CESNUR - center for studies on new religions

"Report: Chinese Embassy Websites Have Removed Articles Defaming Falun Gong"

("Epoch Times," December 05, 2004)

The slandering of Falun Gong by Chinese officials visiting other countries and on embassy Web sites has reportedly come to an end.
According to the Yazhou Zhoukan, a Chinese weekly news magazine, many Chinese embassy Web sites have not posted defamatory articles since mid-October. The report says that a few Chinese Embassy Web sites, which originally contained sections specifically for defaming Falun Gong, have removed the sections or the content has been deleted. Although a few embassies have kept the anti-Falun Gong sections on their Web sites, the links are broken and no longer display the Web pages.
According to a source named Jian Feng: “(November 14 and 15), I searched several Chinese embassy Web sites on Google and found that most of the articles defaming Falun Gong had been deleted. The Chinese embassy sites I visited were in Norway, Spain, Portugal and Germany. In addition, Chinese embassies in Thailand, the United States and South Africa, which previously had articles defaming Falun Gong on their Web sites, had only article titles but the contents had been deleted.”
In a related development, a Thai diplomat stated: “Whether it is the Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan or General Xiong Guangkai of the Chinese Liberation Army, Chinese officials that recently visited Thailand surprised everyone by ceasing to defame Falun Gong to the Thai government.”

"Falungong sues Chinese officials in Netherlands ahead of EU-China summit"

("EU Business," December 03, 2004)

China's Falungong spiritual group has launched legal action in the Dutch courts against three Chinese officials, including former president Jiang Zemin, for alleged genocide and torture, days before an EU-China summit in The Hague, the group's lawyer said Friday.
The group claims that at least 1,600 of its members have been tortured or beaten to death in China since a crackdown ordered four years ago largely drove the organisation underground.
The Falungong once claimed millions of followers on the mainland but has been outlawed as an "evil cult" by China since 1999.
Liesbeth Zegveld told a press conference in The Hague that the action taken Thursday was justified by the fact that two Dutch citizens were among the victims of Chinese persecution.
As well as Jiang, those targeted are Trade Minister Bo Xilai, who is expected to take part in the December 8 summit alongside Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, and a former member of the ruling Communist Party secretariat, Li Lanqing.
Zegveld said Bo was governor of Liaoning province, "where many Falungong followers were persecuted."
A decision on whether to prosecute the three is not expected to be taken for several weeks.

"Singapore Falun Gong head says followers would help pay fines if members convicted"

(AP, December 02, 2004)

The head of Singapore's Falun Gong association said Thursday the spiritual group is ready to help two fellow members pay fines if they are convicted of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs about its practices and alleged persecution in China.
Chinese national Cheng Lu Jin, 37, and Singaporean Ng Chye Huay, 39, appeared in the city-state's Subordinate Court Tuesday and Wednesday on the charges, supported by dozens of Falun Gong followers who packed the public gallery. The case has been adjourned until Wednesday.
"If it comes to that then, and they are unable to pay the fines, certainly I think our practitioners would chip in," William Huang, President of the Falun Dafa Association of Singapore said in an interview.
The group - banned as an "evil cult" in China, where it says its followers are routinely detained and arrested - is legal in Singapore. Members, however, must comply with Singapore's strict rules, which require a police permit for outdoor gatherings of more than four people.
Huang said there were up to 400 followers in Singapore.

"Two Falun Gong members on trial in Singapore, supporters throng court"

(AP, December 01, 2004)

