("South China Morning Post", November 12, 1999)
Eleven officially recognised qi gong groups will soon be ordered to submit "self-examination" reports as the authorities step up controls following the crackdown on Falun Gong, sources close to the State Administration of Sports said.
Groups like Dayan Gong and Zhineng Gong would be asked to submit a 13-point "self-examination and self-discipline" declaration, the sources said.
Although not as popular as Falun Gong, many of these qi gong groups boast hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of followers on the mainland.
Their declarations will have to include detailed accounts of their founders,activities they have undertaken in the past year, overseas connections, steps the y have taken to denounce Falun Gong and health benefits and scientific research of their arts.
Sources said the declaration would mark a significant step by the authorities to control the growth of qi gong groups. Some groups might lose official approval and be banned as a result.
Falun Gong, which mixes Buddhism and qi gong - a system of deep breathing exercises - was officially banned in July. A legal resolution passed by the National People's Congress last month further outlawed it as a "heretic cult".
Sources said more qi gong bodies would be banned and categorised as "bodies like Falun Gong".
According to a circular issued in September by Hebei authorities, provincial leaders were told to set up a special taskforce to police qi qong bodies in the province.
The circular - a copy of which has been obtained by the South China Morning Post - was based on a similar document jointly issued by the administration and the Ministry of Public Security. Hebei is a stronghold of the Falun Gong.
The Hebei circular said there could be only one qi gong managing body in each city and different qi gongs could not form joint associations.
All qi gong bodies must be atheist and must not organise cross-district activities. Activities involving more than 100 people must be approved by the police.
The circular further restricted qi gong bodies from publishing books and videos and they were not allowed to recruit members in schools.
Organising public demonstrations and anti-government petitions were forbidden.
One qi gong master said most qi gong schools had cancelled classes and activities since July.
"I've never been so apprehensive, no one knows what to expect," the master said.
"Some qi gong groups are going to be banned, that's for sure."
Separately, the head of the state-approved China Qi Gong Scientific Research Society, Qiu Yicai, was expelled from the Communist Party last week for allegedly accepting bribes from Falun Gong followers. It was not clear whether the retired cadre would be charged.
by Renee Schoof ("Associated Press", November 12, 1999)
BEIJING (AP) - Four members of the banned Falun Gong sect were convicted and sentenced Friday to prison terms of up to 12 years, the first of what is expected to be a series of prosecutions against the group the government calls an ``evil cult.''
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday in Tokyo that he was concerned about the government's treatment of Falun Gong members and he would discuss the matter with Chinese leaders when he visits Beijing beginning Sunday.
``I hope any action that the government takes will be in conformity with basic requirements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Chinese Constitution,'' he said.
The Haikou Intermediate People's Court in the southern province of Hainan convicted the four Falun Gong members of ``using an evil cult to obstruct the law,'' said Fu Yu, a provincial government spokeswoman.
Song Yuesheng, who also was convicted of illegal organizing and attempting to escape custody, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, she said. Jiang Shilong was sentenced to seven years, Chen Yuan to three years and Liang Yulin to two years.
The trial lasted seven hours, court officials said. It came two weeks after China's national legislature approved harsher punishments of cult members. The prosecutor's agency then issued a directive to speed up indictments of some key Falun Gong members.
The defendants were accused of organizing a gathering of 183 Falun Gong members on Aug. 8 in Hainan, two weeks after the government banned the sect and started a propaganda campaign against it.
The government alleges Falun Gong members held several hundred illegal gatherings. Police also have recently detained hundreds of Falun Gong believers who tried to appeal to government officials in Beijing.
Falun Gong is an exercise and meditation movement that was popular throughout China. Founded by Li Hongzhi, who now lives in New York, it combines slow-motion exercises and ideas from Buddhism, Taoism and Li's own theories.
An official estimate before the crackdown put membership at 70 million - more than the 61 million-member Communist Party.
Falun Gong practitioners included police, government and military officials and Communist Party members, as well as others attracted by promises of health and spiritual guidance.
The Communist Party was alarmed by Falun Gong's organizational ability in April when 10,000 adherents suddenly appeared in a daylong silent protest around the party's headquarters in Beijing.
The government claims Falun Gong is a cult that threatens social stability and the Communist Party's hold on power.
Benjamin Kang Lim ("Reuters", November 12, 1999)
BEIJING, Nov 12 (Reuters) - China jailed four leaders of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement for up to 12 years on Friday in the first known trial of members of what the Communist government has decreed ``an evil cult.''
The Intermediate People's Court in Haikou, capital of the southern island province of Hainan, sentenced Song Yuesheng to 12 years in prison after a seven-hour trial, a court official said.
Song -- described by state media as an ``organiser, schemer and commander'' of Falun Gong in Hainan -- was convicted of organising 13 illegal protests in Hainan between July 22 and September 9, the official Xinhua news agency said.
One on August 8 attracted more than 180 adherents, causing ``grave consequences,'' Xinhua said without giving specifics.
The court also found Song guilty of escaping from police custody in August, the agency said.
