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"Falun Gong protesters target Jiang"

by Janny Leung ("Hong Kong imail.com," June 30, 2002)

About 150 Falun Gong practitioners demonstrated outside the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai yesterday as part of an attempt to petition President Jiang Zemin over treatment of the sect.
The group held a candlelight vigil last night and planned to continue their protest overnight. They are hoping to petition President Jiang, who will attend the flag-raising ceremony near the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai this morning, in a bid to ``stop China's suppression'' of the sect. They are also protesting against the SAR government's alleged denial of entry to overseas practitioners.
Protest spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said that in the past four days, more than 100 Falun Gong practitioners from overseas were refused .
entry to Hong Kong, including 48 from Taiwan. He believed Beijing had exerted pressure on the SAR government to restrict immigration during the period of the anniversary.
Kan said the government's repatriation of Falun Gong practitioners was a backward step in Hong Kong's freedom and democracy.
The Security Bureau said it would make no comment on ``individual cases or operational details'', but said that ``it is necessary for the authorities to ensure that people entering Hong Kong would not cause trouble'' in the run-up to the anniversary celebrations.
It also said ``no one is barred from the HKSAR because of their religious belief''.
Falun Gong has been declared illegal and subjected to a severe crackdown in China.
No restrictions have been imposed in Hong Kong, though frequent protests here against Beijing have put the Hong Kong administration in a difficult position.

"Hong Kong begins deporting Falungong practitioners"

(AFP, June 30, 2002)

Hong Kong authorities have detained or deported at least 80 Falungong practitioners ahead of celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the territory's reversion to Chinese rule, a group spokeswoman said.
Spokeswoman Sophie Xiao said between 40 and 50 Falungong followers were stopped after landing at Hong Kong's international airport on a flight from Taiwan late Saturday night.
Another 44 from countries including Taiwan, Australia, France, Germany and Singapore, were denied entry on Saturday and the previous six days after arriving at the airport.
Xiao claimed some of the practitioners had been "manhandled" while being put on flights back to their countries of origin, but her claims were not verified.
The immigration department has consistently said it will not comment on individual cases of detention and deportation at the airport.
A Falungong member who was detained on Friday, Vina Li, said immigration officials had cited "security reasons" for their decision to refuse entry to her and other travelling companions.
Li, who arrived from Sydney, Australia, told AFP by phone while still at the airport she was visiting Hong Kong for "personal business" and not specifically to participate in any protests against Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit Monday.
Jiang is coming to Hong Kong as part of the handover celebrations.
Li said she had visited the territory many times before without incident and was unaware how immigration officials knew she was a Falungong practitioner this time round, hinting at the existence of an immigration "blacklist".
However, Security Secretary Regina Ip denied the existence of such a list.
"We do not have a list, but as there will be important ceremonies in the next few days, it is naturally necessary for Hong Kong... to take special measures to ensure that only those people who will not cause any trouble or disorder in Hong Kong are allowed entry," she told reporters.
Li said she was going to be deported back to Australia on the next available flight while other practitioners were also likely be sent back to their respective countries later Saturday.
The practitioners were hoping to join a mass demonstration planned to mark the five years since the former British colony was handed back to China on July 1, 1997.
Beijing has outlawed the Falungong as an "evil cult" although it is still legal in Hong Kong which enjoys autonomy under the "one country, two systems" scheme hammered out by Britain and China.

"Hong Kong policewoman: Falun Gong follower bit me"

(AP, June 28, 2002)

HONG KONG - A Hong Kong police constable testified Friday that a Falun Gong practitioner bit her after being arrested during a protest in March.
Scuffling that broke out as police stopped the demonstration, and then inside police vehicles, left several people on both sides slightly injured with bruises.
"When I tried to separate two Falun Gong members, one of them bit me on my left forearm," said police constable Wong Mei-po on the 10th day of Hong Kong's first criminal trial against members of the meditation sect.
Sixteen Falun Gong followers, including four Swiss nationals, are accused of public obstruction during the protest March 14 outside the Chinese government liaison office here. Nine are accused of the more serious charge of obstructing the police, while three are accused of assaulting police.
Falun Gong says its demonstrations are always peaceful and the defendants say they are innocent of all charges.
But Wong testified that the fighting with Falun Gong members left her slightly injured with bruises on her neck.
The group is outlawed in mainland China as an "evil cult" and the authorities there are trying to eradicate it through an often deadly crackdown. Falun Gong remains legal in Hong Kong, however, and followers conduct frequent demonstrations against Beijing's suppression.