Dozens of Falun Gong followers thronged a Singapore court Wednesday in support of two members of the spiritual group who faced charges of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs without licenses.
The group, banned in China as an "evil cult," is legal here. But members must comply with Singapore's strict rules, which require a police permit for outdoor gatherings of more than four people.
Falun Gong members worldwide often protest Chinese authorities' alleged mistreatment of fellow practitioners.
In Singapore, two women - Cheng Lu Jin, 37, and Ng Chye Huay, 39 - face charges of unlawful assembly and handing out VCDs without a license, Subordinate Court documents show. Their nationalities were not given.
Seng Cheng Joo told the court on Tuesday she called police on Feb. 23, 2003 when she saw 10 Falun Gong members handing out flyers, The Straits Times newspaper reported Wednesday.
The trial started Tuesday and continued Wednesday, with Falun Gong supporters packing the public gallery and more waiting outside. Some handed out VCDs about the group and its alleged persecution in China.
A person convicted of unlawful assembly can be fined up to 1,000 Singapore dollars, according to online material from the attorney general's chambers.
Handing out VCDs without a license is punishable by a fine of S$10,000 to S$40,000, and a jail term of up to one year, the attorney general's Web site said.

"Falun Gong accused of sending China pirate signals"

(Reuters, November 22, 2004)

A Hong Kong-based satellite operator has accused the Falun Gong spiritual group, banned in China as an "evil cult", of hacking into one of its satellites to illegally beam transmissions into mainland China.
A Falun Gong spokeswoman in Hong Kong said she did not know anything about the hacking attack.
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. said in a news release that a transponder on one of its satellites, AsiaSat 38, was deliberately interrupted on Saturday evening by signals carrying "Falun Gong-related content".
The statement said the company was forced to shut down transmissions for more than four hours, disrupting broadcasts by China's Beijing Television and Tianjin Television stations.
"The deliberate attack interfered with the routine transmission of the satellite," the company said. "It seriously violated international telecommunications treaties, contravened international regulations, and was in breach of the normal conduct of satellite operations."
It said it reserved the right to take legal action.
Sharon Xu, spokeswoman for the Falun Gong in Hong Kong, said the group did not know about the hacking incident.
"We haven't heard anything about it," she said. "We know it's very difficult to intercept satellite signals."
Beijing banned the Falun Gong in 1999 after 10,000 members besieged the compound of the Chinese leadership in the capital to demand official recognition for their faith.
But the movement, which combines Taoism, Buddhism and traditional Chinese breathing exercises, remains legal in Hong Kong, a British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
A Falun Gong Website, www.clearwisdom.net, says that in the past five years China has tortured more than 1,121 practitioners to death, jailed at least 6,000 and sent more than 100,000 to labour camps. The figures could not be independently confirmed.
Two years ago, China accused the Falun Gong of hijacking satellite signals to disrupt state media broadcasts, saying it had pinpointed the origin of the disruption to Taiwan.
In Hong Kong, Falun Gong members failed on Monday to obtain permission to win a final appeal against convictions of obstructing and assaulting police. But Xu said they would appeal against the denial of such permission.
The case has raised fears about threats to personal freedoms in Hong Kong, which was promised a high degree of autonomy after Britain returned it to China seven years ago.
Nine Falun Gong members were convicted in 2002 of obstructing police during a protest against Beijing earlier that year and were each fined between HK$1,300 and HK$3,800 (US$166 and US$487). Three were also convicted of assaulting police.
But the group claims that police trampled on their freedom to protest by manhandling them away and that that they were merely defending themselves instead of assaulting police.
This month, the Court of Appeal upheld the convictions although it acquitted the nine people and seven other Falun Gong members of a less serious conviction of causing a public obstruction.

"Hong Kong Falun Gong followers protest visit by Chinese official"

(AP, November 14, 2004)

Dozens of Falun Gong followers on Sunday protested the visit of China's culture minister, denouncing his alleged role in Beijing's crackdown on the spiritual movement in the mainland.
Five Falun Gong practitioners stood by the entrance to the Government House complex, holding aloft a banner that said "strongly protest against Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng for instigating hatred in persecuting Falun Gong," protest spokeswoman Lu Jie told The Associated Press by phone.
About 40 others meditated by the back entrance of the grounds, Lu said.
Sun was due at Government House to attend an international conference on cultural cooperation.
Lu said some of the protesters had earlier marched from a downtown park. Police spokeswoman Carrie So confirmed the peaceful march but had no details of the protest outside Government House, the former governor's mansion during Hong Kong's British rule now used for official functions.
Sun oversees the Internet surveillance of Falun Gong communications that has led to the jailing and torture in China of the group's followers who have downloaded or sent materials about their cause electronically, Falun Gong alleged in a statement.
An operator at China's liaison office in Hong Kong said no one was available for comment.
Falun Gong is banned in China as an "evil cult" but allowed to practice freely in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule with guarantees of Western-style civil liberties.
Falun Gong alleges that at least 1,110 have been killed in China's persecution of its mainland followers since it began in 1999.

