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"Falun Gong considers legal action against HK leader"

by Patricia Lai (CNN, June 18, 2001)

HONG KONG, China - Representatives of the Falun Gong spiritual group are considering taking legal action against Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa after he described the group as "an evil cult".
They say are looking at whether to mount a case against Tung for defamation, arguing the chief executive's speech had harmed their reputation.
Last Thursday Tung, in a speech to Hong Kong's Legislative Council, said the group was "without any doubt … an evil cult".
"It is tightly and strictly organized," he said. "Its financial sources are very abundant. And it is a political organization."
Falun Gong representatives, who insist they only practice peaceful meditation, say the speech undermines the group's reputation. "His speech has damaged us," said Hong Kong Falun Gong spokeswoman Hui Cheung Yee-han.
"People are starting to be hostile to us. I heard in radio phone-in shows that callers are having a negative image on us," she said.
The group has not yet sought opinions from a legal professional.
Echoes of Beijing
In describing the group as an "evil cult" the Hong Kong chief executive is using the same terminology as the mainland Chinese leadership, which banned the group in 1999.
Tung's sharp words against the Falun Gong have fueled speculation the Special Administrative Region might clamp down on the spiritual movement, which is legal in Hong Kong under the territory's laws governing freedom of expression.
Human rights groups in Hong Kong have expressed fears that the passing of a law against cults in France last May would provide the government an excuse to adopt a similar law.
The law gives French courts the power to prosecute and ban sects.
Hong Kong SAR government officials say they have studied anti-cult laws in other countries, but on Thursday Tung reassured legislators there was no need to ban the group yet.
Earlier this month Australia advised Hong Kong against adopting anti-cult laws similar to those passed in France which could be directed against Falun Gong followers, saying they would damage the former British colony's reputation for freedom.

"Australia's Falun Gong calls for China pressure"

(Reuters, June 18, 2001)

CANBERRA - Australian followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement called on the government on Monday to step up pressure on the Chinese government to stop persecuting members of the group.
At the launch of the first National Falun Dafa Day in Australia, the seven-year old group said it had written to Prime Minister John Howard seeking help to end human rights abuses in China against followers of the movement.
"We know the Australian government is strong on human rights issues so we are asking them to speak out on behalf of those poor people in China," spokesman Tony Dai told Reuters during a demonstration by 300 Falun Gong followers outside parliament.
"The international community can help stop this pre-meditated murder occuring in China," Dai said.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, combines meditation and exercise with Buddhist and Taoist teachings. It was banned in China in July 1999, accused of being an evil cult trying to topple the communist government.
China denies reports from supporters of the group that detained Falun Gong members have been mistreated in custody.
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia did not make judgment on the practices of Falun Gong.
"But we have raised our concerns with the Chinese government over human rights abuses in connection with Falun Gong," the spokesman told Reuters.
Australia earlier this month advised Hong Kong against adopting anti-cult laws similar to those passed in France which could be directed against Falun Gong followers, saying they would damage the former British colony's reputation for freedom.

"Sect asks Tung to talk it over"

by Carmen Cheung ("Hong Kong iMail," June 15, 2001)

