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

"Falun Gong brings charges against Chinese"

(AFP, July 22, 2006)

Paris, France - Members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement brought charges before a French court on Friday against a visiting Chinese minister whom they accuse of torture.
Complaints were lodged on behalf of the three Falun Gong members before a Paris public prosecutor against Zhu Yongkang, the Chinese minister in charge of public order who was on a visit to France.
One of the plaintiffs, Li Heping, 35, alleged that he had been put in a labour camp where he was deprived of sleep and harassed, according to the text of his complaint lodged at the court.
Another Falun Gong member, Dai Ying, 48, claimed she had been force-fed by Chinese authorities, while the third member, Mo
Zhengfang, said she had been struck by a policeman and forced to leave China for England.
The three, who now live as refugees in Britain and Norway, demanded that French authorities confront Yongkang over the claims during his five-day visit to France. He met on Tuesday with his French counterpart, Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy.
China outlawed Falun Gong, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, as an "evil cult" in mid-1999 and practitioners have subsequently faced often brutal repression.
The sect has alleged that tens of thousands of its members have been put in concentration camps, where members who refuse to give up their beliefs face torture and possible death.
The US government said earlier this year that investigating officials had found no evidence in northern China to support claims that Falun Gong followers had been killed and their organs harvested in concentration camps.
China has confirmed that Falun Gong members were held in a northeastern Chinese hospital, but denied claims by the sect that thousands of its members were killed there.
Falun Gong has tried in the past to persuade countries to pressure China over the alleged abuse. In 2004 they brought unsuccessful charges in France against Li Changchun, a top official of China's ruling Communist party.

"China involved in harvesting organs: Cdn report"

("CTV," July 04, 2006)

Ottawa, Canada - A Canadian report, set for release Thursday, will support accusations that China is harvesting the vital organs of imprisoned Falun Gong dissidents, CTV News has learned.
Siding with critics of the Chinese government, former Liberal MP David Kilgour is now convinced that controversial allegations of organ harvesting are true.
"They take both kidneys, then the heart and the skin and the corneas and the liver, and your body is then thrown in the incinerator," Kilgour said.
Falun Gong, a quasi-religious movement that's outlawed in China, claims thousands of their imprisoned members have been murdered with their vital organs taken out to supply a booming trade in transplants.
Backed by MPs from all parties, Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas agreed to investigate the allegations in May.
"I don't think anyone can have any doubt that this unbelievable practice is continuing," Kilgour said of his findings.
As evidence, the former MP points to transcripts of phone calls to Chinese doctors, with Falun Gong supporters posing as rich foreigners looking for a transplant.
One transcript reads:
"Do you have Falun Gong organ suppliers?"
"We used to have, yes."
"What about now?"
Kilgour outlined how much the organs can fetch on the black market.
"$62,000 for a kidney, $98,000 to $130,000 for a liver," he said.
The Chinese deny the allegations, insisting that Kilgour has been duped by Falun Gong.
"These allegations are based on lies," Chinese diplomat Zhang Weidong said.
The UN and Amnesty International are also investigating but neither has come up with enough solid evidence to reach the same conclusion as Kilgour.
"Right now, it's insufficient (the evidence) for us to confirm or deny these allegations," said Amnesty International's Alain Roy.
At the launch of the investigation last May, Matas said the plan was to "interview personally whatever witnesses are available in North America," and to ask the Chinese government to grant Kilgour and him visas so that they could investigate in China.
It is unclear if they actually visited China as their initial request did not garner a response by the Chinese embassy.
Kilgour and Matas plan to hand their report to the government on Thursday along with recommendations for diplomatic pressure and sanctions on China.