“Hong Kong court case tests freedoms under China”

(AP, November 11, 2004)

A Hong Kong appeals court cleared some convictions against 16 Falun Gong followers for protesting outside China's liaison office but upheld more serious verdicts in a case seen as a test of this territory's freedoms under Chinese rule.
The spiritual group is outlawed on mainland China as a cult that threatens communist rule but it can practice freely in Hong Kong.

"Court reverses some Falun Gong convictions"

by Helen Luk (AP, November 10, 2004)

A Hong Kong appeals court cleared some convictions Wednesday against 16 Falun Gong followers for protesting outside China's liaison office but upheld more serious verdicts in a case seen as a test of this territory's freedoms under Chinese rule.
The spiritual group is outlawed on mainland China as a cult that threatens communist rule but it can practice freely in Hong Kong.
Sixteen members, including four Swiss citizens and a New Zealander, had been prosecuted and ordered to pay small fines for the March 2002 demonstration against China's crackdown on Falun Gong.
A three-judge panel of Hong Kong's Court of Appeal overturned the 16 protesters' convictions for public obstruction.
"I am not satisfied that the magistrate (in the initial case) fully and fairly considered the whole of the evidence before him," one of the judges, Geoffrey Ma, wrote in the ruling.
But the court upheld convictions against nine of the 16, including the New Zealander, for obstructing police, and against three Hong Kong residents for assaulting police.
Several dozen Falun Gong followers meditated outside the court Wednesday to show support for the defendants.
Falun Gong claims hundreds of its followers have been killed in police custody in mainland China.
Followers practice meditation and perform slow-motion exercises. Activists abroad insist the group is nonpolitical and nonviolent and has been victimized unfairly.
This former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under an agreement granting it considerable autonomy and many civil liberties denied on the mainland.
The case against the 16 was the first in which Falun Gong followers were criminally prosecuted in Hong Kong. Many viewed it as a test of whether Hong Kong's judiciary is subject to subtle pressure from Beijing.
"We're glad that the court has affirmed that a citizen's right of demonstration has to be respected, but we regret its decision to uphold the other charges," said Kan Hung-cheung, a Falun Gong spokesman.
He said he still believes that China is trying to extend to Hong Kong its suppression of Falun Gong and that those whose convictions were upheld will appeal to Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal.
Department of Justice spokesman Felix Leung said he had no comment on the ruling.

"Falun Gong case taken to High Court"

("tvnz.com," October 25, 2004)

Eleven Falun Gong practitioners are launching a lawsuit against China's former leader at the High Court in Auckland.
They claim during Jiang Zemin's rule they were tortured for taking part in the form of exercise and meditation known as Falun Gong.
A lawyer representing the group says the suit is part of a world wide case against the former President, who is accused of encouraging the persecution of Falun Gong.
Chris Lawrence says one man, who works as a taxi driver on the North Shore, claims when he returned to China to visit his mother in 1999 he was imprisoned and tortured.
He says similar law suits are being filed around the world by people from 19 other countries.

