11 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested Saturday by French police for wearing clothing with the words "Falun Gong" on it. Many attribute these arrests to pressure from Chinese authorities to keep Falun Gong hidden from visiting Chinese groups.
|"Two police cars sandwiched his car; the police told him to get out, pushed him onto the pavement and handcuffed him without saying anything."|
French Police Extend Jiang's Information Blockade
The arrests took place in the context of a controversial parade, a state visit this past Monday by the President of China, Hu Jintao, and a French administration, which, according to some news reports, is eager to curry favor with the regime in Beijing.
The Chinese New Year's Parade was sponsored jointly by the Paris and Beijing Town Halls. The parade was open for participation to all kinds of associations, but not Falun Gong.
The Falun Gong Association of France was turned down from participating in the New Year's parade even though, according to the Association's President Alain Tong, their request was handed in to authorities on time and dozens of other associations were invited to take part. "We were excluded because of the pressure from (military chief) Jiang Zemin's regime - not Hu Jintao's - because he is afraid that his criminal acts against Falun Gong will be publicly revealed," Tong told CNS News. "I believe they pressured the French organizers to exclude Falun Gong."
The experiences of Ms. Huifang Roper, a French citizen and Falun Gong practitioner arrested that day for wearing a yellow scarf, provide an interesting commentary on Alain Tong's remarks.
Many groups had been brought from China to take part in the parade, including dancers, acrobats, and a large dragon-dance troupe. Ms Roper says she had taken up a spot in the first row of spectators and when a group of Chinese dancers passed by she wanted to show them that Falun Gong practitioners were in Paris. She says she put her scarf on, and then waved it at the group passing. Two of the dancers saw her, and began talking to one another.
At this moment, Ms. Roper says, a Chinese woman who was monitoring the parade route immediately called out to French policemen. A policeman came over, looked at the scarf, asked what was written on it, found nothing wrong, and turned away. The Chinese woman then asked the policeman to take Huifang's scarf and said "Falun Dafa is illegal," at which point a number of policemen took Ms. Roper away. She was detained for several hours, and then released.
"Whenever state-sponsored groups travel outside China," explains Dr. Shiyu Zhou, a Rutgers University professor, "there is one official assigned to keep watch over them, to make sure, among other possibilities, the group has no contact with Falun Gong. This woman, whether she was a Chinese Embassy employee or a member of the Public Security Bureau brought from China for this purpose, was apparently fulfilling this role."
A key part of Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong is a blockade on all independent information about Falun Gong. Under Jiang's direction, the state-run media in China has gone to great lengths to demonize Falun Gong ?an image that is shattered by the knowledge that Falun Gong is legal everywhere except China (and there the ban contravenes the Chinese Constitution), and practiced in sixty countries around the world.
"In the arrest of Huifang Roper and the other practitioners on Saturday, the French police were cooperating with Jiang's persecution, working to make sure that the visitors from China did not catch even a fleeting glimpse of how Falun Gong is freely practiced in Paris and around the world," says Ms. Rachlin.
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
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