"Falun Gong heckler agrees to plea deal"

(AP, June 22, 2006)

Washington, USA - The Falun Gong follower who heckled Chinese President Hu Jintao at a White House ceremony has reached a deal with prosecutors that will drop all charges against her, her attorney announced yesterday.
Wang Wenyi faced a misdemeanor charge of intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official for interrupting the April 20 event in which President George W. Bush welcomed Hu to the White House. She could have faced 6 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Her attorney, David Bos, told U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Facciola at yesterday's hearing that he and prosecutors had reached the deal.
Wang, 47, is prohibited from confronting foreign officials for one year. If she does not commit any felonies, including confronting foreign officials, the charges will be dropped, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.
"Today is not the important thing," Wang said. "The important thing is all the Falun Gong practitioners who are losing their lives."
Wang, of Queens, attended the White House event through the Falun Gong newspaper Epoch Times. The Chinese government banned the spiritual organization Falun Gong in 1999. Wang said she was protesting human rights abuse in China, including alleged organ harvesting of Falun Gong members, an accusation China denies.
At the ceremony, Wang stood on a camera stand and shouted as Hu began his remarks, saying, "President Bush, stop him from killing." Hu paused briefly, but continued his speech. Secret Service officers hauled Wang off.

"Falun Dafa proclamation delayed"

by Lori Coolican, ("StarPhoenix," May 10, 2006)

Saskatoon, Canada - A routine request for a public proclamation from local followers of a Chinese meditation practice had Saskatoon's mayor squirming in his seat during Monday's city council meeting.
"I just find this one a political statement," Mayor Don Atchison said as the rest of council prepared to approve all nine of the proclamations on the agenda, including one declaring May as Falun Dafa Month in Saskatoon.
Atchison told council he was hesitant to issue the proclamation without more information from the city clerk's office about whether it might violate the city's policy on proclamations.
The policy, passed in 1978 and updated in 1995, states the city will not issue any proclamation if it promotes hatred, involves any illegal activity or contains any inflammatory, obscene or libellous statement.
City solicitor Theresa Dust told council the proclamation does not violate that policy. However, the proclamation was stalled while council waits for more information.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a system of meditation and exercise based on spiritual teachings employing the principles of truth, compassion and forbearance. It has no political affiliation or religious rituals and does not accept donations or interfere in its followers' personal lives. Its founder was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.
After estimating that its practitioners outnumbered the membership of the Communist party, the Chinese government banned Falun Gong in 1999 and began arresting, jailing and even executing followers. In 2003, an Ottawa court found the Chinese consul in Toronto guilty of libelling a Falun Gong practitioner in a letter to the Toronto Star by calling him a member of a "sinister cult" seeking to "instigate hate."
The Chinese consulate for Western Canada chastised Saskatoon for declaring Falun Dafa Week in 2001, calling the movement a "heretic cult." City council went ahead with the proclamation after then-mayor Jim Maddin spoke to a senior consular official in Calgary and said the city would not change its position just because the Chinese government disagreed.
In 2003, the Falun Dafa Association of Canada won an award for its float in Saskatoon's Exhibition parade.
On Monday night, Atchison told council the last time he issued a proclamation for Falun Gong, "it certainly did cause some inflammatory comments from the government of China," adding he did not want to issue a proclamation that might invite "international controversy."

Coun. Tiffany Paulsen argued city council would be going down a "very slippery slope" if it started refusing proclamations based on subjective moral judgments.
"I think we should stick to our policy," Paulsen said.
Nevertheless, at Atchison's request council referred the matter back to the administration for more information.
The group's request is not likely to return to council until June, city clerk Janice Mann said Tuesday. Mann, who is responsible for preparing the information for council, said she will not have time for it this week and will be away at a conference next week, leaving her no chance to get to it before the next council meeting on May 22.
In an interview on Tuesday, Atchison said he was never contacted by the Chinese government about the city's last Falun Gong proclamation.
"Last time there was apparently some negative feedback from it, is how I would put it," he said. "I can't remember if it was last year or two years ago. I did get a phone call from the media about it, asking us why we did this, and I said, 'Well, we just proclaim anything.' . . . But in our policy it says that it's not supposed to incite things or whatever, and so all I'm asking (city staff) to do is just check to make sure that everything is OK."
Danny Zieglar, a Regina resident and Falun Gong practitioner who asked for the proclamation on behalf of the group's national organization, said he may repeat the request for a proclamation in June, although May has been declared Falun Dafa Month in other cities and provinces.
"I'm not too sure why he would do that," Zieglar said of Atchison's hesitation. "I find that very strange."
The group has asked for a similar proclamation in Regina, where such decisions are at the discretion of Mayor Pat Fiacco and the city clerk. A staff member in the Regina city clerk's office said Tuesday Fiacco and the clerk are considering the proclamation request and may have a decision by the end of the week.