About 100 local Falun Gong practitioners marched to the SAR Government Headquarters yesterday, seeking talks with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa a day after he had labelled the sect ``undoubtedly'' an evil cult.
But a spokesman said the sect had no intention of suing Mr Tung for his ``libellous'' remarks, despite a suggestion from a lawyer that they could do so if the SAR leader repeated them outside the Legislative Council.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the government has teamed up with the Central Government Liaison Office to step up pressure on the sect amid calls from Beijing leaders for a law to ban it.
Practitioners marched from Chater Garden about 2pm and handed over a petition seeking ``dialogue'' with Mr Tung. Spokesmen from the Chief Executive's Office and the Security Bureau said Mr Tung and officials had did not plan to meet sect members at the moment.
In their letter to Mr Tung, the practitioners expressed ``serious concern, deep regrets and strong objection'' to his remarks, made during a Legislative Council question-and-answer session.
They said his words were ``derogatory, unfair, libellous and groundless'' and accused Mr Tung of violating the ``freedom of conscience'' principle, expressing surprise that neither he nor his officials would meet them.
The Human Rights Monitor accused Mr Tung of committing ``a serious breach of
the Basic Law and intentionally guaranteed rights'' with his latest attack on the
sect.It exemplified ``a growing trend of religious and political intolerance within the upper ranks of the government,'' the rights group said.
It called on Mr Tung to stand up for the rights of SAR people ``instead of making continual attacks on the group that are unjustified and puerile''.
Mr Tung's remarks to Legco are seen as a means of appeasing central leaders without enacting legislation that could affect his standing here before his re-election bid next year.
A source said the government would adopt tougher ``executive measures'' against the sect such as continuing to bar its overseas practitioners who are on a blacklist provided by Beijing and closely monitoring local members.
At the same time the Liaison Office would co-ordinate attacks by pro-Beijing organisations on the sect.
The source said during his visit last month, President Jiang Zemin had ``scolded'' Mr Tung for not banning the sect, already outlawed by Beijing.
Sect spokeswoman Hui Cheung Yee-han said local members already faced harassment when they attempted to distribute leaflets and were misunderstood by their family and friends. Thirty-three members could no longer continue with their businesses on the mainland because their home-return permits had been confiscated.
The Chief Executive's Office said it would reply to the petition later.
Information Co-ordinator Stephen Lam Sui-lung said Mr Tung had made his remarks to express the government's ``firm commitment'' to maintain peace and public order under the Basic Law.
Asked if Mr Tung was afraid to enact an anti-cult law because it might affect his re-election chances, Mr Lam said it had ``nothing to do with that suggestion''. Mr Tung had reiterated many times that he had yet decide whether to stand for a second term and would make a decision and announcement ``at the appropriate time''.
Bar Association chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit said Mr Tung's comments were exempt from any defamation action because of legislative privilege. But if he repeated them elsewhere any sect member could sue him.
Sect spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said Mr Tung's criticism had no sound legal basis, as there was no definition of an evil cult.
``We are a spiritual body and not a political organisation,'' he said, adding: ``We have no plan to sue Mr Tung for defaming us.''

"Falungong member dies in police detention in northeast China"

(AFP, June 15, 2001)

BEIJING - A member of China's outlawed Falungong spiritual movement has died while in detention in northeastern Liaoning province, possibly after maltreatment by police, local residents told AFP Friday.
Chi Yulian, who lived in Lanjin, a suburb of the port city of Dalian, and was known by locals to be a Falungong practitioner, died earlier this month in police custody, said a resident from nearby Wangjia village.
Chi, the mother of a 10-year-old boy, was cooking in her kitchen on May 29, when police officers stormed her home, handcuffed her and threw her onto her bed, a Falungong press release said.
The officers searched the house, and after they found Falungong-related material, they dragged her barefoot to a waiting police car, dragging aside Chi's husband when he tried to stop them, according to the press release.
"She was a Falungong practioner and she was sent to a detention center," an officer at the nearby Ganjingzi district police station told AFP by telephone. "That's all I know."
One week later, an official at the detention center called Chi's husband telling him that she had had a heart attack and had been sent to a hospital for emergency treatment, the Falungong press release said.
When he went to the detention center the following day, he was told that Chi had died on the way to the hospital, the press release said.
Chi's relatives have not been allowed to see her body, which remains at the detention center, dissected and autopsied, according to the release.
The press release quoted Chi's family as saying they had not been allowed to see any legal documents and that the only reason given for the detention was her membership of the Falungong movement.
When Chi's husband raised the possibility of filing a lawsuit, a lawyer told him that local courts did not accept Falungong-related cases, the press release said.
A resident of Lanjin, the suburb where Chi lived with her family, told AFP by telephone that Chi was not the only member of the Falungong in the area.
"We've got lots of Falungong people here, but we don't know who is a member and who isn't," he said.
The Falungong, which teaches clean living and Buddhist-based philosophy, was banned by China in July 1999 as a heterodox cult after holding an unprecedented 10,000-strong protest in Beijing.
Tens of thousands of members have since been detained, sent to labor camps, or imprisoned.

