CESNUR - Center for Studies on New Religions directed by Massimo Introvigne

"Court convicts 12 Falun Gong supporters over protest"

("Jakarta Post," April 28, 2005)

Jakarta, Indonesia - An Indonesian court on Thursday convicted 12 Falun Gong supporters who were arrested while holding a protest in front of the Chinese embassy during a state visit by China's President Hu Jintao.
The South Jakarta District Court handed the supporters of the movement, which is outlawed in China and has been branded an "evil cult" by the government, a two-month suspended jail sentence with six months probation.
The Falun Gong supporters were arrested as the Chinese leader was meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last Monday morning. The two leaders later signed a "strategic partnership" agreement that officials said paves the way for billions of dollars in trade and investment to Indonesia.
The Falung Gong protestors said they were also arrested on Saturday protesting near the site of the Asian-African Summit - the first time they have been arrested during years of demonstrations - but were later released.
"As they were convicted, it means they were proven to be guilty of violating provincial law," said South Jakarta District Court Judge Herman Tandi, citing Jakarta's law No. 11/88, article 8, which he said prohibits "actions" in the city's green areas.
"What they violated was that they broke the city bylaw by holding their action in a green area," he said.
Most of the demonstrators were sitting meditating when they were arrested in a grassy strip next to the sidewalk across from the embassy, eyewitnesses said. Photos showed groups of three or four police carrying away meditators while still sitting on their mats with eyes closed.
The supporters, who spent 24 hours in jail before being taken to court Tuesday, refused to attend the trial.
One of the defendants said the protestors had held demonstrations over 30 times since 2002, most in the same area across from the Chinese embassy, and were never arrested, despite visits by the police, intelligence officers and diplomats from the Chinese embassy.
The demonstrators said they had sent a letter, as they did with previous protests, to the police to notify authorities prior to their demonstration in accordance with the law.
"It's very strange because we were first told when we were arrested that we had violated laws on public order because we were there without permission," said one of the protestors, Hok Subagio, 57.
"I think we were arrested because there was an intervention by the government of China," he said. "On Monday, their was a visit by the president of China to the embassy, so I think they didn't want their president to see us over there."
The Chinese embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.
China made Falun Gong, an exercise and meditation practice that the Chinese government considers a dangerous, subversive movement, illegal in 1999.
Rights activists and group supporters, who say Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that is beneficial for body and mind, say thousands of its members have since been unlawfully detained and some tortured and killed while in custody.

"New wave of arrests against Falun Gong"

("AsiaNews," April 26, 2005)

Beijing, China - In the largest campaign since in 1999, police have made massive arrests across the country in an operation against Falun Gong followers, especially in the provinces of Shandong, Jiangxi, Sichuan, and Inner Mongolia, this according to Falun Gong sources.
In the meantime, Amnesty International has launched a campaign on behalf of Ms Liu Yawen, a Falun Gong member who was arrested and disappeared without trace for distributing Video-CDs.
Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that focuses on meditation and physical exercises inspired by Buddhist and Taoist traditions—through breathing and other exercises practitioners seek health, immortality, peace and harmony.
This began on April 25, 1999, when more than 10,000 Falun Gong followers demonstrated peacefully against the violation of their rights.
Since July 1999, the movement, which had some 100 million practitioners, has been subjected to a brutal policy of persecution, a policy put forth by then President Jiang Zemin because it was a “heretical organisation” and a “threat to social and political stability”.
Since then anti-Falun Gong propaganda has become merciless with people being jailed, tortured (38,000 cases according to Falun Gong sources) and killed.
From July 1999 to April 2005, these sources have reported 1,880 documented deaths, often as a result of physical and psychological torture. The actual figure is likely higher since this information is considered a “state secret” and punishable with prison.
In fact, hundreds of thousands of followers are still in prison (in some cases, entire families) and more than 200,000 have been sent to labour re-education camps without trial.
Others have been sent to mental hospitals and subjected to “brain washing” and unnecessary and dangerous pharmacological treatment to make them recant.