"Sect four allowed to pursue claim"

by Albert Wong ("The Standard," May 09, 2006)

Hong Kong, China - Four Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners have been given the green light to follow through with their claims that they were barred from entering Hong Kong due to an "unthinking subscription to the mainland's demonization and persecution" of the sect.
High Court judge Michael Hartmann Monday allowed the four practitioners to pursue extra claims in their submissions for a judicial review at such a late stage because the director of immigration's reluctant release of information meant they were unable to properly formulate their claims at first.
Hartmann's judgment was part of the practitioners' ongoing pursuit of an explanation for why they were stopped at immigration checkpoints, detained, and allegedly forcibly removed from the airport when they came to attend a religious conference in February 2003.
The practitioners now claim officials, in taking the decision to deny them entry, "may have been influenced by the fact that the mainland authorities had conducted a campaign of persecution against the Falun Gong and had created propaganda to the effect that Falun Gong planned to undermine public order [in Hong Kong], when in fact, objectively it was known that the movement was an entirely peaceful one," wrote Hartmann.
"It is important to note that in the mainland, Falun Gong has been condemned as a cult and has been declared illegal. Law enforcement agencies have taken steps to suppress the movement. In Hong Kong, however, the movement has always been recognized as a lawful movement," he said.
For the applicants, Paul Harris, senior counsel, had argued that if the placement of the applicants on an immigration watchlist was based on "so- called intelligence" from the mainland, then such intelligence must be viewed with skepticism considering Beijing's stance on Falun Gong.
Hartmann said it was unusual to formulate a judicial review based on speculation: "But when the applicants are faced with a paucity of information, it seems to me to be a legitimate manner of proceeding," he ruled.
He emphasized that no reasons were given as to why the practitioners were denied entry until it was revealed in a court hearing in September that they were on an immigration watchlist.
"As to any more positive indication of why the first four applicants were refused permission, it was only when the discovery proceedings took place, more particularly upon my urging, that the director [of immigration] decided to say something of his reasons."
In September's hearing, Hartmann said he was "astounded" by the department's "mere assertion" that the applicants were denied entry on the grounds of security.
He also allowed the applicants to claim that denying them entry because of possible involvement with others who threaten the "public order" of Hong Kong was irrational given that the Basic Law allows for disruptions of "public order" when it is an exercise of the right to peaceful protest - something they were planning to do.
But whether the applicants will be able to establish the nature of the "intelligence" that led to their placement on a watchlist is still at issue, since they have yet to see the documents, which have been deemed too sensitive to be released.
Hartmann also ruled that Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan's order of public interest immunity can stand in relation to "the standing order and manuals."
Hartmann ruled that the disclosure of these materials may reveal the guts of the immigration system, putting effective border control at risk.
The judge himself will view two other documents, relating more specifically to the applicants, before he decides whether or not they may be revealed. The applicants will be able to argue further that those documents may be crucial to their case, if the judge rules them too sensitive.
The four - Theresa Chu, Liao Hsiao-lan, Lu Lih-ching and Chang Jenn-yeu - were part of a group of 83 Falun Gong practitioners who arrived for an international Falun Gong conference in February 2003 and who were detained and sent back to Taiwan.
Their original writ claims the department's decision to refuse them entry can only have been based on religious discrimination.
A substantive hearing on whether they were being discriminated against in September was turned into a preliminary hearing in the light of affirmations filed by government officials stating that they were denied entry because they were on a watchlist.
But in November Hartmann ordered the government to list what documents were at the disposal of immigration officers who made the decisions on the applicants and the watchlist.
"It is understandable, of course, that the applicants should be anxious to know why exactly they were refused permission to enter Hong Kong and the core basis upon which those decisions were made," ruled Hartmann.
A substantive hearing for the judicial review application in January turned into a preliminary hearing when it was revealed the chief secretary was continuing to hold back documents on the grounds of public interest.