"Inside China's brainwashing gulag" by Hamish McDonald

("Sydney Morning Herald," October 15, 2004)

A small nameplate beside the high, burnished metal gates announces the building inside as "Guangzhou City Law School". But this grimy industrial area on the outskirts of China's great southern commercial metropolis is an unlikely place for an academic institution.
No students are visible. The only signs of life are the black official cars and police vans that come and go through the forbidding gates. Nearby, across the Pearl River, is a grim set of barracks, called Chatou, behind high walls and watchtowers.
According to one woman who has been inside, the school is a front for a state gulag, where police re-educate followers of Falun Dafa, a quasi-religious movement based on meditation and taichi-like exercises that was banned by the Government five years ago as a "dangerous cult".
"It is a brainwashing centre - one of many in China, almost one in every district," says Tang Yiwen, a slight and soft-spoken 37-year-old interpreter who was grabbed off the street by police in February and taken to the Guangzhou institution. "It is said to be one of the most brutal."
She said the inmates are mostly Falun Gong followers who, like her, have refused to renounce their beliefs even after serving three to four years in brutal labour camps like the one across the river.
She said the school put inmates through an intensive program of mental and physical torture that included beatings, prolonged interrogations, sleep deprivation and continuous exposure to video and audio propaganda.
The "brainwashing", she said, was a more intensive form of "re-education" applied to Falun Gong followers in between stints at places like Chatou and Shanshui, the labour camp in Guangdong province where Tang spent three years until August last year. She said her visit to the Guangzhou City Law School has left her partially crippled in one leg.
The methods she and others describe sound eerily like the "struggle" sessions applied by Mao Zedong's Red Guards to extract confessions of "rightist deviation" during the decade-long Cultural Revolution Mao set off in 1966.
"I used to hear from my father and old people how people, one a famous writer, had committed suicide in the camps," Tang said, referring to that era. "I couldn't understand. Why couldn't they just hold out? After brainwashing in labour camp I understood why - it was really too brutal for human beings to stand. It was just like hell."
On the face of it, the struggle between state and Falun Gong is a hopelessly uneven one, like the breaking of a butterfly on a wheel.
On one side is the 1.7-million strong Ministry of Public Security, which is directed by Liu Jing, 60, a party central committee member with connections to the family of the late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping. The police can hold people without trial or access to lawyers for up to four years.
There is also the full weight of the state propaganda department, which directs a hostile media campaign against Falun Gong, claiming the movement encourages suicide and neglect in adherents and takes their savings.
There is no legal redress for abuses: after the official ban in July 1999, the Chinese Supreme Court passed down a directive forbidding lower courts or lawyers to accept cases brought by followers.
On the Falun Gong side are people like Tang. She is crippled, unable to get a job in the teaching profession she loves and at risk of being jailed and tortured at any time. She said her husband was forced to divorce her, and she cannot get a passport to leave China.
Since receiving a pro-forma letter early in August from the office of the Australian Prime Minister acknowledging a smuggled-out account of her ordeals and her request for asylum in Australia, Tang has been constantly on the move, staying in a succession of temporary accommodations around China, fearing re-arrest by embarrassed and angry police.
Yet the butterfly is not broken.
It is not too hard to find people who - even after years in labour camps - still swear by Falun Gong. In her three-week battle of wills inside Guangzhou City Law School, which involved a hunger strike that brought her close to death, Tang came off the moral victor: she was released without signing any of the letters of renun-ciation waved in front of her. WHEN more than 10,000 Falun Gong followers arrived without warning early on April 25, 1999, outside Zhongnanhai, the walled precinct next to the Forbidden City where China's ruling elite live and meet, and sat down in silent protest, it was an enormous shock to China's then party chief and president, Jiang Zemin.
Falun Gong had grown exponentially since it was formally registered in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, a former army trumpet-player and minor clerical worker in China's bleak north-east, formerly known as Manchuria, where millions were suddenly losing their jobs and social welfare benefits with closure of obsolete factories owned by state enterprises.
Partly out of legal necessity - Beijing does not allow new religions outside the streams of Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism - Li positioned Falun Gong among many groups reviving the ancient form of bodily and mental cultivation known as "qigong" whereby the life forces (qi) can be channelled into beneficial harmony by meditation, diet and slow-motion exercises (gong).
But in contrast to more secular, often pseudo-scientific groups, Li claimed to have rediscovered the basic law (fa) of the universe, as well as gaining supernatural powers through the teaching of a score of qigong masters since the age of four. "Master Li" could see through objects, or transmute himself through closed doors. He was a "Living Buddha".
For ordinary practitioners, Falun Gong's routine of daily exercise provided an immediate sense of well-being, as well as a fall in the medical bills that had become so expensive under China's market reforms. Many reported that chronic ailments, even serious illnesses, simply faded away. The movement's simple moral code - truth, benevolence and forbearance - also gave a psychological lift to anxious people living in crowded tenements. Li's two widely-circulated books, which practitioners were told to read and absorb daily, gave them the goal of self-purification.
By the late 1990s some Chinese media claimed it had 100 million adherents. The Government later amended that figure to 3 million, but the reality was probably in the tens of millions, concentrated in northern China.
Master Li, who by 1998 had moved to the United States, had shown no interest in exerting any political power. Falun Gong's methods were entirely peaceful, and the organisation showed no concern with social ills - beyond telling followers to rise above them through self-cultivation and superior morality.
But the evidence of the movement's ability to organise was alarming to the Communist Party. Falun Gong's membership included many state employees, party members, and armed forces personnel. When the state media made a slighting reference to Li, hundreds of followers had protested outside a state TV station in Tianjin, and then, unsatisfied, marched on Zhongnanhai. It was the biggest challenge to the state since the Tiananmen Square massacre a decade earlier.
Jiang unleashed a suppression campaign, with a ferocity that intensified as Falun Gong followers streamed into Beijing for continuing protests. The skill with which Falun Gong has fought the propaganda war since the ban, noted the French scholar Benoit Vermander, reinforced the impression the communists had met their toughest adversary since taking power - "an adversary that knows all there is to know about the party".