"Falun Gong members protest against Tung's 'cult' label"

(Kyodo News Service, June 15, 2001)

HONG KONG - About 100 Hong Kong members of the Falun Gong movement staged a protest march Friday, slamming Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa for branding them an ''evil cult'' in a move seen as paving the way for banning the group.
Wearing yellow T-shirts, the practitioners marched peacefully to the Hong Kong government headquarters to object to Tung's ''derogatory and unfair'' remarks against them on Thursday.
''Your statement of 'Falun Gong is without a doubt an evil cult' is a groundless and preposterous continuation of previous irresponsible remarks,'' the local followers said in an open letter to Tung.
The Hong Kong leader's labeling of the group as an ''evil cult'' was the first time he had publicly done so since the movement was outlawed in China in 1999.
Tung also accused Falun Gong of being a ''well-organized'' group with a political agenda, charging that it has done harm in mainland China.
He vowed the government will keep a close eye on the group's every move in Hong Kong. But he added there are no immediate plans to enact legislation against it.
Falun Gong remains legal in Hong Kong under the ''one country, two systems'' principle governing the territory, which has been a Chinese special administrative region since 1997.
Holding banners reading ''Falun Dafa is good,'' and ''Falun Dafa benefits the country, benefits the people,'' the protesters practiced their breathing meditation exercises outside the government headquarters as part of their protest.
Falun Dafa is the spiritual movement that practices Falun Gong, which refers to five sets of exercises done to Chinese music and involving lotus postures and hand movements. Increasingly, the movement itself is being called Falun Gong.
The protesters said Tung has no basis for calling their group ''evil'' and ''political'' as they have always been law-abiding citizens whose only demand is an end to persecution against their fellow adherents in China.
''All we do is to exercise either at home or in a park to improve our health, and study the teachings to upgrade our moral standards. As a result, we have become mentally and physically healthy people,'' they said.
''Mr. Tung, why is that evil?'' they asked.
The protesters went on to say that Hong Kong has no legal definition of 'evil cult' and that Falun Gong has broken no laws in the territory.
''Yet Mr. Tung, without any legal backing, casually declared that Falun Gong was an 'evil cult.' Mr. Tung, if you don't call that a violation of 'freedom of conscience,' what do you call it then?'' they asked.
The protesters also criticized Tung and his aides for being ''libelous,'' ''groundless'' and ''vicious'' in comparing Falun Gong with the 1978 mass cult suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, and the Japanese AUM sect that sprayed poison gas in the Tokyo subway system.
The Falun Gong members called on Tung and his government to have a dialogue with them to clarify any unnecessary misunderstandings.
Separately on Friday, a government spokesman, Stephen Lam, denied that Tung's remarks on Falun Gong are aimed at boosting his chances of reelection as the chief executive next year. He told reporters that Tung has yet to decide whether to stand for election.

"HK's Falun Gong slams Tung for "evil cult" label"

(Reuters, June 15, 2001)

HONG KONG - More than 100 Falun Gong members gathered outside Hong Kong's government headquarters on Friday in protest at the territory's leader, Tung Chee-hwa, branding the spiritual movement an evil cult.
Wearing the trademark yellow tee-shirts, they performed their slow-moving exercises, while some waved banners denouncing Tung's comments as preposterous.
Tung on Thursday called the Falun Gong a well-organised, evil cult with a political agenda, but he said he had no immediate plans to propose legislation banning the movement.
The remarks were his bluntest yet on the group, which was banned in mainland China in mid-1999.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China in 1997 with the promise of broad freedoms and a high degree of autonomy.
"All we do is exercise either at home or in a park to improve our health, and study the teachings to upgrade our moral standards. As a result, we have become mentally and physically healthy people. Mr Tung, why is that evil?" the group said in a petition letter.
The group also said it was "vicious" for a senior Tung aide to have compared the movement recently to the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult, whose nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 left 12 dead and thousands ill.
China, which accuses the Falun Gong of trying to topple its communist leadership, has intensified a crackdown on the group since an apparent suicide attempt by alleged members in Beijing in January.
A mother and her 12-year-old daughter died after the self-immolation on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Several Hong Kong newspapers lashed out at Tung on Friday.
In an editorial headlined "The Communist Party looks more like an evil cult than the Falun Gong," the widely-circulated Apple Daily said: "What's frightening is...Mr Tung is paving the way for policies or laws to suppress or ban the Falun Gong."
The South China Morning Post said Tung's remarks were "alarming and unnecessary" and "would raise doubts about Hong Kong's willingness to protect freedoms of religion and assembly."