"Appeals Court rejects Falun Gong claim of hotel discrimination"

(AP, April 27, 2006)

New Orleans, USA - A hotel that booted 72 members of a spiritual group banned from China to make room for an official Chinese delegation wasn't discriminating against the religion, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court ruling that the Falun Gong members do not have a valid discrimination claim against the Homestead Studio Suites hotel in Houston, where they had reserved rooms to protest a visit in 2002 by Jiang Zemin, then president of China.
The ruling coincidentally comes less than a week after a Falun Gong member heckled China's current president, Hu Jintao, during a White House ceremony.
A month before Zemin's visit, the 72 members had booked rooms at Homestead Studio Suites, near the hotel where Zemin planned to stay in October 2002. They said the hotel later canceled their reservations, and those for other people with Asian names, at the request of a Chinese agency seeking to suppress the protest.
The 5th Circuit said the Chinese government had reserved "a substantial number of rooms to PRC members at a premium rate for the duration of Jiang's visit."
This overbooked the hotel, so Homestead canceled reservations for people who had reserved short-term stays, offering them free transportation to and a free one-night stay at a neighboring Homestead hotel, it said.
But it filled the rooms with people who "are also of Chinese national origin;" there was no evidence that non-Chinese patrons kept short-term reservations; and there was no evidence that non-Chinese patrons were offered better rooms elsewhere than the Chinese patrons, the ruling said.
Since they cannot prove racial bias, they cannot prove that the hotel and the government of China conspired to act on racial prejudice. And since Homestead's "walk policy" apparently is a standard practice in the business and because the chain offered a reasonable alternative, the Falun Gong members cannot prove "high degree of unfairness" needed to prove a discrimination suit.
They cannot prove breach of contract because they did not prove any damage from the reservation change, the court said.

"China condemns Falun Gong but spares U.S. criticism"

by Chris Buckley (Reuters, April 25, 2006)

Beijing, China - China condemned the Falun Gong spiritual group as an "anti-China political group" on Tuesday but spared Washington criticism over a heckler from the movement who disrupted Chinese President Hu Jintao's White House appearance.
Hu's visit to Washington last Thursday was choreographed to highlight his statesman status and Beijing's hopes to subdue trade tensions with the United States.
But a follower of Falun Gong -- banned as a cult in 1999 -- entered the White House grounds as a reporter and yelled at Hu and President George W. Bush as they stood before reporters.
A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Qin Gang, said on Tuesday that China had made representations to Washington about the embarrassing incident.
But official Chinese anger was focused on Falun Gong, which staged protests against Hu throughout his four-day U.S. visit.
"This demonstrates once again that Falun Gong is not only a cult but also an anti-China political organization with base political intentions," Qin told a regular news briefing.
Falun Gong wanted to wreck China-U.S. relations by any means, Qin said, urging Washington to take concrete and effective measures to rein in its "anti-China" activities.
Sharon Xu, spokeswoman for Falun Gong in Hong Kong, denied the group was "anti-China".
"I think the world already knows that Falun Gong is a spiritual movement, is a good-natured practice, and it poses no threat to people's health or mind," Xu said.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) "has to ask itself why it is the only government that labels Falun Gong as a cult", she said. "Falun Gong is not against China as a nation or as a country, nor is it against the two countries' developing relationship."
Falun Gong originated in China as a spiritual movement based on a series of meditation exercises. But it was banned in 1999 after adherents surrounded the Chinese leadership's heavily guarded compound in Beijing to demand official recognition.
Since then, Falun Gong has campaigned from abroad against what it says is brutal persecution of followers in China.
Wang Wenyi, a reporter for The Epoch Times -- a New York-based newspaper that supports Falun Gong -- joined a crush of journalists at the White House for Hu's visit. She heckled Hu for almost three minutes, yelling "President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong."
She was led away by a Secret Service guard for questioning and later charged.
Wang's action on the South Lawn "has nothing to do with trying to sabotage or hurt the two countries' relationship", the Falun Gong spokeswoman said.
"It's about what the CCP has done to Falun Gong."
Bush apologized to Hu, but the incident and other gaffes rattled the display of goodwill between the two leaders.
An official announcer for the occasion described Hu's People's Republic of China as the "Republic of China" -- the official name of Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims as its own.
And Bush tugged on Hu's sleeve, startling the usually prim Chinese leader into a grimace and giving photographers a shot suggesting tensions between them.

