights have been violated at the ongoing World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture as the China Pavilion repeatedly denied them entry.
Followers of the spiritual group sent a written request to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who is in charge of the expo, the same day, urging him to implement remedial measures for the violations.
According to their statement, security guards at the pavilion blocked entry by members wearing Falun Gong T-shirts in late August and earlier this week. A pavilion staff member told them that anyone wearing such a T-shirt could not enter the building because the practice is banned in China.
The group reported the incident to expo organizers, but they told the members they cannot interfere with developments at the China Pavilion, the statement said.
The document said that in Japan, Falun Gong has been given the status of a nonprofit organization. "We are a legal entity and we cannot find any reason why we receive such discriminatory treatment," the members said.
The Tokyo metropolitan government granted the Japan branch of the Falun Gong movement the status of a tax-free NPO in August 2004, saying it does not view the group as religious. China outlawed Falun Gong in July 1999, branding it an "evil sect."

"Sect sees changed attitude" ("The Standard,"

September 20, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - Despite claims that an immigration blacklist exists against it, the Falun Gong movement says its situation has improved recently in Hong Kong.
Falun Gong has never been illegal in the territory, where civil and religious rights are protected, and their daily protests against the central government outside the Star Ferry are a fact of life.
But ever since former president Jiang Zemin declared the meditation group an "evil cult" in June 1999 and banned its practice in the mainland, the group has worried it will face pressure here.
They cite the case of March 2002 when 16 Falun Gong members holding a demonstration outside the Central Government Liaison Office in Western were arrested and charged with obstruction of a public place. All 16 were convicted but, in May this year, the Court of Final Appeal overturned the decision, saying the nature of the demonstration did not qualify as obstruction.
In February 2003, 80 Falun Gong members from Taiwan were denied entry at Hong Kong International Airport. The practitioners, who were to attend a conference here, claim they were bruised on their arms and hands after being manhandled.
Now that incident is the subject of a judicial review to be heard today. Four of the Taiwanese who were denied entry are the principal applicants and are in Hong Kong for the hearing.
Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung- cheung says he is still disappointed at the hostile behavior of immigration officers during the incident, but says he has seen an overall improvement in the treatment of sect members.
"Recently, the police have behaved better than before," he said. "Generally, we are well-treated by the police."
In the past, according to Kan, the police placed unfair restrictions on Falun Gong activities. When then- president Jiang visited the SAR in 2001, Kan said police kept Falun Gong demonstrators well out of range by assigning them to a far-off spot.
In addition, Kan said, even ordinary Falun Gong demonstrations were strictly regulated.
Demonstrators were often ordered to stay off the main road and instead march on the sidewalk. Kan said police have relaxed their restrictions lately, allowing demonstrators to march on the road.
He praised Hong Kong officials for the improvement in attitude toward the Falun Gong despite what he perceives to be heavy pressure from Beijing.
Official suspicions were aired in the press here Monday that the Falun Gong could contribute to unrest during the upcoming World Trade Organization talks by interfering with RTHK broadcasts.
Kan blamed Beijing for "once again spreading rumors" against his group.
According to Kan, the Falun Gong has been unfairly accused in the past of interrupting radio broadcasts in the mainland.
He said the accusations are not backed by hard evidence, although he could see the reason for attempting such a move. Kan said the Falun Gong has not formalized plans for a protest during the WTO conference but the group will most likely make its presence known.
"We are seriously considering taking the opportunity to let more people know about the truth of the persecution that's going on in the mainland," he said.
Founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, a former trumpet player from northeast China, Falun Gong claims more than 100 million followers worldwide.
It maintains that it is a spiritual sect blending Buddhism, Taoism and breathing exercises that aims to cultivate the mind and heart "through the careful study of universal principles based on truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance," according to the official Web site.
The group was banned after followers staged a massive silent demonstration outside the main leadership compound in Beijing in 1999.
Since then, there has been an ongoing war of words between Beijing and the group, with the Falun Gong occasionally seizing a few minutes of pirated air time on television in the mainland to state its case and members being routinely rounded up in police raids.
According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, there have been more than 2,300 confirmed deaths since the persecution of the Falun Gong in China began in 1999.
Hundreds of thousands of alleged practitioners have been detained, and more than 100,000 have been sent to forced labor camps, often without trial, the group claims.
Kan said the group's main goal now is to enlist the people's support in its struggle for justice. "We are absolutely not political," he said. "We only want the persecution to stop."

"Taiwanese Falungong members in Hong Kong to appeal entry denial"

(AFP, September 20, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - Four Taiwanese members of Falungong, a spiritual group outlawed in China, appeared in a Hong Kong court to begin an appeal against their deportation from the Chinese territory.
The four were among 80 Taiwanese members of Falungong who came to Hong Kong for a conference of the sect in February 2003 but were detained at the border and refused entry although they were holding valid visas.
The group claimed that immigration officials in Hong Kong had "roughly mistreated" their members.
The four Falungong members have declared their entry denial and the "violence" used by the authorities in handling the Falungong members as "unlawful".
"We want to use legal channels to seek justice from the Hong Kong government for the sake of our human rights," the group said in a statement.
The four were given special permission by the Hong Kong government to enter the territory for the legal challenge. About 30 members staged a sit-down protest outside the High Court during Tuesday's hearing.
China outlawed the group as an "evil cult" in 1999 and has since detained or imprisoned tens of thousands of members. The group says its members are tortured for refusing to give up their beliefs.
Members of the quasi-religious Falungong group regularly gather outside Chinese embassies and consulates overseas to protest against Beijing's crackdown on the group.

