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"Falun Gong practitioner sought gory end after heavenly dream"

(AFP, November 28, 2001)

A young Falun Gong member intended to set himself on fire at China's National Games after being ordered by the sect's leader in a dream to seek "nirvana", a report said today.
Falun Gong guru Li Hongzhi appeared to Du Li, 19, in a dream to tell him he must attain heavenly bliss by December 1, Hong Kong newspaper the Sun quoted police in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou as saying.
Du was stopped by police as he sought to enter the National Games stadium in Guangzhou on November 24, the day before the closing ceremony, to execute his fiery plan, the independent Chinese-language daily said.
During a routine search, officers found Li carrying a will that described his intention to emulate the mass self-immolation by five Falungong followers, including a 12-year-old girl, in Beijing in January.
The young girl and her mother died and the other three suffered horrific burns during the incident on Tiananmen Square.
The Falun Gong movement abroad has consistently denied the five were followers of the sect and has accused China of setting up the incident to discredit the movement.
Du had joined the Falun Gong in 1998, a year before it was banned on the mainland as an "evil cult", according to the Sun.
Falun Gong, led by the US-based Li, combines Buddhist-based philosophy with slow-motion meditation exercises.

"China Publishes New Book Against Falun Gong "

("People's Daily," November 28, 2001)

A new anti-Falun Gong book, "Examining an Evil Cult with Sharp Eyes -- An Analysis of the Falun Gong Cult" has been released in China.
Cao Zhi, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, attended a news conference about the book's publication Monday at the Great Hall of the People.
The book, published by Jilin Photography Publishing House, criticizes the anti-humanity, anti-society and anti-science nature of the cult and makes clear that Falun Gong is by no means a religion but an evil cult.
The lies and manipulations of Li Hongzhi, head of the notorious cult, are also exposed in the book, according to the publisher.
The book calls for promoting the spirit of science throughout society so that people will not be deceived by the cult.

"Falun Gong says seven followers die in China custody"

(Retuers, November 28, 2001)

BEIJING (Reuters) - Seven members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement have died following abuse in Chinese police custody, the group's U.S.-based information centre said.
The centre said the seven, from different provinces around China, had died from abuse in custody spanning hard labour, torture and beatings.
One follower died after police pushed him down four flights of stairs, the centre said in a statement seen late on Tuesday.
Chinese police contacted on Wednesday declined to comment.
China banned Falun Gong in 1999, branding it an "evil cult", after the quasi-religious group shocked leaders with a mass protest around the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing demanding official recognition of their movement.
Last week, 35 foreign followers unfurled a banner in Tiananmen Square to protest against the "violence and terror" inflicted on Falun Gong followers in China. The foreigners were deported the following day.
In another recent case, public security officials in the southern city of Guangzhou foiled an attempt by a 19-year-old Falun Gong follower to self-immolate in a sports stadium, the Guangzhou Daily newspaper said on Tuesday.
Falun Gong has said more than 50,000 adherents have been sent to prisons, labour camps and mental hospitals in China since it was banned.
The group, which Beijing says is trying to overthrow the ruling Communist Party, practises a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism and traditional Chinese physical exercises.
Chinese authorities have acknowledged several deaths of Falun Gong members in custody, but say most resulted from suicide or illness.
Beijing also says the group has caused the death of at least 1,800 people through suicide or the refusal to take medical treatment.

"Falun Dafa movement hard to define"

by Nicholas Keung ("The Toronto Star," November 24, 2001)