"US grants asylum to banned China sect leader-report"

(Reuters, June 15, 2001)

HONG KONG - The United States government has granted political asylum to the leader of a spiritual sect banned in China, a Hong Kong-based human rights body said on Friday.
The founder of the Zhong Gong sect, Zhang Hongbao, was granted asylum by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeal on Wednesday, reversing a previous ruling, the Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy said in a statement.
The move signalled the end of Zhang's seven years in exile, and could spell a new irritant in soured Sino-U.S. ties.
Beijing has accused Zhang of raping followers, which his group dismisses as fabrication, and angrily demanded earlier this year that the United States repatriate him.
The Board of Immigration Appeals said China's charges were not credible, as the alleged victim only reported the incident 10 years later, the centre said.
Zhang, 47, started the group in 1987 in China and built up a following of 38 million people by 1990, the centre said.
He fled China to southeast Asia in 1994 after Beijing began cracking down on the sect and its members.
Along with the better-known Falun Gong spiritual movement, Zhong Gong has been banned in China as an "evil cult," accused of "using feudal superstition to deceive the masses."
Last September, Zhang fled to U.S.-administered Guam seeking political asylum.
U.S. State Department and White House officials said they had no information on Zhang's status.
The Hong Kong group said Zhang should be able to become a U.S. permanent resident by June next year.

"HK Leader Says Falun Gong a Cult, No Plans to Ban"

(Reuters, June 14, 2001)

HONG KONG - Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa said on Thursday he had no immediate plans to propose legislation to ban the controversial Falun Gong spiritual group, which he called a well-organized cult with a political agenda.
The remarks were his bluntest yet on the group, which was banned in mainland China in mid-1999 but is still legal in this special administrative region of the communist country.
``Undoubtedly, Falun Gong is a cult, it is well-organized, it has lots of resources and it is an organization that has politics on its mind,'' he told legislators during a question and answer session.
But Tung, who has previously described the group as ``bearing more or less the characteristics of an evil cult,'' ruled out immediate measures to curb the group.
``I don't think that it is now the time to enact legislation. We are not at that stage yet but we will keep a close eye on their every move,'' he said.
China, which accuses Falun Gong of trying to topple its communist leadership, has intensified its crackdown on the group since an apparent suicide attempt by alleged members in Beijing in January. A mother and her 12-year-old daughter died after the self-immolation incident on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
The group in Hong Kong, which has over 300 members, has irked Beijing with several protests this year against the crackdown, including demonstrations during a visit to the territory by Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Tung and other senior officials have said they were studying how cults were handled in other countries and have not ruled out enacting laws at some point to curb the group.
The recent adoption of an anti-sect law in France prompted some religious and rights groups in Hong Kong to speak out strongly against any curbs on the Falun Gong, saying it would spell the death of religious freedoms in the territory.
The Falun Gong hit back quickly at Tung on Thursday.
``What Mr. Tung said is very prejudiced, wrong, unfair and irresponsible,'' said Tony Chan, a Hong Kong Falun Gong member.
``If he looks at other countries, he will see that all other governments have nothing against the Falun Gong. Even in France, which has legislated against sects, we are not regarded a cult.''
Hong Kong, a British colony for more than 150 years, reverted to Chinese rule in July 1997 with the pledge it would have a high degree of autonomy and enjoy broad freedoms within China.

"Media `re-educated' on Falun Gong treatment"

("Hong Kong iMail," June 14, 2001)

Media representatives from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were escorted around a re-education-through-labour camp in Beijing yesterday as the Central Government sought to prove it was not ill-treating Falun Gong members.
About half of the 800 inmates at the Tuan He camp are members of the banned sect or their families who have been sent there without trials.
Beijing officials say that most of the detainees have abandoned the sect after spending terms ranging from one to three years, attending lessons, planting flowers and vegetables and breeding animals at the camp.
But one man interviewed on Hong Kong television said he had adhered to his beliefs and was being kept in isolation.
``The government cannot oppress beliefs, Falun Gong should not be defined as evil. Oppressing people's beliefs is the root of the problem,'' said Fang Bing, who was arrested last year.
He said everything would be ``back to normal'' when the government came to understand the Falun Gong.
Other detainees, however, thanked the government for retraining them and changing their beliefs. An anonymous inmate told reporters that the educators were nice to them and ``treated us like friends''. Re-education camps, introduced in the 1960s to house drug dealers, prostitutes and political and religious dissidents, have come under attack by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Tuan He camp director Zhang Jingsheng insisted that inmates were not abused.
``We ban hitting, scolding or physical penalties against those being re-educated. They even have voting and religious rights,'' he said.
But Beijing academics were reluctant in supporting the re-education system.
``By putting citizens in a camp without going through the judicial system and manipulating their freedoms for a long period is a violation of human rights,'' Professor Chen Weidong of the People's University told Hong Kong media..
``The system should be monitored by the judicial system,'' Professor Chen said, adding that more people would be detained in those camps after the implementation of laws defining evil cults.
Professor Zhang Bingzhu of Beijing's University of Politics and Law suggested gradually dissolving the re-education system.