"Falungong calls on Russia to denounce 'organ trade' in China"

(AFP, April 25, 2006)

Moscow, Russia - Representatives of the Falungong spiritual movement called on the Russian government to denounce what they claim is widespread torture and organ trafficking practised against members of the sect in China.
Sergei Skulkin, chairman of the movement's World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falungong, told journalists that the Chinese authorities run "concentration camps" where thousands of Falungong adherents have allegedly been killed for their organs.
"When Russia is developing increasingly close ties to China we cannot tolerate that our government doesn't take a clear position against torture of Falungong members," said Ivan Shkodiyuk, head of the sect's Russian branch, which claims 5,000 members.
The Falungong says it helps people purify themselves through exercise, meditation and Buddhist-based philosophy.
It claims 100 million members worldwide, including 70 million in China, where the group is banned and described by the authorities as an "evil cult".
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a respected human rights champion, said at the same press conference that totalitarian regimes always suppressed spirituality and said the banning of Falungong "reminds me of the USSR in the 1960s when they banned yoga."

"Falun Gong rallies against PRC government"

("Taiwan News," April 23, 2006)

Taipei, Taiwan - Falun Gong rallies against PRC Thousands of slogan-chanting Falun Gong practitioners and supporters took to the Taipei streets on Sunday to protest against the continued suppression on the sect in China.
The protesters called for support of the movement to topple the Chinese communist party, saying, "only after implementing democracy can China have bright future."
"People around the world are aware that Chinese communist regime's atrocities in the past decades, but they may not know that today when China boasts that it has implemented reform and open policies, it still suppresses its people with violence and lies," the demonstrators said in a statement.
"Judging from all these atrocities, we can know that the Chinese communist party's cruel and evil intrinsic nature has never changed whatsoever."
The demonstrators also highlighted their latest charge against Beijing, accusing China of harvesting organs of Falun gong members killed in concentration camps.
China outlawed the Falun Gong, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, as an "evil cult" in mid-1999 and practitioners have told of often brutal repression.
The U.S. government has said that a team of U.S. officials had found no evidence in northern China to support claims that Falun Gong followers had been killed and their organs harvested.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington had taken the Falun Gong's charges "seriously" and urged the Chinese government to probe the claims.
There are an estimated 300,000 Falun Gong adherents in Taiwan.

"Falun Gong Activist Defiant After Arrest"

by Karlyn Barker and Lena H. Sun ("Washington Post," April 22, 2006)