"Taiwan accuses former agent of helping China spy on Falun Gong, Hong Kong lawmakers"

(AP, September 15, 2004)

Taiwan has arrested a former military intelligence agent, accusing him of helping rival China spy on pro-Taiwan Hong Kong legislators and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, officials said Wednesday.
The suspect, Liao Hsien-ping, once worked as a Taiwanese agent in the Philippines, the Investigation Bureau said.
Chinese spies allegedly recruited him after he left the intelligence agency and was working as a foreign labor broker in Manila in the 1990s, the bureau said.
Liao, 60, returned to Taiwan and allegedly posed as a taxi driver and journalist while collecting information about Falun Gong members with connections to Taiwan, China and the United States, the bureau said. China banned the spiritual movement in 1999, calling it a deadly cult.
"To gather information on the group, Liao joined local Falun Gong chapters and even posed as a radio reporter to collect details about the group's activities," a bureau statement said.
Liao also allegedly monitored the movements of visiting Hong Kong lawmakers sympathetic to Taiwan, the bureau said. Newspapers quoted investigators as saying that one of his targets was legislator Emily Lau, a fierce critic of China.
The suspect did not immediately comment on his arrest.
Liao allegedly frequently passed on information to Chinese agents by telephone, e-mail or trips to Hong Kong and Macau, the bureau said.
China allegedly paid Liao about 1.7 million New Taiwan dollars (US$50,295; euro 40,963) since 2000, it said.
Taiwan and China frequently announce the arrests of alleged spies. The rivals have been ruled separately since the Communists won a civil war and took over China in 1949. Beijing insists that the democratic island of Taiwan must eventually accept Communist rule, and has threatened force to unify the two sides.

"Chinese Olympic show runs into trouble in Hong Kong when Falun Gong follower appears at news conference"

(AP, September 06, 2004)