"China again tightens laws against banned Falun Gong group "

by John Leicester (AP, June 10, 2001)

BEIJING -- China has again tightened its laws against the Falun Gong spiritual movement, highlighting the government's difficulties in stamping out the group after banning it nearly two years ago.
A legal directive issued by Chinese judicial authorities and announced Sunday by the official Xinhua News Agency marked a further hardening in the crackdown on Falun Gong, which the government considers a dangerous cult.
Under the directive, courts can prosecute Falun Gong practitioners for intentional wounding or murder, a death penalty offense in China, for organizing, encouraging or helping fellow followers commit suicide or injure themselves.
That clause was designed to prevent incidents like the group suicide attempt by five people who set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square in January, Xinhua reported.
China said the five -- two of whom died -- were Falun Gong adherents, a claim the group disputed.
The new legal directive also targeted Falun Gong practitioners who have defied the government by distributing pamphlets and information about the group and the crackdown.
Under the revisions, followers can be prosecuted under subversion laws if they produce or distribute anti-government materials, Xinhua reported. Laws against separatism can also be used to prosecute followers who advocate the break up of China or who disturb national unity, it said.
Secrecy laws -- which in China are vague and sweeping -- can be used to punish followers who leak or obtain state secrets, Xinhua added. It said that clause was aimed at Falun Gong members who have obtained secret documents about the crackdown.
The directive goes into effect Monday.
Public protests by Falun Gong practitioners have tailed off in recent months, possibly because so many followers have been sent to jails and labor camps or been forced by authorities to renounce the group.
But adherents continue to frustrate officials by surreptitiously distributing Falun Gong materials, sometimes shoving pamphlets into letter boxes.
Followers have also scrawled Falun Gong graffiti and hung banners in public places and posted information on the Internet, including the names and phone numbers of police and prison officers they accuse of beating and even killing detained practitioners.
Group founder Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the United States, and his followers "are constantly hatching new plots," Xinhua quoted an unidentified spokesman for China's top court and prosecutor's office as saying.
Falun Gong, which attracted millions of adherents in the 1990s, says it is a peaceful spiritual cultivation movement with no political agenda and teachings that forbid killing, including suicide. Followers say Li's Buddhist- and Taoist-influenced instructions promote health, moral living and even supernatural powers.
The legal directive, issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate and Supreme Court was not the first time China has broadened its laws against Falun Gong.
In October 1999, three months into the crackdown, China's legislature tightened anti-cult laws to quash Falun Gong and allow courts to sentence principal organizers to long prison terms and even death.

"Beijing hunts for the 'evil ones'"

by Anthony C. Lobaido ("World Net Daily," June 9, 2001)

