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"Falun Gong followers make Bluffs appearance"

by Greg Jerrett ("The Daily Nonpareil," March 23, 2003)

Practitioners of Falun Gong - an ancient Chinese philosophy that encourages exercise, meditation and moral behavior - and supporters of Charles Li, an American citizen arrested and imprisoned in China for practicing the religion, held a press conference in front of Council Bluffs City Hall Saturday to inform passersby about Li.
Local Chinese students came from Ames and Omaha to man an information booth, hand out literature and answer questions about their religion, which has come under fire by the Chinese government.
"The Chinese government does not allow freedom of belief," said Haitao Huang of Omaha.
"Falun Gong is at tradition thousands of years old.
In Falun Gong, we meditate, exercise and practice the principles of truthful compassion.
Dr. Li is an American businessman who was visiting friends and family in China when he was arrested upon arrival." Li was arrested January 22 for sabotaging television and cable equipment and for illegally broadcasting Falun Gong films - all while still in his home state of California.
His trial took place March 21 and is considered by Falun Gong members to be nothing more than a "show trial" since Li was considered guilty from the start.
"This is a world-wide effort to rescue a citizen," said Huang of Omaha.
"Dr. Li has been held by the Chinese government for more than two months and was recently sentenced to three years.
We believe America is No.
1 in human rights and should safeguard the rights of its citizen." Margaret Jiang of Ames said the Chinese government admits to killing at least 600 members of Falun Gong, which could mean the number is much higher.
"Six hundred people is only a small portion," she said.
"Because of the tight control of information, the number is much more like 1,600.
Members of Falun Gong are put in mental hospitals, forced labor camps and pregnant women are forced to have abortions just to force the Chinese people to give up Falun Gong." According to Jiang, Falun Gong was once encouraged by the Chinese government for its health benefits and because it was not at all political.
In 1997, Falun Gong's popularity began to threaten the Chinese government and Falun Gong was classified as a cult and a threat along with other religions.
It is the stated position of the Bush administration, in a letter to U.S. Congressman Benjamin Gilman, that the Chinese repression of Falun gong is "brutal and unwarranted." The repression of Falun Gong receives little attention world-wide and while the war with Iraq continues, it is possible Li's trial will go unnoticed and unreported in the United States, but according to Jiang and Huang, their members plan to spread the word one city at a time if necessary.

"Freed activist turns on Falun Gong"

("The South China Morning Post," March 20, 2003)

The American resident denounces the 'evil cult' as she leaves a Beijing prison
A Chinese-born American resident imprisoned for publicising details of China's crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement was released yesterday after serving almost three years. Teng Chunyan denounced the movement after she walked free from prison.
She had returned to China after the government banned Falun Gong in 1999. She told foreign reporters in advance about protests and helped them to meet practitioners.
The activist was detained in May 2000.
The State Council's Information Office arranged for foreign reporters to be on hand when Ms Teng, 40, walked out of a women's prison on the southern outskirts of Beijing.
A prison warden, Huang Qinghua, said Ms Teng was released just over one month early due to good behaviour.
"Falun Gong is purely an evil cult," Ms Teng said, echoing the central government's description of the group. "It has a definite political aspect."
Ms Teng made similar comments in prison interviews arranged by the government, prompting Falun Gong activists abroad to suggest she might have been brainwashed or tortured.
Thousands of Falun Gong followers were detained after the ban, and supporters abroad say more than 600 have been killed. The government denies mistreating anyone, but says some have died in hunger strikes or after refusing medical help.
Falun Gong attracted millions of members during the 1990s under the leadership of Li Hongzhi, who lives in the United States.
Ms Teng, an acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine, is married to an American, has permanent US resident status and lived in New York City.
Outside the prison, she was met by her father, Teng Yuben, who still lives in China. He said he was relieved his daughter had turned her back on the group.
As they spoke to reporters, a female prison officer sat nearby.
Ms Teng said she intended to stay in Beijing for about a month to buy medical books and study tai chi exercises before rejoining her husband.
Ms Teng was convicted of spying and leaking state secrets, for giving documents and photographs to foreign reporters.
She told reporters after her release that the information was "not objective" and harmed China's image abroad.