Song travelled around China and incited fellow practitioners in 10 other cities to join a civil disobedience campaign by sharing his ``experience'' with them, it said.
Co-defendant Chen Yuan was jailed for seven years on similar charges of ``using a cult to violate the law,'' Xinhua said. The court showed leniency to Jiang Shilong, who received three years for showing ``sincere remorse,'' it said.
The fourth, Liang Yulin, a woman, ``admitted guilt with a good attitude'' and was given a two-year jail term, it added.
The defendants ``defied the nation's laws,'' it quoted the court as saying.
``They refused to fulfil their legal duties as citizens and seriously disturbed social order.''
They have 10 days to appeal, the court official said.
The sentences were the first meted out by a Chinese court since the government banned Falun Gong in July and launched a crackdown. The movement claims 100 million members worldwide.
The government, which says two million is a more accurate figure, declared it ``an evil cult'' last month and vowed to wipe it out.
MORE FACE TRIALS
More than 100 Falun Gong members have been formally arrested in a nationwide crackdown and are expected to face trial. Many more are under various forms of administrative detention, like labour camps, which are not subject to the judicial process.
China's Communist rulers saw Falun Gong as one of the biggest threats to their grip on power in April after more than 10,000 members staged a surprise, silent protest outside Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound to demand official recognition.
The government has blamed Falun Gong for the deaths of about 1,400 practitioners.
Falun Gong, which mixes Buddhist and Taoist beliefs with meditation and breathing exercises designed to harness inner energy and heal, discourages adherents from seeking medical help.
The group has burrowed its way into the ranks of the Communist Party, the government and the military. It has also attracted support from the most vulnerable sections of society, including the unemployed, the elderly and the sick.
The People's Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, devoted a full page on Friday to invective by academics against Falun Gong.
Chinese People's University professor Hao Lixin labelled it ``the tumour of society.'' Beijing Teachers' University philosophy professor Zhou Guidian called it ``the AIDS of society.''
U.S.-based Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi has defended his movement, saying it is apolitical and poses no threat to Communist rule. Li preaches salvation from a world corrupted by science, technology and decadence.
China is under fire for its harsh crackdown on Falun Gong. A Hong Kong-based human rights group has said at least six Falun Gong members had died in custody since August. The government has named three women who died in custody, but denied maltreatment.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, due in Beijing on Sunday, said he planned to raise the Falun Gong issue.
``I'm a bit puzzled by the official Chinese government reaction,'' he said in Tokyo. ``I will have the opportunity of discussing the issue with Chinese officials.
("Kyodo News Service", November 12,1999)
BEIJING, Nov. 12 (Kyodo) - China's first publicly known trial of Falun Gong practitioners began Friday after government authorities branded the group an ''evil cult'' last month.
Also Friday, Chinese authorities continued attacking the Falun Gong, with one professor at a state-run university saying the movement must be ''removed'' to ensure the country's stability.
Hao Lixin, professor of the People's University of China, said, ''The cancer of Falun Gong has to be removed to ensure long-term social stability and the continuation of people's happy lives,'' China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Hao was speaking at a meeting of scholars who called for China ''to be thorough in exterminating the evil influence of the cult,'' Xinhua said.
The Haikou Intermediate People's Court in the southern island province Hainan tried Song Yuesheng, Jiang Shilong, Chen Yuan and Liang Yulin for Falun Gong activities, a court official said.
Reports indicated Song was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
The four were arrested after organizing a gathering of 183 followers Aug. 8, despite the government's move to outlaw the movement July 22, Xinhua reported earlier.
Song was also charged with escaping from police custody, the report said.
The authorities' heavy-handed use of the media to continue its crackdown on Falun Gong has affected foreign journalists in Beijing, prompting an appeal by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China for police to stop their ''intimidation and harassment'' of journalists.
Foreign journalists covering Falun Gong activities have been ''followed, detained, interrogated and threatened,'' says a letter sent by the club to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
("Kyodo News Service", November 12, 1999)
BEIJING, Nov. 12 (Kyodo) - A Falun Gong practitioner was sentenced to 12 years in prison Friday after the first known trial in China of members of the banned spiritual movement.
Song Yuesheng and three other practitioners were charged with using the ''evil cult'' to violate Chinese law, to severely disturb the social order and to organize an illegal gathering, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Song, also charged with escaping from prison custody, was found guilty along with Jiang Shilong, Chen Yuan and Liang Yulin by the Intermediate People's Court in the southern island province Hainan.
Chen received seven years, Jiang three years and Liang, the only woman among the four, two years.
The four organized 13 illegal Falun Gong gatherings in Hainan after the spiritual movement was banned July 22, Xinhua said.
China's government also continued its propaganda campaign against Falun Gong, which claims to have attracted 100 million members worldwide with its mixture of traditional Chinese breathing exercises and Buddhist and Taoist philosophies.
Another Xinhua report quoted Hao Lixin, a professor of the People's University of China, as saying ''the cancer'' of Falun Gong has to be removed to ensure long-term social stability and the ''continuation of people's happy lives.''
Hao was speaking at a meeting of scholars who called for China ''to be thorough in exterminating the evil influence of the cult,'' the report said.