Editor's note: WorldNetDaily international correspondent Anthony C. LoBaido has been updating readers on China through his semi-regular report "China Watch." In this installment, LoBaido analyzes the plethora of human-rights abuses carried out recently by the dictators in Beijing.
In the wake of America's recent standoff with China over the U.S. surveillance plane incident, the communist rulers in Beijing have become increasingly belligerent in dealing with their own people.
According to a public statement released April 13, the unified plan of party committees details new plans for cracking down on dissent inside China. The statement reads that Shanghai police will regard the effort to "strike at sinister forces and eliminate evil ones" as their primary work in their efforts to ensure the sustained stability of public order in Shanghai.
The plan calls on China's police to carry out this operation across the entire city of Shaghai, wiping out "sinister and evil forces," striking at the "two types of robberies" and intensifying the effort to "rectify chaotic situations." At the same time, efforts will be made to implement long-term effective management measures to earnestly improve the ability of the public security organs at all levels to uphold and control public order.
The statement, reported by Shanghai's Wen Hui Bao media organization, stated that the government will seek to "thoroughly reverse the situation in some areas where the activities of hooligans and evil forces are prominent, effectively [stopping] the growing momentum of serious violent crimes, serious economic crimes and drug-related crimes." The statement said the government wants to "further increase the sense of security and satisfaction among the masses of the people."
The evil ones
But just who are the "evil ones" inside China?
Some of the "evil ones" likely include pro-democracy activists. According to the April 1 edition of the South China Morning Post, a prominent Hong Kong democracy activist was reportedly "watched" by PRC agents prior to his murder.
Hong Kong democracy activist Leung Wah was being watched by mainland state security agents before he was murdered in Shenzhen because of his work with Chinese dissidents, it has been claimed. The head of a New York-based pro-democracy group, Tang Baiqiao, says Leung, 44, was questioned by Shenzhen customs officers for two hours when he tried to take relief funds for the families of mainland dissidents into China in 1999.
Tang was quoted on a U.S.-based website as saying that the Ministry of State Security had been keeping an eye on Leung before his death. He said the group would investigate the killing with other pro-democracy groups because they feared it could signal the start of a series of major blows for the democratic movement on the mainland.
Leung, who also owned a bookstore, disappeared after being lured to Shenzhen on November 22. His charred body was dumped outside a hospital in the city the next day. The identity of the corpse was confirmed by Hong Kong police. Tang said Leung joined their group in early 1998 and was entrusted with a liaison role with the mainland.
Another group of "evil ones" include Chinese farmers who dared to leak state secrets by allegedly uncovering corrupt practices on the mammoth Three Gorges Dam project on the Yangtze River. Also in April, the Armed Forces Press reported that four farmers – He Kechang, Ran Chongxin, Jiang Qingshan and Wen Dingchun – were arrested for allegedly detailing the systematic embezzlement of resettlement funds for the huge project.
According to Human Rights Watch and Probe International, the four arrested farmers' "crimes" likely include making contact with the international and Hong Kong press. The farmers are among the over 1 million people expected to be relocated because of the project. They were arrested in March as they prepared to come to Beijing to formally petition the government over the alleged corruption. Yunyang County, the farmers' home, is in the middle of what will become the dam's huge reservoir area.
Human Rights Watch is a New York-based rights group, while Probe International is a Canadian-based group that has closely monitored environmental and human-rights abuses brought on by the construction of the $27 billion dam, the world's biggest hydroelectric project. The government has earmarked a total of 22.5 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) to relocate 1.3 million people whose homes will be swamped by the dam, in a process that has been plagued by corruption.
Chinese officials, while conceding embezzlement is a problem, have given mixed signals about the amount of money involved. In late October, the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee said only 28 million yuan ($3.4 million), or little more than 0.1 percent of all relocation funds, had been embezzled. The figure was a fraction of the $600 million reported missing from the resettlement budget by the National Audit Office in January.
Family control
On April 23, the South China Morning Post reported that birth-control officers locked up Chinese families in Guangzhou. According to the report, the Chinese police have incarcerated the relatives of migrant workers who failed to return home for family-planning checks. According to residents in Zhenlong, 40 kilometers northeast of Guangzhou, some of the detained relatives are elderly and all are being held in cramped conditions.
Residents said groups of between two and four people had been locked in rooms with less than six square meters of space and no toilet.
"More than 30 people are being detained in the township government compound," one resident said. "Some have already been held for three months."
The repression in Zhenlong is yet another sign that enforcement of China's strict family planning policy is becoming increasingly difficult, as the country's large rural population becomes more mobile. While experiments with more liberal approaches to family planning, which emphasize contraceptive choice over coercion, have increased markedly over recent years, most local officials remain under tremendous pressure to keep population growth rates low. This led officials in Zhenlong and elsewhere to take extreme measures.
Police in Guangzhou, Zengcheng and Zhenlong have told residents they can do nothing about the detentions, as family planning is the government's responsibility.