"China releases American-based woman after three-year sentence for Falun Gong activism"

by Christopher Bodeen (AP, March 19, 2003)

A Chinese-born New York City woman imprisoned for publicizing details of China's crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement was released Wednesday after serving almost three years.
Teng Chunyan returned to China after the government banned Falun Gong in 1999 as a threat to public safety and communist rule. She informed foreign reporters in advance about protests and helped them to meet practitioners. She was detained in May 2000.
The press office of China's Cabinet arranged for foreign reporters to be on hand when Teng, 40, walked out of a women's prison on the southern outskirts of Beijing. The prison warden, Huang Qinghua, said she was released just over one month early due to good behavior.
"Falun Gong is purely an evil cult," Teng said, echoing the communist government's description of the group. "It has a definite political aspect."
Teng made similar comments in prison interviews arranged by the government, prompting Falun Gong activists abroad to suggest she might have been brainwashed or tortured.
Thousands of Falun Gong followers were detained after the ban, and supporters abroad say more than 600 have been killed. The government denies mistreating anyone, but says some have died in hunger strikes or after refusing medical help.
Falun Gong attracted millions of members during the 1990s with its mix of slow-motion exercises and an amalgam of Buddhist and Taoist philosophies with the ideas of its founder, a former Chinese government clerk who now lives in the United States.
Teng, an acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, is married to an American, has permanent U.S. resident status and lived in the New York City borough of Queens.
Outside the prison, she was met by her father, Teng Yuben, who still lives in China. He said he was relieved his daughter had turned her back on the group.
As they spoke to reporters, a female prison officer sat nearby but did not intervene.
Teng Chunyan said she intended to stay in Beijing for about a month to buy medical books and study Taiqi exercises before rejoining her husband.
Teng was convicted of "spying and leaking state secrets" for giving documents and photographs to foreign reporters. She told reporters after her release that the information was "not objective" and harmed China's image abroad.

"UC faculty member to speak against China"

by Amanda Heironimus ("The UC News Record," March 16, 2003)

A member of the UC faculty traveled to Geneva Friday for the annual Human Rights Conference where she will appeal to the United Nations to end the persecution of practitioners of an ancient form of meditation.
Adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry Sunny Lu will ask that the United Nations put an end to the imprisonment of those who practice Falun Gong. In particular, Lu will urge U.N. members to secure the release of Charles Li, a U.S. citizen recently detained in China.
Li took a trip to China in January to visit his parents for the Chinese New Year and to tell them of his recent engagement. As he stepped off the plane at the airport in Guangzhou, however, Li was arrested and taken to a prison in Yangzhou, more than 1,000 miles away.
According to Lu, Chinese officials have kept Li in isolation, allowing him only brief visits with a U.S. consular official. He has not spoken with his family or fiancé since his arrest Jan. 24.
Chinese authorities have charged Li with sabotage of radio and television broadcast systems in Yangzhou, according to a U.S. embassy spokeswoman. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
But Lu believes these are "trumped up" charges, created by the Chinese government as an excuse to arrest Li. "In a trial over there, they can say anything they want," she said. "They make up their law as they go along."
Followers of Falun Gong describe it as "a way to improve the body, mind and spirit that consists of exercise, meditation and teachings that are rooted in the ancient Chinese culture."
Falun Gong uses slow-moving, fluid exercises as well as aspects of Taoism and Buddhism to focus on its core principles of truth, compassion and forbearance.
Because of its growing following in China, the communist party sees Falun Gong as a threat, said Jiwu Wang, who practices 20 different types of meditation including Falun Gong. China banned the practice of Falun Gong in 1999, calling it an "evil cult."
"It scares the communist party because so many practice it. Their constitution says freedom of religion, but really you only have freedom to believe in the communist party," Wang said.
Currently, there are 610 confirmed deaths due to police torture of Falun Gong practitioners, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center. It is this kind of violence Lu hopes her efforts will bring to an end.
"I feel very strongly that we have to make all efforts that we can," she said. "I was also put on a list. I feel like the next (arrest) could be me."
So far, the effort to cease the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners has gained significant support in Congress. Eighty-three congressional representatives have signed a letter addressed to the embassy of the People's Republic of China expressing their concern about the country's religious persecution and requesting Li's immediate release.
Lu recently attended a public rally in Washington, D.C. that aimed to stir up support for her cause. Her trip to Geneva is the next step in the process, she said. At the conference she will present a petition, which includes approximately 500 signatures of UC students.
"This effort is about liberty and freedom of expression," Lu said. She added that everyone has the power to help. "Write to the Chinese consulate, write to your representative or your congressman. Say no to this persecution."