"Falun Gong appeal opens up gray areas"

by Albert Wong ("The Standard," April 5, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - An appeal by eight Falun Gong members against charges they assaulted and obstructed police during a protest has highlighted gray areas in the nature of police arrests, a court heard.
Although Yeung May-wan and seven other sect members were acquitted of the initial charge of causing an obstruction in a public place, they were convicted of obstructing police while being arrested for that alleged offence.
``If the initial arrest is unlawful, the continuation of that arrest is also unlawful,'' counsel for the defendants, Paul Harris, told the Court of Final Appeal Monday.
Harris maintains that the arresting officers did not have clear and reasonable grounds to believe that an offence had occurred and therefore could not charge the protesters with obstructing an arrest.
``There was no attempt to evaluate the extent of the obstruction,'' nor any attempt to consider their right to demonstrate before ordering the arrests,'' he said.
Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal, Kemal Bokhary, noted that Harris' argument would make it difficult for police officers to execute their duties. ``Not everyone who has been acquitted can be considered as unlawfully arrested,'' Bokhary said.
It is the duty of the officers to bring the protesters into the police station either to arrest or question them, he said.
It is impossible for officers to predict whether the arrests will result in convictions and their duties will be hindered if they have to be wary of their actions later being classified as ``unlawful.''
``They [the police] look to us to define the law so they can execute their duty,'' he said.
Whether one has the over-riding right to protest even when being charged and arrested by the police is another gray area which will be debated in the course of the hearing.
Yeung May-wan and her fellow practitioners were arrested in March 2002 outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Sheung Wan.
They were accused of obstructing the pavement with a banner that read ``Jiang Zemin: Stop Killing.''
Further charges of obstructing the execution of police duties were added when they refused to leave the police vehicle.
Last November, the Court of Appeal ruled that the nature of their protest was not a contravention of any law, but their actions inside the police vehicle was nevertheless an obstruction of police executing their duties.
Although Justice of Appeal Frank Stock concurred they should remain convicted on that charge, he nevertheless raised doubts on whether the arresting officer ``had reasonable grounds for suspecting a public place obstruction offence.''
The Falun Gong spiritual group is legal in Hong Kong but has been banned on the mainland since 1999 and labeled an ``evil cult.''
One of the Falun Gong defendants in this hearing, New Zealand citizen Jenny Lee, was refused entry into the territory last December.
At the time, her fellow practitioner and defendant, Lu Jie, said she was coming to see her lawyer and hear the case.
The hearing will resume tomorrow and continue for another two days.

"Falun Gong members seek reversal of convictions for obstructing, assaulting Hong Kong police"

(AP, April 4, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - Lawyers for nine followers of the Falun Gong spiritual group in Hong Kong urged the territory's top court Monday to reverse their convictions for obstructing and assaulting police-charges the group says amount to political persecution ordered by China.
The convictions stem from a March 2002 protest against China's ban on Falun Gong in front of the Chinese government's Hong Kong offices. Sixteen of the demonstrators were later convicted of public obstruction, while nine of them, including a New Zealander, were convicted for obstructing the police. Three Hong Kong residents among the 16 were found guilty of attacking police officers.
An appeal court overturned the public obstruction convictions in November, but the convictions for obstructing and assaulting police stand.
A Falun Gong lawyer argued before the Court of Final Appeal Monday that since the appeal court ruled the protest didn't amount to obstruction, the protesters were justified in resisting arrest, follower Lau Wai-hing told The Associated Press by phone.
Television footage showed about half a dozen followers meditating outside the court building in a show of support. The court hearing is scheduled to continue Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday is a public holiday in Hong Kong.
China has banned Falun Gong, which combines slow-motion exercise with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, as an "evil cult," but allows it in Hong Kong, a former British colony that enjoys Western-style civil liberties including religious freedom.
However, Falun Gong says the criminal convictions from the 2002 protest show that Beijing is pressuring Hong Kong to crack down on the group.