Public security officers detained a South China Morning Post reporter who tried to visit the detained relatives and interview Zhenlong's party secretary, the mayor and the vice-party secretary responsible for family planning. They also confiscated his film and notes, yet claimed to be unaware of any detentions. The incarcerated relatives were subsequently threatened by township officials, who told them if they or their family members talked to the press, it would only make their situation worse.
To ensure that Zhenlong's migrants do not have more than one child – or two if the first-born is a girl – residents say township officials require the migrants to return for regular family-planning inspections.
"All [migrant] women who have given birth to one baby are required to come back for inspections," said one resident, who added that they were also supposed to have intra-uterine devices fitted to prevent another pregnancy.
But residents say that in recent months officials have become increasingly angry at the number of migrants who fail to return home and have begun imprisoning their relatives in retribution.
China is facing a population crisis not so much in numbers but in gender. The country is running out of females as Chinese families seek sons to carry on their family name. The ratio of baby girls to baby boys in China has dropped further below the international standard – the result, critics say, of its controversial "one-child policy," which in some cases has led to sex-selective abortion, infanticide and the abandonment of baby girls.
According to the latest figures released by the Chinese authorities this week, the gender imbalance has reached 117 boys for every 100 girls, up from 111:100 about ten years ago. The international norm is 106 boys to 100 girls.
China's population has reached 1.26 billion, below the government's target and U.N. projections, and Beijing said that proves its one-child policy is working.
As previously reported by WorldNetDaily, girls up to the age of three years of age are routinely drowned if parents have a baby boy after a girl's birth. Additionally, a 1999 report on the International Planned Parenthood Federation website claims that between 500,000 and 750,000 unborn Chinese girls are aborted every year after gender screening.
Sterilization, one of the principal forms of birth control, may also be performed when parents suffer from alleged "genetic disorders," a practice justified by Beijing in pursuit of the goal of 'improving the quality of the population."
'Evil ones' studying overseas
Other groups of "evil ones" include Chinese citizens who went to the United States to study in the 1980s and '90s and are now returning in large numbers to work, often armed with liberal ideas and a foreign passport or green card. According to a May 2 Straits Times report, the dictators in Beijing have put together a state blacklist of undesirable foreigners. The list, which recently featured only a few dozen names, has been expanded to 273. Most of the additions were people born in China who now lived overseas. Several of those on the list have been detained of late. Those detained had a history of contacts with Taiwan or people who were suspected of publicly discussing delicate information about political or military affairs in China.
One of those detained is Miss Gao Zhan, a green-card holder who has been charged with espionage. Zhan is a sociologist affiliated with an American university and who specializes in women's issues. She has attended conferences in Taiwan. Another detainee is businessman Qin Guangguang, a green-card holder who has been charged by State Security with leaking state secrets. Also in detention are Li Shaomin, a professor of marketing at the City University of Hongkong, and Wu Jianmin, a freelance journalist.
The American response
China's crackdown has not escaped scrutiny in the United States.
"The situation in China has grown worse in the past year," said Elliott Abrams, chairman of the Commission on International Religious Freedom, which released its second annual report. The commission report, presented to President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and congressional leaders, had a list of non-binding recommendations, such as censuring China over human rights and opposing Beijing's bid to host the Olympic Games.
The 188-page report said Beijing has expanded its repression of unregistered religious groups, tightened control on official religious organizations, intensified its campaign against the Falun Gong movement and increased control over official Protestant and Catholic churches. It said the official crackdown on the Falun Gong had been extended to Hong Kong residents and foreign citizens.
One excerpt of the report read: "In September 2000, a Hong Kong resident Falun Gong practitioner, along with a Chinese mainlander, reportedly were arrested nine days after they filed a legal complaint in Beijing against Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other high-ranking government officials. ... In November, a U.S. resident Falun Gong practitioner reportedly was arrested on charges of providing national security information to foreigners. In December, she was sentenced to three years in prison. Also in November, a Canadian citizen was sentenced to three years of re-education through labor for practicing Falun Gong. He was reportedly tortured by police officials while in custody and was released in January 2001."
The report concluded that China interferes in the training and selection of religious leaders and maintains tight control over Uyghur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. The report urged the U.S. government to try to persuade China to ease its grip on religious freedom. Also, the panel urged Washington to work at keeping the International Olympic Committee from staging its games in China's capital until it improves its record.
The U.S. government, Abrams said, should make freedom of religion in China a higher priority. "I think we would like to see a link between religious freedom and the bilateral relations with China."

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


Anti-Cult Law in France - Index Page

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