"Cop with tough reputation tapped to be China's top prosecutor"

by Elaine Kurtenbach (AP, March 15, 2003)

China installed its top police official as the country's head prosecutor on Sunday, elevating a man with a tough-sheriff reputation and experience cracking down on Falun Gong, the spiritual movement targeted by the government as an "evil cult."
Jia Chunwang, 64, a native of Beijing, was chosen by the largely ceremonial National People's Congress by a vote of 2,807 to 58 with 73 abstentions.
Jia has been public security minister, China's top police official, since 1998. He also is political commissar of the People's Armed Police, a paramilitary force run by the Defense Ministry whose riot troops are called on to quell major protests. That force also guards foreign diplomatic compounds.
His appointment comes as government and Communist Party efforts to crack down on crime and corruption are facing growing skepticism by the public.
Jia's public face is that of an uncompromising lawman who has called for resolute action against corruption and drug trafficking.
But his term also included a series of high-profile incidents that prompted a public outcry, including an explosion that destroyed a schoolhouse in southern China in early 2001 and killed at least 42 people, most of them children.
That disaster prompted former Premier Zhu Rongji to issue a stunning public apology on national television for the government's failure to ensure the safety of the Chinese populace.
Jia's responsibilities include police forces that have played key roles in the crackdown on Falun Gong and other spiritual movements banned by Beijing in recent years as a threat to public safety and communist rule.
Activists accuse Chinese law enforcement officials of killing 610 detained Falun Gong followers. Officials acknowledge some people have died in detention, but deny mistreating anyone and say the deaths were due to hunger strikes or detainees who refused medical help.
Like new President Hu Jintao, Jia is an engineer trained at elite Tsinghua University in Beijing. He was sent to the countryside for manual labor from 1966 to 1972 during China's Cultural Revolution, when many educated urbanites were purged and mistreated.
Also Sunday, the current judge of China's supreme court, Xiao Yang, was reappointed to his post.

"Falun Gong couple seek clemency to avoid persecution in China"

("ABC News," March 12, 2003)

The Falun Dafa Association of New South Wales says a Chinese couple who are being deported from Australia will certainly suffer persecution when they return to their homeland.
Falun Gong practitioners 66-year-old Wang Jun Tao and 62-year-old Wang Liluan have failed to gain refugee status and the Department of Immigration says they must return to China.
John Deller from the Falun Dafa Association says a misunderstanding meant the couple missed out on the opportunity of applying to the Refugees Review Tribunal and that opportunity should be given to them again.
"So we ask Mr Ruddock to please use his discretion under section 48B of the migration act to show clemency in this case at least ot allow them somehow to come before the RRT so their case can be heard," he said.