China's 32 new Olympic gold medalists landed here Monday for a star-studded visit that quickly ran into trouble when a Falun Gong follower tried to question mainland officials during a news conference.
Analysts had said Beijing was hoping to score political points ahead of hotly contested legislative elections Sunday, but the PR offensive was marred by an unusual public exchange between a Chinese official and a Falun Gong practitioner.
A woman identifying herself a journalist with New Tang Dynasty Television, which apparently has close ties with Falun Gong, tried to ask a question but was cut off by He Huixian, a top Chinese sports spokeswoman.
"Our goals are different," a visibly upset He told the woman. "I understand your background. We're not going to answer your question."
A reporter with mainstream Hong Kong station TVB then tried to press the mainland officials for an explanation, but got nowhere.
Spiritual group Falun Gong is outlawed in mainland China as an "evil cult," and the Beijing authorities have sought to eradicate it through a crackdown that Falun Gong claims has killed hundreds of its followers. The group remains legal in Hong Kong, where it carries out frequent demonstrations, often to the dismay of local officials.
The New Tang Dynasty staffer, Sarah Liang, later told reporters that she practices Falun Gong but insisted her New York-based station is independent. Liang said she wanted to ask the head of China's Olympics Committee, Yuan Weimin, a nonpolitical question: Whether cash rewards for athletes had improved China's performance.
"I think it's political censorship," Liang said.
Many New Tang Dynasty staffers are affiliated with Falun Gong.
China brought its golden Olympic team to Hong Kong ahead of key elections on Sunday that may increase the legislature's number of pro-democracy, opposition candidates.
Dressed in white and red jackets, the athletes were presented with garlands as they landed in the former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997. Dozens of children waved the Hong Kong and Chinese flags nearby.
Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa greeted the athletes and called them "the pride of Hong Kong and the pride of the country."
The medalists plan demonstrations in table tennis, badminton, diving and volleyball, as well as two public autograph sessions.
The visit comes ahead of a legislative election on Sunday expected to go badly for China's local allies, who currently control the legislature.
Upset by China's ruling in April that Hong Kong can't elect its next leader in 2007 and all lawmakers in 2008, many locals are expected to vote for pro-democracy candidates in the election to fill 30 legislative seats.
The remaining 30 lawmakers will be picked by special interest groups, such as lawyers, accountants and doctors, who tend to side with Beijing.
China dispatched the athletes to Hong Kong as part of a recent charm offensive to minimize the backlash against its local allies at the polls over the decision to hold back on full democracy, said political scientist James Sung.
"The goal is to create an atmosphere of patriotism and nationalist feeling," said Sung, who teaches at the City University of Hong Kong.
China has made efforts to boost patriotism here in the past, including a visit last October by the mainland's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, after his historic space mission.
Many Hong Kongers remain leery of China's Communist regime, concerned that Beijing will extend authoritarian rule to the territory despite promises of leaving its Western-style freedoms intact.
The Olympic medalists head Thursday to the neighboring gambling enclave of Macau, a former Portuguese colony that was returned to China in 1999.

"Falun Gong says justice delayed as Hong Kong court fails to rule on appeal after a year"

(AP, September 03, 2004)

The Falun Gong spiritual group claimed Friday that 16 followers convicted of causing an obstruction during a protest are being treated unfairly because a Hong Kong court has failed for a year to rule on their appeals.
"Justice delayed is justice denied," Falun Gong spokeswoman Sharon Xu told The Associated Press. "It's not good for Hong Kong's image."
About 30 Falun Gong followers staged a sit-in demonstration Friday outside Beijing's representative office in Hong Kong _ near the scene of a protest that led to Hong Kong's first criminal charges against members of the meditation group, which is banned as an "evil cult" in mainland China.
A magistrate convicted the 16 - four Swiss, a New Zealander and 11 Hong Kong residents - of creating a public obstruction during their demonstration against the mainland's crackdown on Falun Gong. They claim hundreds have been killed there.
The group says its members were unfairly charged in the Hong Kong case, which it called a politically motivated measure to stifle its message.
The charges were minor and the defendants were only ordered to pay small fines. But the implications for free speech in Hong Kong could be significant, human rights activists say.
The Falun Gong followers said on appeal - at a hearing a year ago - that their protest had been a legal exercise of their constitutional rights. They had expected a ruling within a few weeks, but it has never come.
The group suspects that the politically sensitive nature of the case might have placed the judges under pressure, Xu said.
Mainland authorities are trying to eradicate Falun Gong, which alarmed Beijing several years ago with its organizational abilities.
But it remains legal in Hong Kong and holds frequent protests here, creating an uncomfortable situation for the Chinese territory's government.
Falun Gong says the 16 practitioners deserve a ruling because they now have criminal convictions on their records.
Xu said any unfair treatment is damaging to the "one country, two systems" arrangement set up when Britain returned this former colony to China in 1997 with guarantees of considerable autonomy - including independent courts.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong's Judiciary, Jaime Or, said Friday that the decision is expected within a month and added: "The reasons for the time it has taken will be apparent when the judgment is handed down."
Falun Gong's lawyer, John Clancey, called the delay unusual.
"Usually this kind of judgment takes a matter of months," Clancey said.

