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

"Falun Gong legal action against Downer dismissed"

("ABC News," December 15, 2006)

Sydney, Australia - Legal action against the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, by Falun Gong has been dismissed by the ACT Supreme Court.
Falun Gong had sued the Minister, claiming certificates he issued banning their protests outside the Chinese embassy were invalid.
Earlier this year the court ruled in favour of the group by ordering Mr Downer to stop issuing the certificates.
The group had been seeking a further declaration that the original certificates he had issued were void.
Justice Ken Crispin dismissed that claim and ordered Mr Downer to pay $20,000 in legal fees.

"British Falungong journalist deported from Singapore"

(AFP, September 26, 2006)

Singapore - A British journalist and practitioner of the Falungong spiritual group has been deported by Singapore authorities, a newspaper has said.
Jaya Gibson was refused entry on Sunday and deported the following day to Melbourne, said Sng Beng Kok, a photojournalist with the Epoch Times, a newspaper which has Falungong members on its staff.
Gibson, a British national, was returning to Singapore where he had been assigned to cover the trial of two Falungong practitioners, Sng said.
The Straits Times, a Singapore daily, reported that they had been accused in connection with a banner they displayed outside the Chinese embassy.
Gibson had earlier gone to Geneva to attend a human rights conference, Sng said.
"He is a UK-based reporter and is on assignment here. He is also a Falungong practitioner," the photojournalist told AFP.
"He was blocked at the airport. He asked the officers whether it was because of his practice that he was being blocked and all the officers remained silent."
Gibson had also been assisting the pair's lawyer, M. Ravi, on administrative matters, Sng said.
The New York-based Epoch Times focuses on reporting of alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese communist party, especially its crackdown against Falungong, which Beijing outlawed as an "evil cult" in 1999.
Falungong, which mixes traditional Buddhist and Taoist beliefs with mass breathing and meditation exercises, is not illegal in Singapore, but the city-state bans all public protests of at least five people without permits.
Sng described Epoch Times as a "normal publication" with offices in about 30 countries, including Singapore. The newspaper's Chinese-language edition has been in operation since 2004 in the city-state and an English version was launched in January.
"Epoch Times is not a Falungong publication ... some of the (staff) members are in fact practitioners but it doesn't make it a Falungong paper," Sng said.
Sng said the Court of Appeal has deferred until October 16 the hearing of an application to stay the trial of the two Falungong practitioners, after defence lawyer Ravi was admitted to a hospital.

"Downer seeks Falun Gong case dismissal"

(AAP, September 11, 2006)

Canberra, Australia - Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has asked the ACT Supreme Court to consider dismissing a case brought against him by spiritual group Falun Gong.
Falun Gong members claim certificates issued by Mr Downer banning their protests outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra are invalid.
A spokesman for Mr Downer said the minister would argue there was no reason for the litigation to continue because he ceased issuing the certificates in March.
The spokesman said Mr Downer had always supported the right of Falun Gong to demonstrate peacefully, but was obliged under international and domestic law to prevent the impairment of the dignity of diplomatic missions and staff.
He said Mr Downer applied to the court to have the case dismissed.
The matter has been adjourned to December 11.

"Falun Gong to maintain ongoing vigil"

by Irwin Loy ("CNews," August 14, 2006)

Vancouver, Canada - Falun Gong practitioners in Vancouver say they'll maintain their 24/7 vigil outside the Chinese Consulate, while a bid from the city to force the group to leave snakes its way through the court system.
The city is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to order Falun Gong followers to take down their colourful structures, which have adorned the sidewalks in front of the Granville Street consulate for five years now.
"Nobody really wants to be there, on beautiful days, or in icy winters, in the middle of the night for five years," practitioner Sue Zhang told 24 hours yesterday. "You have to listen to what is happening, and why we are there."
The city says the group is allowed to protest, but cannot keep a permanent structure.
Zhang says she has "faith the Canadian legal system" will allow the group to stay. It'll likely take weeks to set a court date.
A report co-authored by former Liberal MP David Kilgour released this summer concluded the Chinese government has "put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience," a charge vehemently denied by China.
The local consulate has stayed silent on Falun Gong issues, but the Chinese embassy in Ottawa has begun to release statements criticizing Falun Gong, calling the movement an "evil cult."

"Falun Gong banner ban lifted"

("ABC News," August 08, 2006)

Canberra, Australia - Falun Gong has been allowed to use large banners in its protests outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra, four years after they were banned by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.
Falun Gong says Mr Downer has stopped signing prohibitive certificates for the first time.
They claim he has failed to prove how their protests impair the dignity of the Chinese embassy.
Falun Gong spokesperson Kay Rubacek says the group has maintained a continuous presence outside the embassy since 1999.
"It's really important that this truth be known and people who are protesting against massive killing happening over in China," Ms Rubacek said.
"We really feel we should be allowed to raise this in the public and it's a very small display here at the embassy, we're not really hurting anyone at all."