"China to Put U.S. Sect Member on Trial - Embassy"

(Reuters, March 12, 2003)

BEIJING - A Chinese court plans to put an American follower of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement on trial this month following accusations he sabotaged television and radio waves, the U.S. embassy said on Wednesday.
Charles Li, also known as Chuck Lee, from Menlo Park, California, would be tried in the eastern province of Jiangsu on March 21, an embassy spokeswoman said.
"I don't know what the formal charges are. The reason he was detained was that they said he interfered with television and radio broadcasting," she said.
China branded Falun Gong an "evil cult" in 1999 after thousands of followers shocked the government with a mass protest around the Beijing leadership compound near Tiananmen Square demanding official recognition of their faith.
The group combines a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, traditional Chinese breathing exercises and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi.
More than 20 members of the banned group have been tried and sentenced on charges of hijacking television signals around China.
At times, Falun Gong material has been broadcast over hijacked signals.
Li was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou on January 22 and then transferred to Yangzhou, where the incident took place, the embassy spokeswoman said.
A consular official from Shanghai had visited Li on January 28 and February 27, saying he appeared to be in good health.
U.S. officials have been in contact with the Chinese authorities to follow the progress of the legal proceedings and to ensure his welfare, the spokeswoman said.

"China Vows to Counter Security Threats"

by Elaine Kurtenbach (AP, March 11, 2003)

China reaffirmed its commitment to tracking down terrorists inside its borders and promised Tuesday to counter any "severe threats to national security" ? everyone from religious dissidents to mob bosses.
The country's top legal officials, reporting to the National People's Congress, also reiterated the government's longtime promise to stop the corruption that makes getting things done in China tortuous and expensive.
"We should vigorously fight separatists, terrorists and evil cult organizers for the sake of national security," Han Zhubin, China's highest prosecutor, told the legislature in Beijing. The cult reference was to Falun Gong, the spiritual movement China outlawed in 1999.
China launched its latest "Strike Hard" campaign against crime in the mid-1990s and renews it periodically. Even so, officials said the public was unhappy with law enforcement efforts, particularly failures that get in the way of making money.
"We are clearly aware that the work of the people's courts falls far short of the party's and the people's demands," said Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court. "There are still some long-term problems that have not been resolved."
The reports on China's legal system came a day after the outgoing legislative chief, Li Peng, lauded the country's push toward the rule of law in recent years. The congress, meeting until March 18, will officially elevate the new leadership of the Chinese government this weekend.
The prominent discussion of terrorism reflects the government's focus on the issue since China tacitly agreed to support the U.S.-led war on terror after the Sept. 11 attacks.
China has since complained of terrorism within its own borders, pointing to ethnic Uighur separatists in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang in the northwest. The United States agreed to place an Xinjiang independence group on its list of terrorist organizations last year.
Government officials also have linked the dispute over Taiwan to terrorism. Last month, Wang Bingzhang, a Chinese-born U.S. resident, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of spying for the island and plotting terrorist attacks.
Similarly, a Tibetan activist in the western province of Sichuan was executed earlier this year after he was convicted of bombings later labeled terror attacks.
Han said police have arrested 3,402 people suspected of crimes against the state in the past five years. He said 3,550 were prosecuted for such offenses, which included murders, bombings and arson.
In the past, crimes against the state in China have included nonviolent political dissent, but officials said that wasn't a major concern.
"Only a small percentage of crimes are related to political issues," said Priscilla Lau, a Hong Kong delegate who teaches at the territory's Polytechnic University. "So it's not a big problem, and it won't cause much influence on the development of our country."
Han reported 411,379 arrests in the past five years for violent crimes including murder, rape and armed robbery, and Xiao said 819,000 people were given the death penalty or sentences of five years or longer for serious crimes.
"Local tyrants who will stop at no evil have been punished mercilessly," Xiao said.
Xiao also reported far more convictions for economic crimes and corruption in the past five years. He said the courts convicted 89,896 people of economic crimes in that time, up 30 percent from the previous five years. They convicted 83,308 people of corruption, among them 2,662 officials at the county level or higher ? a 65 percent increase.
"Every country has a problem with corruption," said Peng Zengqiu, a teacher and delegate from Shanghai. "It's something the common people are concerned about."