"Falun Gong says eight practitioners banned from Hong Kong ahead of handover anniversary"

by Dirk Beveridge (AP, June 27, 2002)

HONG KONG - Eight Falun Gong followers including an American, a Swede and three Australians were barred from entering Hong Kong, apparently to stop them from protesting when Chinese leaders arrive to mark the fifth anniversary of the handover of the former British colony, a spokeswoman for the meditation sect said Thursday.
Falun Gong is banned as an "evil cult" in China but remains legal in Hong Kong, where members often demonstrate against the persecution of followers on the mainland. The group is planning a protest next week during high-profile events commemorating the anniversary of Hong Kong's return from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Falun Gong spokeswoman Sophie Xiao said that immigration authorities gave no reason for turning away the eight followers, who she said also included a Taiwanese woman and two Chinese from nearby Macau.
Speaking to The Associated Press by telephone at the Hong Kong airport late Thursday, Mimmi Svensson from Varberg, Sweden said officials told her she was refused entry for security reasons.
"I'm quite sure that it's because I'm a practitioner of Falun Gong," said Svensson. "I'm quite sure they have a blacklist."
Svensson said officials were arranging for her repatriation.
Taiwanese woman Hong Yuexiu was also refused entry Thursday evening, said Xiao. Phone calls to Hong and the Immigration Department late Thursday went unanswered.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin is widely expected to attend events next Monday that will include a swearing-in ceremony as Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa begins his second five-year term.
The Falun Gong spokeswoman recalled that about 100 Falun Gong practitioners from overseas were refused entry to Hong Kong when the Chinese president last visited two years ago for an economic conference. They wanted to join demonstrations against Jiang's efforts to eradicate the sect in mainland China.
"The same thing's happening again," she said.
The American Falun Gong follower was turned away at Hong Kong's airport last weekend, and the three Australians were stopped after flying in Wednesday, she said by telephone. The two practitioners from Macau were blocked at the ferry terminal earlier in the week.
Earlier in the day, Immigration Department spokeswoman Lisa Yip declined comment on Falun Gong's allegations, saying she could not discuss individual cases.
The frequent protests in Hong Kong by Falun Gong against the crackdown by Beijing place the government of the territory in a delicate situation. Falun Gong is legal in Hong Kong under a political arrangement that allows its citizens to continue to enjoy freedoms and rights unknown on the mainland.
Hong Kong is now conducting its first criminal trial against Falun Gong followers, with 16 - including four Swiss - charged with causing an obstruction during a protest in March outside the Chinese government liaison office here.
A Hong Kong police officer testified on the ninth day of the trial Thursday that she was roughed up while arresting a Falun Gong practitioner during a scuffle that broke out as police stopped the demonstration.
Policewoman Chan Sin said that Lau Yuk-ling attempted to bite her, scratched her neck and kicked her.
The Falun Gong followers say that they are innocent.

"Falun Gong Reportedly Interrupts TV"

(AP, June 26, 2002)

BEIJING - Falun Gong supporters interrupted two local cable television programs in the past week, breaking in to show messages saying the spiritual sect is good, police and a human rights group said Wednesday.
The first incident happened Friday evening, in the eastern city of Laiyang, in Shandong province. Falun Gong supporters interrupted a cable-television music program for 10 minutes, showing an image of a banner saying, "Falun Dafa is good" in Chinese, said a local police official, who would give only his surname, Zhang. Falun Dafa is another name for the group, which was banned in 1999 as a threat to public safety and communist rule.
Police then launched a search for the people involved, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
Activists then also showed a similar scene for a few seconds at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday in Yantai, another city in Shandong, the Information Center said.
Falun Gong activists have broken into cable television systems to broadcast protests in at least four other cities: Chongqing in the southwest and Harbin, Changchun and Anshan in the northeast.
People arrested in the other incidents have been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison.

"Falun Gong says U.S. follower barred from entering Hong Kong"

(AP, June 25, 2002)

HONG KONG - An American Falun Gong practitioner who flew to Hong Kong was refused entry, according to a Falun Gong spokeswoman who said Tuesday she believed the woman might have been blacklisted.
U.S. passport-holder Dan Bi-han arrived Saturday on a Cathay Pacific Airways flight from New York but was sent back on Sunday, Falun Gong spokeswoman Sharon Xu said.
"There must be a so-called blacklist somewhere," Xu said.
Hong Kong has in the past refused entry to foreign Falun Gong followers planning to attend demonstrations in the former British colony, but Xu said she was not sure what Dan had planned to do here.
Hong Kong Immigration Department spokeswoman Lisa Yip declined comment, saying she could not discuss individual cases.
U.S. citizens do not require visas to enter Hong Kong and normally are admitted without incident.
A spokesman at the U.S. Consulate General, David E. Miller, said Hong Kong officials notified the American government over the weekend that a citizen had been denied entry. The citizen made no request for consular help and was flown out of Hong Kong, Miller said.
Miller said he could not identify the person because of privacy concerns.
Falun Gong is banned in mainland China as an "evil cult" but remains legal in Hong Kong despite it being a part of China since 1997. However, a criminal trial is currently underway in Hong Kong of 16 followers, including four Swiss, who are charged with public obstruction during a protest outside the Chinese government liaison office here on March 14.

"Hong Kong police: Falun Gong fought back after arrests"

by Margaret Wong (AP, June 21, 2002)

HONG KONG - Falun Gong practitioners arrested during a protest outside the Chinese government liaison office here fought back by kicking and grabbing the necks of authorities, a police officer testified Friday.
In Hong Kong's first criminal case against followers of Falun Gong, policewoman Ho Yuen-ting said she suffered bruises to her legs after being kicked by one or more of the practitioners who were being arrested March 14 for alleged public obstruction.
The case against 16 Falun Gong followers, including four Swiss, began Monday and has stirred worries among human rights activists that Hong Kong is clamping down on the meditation sect, which is banned as an "evil cult" in mainland China.
Falun Gong calls the public obstruction allegation a trumped-up charge that conceals the real intent of stopping the protest outside the Chinese office.
After the Falun Gong followers were taken to a police briefing room, they protested their innocence and some unfurled a banner urging Chinese President Jiang Zemin to "stop killing" sect members in mainland China, according to a video played Friday by the prosecution.
On the video, Falun Gong follower Lau Wai-hing tells police the group did nothing wrong.
"Please use your brain to think what's the definition of obstructing the streets," Lau said. "We have done nothing wrong," she said.