"Falun Gong member files for asylum"

by Marconi Calindas ("Saipan Tribune," March 29, 2005)

Saipan, CNMI - A Chinese woman who is a Falun Gong practitioner is seeking refugee status in the CNMI and has filed her application with the Attorney General's Office last week, according to Vincent Perez, founder of the Falun Dafa Association of Saipan.
The identity of the woman was not disclosed due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Perez, who spoke with reporters shortly after the weekly Saipan Rotary Club meeting yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, said the refugee status application of the woman was an individual decision.
Perez said the AGO's decision on the matter would be out next month.
He said he does not encourage nor discourage practitioners of Falun Gong on Saipan to file for the status. Perez added that the filing of refugee status must be made by someone who really needs it and the reasons behind it should be legitimate.
"I did help but it wasn't through me," he said, adding that the woman does not speak good English.
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is an ancient form of qigong, the practice of refining the body and mind through special exercises and meditation. The group's participation in a silent, non-violent protest in 1999 against a renewed effort by the Chinese government to clamp down on spiritual movements caught Beijing's attention, which has since then launched several attempts to stamp out the group.
Perez said one reason why the woman applied for refugee status was probably fear of persecution and torture once she goes back to China.
Perez said that Falun Gong started in China in 1992 but it was only in 1999 that the Chinese government started persecuting and torturing practitioners. As of this date, Perez claims there are more than 100,000 Falung Gong deaths in China but only 1,600 have been documented. Perez said the Chinese government now regards Falun Gong as a movement that seeks to topple the government.
Falun Gong practitioners in the CNMI range from 30 to 40 people but the association does not have exact membership rolls, said Perez. He said that sometime in the 1990s, CNMI practitioners reached about a hundred but when the persecution started in China, some decided to give it up.
Visual artist Xiao Peng, who has an ongoing art exhibit at the CNMI Arts Gallery, said that Falung Gong practitioners on Saipan do not really go out because they are scared to be seen and have the notion that when they go back to China they would be persecuted with their families. Peng said that, once they reveal that they are part of Falun Gong, they would open themselves and their family up to persecution.
Perez said another practitioner told them that her family in China is being harassed, that her telephones lines were being tapped, and before she came to Saipan, the Chinese government approached her several times. She eventually lost her job when the China government allegedly put pressure on her employer to have her fired.
Perez said Peng's ongoing exhibit aims to expose the difficulties Falun Gong practitioners go through by using social realism as a form of art. He said that, through art, they are able to spread the word that persecution and torture is wrong. Peng has seven social realism paintings currently being shown at the gallery on Capitol Hill. The exhibit will run until April 9.

"Falungong sabotages Chinese satellite TV"