"China jails Falungong followers for promoting 'cult'"

("ABC News," August 30, 2004)

China has sentenced two Falungong followers to 10 years in jail for manufacturing and spreading the group's promotional materials.
Wei Yumi and her sister Wei Yufen were convicted by a court in Qingdao city, in the northeastern province of Shandong, for activities related to "cult" organisations.
The court heard the sisters were arrested in May after they were found mass producing and copying audi-visual promotional materials for Falungong in two rented houses in Qingdao.
The Falungong was outlawed as an "evil cult" by China in 1999.
The group claims at least 1,600 of its members have been tortured or beaten to death since a crackdown was launched years ago.

"China slams Japan for giving Falungong non-profit status"

(AFP, August 30, 2004)

China issued "strong dissatisfaction" with Japan for approving the Falungong spiritual group as a non-profit organisation, comparing it to the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult.
Falungong, known as the Japan Falun Dafa Society in Japan, "is of the same nature as the Aum Supreme Truth cult", the Chinese embassy in Japan said, referring to the group that spread deadly Sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 people.
It said Falungong, outlawed as an "evil cult" by China since 1999, had a "stinky reputation" around the world.
"They have complete spiritual control of their followers," the embassy said in a statement on its website.
"They have seriously harmed society's order as well as people's lives."
Tokyo's approval of Falungong as a non-profit organisation was "against the wish of Chinese people in Japan and the Japanese people", it said.
Falungong once claimed millions of followers on the mainland but has faced a tough crackdown by the government, which considers it one of the most serious threats to its rule.
The group claims that at least 1,600 of its members have been tortured or beaten to death in China since a crackdown ordered four years ago largely drove the organisation underground.

"China Falun Gong followers appeal for permission to remain in Japan"

by Yumi Wijers-Hasegawa ("The Japan Times," August 11, 2004)

Chinese followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement who are seeking asylum in Japan appealed Tuesday for permission to stay here out of fear they will be persecuted in China.
During a news conference in Tokyo, 58-year-old Zhang Minjie said she is certain she will face further detention and torture if she is sent back to China.
"I was kept twice in confinement and once in a mental institute," she said. "On one occasion I was not allowed to go home for over a year. I have difficulties walking and my back is bent due to ill-treatment there. Please let me stay."
Two other women, Li Yuxue, 53, and Zheng Xue Zhen, 63, told the news conference they also have been persecuted by Chinese authorities.
Like Zhang, they alluded to intense surveillance by the Chinese authorities.
All three women managed to flee to relatives living in Japan.
According to Lei Shuhong, a longtime resident of Japan and a Falun Gong follower, 1,020 members of the movement had died as of Monday since the Chinese government began a crackdown in July 1999. Lei is working on behalf of the people seeking asylum here.
Many more are being tortured or have been sentenced to labor re-education centers, she said.
"Even among the 31 (followers of Falun Gong) who are seeking asylum in Japan that we are aware of, 14 have had their case rejected and seven others have been detained," she said.
Of the 14, four have been ordered to turn themselves in to immigration authorities this month.
"There is a very high chance that these people will be detained or sent back to China," Lei said. "Please help us rescue them."