"Guard at Chinese office in Hong Kong: Feared Falun Gong would try to barge in"

by Margaret Wong (AP, June 20, 2002)

HONG KONG - A security guard at the Chinese government liaison office here testified Thursday he phoned police about a Falun Gong protest outside because he feared sect members would try to barge through the door.
In its first criminal case against followers of Falun Gong, Hong Kong is trying 16 of them - including four Swiss - for public obstruction during a March 14 demonstration that was broken up in a scuffle with police.
The defendants have denied causing an obstruction, but the senior security guard testified that he worried they were about to cause trouble.
"I was concerned that they would dash inside," said Wong Yeung, who handles external security at the Chinese office.
The case against Falun Gong followers has stirred worries among human rights activists that Hong Kong is clamping down on the meditation sect, which is banned as an "evil cult" in mainland China and subjected to a brutal crackdown there.
Falun Gong is free to practice in Hong Kong, which continues to enjoy Western-style civil liberties, and it often protests here against the sect's suppression by Chinese President Jiang Zemin's government.
Hong Kong officials dispute allegations they are trying to stifle Falun Gong's message, saying instead they were only attempting to preserve order. Police arrested the Falun Gong followers in March only after ordering them several times to move their demonstration several steps away - not to stop it.
Wong testified that Falun Gong's protest had hindered several dozen people who had to walk in through a driveway or use a back door to get into the government liaison office.
Defense attorney John Haynes said most workers would have entered the building through the driveway anyway. He suggested police, who put up barricades after the protest was broken up, might have created more of an obstruction than the Falun Gong followers.
Haynes also said that Wong had overstated the size of the Falun Gong demonstration when describing it to police so they could make a diagram of the scene.
"The reason you exaggerated the size of the demonstration is because you know that small group did not cause any obstruction," Haynes said.
Wong said he had made his best estimate.
All 16 defendants face two counts of public obstruction, while three face charges of assaulting the police and nine face the most serious charge in the trial - obstructing the police.
The potential penalties range from up to three months in jail or a fine of 500 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dlrs 64) for the lesser of the public obstruction charges, up to six months in jail for assaulting police and up to two years in jail for obstructing police.

"Security guard testifies Falun Gong protest hindered people trying to enter Chinese government office"

by Margaret Wong, (AP, June 19, 2002)

HONG KONG - A protest by Falun Gong followers blocked the sidewalk outside the Chinese government liaison office here, forcing 30 people to enter through a driveway or the back door, a security guard testified Wednesday.
Sixteen Falun Gong practitioners - including four Swiss - are on trial for public obstruction in Hong Kong's first-ever criminal case against members of the group banned as an "evil cult" in mainland China though it practices freely in Hong Kong.
Security guard Fung Kin-luen said the protest hindered workers and visitors trying to enter the Chinese office on March 14, and that cars going onto the driveway had to slow down.
All 16 defendants face two counts of public obstruction, while three face charges of assaulting the police and nine face the most serious charge in the trial - obstructing the police.
The Falun Gong followers claim they did nothing wrong, and defense attorney John Haynes accused Fung of lying to support a trumped-up case against his clients.
Haynes said most workers would have entered the building through the driveway, a more direct route than the walkway right in front of the building. The walkway, where the mainland Chinese flag is hoisted, is the area that Falun Gong followers were accused of blocking.
"You are trying to make difficulties for Falun Gong people by trying to support the lie of obstruction," Haynes said.
Fung denied it.
Haynes suggested police might have created more of an obstruction than Falun Gong did, by putting up barricades after the protest was broken up. The barricades stayed in place for four days and blocked more of the sidewalk than the demonstration had, Haynes said.
The defense also contended that police had improperly taken witness statements from Fung and his supervisor, Wong Yeung, while they were in the same room.
Although Fung said 30 people found it more difficult to get into the building, including some he recognized as regular employees, he acknowledged under cross-examination not remembering who they were.
"I can't remember any of the particulars of those who complained," Fung said.
Human rights activists say they fear Hong Kong is cracking down on Falun Gong with what they call bogus charges of public obstruction. The real intent, critics say, is to stifle the group's frequent Hong Kong protests against Beijing's efforts to eradicate Falun Gong in the mainland.
Hong Kong officials countered the charges by saying they acted only after the Chinese liaison office complained about the obstruction outside.
Prosecutor Robert Lee on Wednesday showed video footage taken by police after they arrived at the Falun Gong protest, then began arresting sect members after they refused repeated warnings to move their demonstration a few steps away.
The film showed Falun Gong followers outnumbered four-to-one by police who took them away from the protest site. Some demonstrators shouted, "We have committed no offense." Others protested, "Police are arresting innocent people."
The film also showed one police officer holding her hand in pain and telling a demonstrator: "You bit me."
If Magistrate Symon Wong convicts the Falun Gong followers, the potential penalties range from up to three months in jail or a fine of 500 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dlrs 64) for the lesser of the public obstruction charges, to a maximum of two years in prison for obstructing the police.