"China Said to Free U.S.-Based Dissident"

by Joe McDonald (AP, March 2, 2003)

A U.S.-based Chinese activist has been released and flown to the United States, ending eight months of captivity in a case that resulted in a life prison term for another dissident, an activist group said Sunday.
Zhang Qi was released Friday after a court upheld the sentence of Wang Bingzhang, who is also her fiance, said Timothy Cooper, international director for the Washington-based Free China Movement.
Zhang, Wang and a third dissident were traveling together when they disappeared last June after meeting with Chinese labor activists in Vietnam. Chinese police said they were found July 3 tied up in a temple during the investigation of a kidnapping case, but activists say the three were abducted from Vietnam by Chinese agents.
Zhang, 41, was released from house arrest in the western city of Chengdu and flew via Hong Kong to New York City, arriving late Saturday, Cooper said by telephone. He said she was en route to Washington and planned to hold a news conference.
Wang was convicted Feb. 9 by a court in the southern city of Shenzhen of spying for rival Taiwan and plotting bombings in China and other terrorist attacks.
Police and court authorities in Shenzhen and Chengdu contacted Sunday said they had no information on Zhang.
Authorities haven't disclosed the evidence presented at Wang's closed trial, saying it involved national secrets. His family and other activists say he is innocent.
he Chinese government has said Zhang and the third member of the group ? Yue Wu, who was released in January ? were cleared of involvement in Wang's activities.
It wasn't clear why authorities continued to hold Zhang after that announcement.
Zhang was a member of the banned Zhong Gong spiritual group, Cooper said. The group was outlawed following the 1999 crackdown on the better-known Falun Gong group, which communist leaders regarded as a threat to their control.
She fled China in December, 1999, to avoid arrest and lived in Thailand before receiving asylum in the United States in September, 2001, Cooper said.
After her detention last year, Zhang was held at a military camp in the city of Guangzhou, near Shenzhen, from August to December, when she was transferred to Chengdu, her hometown, Cooper said.
He said he had no other details, but said, "We understand it was a hellish experience for the past six, seven months or so."

"Taiwan's vice president lashes out at Hong Kong over its treatment of Falun Gong"

(AP, March 1, 2003)

Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu accused Hong Kong on Saturday of mistreating and denying entry to Taiwanese followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
More than 400 Taiwanese members of the group ? banned in China as a subversive organization and "evil cult" ? tried to enter Hong Kong carrying valid travel documents Feb. 21-22, the group's Taiwanese chapter said.
But immigration officials at Hong Kong's airport refused entry to at least 80 of them, citing security concerns, the group said.
Nine members complained that the officials and police used violence to force them onto a flight back to Taiwan.
"This violent treatment will hurt our citizens' freedom of religion and freedom to travel," Lu said at a meeting of a national human rights committee that she chairs.
"Over 4 million Taiwanese visit Hong Kong annually, and this kind of incident could happen again," she warned.
Lu said the treatment of the Taiwanese Falun Gong followers showed Hong Kong's human rights situation had deteriorated since the former British colony's return to China in 1997. Hong Kong still has its own legal system and Western-style freedoms.
In Hong Kong, a government spokesman said the immigration department has dealt with all entry applications in accordance with Hong Kong laws and policies.
"We will continue to welcome Taiwanese visitors but we will always exercise our statutory authority to allow or disallow entry of people from any jurisdiction according to our laws," said the official, who issued the comment on condition of anonymity.
he Taiwanese vice president also told Falun Gong members she supported their efforts to publicize China's use of violence and terrorism in repressing human rights.
he meditation group is outlawed in mainland China, but it is free to practice, and protest, in Hong Kong.
aiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing has threatened to use force to reunify the two sides.