by Florence Chan ("Asia Times," March 25, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - Falungong, which Beijing outlawed as an "evil cult" in 1999, disrupted television broadcast signals in most parts of China last week for about five minutes by jamming signal transmission via the satellite of Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co Ltd (AsiaSat). One communications-technology expert, however, told Asia Times Online that such attacks could be thwarted by using appropriate security measures.
"The attack started at 9:34pm on March 14 and disrupted six C-band transponders of an AsiaSat 3S satellite with Falungong propaganda, causing a break in regular programming of many provincial TV channels in the mainland that hire the attacked transponders for transmission," AsiaSat chief executive officer Peter Jackson told a press conference on March 15.
China considers the well-organized Falungong, which can mobilize thousands of supporters, a threat to Communist Party rule.
This is the second assault after November 20, when an unidentified hacker intruded into the transmission of a transponder on the 3S satellite. But "the interruption proves much more vicious this time, affecting six transponders", said AsiaSat marketing manager Sabrina Cubbon. Under strong interference from offensive signals, the satellite transmission will dangerously outstrip the saturation point, so the affected transponders must be turned off, she added. So far, the company has not yet detected the source of the attack because of technical impediments.
As a result of the intrusion, regular programs were replaced by Falungong propaganda on several provincial-level TV channels that broadcast to all cable TV subscribers in the country via the AsiaSat 3C satellite. TV stations in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province, Jiangsu province in the east, Hunan province in central China and Sichuan province were among those disrupted, to name a few. "We were informed by the clients when the Falungong stuff had gone to air. But our service was back to normal a few minutes later," Liu said.
Dajiyuan or Epoch Times, an overseas Chinese-language news website, said the disruptions were not Falungong images but slogans urging people to leave the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); it included a harangue against the party's flaws and alleged indifference and injustice toward the Chinese people.
"The source of jamming signals must have been close enough to the AsiaSat ground transmitter station to disrupt the frequency," said Dr Li Chi-kwong of the Electronics and Information Engineering Department, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. "Besides, it takes time to target jamming signals at the satellite in outer space. Therefore, a tighter security of the ground transmitter will help prevent further interruption. Alternatively, encryption will make TV signals more difficult to tamper with."
The latest disruption came at a highly sensitive time, as the National People's Congress had just passed the Anti-Secession Law on March 14. But how much the sabotage had to do with the legislation is not known. The Ministry of Information Industry is working with the ministries of National Security and Public Security in an intensive inquiry, and their findings will be released after they are completed and evaluated.
The incident is anything but a hoax. "Whoever successfully jammed the satellite must command a good knowledge of satellite transmission and possess some essential equipment to emit interruptive signals of great strength. Hereby, we presume that the attack was done by wealthy foreigners," said Sabrina Cubbon. Professor Li Chi-kwong of Hong Kong Polytechnic University also agreed that the incident was designed and planned well in advance.
By employing security staff to patrol regularly around the transmitter stations, such attacks can be avoided, said Professor Li.
Hong Kong Falungong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung told Asia Times Online that he had not heard about Falungong disciples plotting the incident on March 14. Yet, he added, "I know some fellows have in the past interfered with TV broadcasts to make known how Falungong members were persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party. And what they did deserves positive recognition ... There's no speech freedom in China, which is why the Falungong members had to jam TV satellites," Kan added.
However, Cubbon said, "The interference disabled our service and negatively affected our reputation. We strongly condemn such outlawed behaviors."
So far, AsiaSat has informed the Office of the Telecommunications Authority under the Hong Kong government, but has not reported the signal disruption to the police. "There're only two places where the Falungong signals could be sourced, so it's very unlikely that the source was in Hong Kong. Since the satellite transmission is worldwide, we can't call the police all over the world," Cubbon explained. Said Dr Li Chi-kwong: "If the source couldn't be spotted when the signals were still on the air, there will be fat chance to locate the source after that. As the latest interruptive signals only lasted for five minutes or so, it's too difficult to find out the source."
In a press release, AsiaSat CEO Jackson said the latest interference and the previous incident in November "seriously violated international telecommunications treaties" and "contravened international regulations". The company said it reserved the right to take appropriate legal actions.
Falungong is a religion blending Buddhist and Taoist credos with breathing (or Qigong, a traditional Chinese martial art) and meditation exercises. On April 24, 1999, a huge legion of Falungong members rallied around Zhongnanhai - the power enclave of the China's central government. After Falungong was banned as an "evil cult", thousands of adherents were detained or jailed for rehabilitation.
Some members of Falungong had jammed other satellites to disrupt broadcasts into China, including the coverage in 2003 of China's first manned space flight. Those convicted were punished with long jail sentences.

"Hong Kong satellite firm says Falun Gong material interrupted its signal into China"

(AP, March 15, 2005)

Hong Kong, China - Material from the Falun Gong spiritual group interrupted a satellite transmission into mainland China, the broadcaster said Tuesday, though the group denied it was involved.
The Chinese government used the occasion to attack Falun Gong, which it bans as "an evil cult," saying via state media that the action "seriously violates the conventions of international telecommunications."
Hong Kong's Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Ltd., or AsiaSat, said its transmission was "deliberately interrupted by illegal signals, reportedly carrying Falun Gong-related content."
The interruption at 9:34 p.m. (1334 GMT) Monday "caused a break in service of TV programming on several provincial TV channels in China," it said in a statement.
AsiaSat said it "condemns such behavior" and was investigating. It reported a similar incident in November.
Falun Gong denied involvement.
"Breaking into a satellite transmission is very difficult," said Falun Gong spokeswoman Sophie Xiao, reached by telephone in Hong Kong. "We are ordinary people. I don't think we have such expertise."
However, Falun Gong has previously said a practitioner hacked into a cable TV system in mainland China.
China banned Falun Gong on its mainland in 1999, though the group can still practice in Hong Kong, a former British colony with Western-style freedoms.
Beijing has arrested hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Falun Gong followers in its crackdown. The group alleges many have been tortured and in some cases murdered.