"Falun Gong lawyer: Hong Kong police created a bigger obstruction than protesters"

by Verna Yu (AP, June 18, 2002)

HONG KONG - A lawyer for Falun Gong followers suggested Tuesday that police blocked more space outside the Chinese government liaison office here than protesters who are on trial for public obstruction.
Sixteen Falun Gong adherents - including four Swiss - are in court facing the first criminal charges Hong Kong has brought against members of the meditation sect.
Defense lawyer John Haynes noted that after the Falun Gong followers were removed from the protest scene in a scuffle on March 14, police barricaded the area and took up more space than the demonstrators had.
Haynes was cross-examining a police officer who videotaped the incident, but the officer, Lam Hung-kuen, responded that he did not remember how much space was taken up by the police barricades because he had been too busy filming things.
The trial entered its second day with a prosecutor showing a videotape of the demonstration.
The case has raised concern that Hong Kong is clamping down on freedom of expression and other rights guaranteed when the former British colony was handed back to China five years ago. Falun Gong is banned on the mainland as an "evil cult" but remains free to practice, and demonstrate, in Hong Kong.
The 16 defendants face two counts each of public obstruction and some of them face more serious charges of obstructing the police and assaulting police.
Potential penalties range from up to three months in jail or a fine of 500 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dlrs 64) on the least-serious of the public obstruction counts, to as much as two years in prison for obstructing the police.
Prosecutor Robert Lee showed a police video Tuesday to try to prove that the demonstrators were causing a public obstruction.
Lee had said earlier that visitors to the Chinese office were forced to walk around the Falun Gong followers to enter, but that was not apparent from video that was shown on Tuesday.
The prosecutor also argued that the demonstrators created a potential obstruction by hoisting a banner urging Beijing to stop killing followers in the mainland.
Falun Gong claims that hundreds of followers have died in police custody under a crackdown by mainland Chinese authorities. Hong Kong, whose citizens were guaranteed freedoms for 50 years under arrangements for the territory's reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, is the scene of frequent protests by members of the sect.
The demonstration that led to the arrests in Hong Kong was held after the four Swiss followers had been denied permission to visit Beijing to protest there.
The defendants argue that their peaceful protest cannot have been illegal.
Hong Kong authorities insist that they were only trying to maintain order and not to silence Falun Gong.
The police warned the demonstrators several times to move their protest several steps away from the front of the Chinese office before police finally started making arrests, the prosecutor said.

"Sixteen Falun Gong members face trial in Hong Kong for obstruction"

(AP, June 17, 2002)

HONG KONG - Prosecutors brought stiffer charges against a group of Falun Gong followers arrested after a demonstration in Hong Kong as the territory's first criminal trial against the meditation sect opened Monday.
Sixteen followers, including four Swiss citizens, are being tried in connection with a sidewalk protest in March outside a government building.
The case has raised concerns that Hong Kong is slowly squeezing freedoms guaranteed to its citizens after its reversion to Chinese sovereignty five years ago. Falun Gong is legal in the former British colony but banned as an "evil sect" in mainland China.
On the first day of the high-profile trial, prosecutors accused six of the defendants of obstructing police who tried to move them away from the entrance of the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong on March 14.
Three of the defendants had already been charged with that crime, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. The nine are all Hong Kong Chinese.
The 16 Falun Gong followers who participated in the demonstration have all been charged with two counts of the lesser offence of obstructing the public, for which they could face three months in prison or a fine.
Prosecutor Robert Lee said in his opening statement that police repeatedly asked the demonstrators to step away from the entrance of the liaison office before scuffles broke out.
Four defendants are also accused of assaulting police officers who broke up the protest on March 14. The scuffle caused minor injuries to seven officers and nine demonstrators, the prosecutor said.
Rights activists have expressed fears that Hong Kong is slowly cracking down on Falun Gong and free expression, even though western-style liberties were guaranteed for at least 50 years when the territory was returned to China in 1997.
Hong Kong officials have denied that they were trying to stifle Falun Gong's message, insisting they were only trying to maintain public order.

"Falun Gong Members Head to Trial"

by Verna Yu (AP, June 14, 2002)