"Falun Gong sues Chinese embassy"

("Manila Standard Today," September 15, 2005)

Manila, Philippine - A China-based group yesterday sued officials of Chinese embassy in the Philippines for P2 million for launching a massive smear campaign against the group before the Pasig City prosecutor’s office.
Aside from Chinese Ambassador Hu Wong Bo and deputy chief of mission to the Philippines Xiao Qian, Falun Gong practitioners also filed libel suit against four local Chinese-language newspapers — Chinese Commercial News, World News, United Daily News and Sino-Fil Daily — for publishing libelous press releases about the group.
In the news articles, the group alleged that the Chinese embassy officials have been spreading “rumors” that Falun Gong “is a dangerous group whose members hurt others.”
“On the contrary, the principles of Falun Gong are truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Falun Gong only teaches people to be good, and think of others first under all circumstances,” said Jobo Lavina, one of the group’s members.
He said the news reports also urged “The Chinese people to eliminate Falun Gong practitioners in the Philippines.”
The group, assisted by lawyer Manuel Albano, trooped to the new Justice Hall at the back of Pasig City Hall along Caruncho Avenue around 11 a.m.
“We are also filing this to correct the misconception about Falun Gong due to the smear campaign,” Lavina said, noting that the self-immolation or setting one’s self in flames is one of the lies being spread about the practitioners.
At present, there are about 2,000 people in the Philippines practicing Falun Gong, a discipline exported from China, according to the group.
Lavina said the Chinese government is afraid of losing its control over the Chinese populace because of the growing number of Falun Gong practitioners worldwide.
“It’s not only the Falun Gong practitioners that the Chinese Communist Party are going after but other religious groups as well,” he noted.
In other countries, Falun Gong practitioners have already filed similar suits to protect the group.
The crackdown on the group’s practitioners has started since 1999. Millions of Chinese died from the severe torture by Chinese authorities since then.

"Falun Gong ban hits uni earnings"

by Catherine Armitage ("The Australian," September 12, 2005)

Sydney, Australia - Australia's $900 million education export trade with China is under attack from a Chinese Government campaign to block internet access within the country to the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
Spooked universities are understood to be working secretly on ways to get around the so-called Great Firewall of China after the University of Technology, Sydney website was blocked twice within China over a period of more than three months until late August.
The university suffered "very major damage" as a result of the blocks, which were traced to a state-owned telecommunications company in Beijing, pro-vice chancellor (international) David Goodman said.
From May until two weeks ago, enrolment inquiries from the university's biggest overseas market collapsed and the work of staff and students within China was severely disrupted, Professor Goodman said.
The site was unblocked a second time after the Australian embassy in Beijing protested, and UTS expunged all references to Falun Gong from its website.
The university was caught in a "political row" between the Chinese Government and Falun Gong, Professor Goodman said. He said "lots" of other universities within Australia and overseas had similar experiences.
The sector has gone to ground for fear of "inflaming the situation", as one source explained.
Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee chief executive John Mullarvey said the incident would be "of concern" but the AVCC needed to investigate further before deciding whether to take it up with the Chinese or Australian governments. He had not heard of similar incidents involving Australian universities.
A spokesman for federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson said it had been properly a matter for the diplomatic service. "We understand that the university has already communicated with them on that issue," he said.
Professor Goodman said UTS first learned of the website blockage in May and complained to officials at the Chinese consulate in Sydney, who denied any knowledge of it. Ben Hurley of the university's Falun Dafa Meditation Club said he heard that the Chinese Government had pressured the university over an art exhibition on campus depicting members' experiences in Chinese detention.
On June 20, the university council held a rowdy meeting at which the controversial introduction of more full-fee paying places was announced. University spokesman James Willoughby said UTS vice-chancellor Ross Milbourne mentioned the website blockage as an example of risks to the university's income that "had to be managed".
But the Vice-Chancellor's further comments at that meeting are in dispute. Professor Milbourne through a spokesman denied saying anything about having to wear losses in income from China as a result of taking a principled stand on the website issue, as the UTS Student's Association President Michelle Sparks, who was at the meeting, claims he did.
Ms Spark's version appeared in the Falun Gong publication Epoch Times and on the Falun Gong website clearwisdom.net around July 6. The university believes that as a result of those articles, its website, having become accessible in China again only the week before, was blocked for a second time.
After the second blockage the Australian Embassy pleaded the university's case in Beijing. The website was unblocked for the second time about two weeks ago.
A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Education denied all knowledge of the UTS website blockage and said it was not within the Ministry's ambit. The Ministry for Public Security which administers Internet monitoring and censorship did not respond to The Australian's questions.