"Kowtowing to China"

by Mike Steketee ("The Australian," March 12, 2005)

Melbourne, Australia - ONCE a month, Alexander Downer signs a certificate banning adherents of Falun Gong from displaying banners and making excessive noise outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra.
The Foreign Minister has been doing so for the past two years because, as his department explains it, he has determined that in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention, fixed banners or signs, including those on vehicles, together with amplified noise, "impair the dignity" of the Chinese embassy.
The real reason is that the Chinese, who call Falun Gong an "evil cult", complained about signs that read "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance" and "Stop the Killing", as well as the playing of exercise music with a Chinese voice-over.
According to the group, Australia is the only democratic country to impose such restrictions on its members, or practitioners, as they prefer to call themselves - an assertion the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not challenge when it was put to it this week.
Unfortunately, the Chinese do everything to impair the dignity of Falun Gong practitioners. Amnesty International says tens of thousands are being detained in China, mostly in "re-education through labour" centres but also in prisons and mental hospitals. It reports that total alleged deaths in custody had reached about 500 by the end of 2002.
The US State Department says that several hundred reportedly have died due to torture, abuse and neglect. Falun Gong claims to have verified 1423 deaths and that the total could be as high as 10,000. Whatever the figure, it is one of the worst examples of repression of Chinese citizens since the Cultural Revolution.
China cracked down on Falun Gong in 1999, after more than 10,000 people held a silent protest outside the main Chinese leaders' compound in Beijing. It was the biggest challenge to Chinese authority since the mass demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The practice of Falun Gong is similar to tai chi and aims to improve the body and mind through special exercises and meditation. The Chinese Government regards it as a threat because it has spiritual elements and Chinese history is replete with political rebellions fuelled by religious movements. Falun Gong has some of the qualities of a sect, including its founder Li Hongzhi, now living in the US, and his teachings, which include that human intelligence and civilisation were brought to Earth by aliens from outer space.
Its literature includes criticism of the Chinese Communist Party's attack on traditional culture and references such as the "communist evil spectre" and that "the only way of saving oneself is to thoroughly discard the CCP".
But there is nothing to support the Chinese Government's characterisation of Falun Gong as akin to dangerous cults such as the Branch Davidians, who committed mass suicide when raided by the police in the US in 1993, or Japan's Aum Shinrikyo, responsible for the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.
Many Australians driving past the Chinese embassy and consulates in other cities have seen the Falun Gong in action, if that is the word. It is the epitome of passive protest. They are often sitting cross-legged, meditating.
Australian spokeswoman Kay Rubacek concedes there was one incident that broke from the group's insistence on peaceful demonstration and was "a bit of a black mark used against us". Several years ago, some practitioners entered the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Melbourne and started holding a news conference. Most left when asked, but one person was removed by the police. Rubacek says it is the only incident of its kind in Australia.
You can draw your own conclusions why Australia finds it necessary, unlike other countries, to impose a statutory restriction on a group just because the Chinese say they are offended, as opposed to the police simply keeping an eye on members or responding to specific complaints about breaches of the law. This week the Government went further to please the Chinese by excluding Falun Gong from talks it convened in Canberra with non-government organisations on human rights in China.
These discussions are held as part of the input for the annual human rights dialogue Australia has with China. Haven't heard much about those? That is because they are held behind closed doors. Even the NGOs participate in the preliminary talks only on the condition that they do not speak about them publicly.
Falun Gong was prepared to abide by these conditions but this week it was dis-invited to the talks. Why? Because it held a protest outside the foreign affairs department to coincide with the meeting. This included displays of information about Falun Gong and a demonstration of Chinese torture methods.
A foreign affairs department spokesman said Falun Gong members had been told their attendance might have to be reconsidered but they decided to go ahead with the demonstration anyway.
"We advised them formally on Tuesday, the day before the consultations, that their invitation had been withdrawn because the protest was not consistent with the co-operative spirit of the consultations," he added.
That certainly sorts out Australian priorities. Punishing people for engaging in peaceful protest is not consistent with democratic values. These are the kinds of values we hold so dear that we are prepared to go to war for them to see them blossom in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East -- at least, that is our rationalisation after failing to find the weapons of mass destruction that were the original reason for falling in behind our other great and powerful friends, the Americans.
But these values apparently are not as important as kowtowing to the Chinese. The foreign affairs spokesman said the restrictions on Falun Gong activities outside the Chinese embassy should not be interpreted "as indicating any lessening of the Government's concern for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners" and that these concerns had been raised at the last dialogue in October.
The annual dialogue is a means of quarantining human rights issues to a private meeting and is a substitute for public criticisms of China's appalling human rights record, including in the UN Human Rights Commission. As Australian ambassador to China Alan Thomas put it last year: "I don't get up with a microphone in Tiananmen Square and that is appreciated [by the Chinese Government]."
Australia argues that this approach is more effective, but the results are hard to find. Australia has raised a series of individual Falun Gong cases in the annual dialogues, including, in two consecutive years, that of the brother of an Australian citizen arrested in China for being a Falun Gong practitioner. "He still died in a labour camp," says Rubacek.
Yes, it is important to have good relations with China and not only because they buy lots of our goods. And no, we should not pretend that a country of our size is ever going to have a big influence on Chinese behaviour. But that does not mean we always have to bend over backwards further than any other country to find favour. That just means they don't respect us in the morning.