HONG KONG - As Hong Kong prepares to bring its first criminal case against followers of the Falun Gong movement, human rights watchdogs are predicting another ominous test of the former British colony's freedoms and autonomy.
Falun Gong is banned on the Chinese mainland as an ``evil cult.'' But Hong Kong, although a part of China since 1997, has kept the freedoms that allow Falun Gong to practice its meditation exercises and to protest against the Chinese government's suppression of the movement.
It has created an uncomfortable situation for Hong Kong and its leader, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, but until now Hong Kong has responded only with words, calling Falun Gong a ``cult'' and promising to closely watch the group.
That changes on Monday, when 16 Falun Gong followers--12 Hong Kong Chinese and four Swiss--go on trial for public obstruction during a protest outside the Chinese government's liaison office here. Some also face stiffer charges--obstructing and assaulting the police.
The potential penalties are mild compared with the situation on the mainland, where a brutal crackdown allegedly has left hundreds dead. Public obstruction can mean up to three months in jail or fines of $64, while obstructing the police can lead to two years in prison.
The trial will be very different from what defendants could expect in, say, Shenzhen, the Chinese border city just an hour's train ride from central Hong Kong. The Falun Gong followers will be tried under the English common-law system inherited from British rule, before judges whose independence is guaranteed under the terms of the 1997 change of sovereignty.
Still, Falun Gong fears Hong Kong is following China's lead and trying to silence the group--a charge Hong Kong's semiautonomous government denies.
``This is no doubt a political move and has an element of suppression to it,'' said a local Falun Gong spokesman, Kan Hung-cheung. ``We hope Hong Kong's courts will rule justly and won't start acting like China, where there is no justice at all.''
Many in Hong Kong have little sympathy for Falun Gong, but rights campaigners say unpopular expression must be protected if free speech is to thrive under the ``one country, two systems'' formula that returned Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty but preserves its Western-style civil liberties.
``It's shameful that they have chosen to harass protesters so harshly by prosecuting them,'' said Law Yuk-kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, a non-governmental organization.
``Now they're targeting Falun Gong; soon it will be other people,'' Law said.
The Falun Gong followers were arrested in March in a scuffle with police. The Chinese office had complained they were a public obstruction and the police told them to move a few steps away.
``If they would say we are guilty, this would mean persecution from China is going over to Hong Kong,'' said Erich Bachmann, one of the Swiss who had come to Hong Kong to support the Falun Gong movement.
Hong Kong officials insist they sought only to maintain order.
The secretary-general of Hong Kong's biggest pro-Beijing political party, who also is a member of China's parliament, said police acted properly.
``If I park my car and cause inconvenience to others, the police would give me a ticket,'' Ma Lik said. ``I don't think the government is prosecuting them in order to go along with China. If they wanted to do that, they would have arrested them long ago.''
Lawyer John Clancey, representing the 16 defendants, says his clients were in nobody's way.
``It will be very hard to put the case forward that they were actually obstructing anything,'' Clancey said.

"Iceland clarifies confusion about its ban on Falun Gong members"

by Richard Middleton (AP, June 13, 2002)

REYKJAVIK, Iceland - The government sent several policemen to cities in United States and Europe on Thursday to help Iceland's state-owned airline prevent Falun Gong members from boarding flights to the country.
There was some confusion over the ban that the government recently placed on all Falun Gong members visiting Iceland from June 7 to June 18, in an effort to prevent large demonstrations by the group against Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who arrived here Thursday afternoon on an official visit.
On Wednesday, some media reported that the government had lifted the ban, but they had misinterpreted a statement saying that more than 65 suspected Falun Gong members who had been detained at Keflavik airport were being released from police custody at midnight (0100 GMT).
Those who had been detained were aged between 25 and 60 and included Americans, Canadians, Chinese, Australians, Germans and Danes.
The Falun Gong ban was imposed after the government received reports that suggested the movement, which is outlawed in China, was rallying hundreds of protesters to converge in the Icelandic capital during the Jiang visit.
On Thursday, the government said it was sending three police officers to unidentified European cities and one to Boston in the United States to help Icelandair, Iceland's state-owned airline, prevent more Falun Gong members from slipping through the ban and boarding flights.
In London and Washington, D.C., officials at Icelandic embassies said that despite confusion over the ban it remained in effect and would be enforced.
Chinese officials have long been sensitive to Falun Gong protests in other countries. They banned the group in China in 1999, calling it a threat to communist rule, and describe it as a cult that has caused 1,700 deaths.
Falun Gong followers say it is a peaceful meditation movement that builds health. They say hundreds of followers have died as a result of police abuse and torture during the Chinese crackdown.

"Falun Gong Barred From Iceland" by Richard Middleton

(AP, June 07, 2002)

REYKAJVIK, Iceland - The government on Friday barred all Falun Gong members from entering Iceland in a bid to prevent a large demonstration against Chinese President Jiang Zemin when he visits the country next week.
The government said it is the first time the country has banned members of any movement or international organization from visiting Iceland.
The move was taken in an effort to avoid the kind of protest that occurred the last time a top Chinese officials visited the country.
In September 2000, a demonstration against China's human rights record was held when Li Peng, then premier, visited Iceland, prompting him to cancel a stop at parliament, and scuffles broke out between police and protesters when they marched to Li's hotel.
Jiang is to arrive in Iceland next Wednesday for a visit that runs through June 16.
Chinese officials have long been sensitive to Falun Gong protests in other countries. They banned the group in China in July 1999, calling it a threat to communist rule, and describe it as a cult that has caused 1,700 deaths.
Falun Gong followers say it is a peaceful meditation movement that builds health. They say hundreds of followers have died as a result of police abuse and torture during the Chinese crackdown.
In Reykajvik, Ministry of Justice officials announced the Falun Gong ban on Friday, saying they had been alerted to a large planned protest against Jiang by Interpol and authorities in countries such as the United States.
Hundreds of foreign Falun Gong members were due in Iceland for the protest, and the government does not have the resources to control it and maintain public order, said Bjorn Fridfinnsson, a ministry secretary.