Is Falun Dafa a cult, a religion or neither?
Like beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder, say eastern religious studies experts.
"It is essentially a political decision. The difference between a cult and a religion is that a cult is a religion I don't like," says University of Ottawa professor Peter Beyer, who specializes in religion and politics.
The Chinese government banned the practice of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) across China in 1998, calling it an evil religious cult.
Its followers say it is not a religion, but a mix of breathing exercises to promote health, traditional Chinese thinking and moral precepts from founder Li Hongzhi, now in exile in the United States.
"In Chinese, a cult is `xie-jiao,'" says Beyer. "Who decides it's evil teaching? The translation I like is that it's an `unapproved teaching.' That is closer to the Chinese reality."
The arrests and deportations of three dozen western Falun Dafa practitioners after a demonstration in Beijing this week highlighted how the movement has expanded globally.
Zenon Dolnyckyj was one of two Canadians arrested with the group after they unfurled a banner at the peaceful demonstration in Tiananmen Square.
The 23-year-old Thornhill man, who credits Falun Dafa with pulling him from the vortex of drugs three years ago, says he went to China to tell people there the movement "is good, that the whole world knows it, and that they're being lied to."
Sporting a bruise on his left wrist, and gashes on his forearm and elbow after his return home, Dolnyckyj said he was tripped, punched and dragged off to jail by Chinese police.
"If they're willing to do this to me in public," he said, "imagine what they are doing behind closed doors to the Chinese people."
Although Falun Dafa claims millions of followers around the world Ñ with dozens of practice sites in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other Canadian cities Ñ it has repeatedly said it is not an organized group.
But University of Toronto professor Michael Szonyi, a Chinese religion scholar, says the latest protest marked a shift in tactics by Falun Dafa.
"We don't understand that organization necessarily, but the argument that no organization exists seems rather less convincing now than it was two weeks ago," he says.
"It certainly has some of the characteristics of a religion, a philosophy and a cult. We may find it strange, we may find some of their beliefs objectionable, but it is not really a cult because it doesn't tell believers to injure themselves or the social harmony."
Cindy Gu, a member of Toronto's Falun Dafa community, says there are a lot of misunderstandings about the practice, which preaches the fundamental principles of "truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance."
She says the Tiananmen Square protest was not organized and premeditated, but a spontaneous act by practitioners who were keen to break the information blockade.
"If people in China know the truth, and that all they have been told by their government are lies and defamation, they would not voluntarily participate in the persecution of other Falun Gong practitioners," she says.
Beyer says it is no surprise Falun Dafa appeals to westerners, whose spiritual and religious quests primarily centre on some kind of "advocacy and worldly results."
But how much non-Chinese supporters can help the movement in China is another issue, and as far as the Tiananmen demonstration is concerned, Szonyi says the protesters only proved one thing.
"The movement has a large number of highly committed members who feel quite strongly that it is inappropriate to imprison people and subject them to punishment because of their beliefs," he says.
"The hope of the Chinese government that Falun Gong will simply go away is kind of fruitless."

"Swedes Protest Treatment of Falun Gong"

by Christopher Bodeen (AP, November 22, 2001)

BEIJING -- Sweden has protested China's handling of several Swedes who were among a group of 35 Westerners expelled for demonstrating against the government's crushing of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
The protest handed to China's Foreign Ministry complained that the detained Swedes were not permitted to meet quickly enough with Swedish diplomats according to international regulations, Rigmor Petterson, a consular official for the Swedish Embassy in Beijing, said Thursday.
She said the embassy also objected to what it called the harsh physical treatment of those detained, though police used far less violence in removing the foreign protesters than they typically use to arrest Chinese Falun Gong followers.
Petterson said eight Swedes were named on a list of those detained provided by China's Foreign Ministry.
Petterson said she spoke briefly with members of the group before they departed on a flight for Copenhagen on Wednesday. A woman protester had black bruises on her arms, Petterson said, and all demonstrators said they had been banned from re-entering China for five years.
Canadian and Australian protesters also complained they were kicked and punched by police during their arrests and subsequent interrogations. One Australian protester complained of being held in poorly ventilated underground cells and being unable to use the bathroom in private.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue rejected the claims of poor treatment, saying all the protesters were handled with "humanity and fairness."
She also said ministry officials briefed the protesters' embassies the morning after the demonstration, and asked them "to teach their citizens to abide by China's laws and regulations."
"Most of the diplomats said that they are satisfied with the handling of the case by the Chinese side," she told reporters. "China is free from any accusations. We have strictly abided by the relevant regulations."
On Tuesday afternoon, the protesters sat cross-legged on Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, chanted and unveiled a pro-Falun Gong banner before police took them away.
The official China Daily and other newspapers said all protesters left China by 7 p.m. Wednesday. It did not specify where they were sent.
Official media said the 35 protesters broke laws on protest, assembly and cults. It was the first Falun Gong demonstration on Tiananmen Square to involve only Westerners. The square is China's symbolic heart and has been a frequent venue for protests by Chinese Falun Gong members since the group was banned in July 1999 as an "evil cult." China's Daily's headline Thursday said, simply, "Cultists deported."
Falun Gong said demonstrators included Australians, Canadians, French, Germans, Irish, Israelis, Swedes, Swiss, Britons and Americans. The U.S.
Embassy said six Americans were deported.
Demonstrators said they wanted to publicize the plight of Chinese Falun Gong followers.
Falun Gong says 300 followers have died from torture and mistreatment in custody. Thousands have been imprisoned. The group attracted millions of Chinese followers in the 1990s. Practitioners believe Falun Gong aids health and even gives accomplished followers supernatural powers.
China's government accuses Falun Gong of causing more than 1,600 deaths by driving followers insane or encouraging them to substitute meditation for medicine.