"Falun Gong internees get student help"

(Taipei Times," February 27, 2003)

University students from across the nation yesterday banded together to launch a petition to demand the Beijing authorities release more than 300 Chinese university students and faculty members illegally imprisoned for being Falun Gong members.
Students from 29 universities yesterday launched a signature-collection campaign aimed at saving their Chinese counterparts who have been arrested and imprisoned for belonging to the Falun Gong movement.
Students plan to forward the petition, which contains more than 15,000 signatures, to the UN Scientific, Education and Cultural Organization and other international human rights organizations to raise awareness of the continued need to exert pressure on the Chinese government for the release of those detained for religious reasons.
Chang Ta-shan, a student at Taiwan's Tsinghua University, told a press conference yesterday that "this has been the most serious persecution of student human rights in China after the Tiananmen Square Incident ... When Taiwan is going to commemorate the 228 Incident and celebrate the end of political suppression of human rights, its neighbor, China, is rampant with political persecution of peaceful Falun Gong practitioners."
Chang said there have been 15 Chinese students who were persecuted to such a severe degree that they died. He also said that 20 detainees are still missing, 129 have been kidnapped or illegally interned and more have been expelled from schools, or in the case of teachers, have been discharged from their faculty positions.
"The students and faculty members arrested were illegally imprisoned at labor camps and suffered from brutal forms of torture, hard labor and brainwashing," Chang said.
Zhao Ming (»¯©ú), a graduate of China's Tsinghua University and a once-persecuted Falun Gong practitioner, attended the press conference to share his own experiences of being tortured in the labor camps.
"I was tortured with brutal beatings and electric shocks until I accepted the [government's] principles," Zhao said.
"I was lucky to be rescued by the efforts of organizations from the international community, but there are still numerous students whose lives are still in extreme danger in China," he said .
Zhao was detained between 2000 and last year. He is now studing for a masters in computer science at Trinity University in Ireland.
Taiwan Association for Human Rights president Lin Feng-jeng urged Taiwanese to show support for the campaign, and not to look the other way.
"Some people might think that China and Taiwan are each separate countries on either side of the Taiwan Strait. They use this as an excuse to say that what happens across the Strait is not their business. But remember, China wants to unite with Taiwan. In that case, the plight of the Chinese people living under a totalitarian regime might also happen to Taiwanese," Lin said.
About 33 universities have Falun Gong student organizations, totaling about 100 members. National Taiwan University has the greatest number of students and faculty practicing Falun Gong.

"Hong Kong opposition lawmakers fail to kill anti-subversion bill"

(AP, February 27, 2003)

After walking out of the legislature to protest an anti-subversion bill they call a threat to Hong Kong's freedoms, opposition lawmakers tried but failed to have it withdrawn, one of them said Thursday.
Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum called on the government to withdraw the bill, but his suggestion was voted down shortly before midnight on Wednesday, said another Democratic lawmaker, Sin Chung-kai.
Sin had introduced a motion condemning the government for allegedly distorting the public's views on the law, and it was thrown out earlier Wednesday in the Legislative Council.
The council is dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers and their big-business allies who typically side with the Hong Kong government. It appears poised to pass the anti-subversion measure, which critics fear could crush freedoms of speech, press, religion and assembly.
About 20 of the 60 Hong Kong lawmakers walked out of the legislature in protest on Wednesday, while several activists ripped up a copy of the bill and hurled pieces down from a public gallery. The activists were later arrested.
The anti-subversion legislation has been constitutionally required ever since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. The government disputes contentions that local freedoms are in jeopardy.
Pro-democracy lawmakers and rights activists who fear otherwise say Hong Kong might use the law to ban Falun Gong, the meditation sect outlawed in mainland China as an "evil cult" but thus far free to practice and protest in Hong Kong.