"South Korean Falun Gong followers campaign in front of World Cup stadium"

(AP, June 04, 2002)

SEOUL, South Korea - Dressed in yellow vests, 30 Falun Gong followers handed out paper fans and hats to soccer spectators in a provincial city Tuesday, hours before China made its World Cup debut against Costa Rica.
South Korea had promised that it would block any anti-Chinese protests ahead of the match, which fell on the anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.
"We are here to welcome the Chinese and cheer for them," Kwon Hong-dae, head of South Korea's Falun Gong office, said in a telephone interview. "We have never opposed China or condemned them."
Kwon said their vests were emblazoned with the slogan: "Victory! China."
"We also wanted to let the Chinese know that they can practice Falun Gong freely in South Korea," Kwon said.
Police did not intervene with the Falun Gong followers' campaign, he said.
China banned Falun Gong in July 1999 as a threat to communist rule and a social menace. It says Falun Gong is a cult that has caused 1,700 deaths.
Falun Gong followers say they practice peaceful meditation movements that builds health and happiness. They say hundreds of followers have died as a result of police abuse and torture during the crackdown.
The June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square movement is the most sensitive in the Chinese political calendar.
Hundreds and possibly thousands of Chinese were killed when soldiers shot their way into the center of Beijing on June 4, 1989. The communist government declared the protests a "counterrevolutionary riot."

"China orders fans to be screened for Falun Gong links

(Reuters, June 01, 2002)

BEIJING - Chinese authorities have ordered domestic travel agencies to watch out for members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement among soccer fans heading to watch China's debut game in the World Cup finals, industry executives said.
Travel agencies had also been told to look out for people saying they were travelling to South Korea to watch China play but who were unlikely to return, the executives told Reuters on Friday.
"We are told to watch out for Falun Gong practitioners and those with intentions to overstay," said Chen Na, spokesman for China International Sports Travel Service (CISTS), the official distributor of 15,749 World Cup tickets allotted to China by FIFA.
China outlawed Falun Gong, which blends meditation exercises and mystical elements drawn from Taoism and Buddhism, in 1999 and labelled it an evil cult after more than 10,000 adherents gathered in front of Beijing's leadership compound.
The government has said its crackdown on the group has virtually wiped it out in China, but sporadic protests still occur.
Chen said the travel agencies had also been told to hand lists of fans to the National Tourism Administration and police for further screening before each tour group set off for South Korea.
"I heard there were plans to mix plain-clothes police officers in tourist groups to South Korea," said an executive from Beijing Shenzhou International Travel Services.
While the CISTS monopolises all FIFA-allotted tickets, several other major travel services, including Shenzhou, have managed to acquire thousands of tickets from corporate sponsors of the World Cup or directly from South Korean fan clubs.
Chinese media have estimated about 25,000 tickets landed in China, but South Korean tourism regulators estimate some 40,000 Chinese fans will make it to South Korea.

"Japanese Falun Gong members expelled from China, group says"

(AP, May 26, 2002)

TOKYO - Two Japanese followers of Falun Gong were expelled from China and a third member is believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities, the spiritual movement's Japanese branch said Sunday.
The two Japanese females returned to Japan late Saturday, said Xie Hui, a member of the sect in Tokyo. They had been in Beijing with a third follower — a Chinese female, who they fear has been arrested, Xie added.
Xie was not able give more details, and said Falun Gong will hold a news conference Monday in Tokyo.
Since Beijing banned Falun Gong in July 1999 as an "evil cult," thousands of followers have been detained in the frequently brutal crackdown.
Supporters abroad say at least 400 have been killed. Authorities deny mistreating anyone, but say some detainees have died on hunger strikes.
According to the Kyodo news agency, the group had planned to protest at Tiananmen Square in Beijing Saturday. Kyodo cited a report from the Japanese embassy in Beijing that also said the two Japanese women had been deported.
The report also said the Chinese authorities did not give a reason for the expulsions.
The Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment on the report on Sunday.
Falun Gong was founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, a former Chinese government clerk who later moved to New York. It has attracted millions of followers with its blend of slow-motion exercises and philosophy drawn from Taoism, Buddhism and Li's often-unorthodox ideas.

"Chinese here say passports denied over Falun Gong"

by Curtis Lawrence ("Chicago Sun-Times," May 23, 2002)