"China Expels 6 Americans, 29 Others After Falun Gong Protest"

by John Leicester (Associated Press, Thursday, November 22, 2001)

BEIJING -- China swiftly expelled six Americans and more than two dozen other Westerners who protested in the heart of Beijing against the government's repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
By this evening -- little more than 24 hours after they chanted, sat cross-legged and unveiled a banner on Tiananmen Square -- all 35 protesters had been forced to leave the country, the official New China News Agency said.
The news agency said they were treated with "humanitarian concern," contradicting Falun Gong assertions and other reports that some were slapped and kicked by police. Police told them they broke laws on protest, assembly and cults, the agency said. China's government views Falun Gong as a cult.
The demonstrators called for an end to China's often brutal crackdown on Falun Gong. Falun Gong says more than 300 practitioners have died from torture and abuse in custody since China's communist leaders outlawed the movement in July 1999. Thousands of followers have been imprisoned.
Chinese Falun Gong members are regularly detained and often beaten and kicked for demonstrating at Tiananmen Square, the nation's symbolic heart.
But Tuesday's protest was the first to involve only Western supporters of the movement.
Falun Gong said demonstrators included Australians, Canadians, French, Germans, Irish, Israelis, Swedes, Swiss, Britons and Americans. The U.S.
Embassy in Beijing said the six Americans detained had all been expelled by this evening. It did not give their names.
Seven demonstrators were Swedes, said the Swedish ambassador to China, Kjell Anneling. He said the protest would focus attention on allegations of official brutality against Falun Gong adherents.
Sweden, like many European countries, has told Chinese officials that their treatment of Falun Gong followers "is not acceptable," Anneling said.
Falun Gong identified one detainee as Zenon Dolnyckyj, of Toronto, a practitioner for three years. Falun Gong helped him "turn from a life of drugs and mischief," the group said in a statement.
Falun Gong attracted members in the late 1990s with a combination of slow-motion exercises and beliefs that mix traditional Chinese thinking with the teachings of its founder, Li Hongzhi.
The group used to claim a following in the tens of millions, mostly but not exclusively in China, where Li had been a government clerk. He now lives in exile in the United States.
Falun Gong followers believe that Li's teachings and Falun Gong meditation promote health, good citizenship and even supernatural powers for accomplished practitioners.
China's government accuses Falun Gong of causing more than 1,600 deaths by driving followers insane or encouraging them to substitute meditation for medicine. Officials have imprisoned followers in labor camps and reeducation centers to force them to renounce the group.

"Sect staged protest to 'expose lies'"

by Dick Chapman ("Toronto Sun," November 21, 2001)

Falun Gong members in Toronto deny that the highly publicized arrest of local follower Zenon Dolnyckyj, 23, in Beijing was contrived.
The Chinese government is telling lies about the outlawed sect, they say, and a videotaped protest in Tiananmen Square on Monday, immediately suppressed by the Chinese police, was meant to expose those lies.
"My presence as a white person there with others will provide a strong contradiction to the lies," Dolnyckyj said in a statement before he arrived in Toronto last night after China released him.
Toronto practitioners admitted the protest by 30 practitioners from 10 countries had been carefully planned -- down to a lightning getaway.
Seats for Falun Gong foreigners had been booked on flights leaving Bejiing immediately after the protest.
Joel Chipkar told reporters he pinned a tiny video camera to his lapel to record the protest. He said he left Tiananmen Square immediately afterward to put his video on a Canada-bound jet.

"Beijing's Crackdown On Falun Gong 'Not Just A China Issue'"

by Patrick Goodenough ("CNS News," November 21, 2001)

Pacific Rim Bureau - Chinese authorities have ordered 35 American and other foreign followers of the Falun Gong meditation movement to leave the country after they were arrested during a protest in Tiananmen Square.
The foreigners were given a deadline to leave China, after the group, posing as tourists, suddenly unfurled yellow banners bearing the words "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance," adopted the lotus position and began chanting Falun Gong slogans.
Witnesses said the westerners were detained within 30 seconds by police who patrol the area to prevent such demonstrations, and that some were manhandled.
"The police removed them from the site, as their behavior violated Chinese laws governing parades and demonstrations and cults," the official Xinhua news agency said.
State-run radio reported that "the relevant [government] departments have given the 35 foreigners who broke Chinese law a warning for disrupting public order, and have dealt with them according to the law by ordering them to leave the country by a specified time."
The 35 are Falun Gong practitioners from the U.S. and nine other countries, including Canada, Britain, Australia and Israel. Akin to Buddhism, the spiritual movement was declared a cult and outlawed in China in October 1999, after thousands of adherents held a protest outside the headquarters of the Communist Party.
Human rights groups say thousands are in jail or labor camps, and more than 150 have been convicted of charges such as creating chaos. The movement claims more than 300 practitioners have died in police custody.
A statement released by the 35 through the U.S.-based Falun Dafa Information Center identified the group as a diverse collection of Falun Gong practitioners including students, a housewife, a nuclear engineer, a doctor and a CEO.
"We are here to appeal to China's leaders and to seek an end to the violence and terror they have waged against Falun Gong for two and a half years," the statement said.
The group said it also wanted to let Chinese citizens know that the movement was "good" and practitioners were "good people from all over the world."
It outlined five demands, including an end to harassment, maltreatment and imprisonment of adherents and a restoration of Falun Gong's legal standing.
The Falun Dafa Information Center said the protest took the same form as regular protests by Chinese practitioners in Tiananmen Square, except that this time the demonstrators were all from abroad.
"The significance of this is clear," said center spokesperson Gail Rachlin.
"The persecution of Falun Gong is not just a China issue."
Noting Beijing's stated intention to "smash" the Falun Gong, Rachlin added: "That's tens of millions of lives at risk. This must end now."
Last month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom met with Chinese government officials to express concern about religious freedom abuses in China.
Among other violations, the commission said Beijing had over the past year "intensified its campaign against the Falun Gong movement and its followers."