"Falun Gong barred from human rights talks"

("ABC News," March 09, 2005)

Canberra, Australia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has locked a non-government organisation out of human rights talks because it planned to protest outside the building where the discussions are taking place.
The Falun Gong movement has been protesting against what it describes as persecution and torture of its followers in China.
The group had been invited to today's annual summit on human rights issues, held by DFAT in Canberra.
However, Falun Gong organiser Daniel Clark says when the group organised a protest for the same day, the Government withdrew its invitation.
"When we arrived at the front desk we were told we were no longer welcome at the forum," he said.
"When we asked for a reason we were basically told that because you've set up a display outside DFAT that shows examples of the persecution in China, we were told for that reason we were no longer welcome."
However a spokesman for DFAT says the group was given advance notice last week that a protest was not in the spirit of the consultation to which they had been invted.
He says the invitation was withdrawn yesterday on that basis.

"Falun Gong woman sues former premier"

by Nicole Azzopardi ("AAP," February 28, 2005)

A Sydney woman allegedly imprisoned and tortured for eight months in China will be a test case for the Australian court system, the president of a Falun Gong group said today.
Bankstown artist Zhang Cuiying, 42, today launched civil action in the New South Wales Supreme Court against former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and his "610 Office" – or Chinese Falun Gong control office – alleging they were responsible for her torture at a Chinese detention centre.
Ms Zhang said she was arrested in March 2000 for speaking out against Mr Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, and spent eight months in prison before the Australian Government intervened to have her freed.
According to documents filed with the court, Ms Zhang claims she was punched, slapped and kicked by Chinese police on one occasion, and hit with a hard object on another, causing her face to bleed.
On March 6, 2000, Ms Zhang alleged she was driven to the Shang Meilin Detention Centre in Shenzhen, where she "suffered inhuman treatment and torment" during two periods of detention.
Ms Zhang alleged that prison guards on one occasion during her detention stripped off her clothes in front of a closed circuit camera.
Ms Zhang appeared briefly in the Supreme Court today with the matter stood over to a date yet to be set.
Falun Dafa Association president John Deller said Ms Zhang's civil case was the first of its type in Australia and was an important step towards convicting the former head of the Chinese Communist Party.
"It's a real test for everyone involved," Mr Deller said.
"It's a test for the legal system, it's a test for Falun Gong practitioners who support this righteous action, it's a test for the Australian Government, it's a test for the Australian people.
"We realise it's rare, I don't think there has been such a prominent human rights abuser or prominent leader of a foreign power being sued in Australia before, but it's an extraordinary situation that is happening to Falun Gong practitioners ... we just have to work through the legal processes.
"(Jiang Zemin) is not a current head of state so he shouldn't have immunity on that basis."
The Australian case was one of 46 lawsuits filed against Mr Jiang in 26 countries, Mr Deller said said.
NSW Greens Senator Ian Cohen said he congratulated Ms Zhang's actions.
"I commend your efforts in the court ... I commend your patience and tolerance," he said.
"Torture, humiliation and domination by a rigid state should be something that should be left behind as we did in the last century."