Washington, USA - The protester who disrupted a White House ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao remained defiant yesterday, even after prosecutors charged her with a federal crime punishable by up to six months in jail.
"It's not a crime but an act of civil disobedience," Wenyi Wang declared after she emerged from a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, drawing cheers from nearly three dozen fellow activists from Falun Gong, a religious sect that is suppressed in China.
Wang, 47, a doctor who lives in New York, got onto the White House lawn Thursday morning as a credentialed journalist for a newspaper associated with Falun Gong. She was arrested by the Secret Service after she began yelling from a media platform. The outburst interrupted Hu's remarks at the ceremony, attended by President Bush and other leaders, and created an embarrassing situation for the White House.
A judge released Wang on personal recognizance yesterday and, at the prosecution's request, ordered her to stay away from the White House while awaiting trial.
Thursday's disturbance lasted more than two minutes as Wang unfurled a yellow protest banner and shouted at Hu, and then Bush, in Chinese and English. The Secret Service said that she said things including, "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong," "Your time is running out" and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime." She also exclaimed: "President Bush, stop him from killing! President Bush, stop him from persecuting Falun Gong!"
Prosecutors maintained that the yelling at Hu was threatening and constituted a crime -- willfully intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official. Wang's attorney characterized it as free speech. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson turned down a defense request to dismiss the case and set a follow-up hearing for May 3.
Chinese officials had warned the United States of the potential for protests during Hu's visit. And Wang herself had caused a commotion at least once before: She confronted former Chinese president Jiang Zemin in Malta nearly five years ago with complaints about the treatment of Falun Gong, according to press reports.
The White House had issued Wang a one-day press pass to cover the ceremony after she presented credentials as a reporter for the Epoch Times. Many of the newspaper's staff members, like Wang, are Falun Gong practitioners, according to a newspaper spokeswoman.
Falun Gong is a Buddhist-based spiritual movement with millions of members in China and elsewhere. It became the focus of controversy when it was banned by the Chinese government in 1999 after followers staged a series of peaceful protests in Beijing. Founded by a Chinese soldier in 1992, Falun Gong in Chinese means "Practice of the Wheel of Law." It blends meditation and martial arts.
Adherents say thousands of the group's followers have been imprisoned by the Chinese government. The Epoch Times recently published articles alleging the harvesting and sale of organs from still-living practitioners held in Chinese labor camps. In the past, the harvesting of body parts from executed prisoners has been widely alleged and detailed in official Chinese government newspapers. The Chinese government has called Falun Gong an "evil cult" and accused its leaders of trying to overthrow the ruling Communist Party.
Terri Wu, spokeswoman for the Epoch Times, said Wang has a medical degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago and has been working for the newspaper for six years, specializing in medical issues. The newspaper issued a statement saying that it did not know that Wang was planning the protest. The statement apologized to Bush and the White House -- but not to Hu.
Wang helped research the recent Epoch Times articles on organ harvesting and was "very overstressed," Wu said. When she saw Bush shake the hand of the Chinese leader, she felt obligated to speak out, the spokeswoman said.
A spokesman for the National Security Council, which accredited the foreign media representatives attending the event, said that the Epoch Times is a legitimate news organization and that its reporters had attended White House events previously.
"They had always comported themselves in a professional way," Frederick Jones said. "We would have no reason to not allow them entry."
During yesterday's court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George argued that Wang's statements were not protected by the First Amendment.
"She was yelling at the president," George said. "You can't walk into a theater and yell 'Fire!' The First Amendment does not permit her to engage in criminal conduct."
But Wang's defense attorney, John Bos, ridiculed the notion that her remarks were threats or that they constituted intimidation.
"There's no evidence that President Hu heard the statements and no evidence that the statements caused him to stop and look up," Bos said.
Before the Secret Service escorted Wang from the media platform, a cameraman pulled the banner from her hands and tried to quiet her by placing his hands on her mouth. Bos said that, rather than Wang's shouts, could have caused Hu to pause in his remarks.
Wang did not address the court yesterday and would not answer questions from reporters after the hearing. Instead, she read a statement praising Falun Gong and condemning the Chinese government.
"I've devoted much of my time trying to stop the persecution of Falun Gong in China, especially the harvesting of organs," she said.

"China's enemy within: The story of Falun Gong"

by Paul Vallely and Clifford Coonan ("Independent," April 22, 2006)