The heavy-handed use of the media to continue the authoritarian crackdown on Falun Gong has affected foreign journalists in Beijing as well, prompting an appeal by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China for police to stop their ''intimidation and harassment.''
Foreign journalists covering Falun Gong activities have been ''followed, detained, interrogated and threatened,'' says a letter sent by the club to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
("BBC-Reuters", November 12, 1999)
BEIJING, Nov 12 (Reuters) - A Chinese court sentenced a leader of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement to 12 years in prison on Friday, a court official said.
Three co-defendants were sentenced to seven, three and two years in prison, years, have 10 days to appeal, the official said.
The Intermediate People's Court in Haikou, capital of the southern island province of Hainan, jailed Song Yuesheng for 12 years for ``using a cult to violate the law'' and escaping from police custody, the official said by telephone.
The official Xinhua news agency has described Song as an ``organiser, schemer and commander'' of Falun Gong in Hainan.
The four were accused of defying a Ministry of Public Security ban on Falun Gong and organising illegal gatherings of practitioners, including one in a park on August 8 which was attended by more than 180 people.
("Reuters", November 12, 1999)
TOKYO (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday he plans to raise the issue of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement when he visits China later this week.
``I'm a bit puzzled by the official Chinese government reaction (to Falun Gong)...I will have the opportunity of discussing the issue with Chinese officials,'' Annan told a news conference in Tokyo.
``In the meantime, I hope any action the government takes will be in conformity with basic requirements of the universal declaration of human rights and the Chinese constitution,'' he said.
China has been under fire from international human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on the Falun Gong. Beijing declared Falun Gong a cult last month and vowed to wipe it out.
A Hong Kong-based human rights group has said at least six Falun Gong members had died in custody since August, one from a hunger strike, one who was beaten to death and four who committed suicide.
But Annan, who has held meetings with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and other senior officials during a five-day visit to Tokyo which began on Wednesday, said the bulk of his discussions were centered on the situation in East Timor.
On Thursday, Tokyo pledged to extend $28 million in additional humanitarian aid to refugees in the region through the United Nations.
Japan said last month it will give $2 million in emergency humanitarian aid to refugees in East Timor, aside from the $100 million it promised to provide to support the multinational forces deployed in the territory.
During the news conference, Annan also reiterated his concern about the situation in Russia's breakaway region of Chechnya, and said he was preparing to discuss humanitarian aid to the region with Russian officials.
Talks with Russian officials will be based on reports from a U.N. assessment team which just returned from the region, Annan said, adding that he plans to continue approaching Moscow privately as well.
``I'm doing some things quietly and privately with Russian officials and those will continue,'' Annan said.
Several U.N. Security Council members have raised the issue of Russia's offensive against Chechnya during informal consultations but there was no consensus to take up the issue, U.N. officials said.
Annan will visit Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto later Friday before leaving for Beijing Sunday.
("BBC", November 12, 1999)
A leader of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement in China has been jailed for 12 years.
Three other followers were sentenced to seven, three and two years respectively, in the first trial of members of the banned group.
Beijing declared Falun Gong a cult last month and passed legislation aimed at wiping it out.
More than 100 other people have been charged with offences relating to the movement and are awaiting trial.
The defendants in the first trial - Song Yuesheng, Jiang Shilong, Chen Yuan and Liang Yulin - were convicted of "using an evil cult to violate the law".
They were accused of defying a Ministry of Public Security ban on Falun Gong and organising illegal gatherings of practitioners, including one in a park in August attended by more than 180 people.
Song, the leader, was also sentenced for escaping from police custody, according to an official from the People's Intermediate Court in Haikou, Hainan Island.
'The Aids of society'
The sentences came as a group of academics called for strong action to stamp out Falun Gong in a full page article in the official People's Daily.
Practitioners say Falun Gong promotes good mental and physical health Chinese People's University professor Hao Lixin described the movement as "the tumour of society", while Beijing Teachers' University philosophy professor Zhou Guidian called it "the Aids of society".
The Chinese authorities say they have so far charged 111 Falun Gong members.
In addition to these, many others have been sent for re-education or sentenced without trial to labour camps.
China has not released figures to show how many have been held in other forms of detention.
Falun Gong, which boasted millions of followers in China before the crackdown, blends exercises with ideas drawn from Buddhism and Taoism.
The ruling Communist Party became alarmed by the movement's rapid growth and its international links, branding it a threat to social and political stability.
It has also blamed Falun Gong for the deaths of about 1,400 practitioners who allegedly refused to seek medical treatment for illnesses because of their beliefs.
China's leadership was stunned when 10,000 members descended on Tiananmen Square in April to stage a silent protest demanding official recognition of their faith.
Officials estimate that more than 1,000 followers have converged on the square in recent protests while parliament deliberated the anti-cult legislation.
Human rights workers in Hong Kong say at least six Falun Gong members have died in custody - including one whom they say was beaten to death.
Beijing denies that anyone has died in custody as a result of police brutality. But it admitted that two women had died from ill health and another had committed suicide.
What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne
FALUN GONG UPDATES
CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors.
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