"China Detains Banned Sect Protesters"

by Christopher Bodeen (Associated Press, November 21, 2001)

BEIJING - Chinese police refused Wednesday to say where they were holding about three dozen Westerners detained for demonstrating in Beijing's Tiananmen Square against China's crackdown on the banned Falun Gong spiritual sect.
Swedish Ambassador Kjell Anneling said China's Foreign Ministry informed his embassy that protesters would be deported on the first available flight. He said the Chinese didn't specify where protesters were being held, where they would be flown to or whether they would be expelled together.
The U.S. Embassy said Wednesday it was still gathering information on any Americans detained.
Anneling said seven Swedes were among those who staged Tuesday's demonstration, in which participants sat in the lotus position, chanted and unveiled a banner.
Official Chinese media said Tuesday that 35 protesters were detained, given warnings and would be expelled for breaking Chinese laws on protest and assembly as well as defying the ban on Falun Gong, which China calls an ``evil cult.'' As Chinese tourists stood by, police pushed demonstrators into vans and drove them off the square, China's symbolic political heart and a favorite venue for protests by Falun Gong practitioners.
Falun Gong said demonstrators included people from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Falun Gong identified one of those detained as Zenon Dolnyckyj, from Toronto. Canadian Embassy spokeswoman Jennifer May said she had also been told all the protesters would be expelled. She couldn't say if they would face charges.
Demonstrators said they wanted to publicize the plight of Falun Gong followers detained since China outlawed the group in July 1999.
Falun Gong claims 300 followers have died from torture and mistreatment in police custody. Thousands have been sent to prisons and labor camps. The group attracted millions of Chinese followers in the 1990s and says its philosophies and slow-motion exercises promote health and citizenship.
China's government accuses Falun Gong of causing more than 1,600 deaths by driving followers insane or encouraging them to substitute meditation for medicine.
Anneling said the protests would focus attention on allegations of brutality against Falun Gong followers. He said Sweden, like many European nations, has told Chinese officials that their treatment of followers ``is not acceptable.'' Meanwhile, Falun Gong said Wednesday it feared follower Teng Chunyan, sentenced to three years in prison last year for helping publicize the crackdown, might have been tortured and brainwashed. China's official Xinhua News Agency ran a report Tuesday quoting Teng saying she had renounced the sect.

"China expels Western 'cult' members"

(BBC News, Tuesday, 20 November, 2001)

China has said it will expel 35 foreign followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement after they staged a surprise protest in Tiananmen Square on Tuesday.
The group, including members from Britain, the US, Canada and several European countries, were detained as they sat down in the square chanting slogans.
Witnesses say the group of Westerners arrived posing as tourists, then suddenly unfurled a banner before assuming their trademark meditative position.
A Falun Gong spokeswoman in Paris said they wanted to show the world that Falun Gong practitioners inside China faced what she called acts of terrorism by the Chinese Government.
Uniformed and plain clothes policemen, who routinely patrol the square to prevent Falun Gong protests, were at the scene within 30 seconds.
When the Falun Gong practitioners refused to move, they were picked up and carried to waiting mini-buses before being driven away to a nearby police station.
State media said the foreign protesters were ordered to leave China "within a specified time" after being warned by the police.
Reports did not say when the 35 had to leave the country.
TV denouncement
The BBC Beijing correspondent, Duncan Hewitt, says the protest came as Chinese television broadcast an interview with a leading US-based Falun Gong activist, Teng Chunyan, jailed for three years last year for providing the Western media with information about the movement.
She was shown on television denouncing Falun Gong as a violent cult which manipulated its followers and broke Chinese law.
The Falun Gong movement has issued a series of statements in recent months accusing Chinese officials of torturing or killing dozens of practitioners in detention centres and labour camps.
Falun Gong supporters recently filed a law suit in New York accusing a Chinese provincial police chief of murder.

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


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

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