"Row over Chinese new year parade"

by Darren Goodsir ("Sydney Morning Herald," February 7, 2005)

The city's colourful Chinese new year parade is at risk of being derailed this year, with the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, urging organisers to overturn a five-year ban on the Falun Dafa Association, a quasi-religious movement banned by the Chinese Government. also known as Falun Gong.
In the past, Town Hall has been an independent "logistics partner", leaving responsibility to the Chinese New Year Festival subcommittee, a group of prominent community representatives.
However, Cr Moore - presiding as city leader in her first festival - last week wrote to the committee's chairman, King Fong, demanding to see "the criteria for selecting groups" who participate in the parade - concerned that Falun Dafa's continued "exclusion ... is discriminatory".
The committee fears that if Cr Moore insists on Falun Dafa's inclusion in the parade performers will pull out, and key sponsors will abandon them.
"We have had this issue before us for the past few years," Mr Fong said, "and there are a lot of issues involved. But if we support Falun Gong, and they are banned in China, it is realistic to say that China could affect some of our trade and cultural concessions. We locally don't want to play politics ... but we also don't want to harm our relationship with China."
Cr Moore said she had been lobbied by the association's president, John Deller, who told the Herald yesterday his group would gatecrash the parade this year, regardless of whether it was given approval, in a protest at its treatment.
"We have been ignored in the past ... but this year we plan presenting ourselves to the parade," Mr Deller said.
"We want to present the beauty of our organisation, and have advised the police of our intentions. As always, we will be peaceful."
In her letter, Cr Moore conceded it was "convention" for Town Hall to play "no part in determining the content of the parade to ensure that it remains a community event, managed by members of the community".
"I am, however, concerned by Mr Deller's suggestion that Falun Dafa's exclusion from the parade is discriminatory," she wrote.
"So that I may be assured that this is not the case, could you provide me with the criteria for selecting groups to take part in the parade. While I acknowledge that preparations for the parade may be well advanced, is it possible ... to consider whether the Falun Dafa Association meets these criteria, and if so, invite the association to participate in the parade?"
Mr Fong said the committee would meet tonight to debate Cr Moore's letter and her suggestions, but he believed the ban on Falun Dafa would remain in place because of fears of a Beijing-led backlash.

"Chinese Show Off Repentant Falun Gong"

by Audra Ang (AP, January 21, 2005)