"China faces suspicions about organ harvesting"

by Gregory M. Lamb ("Christian Science Monitor," August 03, 2006)

Ottawa, Canada - A pair of human rights activists are charging that "a crime against humanity" is happening on a large scale in China. Members of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned by the Chinese government since 1999, are being "in effect, murdered for their organs," which are being sold to buyers from China and abroad, says David Kilgour, a former member of the Canadian Parliament and coauthor of the report.
Mr. Kilgour and his partner, Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, are now traveling the world speaking with governments and professional and human rights organizations urging further investigation of the allegations. Early last month, the pair released a report (http://investigation.go.saveinter.net) laying out details of an investigation they undertook on behalf of a Falun Gong support group, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong in China.
"Ideally, we would like to pursue further research before we come to any firm conclusions," the two conceded, while noting the difficulty in obtaining accurate information within the closed society of the People's Republic of China.
But while the evidence may not persuade everyone who reads their report, it is strong enough in their minds to render a verdict. "Based on what we now know, we have come to the regrettable conclusion that the allegations are true," the report says. "We believe that there has been and continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners."
The source of some 41,500 organ transplants in China in the years 2000 through 2005 remains unexplained, leading to the possibility that they may be the result of the execution of Falun Gong members, the report says.
The Chinese government "since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience," the report alleges. Their vital organs were seized involuntarily "for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries."
The Falun Gong movement, whose guiding principles are truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, was founded in China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the United States. Its philosophies incorporate ideas from Buddhism and Taoism and include slow-motion meditative exercises. Falun Gong is generally seen as a peaceful and law-abiding movement outside China, but within its borders it is officially deemed a dangerous cult. For several years, Falun Gong followers around the world have been actively protesting the treatment of the movement's adherents inside China.
The Chinese Embassy in Canada issued a reply to the Kilgour-Matas report July 6, the same day the report was released. China abides by
World Health Organization principles that prohibit the sale of human organs and require written voluntary consent from donors, the statement said. "It is obvious that their purpose is to smear China's image," the statement continues. "[T]he so-called 'independent investigation report' made by a few Canadians based on rumors and false allegations is groundless and biased."
In a phone call, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Li Jianhua, also called the allegations "totally fake" and said the Chinese government had already investigated the claims and found them meritless.
But by immediately dismissing their report "out of hand," Kilgour and Mr. Matas said in a reply, the Chinese government has admitted that it has conducted "no investigations to determine whether or not what the report contains is true."
Whether the organ harvesting – taking corneas, livers, hearts, and kidneys for transplantation – is being done as part of the official crackdown on Falun Gong or simply as the result of local corruption in prisons and hospitals around China is not clear, Matas says, and may be a result of both motives. China has a history of harvesting organs from executed prisoners, he says. The number of Falun Gong prisoners in China remains a mystery outside China. The Falun Gong "are completely defenseless in prison: unidentified, no protectors," Matas says. "They become an easy victim for this form of greed."
The Kilgour-Matas report "makes a very convincing case," says Kirk Allison, associate director of the Program in Human Rights and Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He says academic journals and conferences now should take an ethical stand to reject papers and presentations from authors who rely on data derived from transplantations performed in China.
"Given the evidence at hand, international transplant patients who obtain organs in China do so at the cost of benefiting from, and tacitly supporting, the continuance of an ongoing lethal violation of human dignity and human rights," Dr. Allison said in a published statement circulated at the World Transplantation Congress in Boston last week. "Prospective patients should be informed of this fact and actively discouraged from pursing this avenue of treatment."
Kilgour took on the Falun Gong project last spring after retiring from the Canadian Parliament, where he had been elected as a member since 1979. Neither he nor Matas are Falun Gong practitioners.
In March, the Chinese government announced that a new law, to take effect July 1, would ban sales of human organs and require that donors give written permission for their organs to be transplanted. But, according to Kilgour, the fact that a new law was passed "highlights the fact that there is no such legislation in place now."
Kilgour and Matas plan to update and reissue their report in September.
Phone transcripts: Shopping for Falun Gong organs
As part of their report alleging that China was executing Falun Gong prisoners and harvesting their organs for transplantation, Canadian lawyers and human rights activists David Kilgour and David Matas included transcripts of telephone calls made by Mandarin Chinese speakers from North America to hospitals and other institutions in China. The callers inquired about the availability of organs from Falun Gong prisoners. The caller below is identified only as "M" to protect his or her identity. Excerpts from English translations of some of the transcripts follow:
From a call to "Li" at the Mijiang City Detention Center in Heilongjiang Province (June 8, 2006)
M: Do you have Falun Gong [organ] suppliers?
Li: We used to have, yes.
M: What about now?
Li: ... Yes.
M: Can we come to select, or you provide directly to us?
Li: We provide them to you.
M: What about the price?
Li: We discuss after you come.
From a call to Shanghai's Zhongshan Hospital Organ Transplant Clinic (March 16, 2006).
M: So how long do I have to wait [for organ transplant surgery]?
Doctor: About a week after you come...
M: Is there the kind of organs that come from Falun Gong? I heard that they are very good.
Doctor: All of ours are those types.
From a call to "Dr Lu" at Nanning City Minzu Hospital in Guangxi Autonomous Region (May 22, 2006)
M: Could you find organs from Falun Gong practitioners?
Dr. Lu: Let me tell you, we have no way to get [them]. It's rather difficult to get it now in Guangxi. If you cannot wait, I suggest you go to Guangzhou because it's very easy for them to get the organs...
M: Then they use organs from Falun Gong practitioners?
Lu: Correct...
M: What you used before [organs from Falun Gong practitioners], were they from detention center[s] or prison[s]?
Lu: From prisons.
M: And it was from healthy Falun Gong practitioners?
Lu: Correct. We would choose the good ones because we assure the quality in our operation.
From a call to "Dr. Dai" at Shanghai Jiaotong University Hospital's Liver Transplant Center (March 16, 2006)
M: I want to know how long [the patients] have to wait [for a liver transplant].
Dr. Dai: The supply of organs we have, we have every day. We do them every day.
M: We want fresh, alive ones.
Dr. Dai: They are all alive, all alive...
M: I heard some come from those who practice Falun Gong, those who are very healthy.
Dr. Dai: Yes, we have. I can't talk clearly to you over the phone.