Chinese nationals clashed with consulate officials here Wednesday, accusing them of refusing to renew certain passports as part of an international crackdown against followers of Falun Gong, a practice promoting spiritual discipline through exercise.
Zhiwei "Tommy" Xu, a research scientist for Motorola, stood in the lobby of the consulate office at 100 W. Erie with his wife and 5-month-old son for more than an hour before he agreed to leave. Xu, who said his mother has been tortured for practicing Falun Gong in China, does not want to return home, where he fears jail and torture.
Xu and another national who practices Falun Gong, Jiang Zhu from St. Louis, demanded to know why their passports were not being renewed. Consulate officials offered no explanation and told them to leave because they did not have appointments. When Xu and Zhu asked to be given a specific time when they could return, the consulate's press secretary, Jin Zhijian, and other officials offered no answers. Zhijian did not return telephone calls later Wednesday.
In one exchange, when the Chinese pair asked Zhijian why their passports were not being renewed, he called attention to the Falun Gong logos on their jackets and on buttons they were wearing.
"If we go back to China, they will be totally free to persecute us," said Xu, with his wife, Jing, and their son, Henry, by his side.
"They may put me in jail," said Xu, who has a doctorate in physics. "They already have my name on a blacklist." Xu said the passport problem is part of a Chinese crackdown on Falun Gong, a practice that promotes inner calm and spiritual discipline through exercise.
More than 250 Falun Gong followers have died in custody in China since the crackdown began in July 1999, an Amnesty International report said. Thousands more have been detained in "study classes," detention centers and labor camps, the report charged.
Four Chinese nationals living in the Chicago area have joined a national class-action lawsuit charging the Chinese government with carrying out "a criminal campaign of violent repression and intimidation against Falun Gong followers.'' Xu and other Falun Gong followers say consulates nationwide are refusing to renew passports to try to force nationals to return to China, where they will face prosecution.
"My case is not the only one," said Xu, who said that other Falun Gong followers in the United States and other countries also face harassment and problems getting passports renewed.
Zhu and her husband left St. Louis at 3 a.m. Wednesday to investigate the status of her passport, which expired April 24. She came to the consulate office because her passport renewal application had been returned three times without explanation after she tried to process it by mail.
Zhu, who came to the United States in 1997, said she is in no rush to return to China. On her last trip home to visit her sister, authorities interrogated her and tried to get her to sign a statement defaming Falun Gong, she said.

"Four Falungong adherents jailed for illegal broadcast"

(AFP, May 18, 2002)

Four members of the banned Falungong group have been jailed for up to 16 years in China for hijacking a cable television station to broadcast sect propaganda, state press said.
The four were convicted by an intermediate court in southwestern Chongqing municipality Friday for "using an evil sect to obstruct the implementation of the law", Xinhua news agency said.
The court also convicted the four of "using an evil sect to disrupt television broadcasts", Xinhua said. It did not say how long the illegal broadcast lasted or how many people saw it.
The broadcast promoting Falungong went out on January 1 on a cable TV station in Chongqing, China's largest autonomous municipality with a population of some 30 million.
Jin Wei was sentenced to 16 years in jail for his part in the illegal broadcast and Li Xiangdong got 15 years, while two others were jailed for at least seven years.
Another person implicated in the incident had died in police custody since the group was arrested in January, the report said without elaborating.
The January incident appeared to be the first such illegal Falungong broadcast in China. It preceded a 20 minute broadcast in March of two Falungong films in northeastern Jilin province and a broadcast of more than an hour in neighboring Heilongjiang province in April.
Those two broadcasts were reported to have been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Nine people have been arrested for the broadcast in Changchun city, Jilin province and are awaiting trial. It is unclear how many have been arrested for the broadcast in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province.
Since Falungong was banned as "an evil cult" in July 1999, tens of thousands of adherents have been jailed or sent to labor camp, activists say.
The group's New York headquarters has alleged that up to 200 followers have died in police custody, mostly from police beatings and maltreatment.

"Lone foreigner stages Falun Gong protest in Beijing"

(Reuters, May 13, 2002)

BEIJING - Chinese police hauled off a lone foreign supporter of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement on Monday after he held up a small protest banner in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on Monday, witnesses said.
The brief demonstration came on the 10th anniversary of the first time Falun Gong's now-exiled founder, Li Hongzhi, began to spread his teachings, its U.S.-based information centre said.
The French-speaking man in his 30s unfurled the poster after milling around the square for more than two hours carrying a tourist map and two paper Chinese flags, witnesses said.
Police converged on him within seconds and shoved him into a nearby van. Few noticed the demonstration.
In the past six months, China has expelled some 100 Western Falun Gong supporters within days of nabbing them during protest attempts at the sensitive square.
Li began giving lectures in 1992 to spread the teachings of Falun Gong, which he said he received from mountain hermits. The movement fuses meditation exercises and mystical elements drawn from Taoism and Buddhism.
Falun Gong claimed more than 100 million mainland Chinese followers at the height of its popularity in 1998. Beijing outlawed it as an "evil cult" in 1999, months after an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 adherents gathered in front of the leadership compound in Beijing in a quiet protest.
The demonstration on Monday was the latest in an ongoing series of protests by foreigners in Tiananmen Square and by local adherents hacking into television networks in northeastern China.
Falun Gong says more than 1,600 followers have died as a result of abuse in police custody or detention centres since the movement was banned.
The Chinese government says only a handful have died and those were from suicide or natural causes. It blames the Falun Gong for the deaths of at least 1,900 people through suicide or refusing medical treatment.