Three years ago, he was a die-hard Falun Gong follower, serving a life sentence for trying to set himself afire in the name of the spiritual movement banished by China as "evil."
Today, with his prison term drastically cut to 19 years for good behavior, Liu Yunfang is a convert of a different sort - and one Beijing is eager to showcase as a successful "rehabilitation."
"I was wrong," Liu told reporters who made a government-organized visit to his prison in central Henan province this week. "I should be punished by law."
Liu is one of three men imprisoned for orchestrating a group self-immolation in Tiananmen Square in 2001. Liu doused himself with gasoline but was grabbed by police before he could ignite himself.
However, a mother and her 12-year-old daughter died, and images of their bodies engulfed in flames - and later charred and blackened - were aired on state television to underscore China's position the sect is a dangerous cult.
Liu was sentenced for producing pamphlets teaching that Falun Gong followers could reach spiritual fulfillment by burning themselves. Falun Gong members abroad have denied the group's teachings encourage suicide, saying instead its philosophy values life.
Since banning the group in 1999, Beijing regularly disseminates propaganda against it and justifies its ongoing crackdown by allowing reporters to interview converts in tightly controlled settings.
The persistence of that campaign illustrates the ruling Communist Party's continued perception that Falun Gong is a threat.
Falun Gong drew millions of followers in the 1990s with its mix of calisthenics and doctrines drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi, a former government grain clerk. Until the 2001 self-immolations, followers staged near-daily protests of the government ban in Tiananmen Square, the spiritual and political heart of the Chinese capital.
Liu and two other converts, Wang Jindong and Xue Hongjun, wore matching blue-and-white striped uniforms and caps when they met reporters individually this week. In contrite tones, they renounced their faith in Falun Gong and its founder, and expressed their gratitude to the government for treating them well.
"These three criminals have deeply reflected upon themselves while in prison," warden Yu Xiaoming said. "Finally, they are clear about the nature of the Falun Gong cult."
Their sentences were reduced because they were "active in rehabilitation," Yu said. Wang's 15-year term was lessened by 2 1/2 years and Xue's by two.
Practitioners claim they have been abused, tortured and killed by the hundreds in Chinese prisons and labor camps. Chinese authorities deny mistreatment but have not disclosed how they rehabilitate Falun Gong members.
When reporters visited the prisoners in a government-organized trip in 2002, Liu was steadfast about his beliefs and even demonstrated the slow-moving exercises that Falun Gong followers practice.
Now, the former factory worker seems changed.
Shuffling into a fluorescent-lit meeting room, Liu mumbled incoherently at times to reporters, his voice shaking and eyes welling with tears as he spoke of his former life. Prison officials say he is ill, suffering from high blood pressure and other maladies.
Liu said he stopped believing in Falun Gong on Sept. 27, 2003.
"I was more addicted than (the rest) so I caused more harm to the country and the government," said Liu, 60, who sat hunched in his seat. "Last time when reporters came to me, I still wanted to uphold Falun Gong, but now I know I was wrong."
He was supported by prison officials on either side when he left.
Wang, 54, is the only one in prison who set fire to himself. His face, devoid of eyebrows, is mottled with scar tissue. Some fingers have been amputated.
"It is the government that has given me a second life," Wang said. "I have totally woken up and I think I should persuade people still addicted to Falun Gong to wake up, too.
"To Li Hongzhi, I have only one word in my heart - hate - because he killed so many of our beloved and our compatriots."
Wang placed a half-dozen photos on a table: his wife and his daughter smiling, himself as a handsome young man.
"I feel ashamed about believing in Falun Gong," Wang said. "It is Falun Gong and Li Hongzhi who have ruined me."
In Kaifeng, a bustling city northeast of the prison, Wang's wife and daughter - both former Falun Gong members - live with the daughter's husband and baby in a single room tucked in a maze of alleys. The room is filled with a bed, piles of comforters, suitcases and cupboards. A map of the world hangs on the wall.
"We feel so cheated to have our deep beliefs shattered after all these years," said Wang Juan, Wang's 26-year-old daughter. "My father's change is sincere. We are filled with hope for the future."
Minutes away, Hao Huijun, 51, and her daughter Chen Guo, 23, the most physically destroyed of the Tiananmen group, live in an airy welfare home.
Flames burned off their noses, lips, ears and hair, leaving their faces and skulls shiny with scars and grafted skin. Hao - a former music teacher - has only a patch of skin over her eye sockets, with a tiny slit allowing blurry vision out of her right eye. Her hands are stubs and she is partially deaf in her right ear.
"I realized that I made a lot of trouble for the government and society," Hao said, weeping as her daughter, ill with a fever, slept in the next room.
"We are thoroughly rehabilitated."

Taiwanese Falun Gong followers plan human chain in protest against China

(AP, January 07, 2005)

The Taiwanese branch of China's Falun Gong religious group wants to rally 3,000 supporters Saturday to form a human chain protesting human rights abuses, the group said Friday.
The two-hour event, dubbed the "Long Wall of Justice," is designed to protest the persecution of its members by Chinese authorities, the group said.
Beijing says Falun Gong is an "evil cult" that threatens to sabotage social order. China has arrested thousands of followers since it outlawed the group in 1999.
Saturday's Taipei rally will also feature lawyers who have started legal action against former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 28 countries, the group said. Falun Gong says Jiang should bear responsibility for the alleged torture and deaths of hundreds of its followers under the crackdown.
China has denied mistreating any Falun Gong detainees, saying some have died from hunger strikes or from refusing medical attention.
Saturday's planned 6-kilometer-long (3.75-mile-long) human chain will cut through one of Taipei's busiest shopping areas, and will show pictures of alleged abuse by China, the group said.

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