"Falun Gong pair to face trial for illegal Singapore assembly"

(AFP, July 30, 2006)

Singapore City, Singapore - Nine followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement will be tried in a Singapore court next month for taking part in an illegal assembly, a newspaper reported yesterday.
Some of the accused allegedly held an illegal gathering at an underpass last October 22. The others are accused of assembling the next day without a permit on Orchard Road, Singapore's main shopping and tourist strip, the Straits Times said.
It identified two of the accused as Ng Chye Huay, 41, and Cheng Lujin, 38.
Cheng, a Chinese national, and Singaporean Ng were detained in April last year after refusing to pay court-imposed fines for handing out VCDs in public that promoted their religion. They did not have a permit to distribute the VCDs.
China outlawed Falun Gong in 1999. It is not illegal in Singapore, the newspaper reported, but any public protest of at least five people without a police permit is deemed against the law.
In keeping with that law, Singapore police said on Friday that outdoor protests would not be allowed when thousands of delegates gather in Singapore for the annual World Bank and IMF meetings in September.
Experts say the government fears the increased exposure that will come with these events.
District Judge May Mesenas fixed the Falun Gong members' trial date for August 14-17, The Straits Times reported.
They face a fine of up to $ 1,000 dollars if convicted.

"Australia warned over Falun Gong"

("The Australian," July 25, 2006)

Canberra, Australia - China has put Australia on notice it must ensure Falun Gong protesters are dealt with if they damage the "dignity" of the Chinese mission in Canberra.
The religious group claims its members are persecuted in China and has maintained a continuing vigil outside the embassy for the past five years.
The Government had placed restrictions on the protests, with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer signing certificates barring large banners and excessive noise.
The minister stopped signing them earlier this year after the demonstrators agreed to certain constraints.
China's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners was discussed during talks between Australia and China today for an annual human rights dialogue.
Australia quizzed China about ongoing allegations that authorities are rounding up and executing thousands of dissidents and harvesting their organs for sale.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary David Ritchie said concerns about organ harvesting was discussed during the six-hour meeting.
"(But) we think the evidence (that this is happening) is not necessarily there," he said.
"It's of concern if it is true."
Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, the head of the Chinese delegation, said a number of foreign media and embassies in China had investigated the claims.
"They found no evidence at all," he said.
Despite an apparent easing of the restrictions on the Falun Gong protests, Mr Ritchie told his Chinese counterpart that Australia was serious about making sure the dignity of embassies was not violated.
"Australia takes its obligations ... for the dignity and protection of diplomatic missions very carefully and very seriously," he said.
But he said Australia had the same concerns for all missions, not just China.
Mr Cui said if Falun Gong broke the law regarding the dignity of the mission, they must be dealt with according to the law.
"There should be no exceptions," he said.
Both nations gave a positive assessment of the human rights discussion, which has been ongoing for 10 years.
"We continue to see the dialogue as a positive and productive exercise," Mr Ritchie said.
"It's very difficult to measure progress in human rights, but our overall assessment is that there has been progress in China in human rights over the 10 years."
Today's dialogue touched on numerous issues, including media freedom, labour rights, civil and political rights and the treatment of minorities.
Mr Cui said the dialogue had played a part in strengthening relations between the two countries.
"This human rights dialogue is an essential part of our overall relationship," he said.
And it had benefits for Chinese citizens.
"The people in China can feel the progress, see the progress and they can enjoy the progress," Mr Cui 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