Washington, USA - "They are the leaders of the world's two superpowers," the reporter was intoning, with the solemnity appropriate to the dawning of a new geo-political era in which China is set to overtake the United States as the leading global economy. Suddenly the decorum of the White House lawn was shattered by a banshee shriek. From among the television camera crews a woman began shouting at President Hu Jintao of China. Panic filled the eyes of security staff. Hemmed in as she was by ladders and equipment no one could get to her for a full two minutes.
She unfurled a red and yellow banner with Chinese lettering - the symbols of the Falun Gong. "Evil people die early," she screamed in Chinese. " Hu, your days are numbered." Then, in English, she addressed the leader of the US: "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong! Stop him from killing! Stop the torture and killings! Falun Dafa is good."
As the two presidents looked on stunned, and the Chinese leader tried falteringly, to continue his speech, she railed on. It was almost three full minutes before she was bundled away by embarrassed US officials who began an immediate inquiry as to how she had got so close to the world leaders.
Members of Falun Gong pop up wherever Chinese leaders travel, but they are usually kept well away, outside the concentric security cordons. But the woman, Wang Wenyi, had been granted an official pass as a reporter for The Epoch Times, a Chinese newspaper which denies it is a front for the Falun Gong but tends to be remarkably sympathetic to it. If anyone had checked they would have found that Dr Wang, then a pathologist, had heckled Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, in Malta five years ago. She was charged yesterday by the American authorities for willfully intimidating, coercing threatening and harassing a foreign official.
So why exactly is this? After all Falun Gong, to most of us, is nothing more than a version of the early morning, slow-motion callisthenics, which can be seen being practised in parks in cities across the planet in which groups of people glide in unison through a set of tranquil ritualised movements known as qigong - a form of exercise which, like yoga, can be both physical and spiritual. It is an exercise technique that involves controlled breathing and five sets of meditation exercises (four standing, and one sitting) which only a few years after its public introduction in 1992 quickly grew to become one of the most popular forms of qigong in Chinese and indeed world history. Why then, is it perceived by the government in Beijing to be the most subversive threat to the Chinese state in the six decades since the Communist Revolution?
Disinformation abounds from all sides about Falun Gong. Chinese medicine and religion overlaps in a way which the Western mind finds hard to understand, particularly since the same breathing techniques are the foundation of the disciplines of martial arts - which is why some of its best practitioners have been Taoist and Buddhist monks adept in the advanced techniques known as the nei chia.
Falun Gong was developed out of this tradition, and registered only in 1992, by a former army musician and clerical worker, Li Hongzhi, in Manchuria in the north-east of China. Amid the physical exercises developed the unshakeable belief that Li was a "Living Buddha" who had supernatural powers and had rediscovered the basic law (fa) of the universe. Officially, the movement is known as Falun Dafa but it is more usually known as the Falun Gong or "Wheel of Law" after its practitioners' belief that they have a large wheel inside their bodies which they can use to elevate their mind nature (xinxing) and gradually let go of attachments such as selfishness, jealousy, pursuit, lust, zealotry and greed.
In his writings, Li Hongzhi made use of many concepts from Buddhism, Taoism and even Christianity which gave Falun Gong the feel of a fully fledged religion to outsiders.
The movement found easy converts among ordinary Chinese because of its focus on improving health in a country where years of underinvestment have put the Chinese health system under severe strain, and resulted in a return to traditional methods of healing. A craze for Falun Gong swept the country in the early 1990s, attracting up to 70 million adherents. In those early years Chinese governmental organisations granted several awards to Li to encourage him to continue promoting what they then considered a wholesome practice. He lectured regularly all over the country in front of large audiences.
Things changed in 1999, after a magazine printed an article by a Chinese physicist which was critical of Falun Gong. Practitioners went to protest outside the publishers and several were arrested and, apparently, beaten by the police. Two weeks, later 10,000 of Li's followers suddenly assembled on 25 April around Zhongnanhai, the high-security complex that houses China's leaders. They held no signs and chanted no slogans but sat in a two-kilometre line in meditative postures on the pavements. The demonstration was peaceful and ended quietly, after 12 hours, with the protesters picking up their litter and dispersing of their own accord, but only after an audience with Premier Zhu Rongji and a government promise that the group's grievances would be addressed within three days.
The demonstration had materialised entirely out of the blue, in the largest organised show of opposition since the Tiananmen democracy movement a decade earlier. Such a large and devastatingly disciplined demonstration struck fear into the hearts of the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Jiang Zemin. If Falun Gong really had 70 million members as was thought (the government later said it was only three million) then it was bigger than the Chinese Communist Party, which had 66 million. He resolved to smash the organisation. Two months later the practice of Falun Gong was outlawed.