"Falun Gong sees hand of Beijing behind attacks on campaign van"

by Tom Allard ("Sydney Morning Herald," August 31, 2005)

Sydney, Australia - Falun Gong practitioners who set up an elaborate sting to catch a man repeatedly vandalising their campaign vehicle claim the Chinese Government may have ordered the attacks.
A 58-year-old Sydney man has been charged with two counts of malicious damage after members of the dissident Chinese group caught him early yesterday morning slashing the tyres and defacing the body of the vehicle, which is emblazoned with anti-communist slogans.
Grant Lu, who owns the vehicle, said he and an associate first spotted the man in July vandalising it in Surry Hills. They kept watch and on August 8 caught him on video smashing a brick through the front window and slashing its tyres.
When the next attack came, early yesterday, Mr Lu was again watching. Police were called and the man was found and identified by the earlier video.
As well as slashing the vehicle's tyres, the man allegedly sprayed highly flammable degreaser all over the vehicle.
Mr Lu is a prominent activist for Falun Gong, a meditation group with millions of devotees that Beijing views as an "evil cult" with a political agenda.
Mr Lu's wife, Ying Li, spent two years in a labour camp in China for her beliefs and was identified by Hao Fengjun, a defector to Australia from China's security services, as someone whose activities were monitored by the Chinese Government.
Another defector, former diplomat Chen Yonglin, said the Chinese Government regularly monitored and harassed Falun Gong members when he worked at China's Sydney consulate.
China has denied the claim but Mr Lu said he strongly believed that the Chinese Government was involved in the vandalisation.
"It's one of two possibilities: someone acting independently who was brainwashed by the Communist Party, or someone who is working for the Chinese Government," he said.
"After what Chen said, I think this reason is more likely."
Mr Lu said his van had been vandalised 10 times in the past five years while his private vehicle, with nothing to link it to a Falun Gong practitioner, had been attacked twice. "It happens constantly. I am parked everywhere around the city but they find it and damage it."

"Falun Gong member seeks refugee status"

("CBC News," August 05, 2005)

Montreal, Canada - A Chinese woman in Montreal says she fears arrest and torture if she's returned to her homeland. She's a member of Falun Gong, and she is scheduled to be deported on Friday.
Shortly before Xiaoping Hu came to Canada on a visitor's visa, she had already been sent to what former Chinese residents call a brainwashing centre. She was forced to lie on a table for days without moving until she renounced her belief in Falun Gong.
She did renounce the religious practice, but, when she applied for refugee status while in Canada, she took it up again. Another Falun Gong member, Hui Yang, says, if Hu is deported, the brainwashing centre will seem like nothing.
Yang says she and other Falun Gong members are asking the federal minister of Citizenship and Immigration to stay the deportation, at least long enough for Hu's refugee claim to be reviewed.
Her lawyer Michael Bergman believes it was rejected because of a language barrier. She speaks neither French nor English.
"She didn't have a lawyer. She was accompanied by a friend. Neither she nor the lawyer understood the risk-assessment hearing, and it was rejected," Bergman says.
Bergman says Hu has also renounced her membership in the Communist Party, making her an immediate enemy to Chinese authorities. He says Hu should be allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds.

"China fights Falun Gong sect in U.S. - ex-diplomat"

by Paul Eckert (Reuters, July 21, 2005)

Washington, USA - China's diplomats and agents in the United States help Beijing to carry out a crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual sect, a former Chinese diplomat who is seeking asylum in Australia said on Thursday.
Chen Yonglin told a congressional panel probing China's human rights record that his job for the past four years at the Chinese consulate in Sydney was to spy on and to persecute followers of Falun Gong, which China banned in 1999 after branding it an "evil cult."
He presented documents naming six diplomats in the mission he fled in May who worked for a Chinese government agency whose "sole task is to monitor and persecute the Falun Gong."
"To my knowledge, similar groups have been established in the Chinese missions in the United States and all other countries where the Falun Gong is active," Chen said in testimony to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.
"I know that there are over 1,000 Chinese secret agents and informants in Australia and the number in the United States should not be less," he said.
The Chinese embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment. On July 11, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said "lies created" by Chen did not merit an official response.
Chen said Beijing viewed the United States and Australia as main Falun Gong bases abroad and Chinese diplomats there were required to denounce the group, distribute anti-sect brochures and pressure businesses, schools and media to shun Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is an amalgam of religions, meditation and exercises that the Chinese government began crushing after 10,000 members surrounded the Communist leadership's Beijing compound in a dawn protest in 1999.
Falun Gong practitioners say between 1,000 and 2,000 followers died from police brutality and 100,000 were sent to labor camps in the crackdown. But the figures have not been confirmed independently.
Chen, 37, said he was told in 2003 by a top official from a team set up in the Chinese Foreign Ministry to fight Falun Gong that there were 60,000 followers in China, half in prison camps and half under tight government control.
Other witnesses told the hearing that Chinese officials or persons linked to U.S. missions harassed The Epoch Times newspaper and New Tang Dynasty Television, media outlets run by Falun Gong practitioners in the United States.
Chen, his wife and their daughter were granted permanent residence in Australia on July 8. He has said China kidnaps critics and he could be jailed or killed if he returned home.

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