"Falun Gong followers mark 10th anniversary by marching, meditating in Hong Kong"

(AP, May 12, 2002)

HONG KONG - Falun Gong followers celebrated the 10th anniversary of their spiritual movement by marching and meditating in Hong Kong on Monday, with some demanding that Beijing stop suppressing practitioners in mainland China.
"We cause no harm," said Lam Chau-ping, a 35-year-old housewife who joined 200 Falun Gong members in a demonstration near the territory's scenic Victoria Harbor. "Beijing's crackdown is completely unreasonable."
They used their bodies to form three Chinese characters meaning "Falun Gong is good."
Falun Gong was founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, a former Chinese government clerk who later moved to New York. It has attracted millions of followers with its blend of slow-motion exercises and philosophy drawn from Taoism, Buddhism and Li's often-unorthodox ideas.
Beijing has outlawed Falun Gong as an "evil cult," and Falun Gong says hundreds of followers have died in a brutal police crackdown.
Falun Gong remains legal in Hong Kong, which retains Western-style civil liberties that are a holdover from British colonial days, and its followers frequently protest here.
The Hong Kong government has tolerated most Falun Gong activities but recently arrested 16 people, including four Swiss practitioners, for alleged obstruction when they protested outside the Chinese government's liaison office in Hong Kong in March.
Four Hong Kong Falun Gong followers also face more serious charges, including obstructing the police or assaulting the police.

"Falun Gong Activists Broadcast Video"

by Martin Fackler (AP, May 09, 2002)

SHANGHAI (China) - Falun Gong activists have broken into the cable television system of another major Chinese city and broadcast a video criticizing the government crackdown on the group, police and witnesses said Thursday.
The broadcast broke into regular programming shortly after 9 p.m. in Harbin on April 21 and lasted several minutes before it was shut off, according to residents. The size of the audience was unknown, but Harbin, a provincial capital northeast of Beijing, has 3.5 million people.
It was at least the second time the group has broken into a cable television system. Police in the northeastern city of Changchun say they arrested seven people after they broadcast protest videos on March 5.
The government's control of information — and its extreme sensitivity about Falun Gong — makes it extremely difficult to find out about such activities.
The Chinese government banned Falun Gong in July 1999 as a threat to communist rule and a social menace. The group, which attracted millions of members in the 1990s, says it only wants the freedom to meditate.
In Harbin, one resident said the broadcast showed lines of people doing Falun Gong's slow motion exercises.
A voice on the video said Falun Gong was good and the government should not have outlawed it, said the woman, who asked not to be named.
The woman, who works at a high school, said teachers and students were all discussing the video the next morning.
A police officer in the Nangang district in Harbin, where the city's cable television station is located, said police were investigating. He refused to say whether any arrests have been made.
"It's a criminal incident. The police force has been called in," said the officer, who refused to give his name.
Falun Gong drew many of its followers in China's northeast, where factory closures have created high unemployment.
Falun Gong activists based in New York say group members have staged similar break-ins into cable TV systems in three other cities in the past three months. These claims have not been confirmed.
The broadcasts show the group is still capable of defying the crackdown despite thousands of arrests and detentions.
After the incident in March, as many as 2,000 people were believed to have been detained, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
The group has repeatedly used technology to evade government controls. Activists communicate via the Internet, and remote-controlled loudspeakers have been used in crowded urban areas.
It was unclear how the group took over the Harbin cable network's signal. Harbin Cable Television Station refused to comment.
Another Harbin resident, who also asked not to be named, said police looking for Falun Gong members have made frequent sweeps of her neighborhood since the broadcast.
But handwritten posters saying "Falun Gong is a healthy meditation" still appear on walls near residents' mailboxes, she said.
"Every time officials take one away, another poster will be put up in the next day or two," the woman said.

"Falun Gong followers accuse Hong Kong of building over their protest area by China office"

by Verna Yu (AP, May 04, 2002)

HONG KONG - Falun Gong followers on Saturday accused Hong Kong of bowing to pressure from Beijing by building over an area near China's representative office here, stopping members of the spiritual sect from protesting there.
For months, about 20 Falun Gong followers have gathered there daily to do meditation exercises and condemn Chinese oppression of Falun Gong.
The sect is banned in China but remains legal in Hong Kong despite its return to Chinese sovereignty five years ago. Despite denials of Hong Kong officials, Falun Gong followers believe Hong Kong is tightening its handling of the group under pressure from Beijing, which has waged a brutal campaign to eradicate it.
The protest area, on a sidewalk near the liaison office in central Hong Kong, was boarded up on Thursday night for what officials say are environmental improvement works. A flower bed will be placed there.
Falun Gong spokeswoman Hui Yee-han said the action was "clearly done out of political consideration" in a move to suppress the group's activities in Hong Kong and to snuff out their voice of opposition to China.
But officials denied the accusation and noted there had been no local opposition to the construction work.
"There is absolutely no political purpose at all," said Cynthia Tong, spokeswoman of the Home Affairs Department. "We can't sacrifice the plan for the interests of only one particular group."
Hui said police offered the group an alternative protest area opposite the backdoor of the liaison office but she said it was too far away. Police Superintendent Michael Chiu denied Saturday that police has recommended any alternative sites.
Various activist groups have used areas outside China's liaison office for staging protests — but the Falun Gong daily demonstration has drawn criticism from pro-Beijing figures and some local residents who call it an eyesore.
Sixteen members of the meditation group — including four from Switzerland — were charged by authorities for obstruction outside the Chinese liaison office in March, after police broke up their protest.

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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