Its adherents were bewildered. The government announced that Falun Gong was an "evil cult" that encourages suicide, makes people neglect severe medical conditions, and fleeced them of their money. It issued reports claiming that 1,404 people had died in China from failing to seek conventional medical help because of Falun Gong beliefs. Some 500 others had committed suicide, it said, brainwashed by Li's mind control techniques.
Some backing to these claims is given by anti-cult experts in the US, where the practice has gained a sizeable foothold. They talk of manipulative fear tactics to indoctrinate and control disciples who are made to feel that failure to follow Li results in serious physical health problems. Parents of Falun Gong members complain their children begin talking to them in jargon memorised from the words of Li.
There is no doubt that some of Li's claims are, to Western eyes, pretty wacky. He says he can levitate and become invisible simply by thinking the phrase "nobody can see me". He can control people's movements by just thinking, he says, and can move himself anywhere by thought alone. He claims to have averted a global comet catastrophe and the Third World War and says that the Nostradamus's prophecies are coming true today in China. In the real world his impact is mixed. Falun Gong inculcates an "us and them" feeling among its followers, and has unattractive beliefs about homosexuals and children of inter-racial marriages. But it has health benefits for millions, with studies showing that its exercises reduce stress and may boost the immune system.
Nor does Li seem to have milked its enthusiasts. The worst financial scandals critics have uncovered are that between 1992 and 1994 in China he collected modest fees for treating patients. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, he purchased a house in New York for $293,500 in 1998 shortly after immigrating to the US, and acquired another for $580,000 in New Jersey in 1999. Hardly big bucks. And Falun Gong has no church buildings, rented spaces, priests or administrators. Other indications are of benign intent and Li has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The crackdown in China began roughly. Companies were ordered to dismiss Falun Gong members. Many were taken into police custody, beaten and told to give up the practice. Of those who refused around 100,000 were sentenced to " re-education through labour" programmes. At least 500 have been sentenced to up to 18 years in prison, 100 of whom are believed to be in Jinlin Jail. Uncounted numbers were forcibly admitted into mental hospitals.Falun Gong claim there are 2,840 cases of practitioners dying in custody.
All of this is hard to document, not least because the Chinese government itself probably has not kept any records. The "problem" has been dealt with by the bao jia technique of social control practised by the central government in China for more than 3,000 years. Huge pressure is placed on local officials to comply with central edicts - but without being told how to implement them. Not only do they face no scrutiny for the methods they use to eliminate the Falun Dafa but local officials are now personally fined by Beijing for every protester from their district who arrives in the capital. The result has been remarkably thorough and brutal. It is out of this culture that has grown the practice, claimed in a report by Falun Gong supporters outside China this week, whereby Falun Gong detainees have had their internal organs harvested - while they were still alive - for sale on the black market for heart, kidney, liver and cornea transplants.
External support for these claims has come in the form of the US State Department's annual human rights report which says that since the introduction of the ban on Falun Gong, "the mere belief in the discipline ... has been sufficient grounds for practitioners to receive punishment ranging from loss of employment to imprisonment". Some practitioners in custody have suffered torture and death, it says, and hundreds have been punished without trial.
The extraordinary thing is that, in the face of this, Falun Gong members - who have no legal recourse as the Chinese Supreme Court has forbidden courts or lawyers to accept cases brought by Falun Gong - have persisted in their protests. Supporters have hijacked Chinese television stations to broadcast protests. They have demonstrated regularly outside Government House in Hong Kong. And they have continued the exercises out of sight of the authorities.
China's leaders have not lost their fear. It was the late Zhou Enlai who once famously said, when asked what were the effects of the French Revolution, "it's too soon to tell". History is a present reality, to the men at the top of the Chinese Communist Party - for all their embrace of the free market. Many of the Falun Gong adherents, they believe, are disillusioned members of the Communist Party from its Maoist days who need an outlet for the zeal which has not featured in political life since the end of the Cultural Revolution. Worst of all, China's leaders remember that religious sects can grow in power and turn into national rebellions.
In the 19th century the Taiping Rebellion sprang from a religious cult which provoked perhaps the bloodiest civil war in human history when the forces of the Qing Empire clashed with those of a mystic named Hong Xiuquan who said he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and claimed to be the new Messiah. At least 20 million people - and perhaps as many as 100 million - perished.
Not long after that came the Boxer Rebellion in which rebels also saw the world in more metaphysical terms, claiming that movement exercises influence the fundamental forces of the universe. They even went so far as to insist that their breathing exercises would allow them to ward off bullets. Nor wonder the normally inscrutable President Hu looked taken aback when the Falun Gong woman screamed.

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