"Group Closes Ranks Vs Fake Asylum Seekers"

("PINA," July 26, 2004)

The Saipan Falun Dafa Association is willing to cooperate with the Attorney General's Office in identifying illegal aliens who may take advantage of Falun Dafa membership to secure refugee protection.
Falun Dafa spokesman Vincent Perez said this as he denied reports that his group saw an increase in membership following moves to implement refugee protection regulations in the CNMI.
The persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in China is seen as possibly sufficient grounds to obtain refugee protection in the Commonwealth.
"Our membership has been stable in the past months. We have some new members, but we make sure that everyone in our group are staying on the island legally," Perez told the Saipan Tribune.
The group has roughly between 30 and 50 members, he said.
Perez admitted that the Falun Dafa has one practitioner on Saipan who is seeking refugee protection, but that member had joined the group months ago.
"I thought about the possibility [that our group may be involved in the process in some way] when the refugee protection policy was first introduced," he said. "But as practitioners, we try to be people of moral character. To do something illegal would be contrary to our beliefs. It would be dishonest for us to allow people to join us to avoid deportation."
Perez also expressed readiness to work with the Division of Immigration in case someone facing deportation claims to be a member of the Falun Dafa.
He said that while the organization does not keep a membership logbook, its members know one another. "So if people claim that they're members even if they're not, it's going to be quite obvious."
He added that practitioners should not be difficult to track down, as they gather to meditate in the south parking area of the Department of Labor every night and at Micro Beach and Banzai Cliff every Sunday morning.
"If Immigration has any questions, they can just come and we'll confirm to them who our members are and who are not," Perez said.
A revised version of the regulations on refugee protection was published in the June issue of the Commonwealth Register and will become effective if the AGO receives no major public comments by the end of this month.
The regulations on asylum seekers aim to implement Public Law 13-61, which requires the AGO to promulgate rules and regulations enforcing the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The United States is a signatory to both international conventions and treaties. Pursuant to Section 102 of the Covenant, the CNMI is required to conform to such forms of treaties.
On Friday evening, Falun Dafa members commemorated the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Chinese government's crackdown against the group's practitioners.
"We want to bring awareness to the torture and killing of Falun Dafa members in China. We especially want to bring [former Chinese leader] Jiang Zemin to justice for his human rights violations," Perez said. "We are not doing anybody any harm. We just exercise, meditate and try to be good, moral people in society. But our members are being prosecuted because our group has become larger than the Communist Party. They are intimidated by us because we are strong in our beliefs."

"Falun Gong followers in Hong Kong protest mainland crackdown"

(AP, July 18, 2004)

About 250 Falun Gong followers marched peacefully Sunday to the office of the Chinese government to denounce Beijing's crackdown on the spiritual group in the mainland, police and a protest organizer said.
The protesters read a statement outside China's local liaison office and about 100 stayed behind to meditate across the street, organizer Kan Hung-cheung said.
A police spokeswoman confirmed the protest, which came two days ahead of the fifth anniversary of Beijing's crackdown on Falun Gong, which it banned as an "evil cult.''
Police spokeswoman Kaman Chong confirmed the protest but didn't have a crowd estimate. Kan said about 250 people participated.
Falun Gong is allowed to practice freely in Hong Kong, a former British colony that enjoys Western-style liberties under Chinese rule.
However, the group accuses local authorities of hindering their activities, including banning foreign followers from entering the territory. Kan said Falun Gong teaches healthy exercises and posed no threat to the Chinese government, calling it an "activity that builds up the body and teaches people to be good.''
He accused former Chinese President Jiang Zemin of ordering the group's suppression in 1999 out of "jealousy and fear.''
China has jailed more than 6,000 Falun Gong followers while at least 1,007 of them have died in Chinese custody, Kan said, adding that many were tortured to death. China has denied abuse. An operator answering the phone at the liaison office said no one was available for comment.

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

[Home Page] [Cos'è il CESNUR] [Biblioteca del CESNUR] [Testi e documenti] [Libri] [Convegni]

cesnur e-mail

[Home Page] [About CESNUR] [CESNUR Library] [Texts & Documents] [Book Reviews] [Conferences]