"MAC protests Hong Kong's mistreatment of Falun Gong members"

("eTaiwanNews.com," February 23, 2003)

The Mainland Affairs Council issued a strongly worded statement yesterday protesting the Hong Kong government's mistreatment of Taiwanese members of the Falun Gong meditation group. The Cabinet-level council, which charts Taiwan's policy toward China, Hong Kong and Macau, issued the statement after about 40 Taiwan Falun Gong followers were denied entry to Hong Kong Friday to attend a Falun Gong conference yesterday.
All of the Taiwan Falun Gong followers were forcefully repatriated back to the island last evening, even though they had valid Hong Kong visas.
According to the MAC, Hong Kong immigration officials even rudely treated some Taiwan followers, tying them up in anti-riot blankets and forcing then on Taiwan-bound aircraft.
"We protest this kind of mistreatment of our citizens," the MAC said in the statement, adding that it has ordered Taiwan's representative office to ask the Hong Kong government to stop such unfriendly actions immediately and never to repeat them.
"We hereby express our gravest protest toward the violence and disregard of human rights by the Hong Kong government," the MAC said.
"We are hopeful that the Hong Kong government will make a positive response to our protest to avoid spoiling the bilateral amity and sabotaging its own international image," the MAC said.
Dozens of Taiwan Falun Gong followers gave a joint news conference earlier in the day to express their grievance and protest against the Hong Kong government's mistreatment of them. They urged the Hong Kong government not to be subservient to the leaders in Beijing.
"Hong Kong leaders should refrain from becoming Beijing's tools to suppress human rights and freedom of religion in the territory," a representative said. At least 10 of those barred from entering Hong Kong have alleged they were treated violently when they argued with immigration officials, the organization's liaison officer Flora Chang said.
One of the victims, Lu Li-ching, said she suffered bruises to her hands and mouth when she was escorted by force to the plane.
"Eight riot policemen wrapped me up with a blanket," Lu told AFP. "A flight attendant witnessing the scene told me she had never seen police resort to such brutalities on civilians," Lu added.
The spiritual group, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, was banned by China in July 1999 as an "evil cult" but remains legal in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

"Falun Gong followers protest Hong Kong's planned anti-subversion law"

by Min Lee (AP, February 23, 2003)

About 800 followers of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in mainland China, marched through downtown Hong Kong on Sunday to protest a planned anti-subversion law they say will jeopardize them.
Wearing their trademark yellow T-shirts, they walked through the streets of Wan Chai district to the strains of traditional Chinese music. They were escorted by about 40 police officers.
Falun Gong members said the proposed legislation would bring mainland-style oppression to this former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but still has its own legal system and Western-style freedoms.
"Don't let this evil law be enacted," said Zhao Ming, a mainland China citizen studying in Ireland. Zhao said he'd previously been detained for 22 months and tortured by Chinese authorities.
"Hong Kong government, don't sell your soul to a killer," said Erich Bachmann, a Swiss Falun Gong follower.
Some of the protesters came from abroad for an international Falun Gong conference held here on Saturday. The movement teaches that morality and health can be achieved through meditation and traditional Chinese exercise.
The group, banned as an "evil cult" in the mainland, claims many of their followers have been persecuted and killed by Chinese authorities.
It remains legal in Hong Kong, but followers fear they may come under threat once new national security legislation is in place.
Hong Kong has been constitutionally required to legislate against crimes against the state ? including subversion, sedition, treason and secession ? since it returned to China.
The government began work on the legislation recently, sparking fears that the city's civil liberties may be crushed.
Officials have toned down the proposed law, but critics don't think they have gone far enough. Part of the proposed law would let Hong Kong's government ban organizations linked to groups restricted in China.
The original draft targeted groups "affiliated" with prohibited mainland entities. "Affiliated" was later changed to "subordinate."
Falun Gong Hong Kong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said Sunday the change was cosmetic and the gist of the provision is still the same.
The law aims to create a "remote control" mechanism allowing Beijing officials to ban groups in Hong Kong, Kan said.
A call to Hong Kong's government information office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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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