"China puts Falun Gong members in work camp - group"

("Reuters", November 19, 1999)

HONG KONG, Nov 19 (Reuters) - China has sent eight members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to a labour camp for terms ranging from one to three years, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said on Friday.
The eight were recently ordered to the camp for practising Falun Gong -- which mixes Buddhism and Taoism with meditation and breathing exercises -- in their own homes, said the Information Centre of Human Rights & Democratic Movement in China.
Authorities in Daqing city in China's northeast Heilongjiang province made the order without trial, it said in statement.
``This obviously shows that authorities have drastically stepped up their crackdown on Falun Gong. The several million Falun Gong adherents who are still practising at home in China can be sent to labour camps any time,'' the group said.
It predicted more protests by Falun Gong members.
Before, Beijing was known to arrest only those Falun Gong followers who practised or protested in public.
The centre said more than 1,000 Falun Gong followers were locked up in labour camps across the country.
It said the Xinxiang city in the central province of Henan had charged an academic, Li Fujun, with ``making use of an evil cult to destroy the enforcement of the law'' for releasing on the Internet an essay saying Falun Gong could help cure illness.
Falun Gong shocked the government in April when over 10,000 members staged a surprise, silent protest outside Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound to demand official recognition.
The government, which apparently fears the group as a threat to its monopoly on power, vowed last month to wipe it out.


"China regrets Congress's resolution on Falun Gong"

("Reuters", November 19, 1999)

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - China said Friday that it deeply regretted a U.S. congressional resolution on the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and added that U.S. government criticism of a crackdown on the group could damage relations.
A human rights dialogue between China and the United States, suspended after the United States bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May, will not resume until the United States stops interfering in Chinese affairs, added the spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.
The spokesman, Yu Shuning, called a news conference in response to a non-binding House of Representatives resolution critical of China passed late on Thursday.
The resolution said: ``The Government of the People's Republic of China should stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and other religious believers.''
It also said the U.S. government should urge the Chinese government to release all Falun Gong practitioners and allow them to pursue their religious beliefs.
The sponsors included House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri, House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman of New York and vocal China critic Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.
Falun Gong is a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism with meditation and breathing exercises. More than 100 members of the group have been arrested for membership.
Yu said: ``To our deep regret, some American lawmakers, by attacking the Chinese Government's handling of the Falun Gong case, have chosen to associate themselves with, and indeed to act as apologists for a deadly and infamous cult.''
``While expressing our strong resentment and resolute opposition to their act, I would like to appeal to them not to tarnish their great institution by supporting an evil cult, to spare China-U.S. relations from gratuitous harm,'' he added.
The Chinese government says that Falun Gong has disrupted public order, undermined stability and spread ``heretical'' ideas such as belief in an imminent doomsday. It says more than 1,000 members have died by refusing medical treatment.
Yu said the Beijing had told the United States government not to interfere in what it considers an internal affair. ``We do not see this as a human rights issue. This is a criminal cult which shall be dealt with in accordance with the law so that they will not continue inflicting great harm on the people,'' he added.
Asked if the human rights dialogue would resume, as the United States has
requested, he said: ``We say that conditions should be created for the resumption of this -- for instance, an end to interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights violations.''


"Falun Gong Member To Be Sentenced"

by Elaine Kurtenbach (Associated Press, November 19, 1999)

BEIJING (AP) - China plans to sentence a member of the banned Falun Gong sect, days after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was concerned about the government's treatment of sect members.
The sentencing scheduled for Sunday is the second court action in what is expected to be a long series of prosecutions of Falun Gong members. Human rights activists say authorities plan to try about 300 sect members as part of the government's four-month-long campaign to crush the movement.
Four members were convicted and sentenced last Friday to prison terms of up to 12 years for ``using an evil cult to obstruct the law.''
On Sunday, a court in the southwestern city of Chongqing plans to sentence 63-year-old Gu Zhiyi, a retired professor accused of being a group leader and of inciting other Falun Gong members to stage demonstrations, according to a Yuzhong District Intermediate Court official who gave only his surname of Rui.
The announcement comes just days after a visit by Annan, who had said he was concerned about the human rights of Falun Gong members. After meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, Annan said Tang told him the fundamental rights of citizens would be protected.
According to the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, the central government ordered local courts to wrap up cases against Falun Gong members before Dec. 20, when the country will celebrate the return of the Portuguese colony of Macau to Chinese rule.
Hundreds of other Falun Gong members were being held without trial in labor camps, the group said. Chinese police can sentence detainees to up to three years in such facilities without trial.
Founded seven years ago by ex-government clerk Li Hongzhi, who now lives in the United States, Falun Gong combines traditional slow-motion exercises with ideas drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and Li's own theories.
Its emphasis on morality and good health has proved widely popular, drawing by one official estimate 70 million members - more than the 61 million people in China's Communist Party.


"Falungong crackdown spreads to homes"

("Agence France Presse", November 19, 1999)

BEIJING, Nov 19 (AFP) - Eight followers of the mystical Falungong sect have been sentenced to forced labour in China for practising the banned group's meditation exercises at home, a human rights group said Friday.
The cases indicated Chinese authorities were stepping up pressure on the sect, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.
The eight people -- all residents of Daqing city in the northernmost province of Heilongjiang -- on Monday were sent to Shuanghe Ranch in the province's city of Qiqihar, one of the harshest labour camps in the country, the information centre said.
They were ordered to serve terms of one to three years.
The information centre said the eight people were not leaders, but merely members of the sect.
"In recent days, several Daqing practitioners who were caught practising at home have been sent to labour camps. This means the government doesn't care who it sends to labour camps," the centre said.
"This puts the several million people who are still practising at home at great risk."
Since the government banned the sect in July, they have arrested many group leaders as well as hundreds of others who participate in silent demonstrations, but there have been few reports of arrests of ordinary members for practising Falungong rituals at home.
The government has said it would be lenient on mere members, urging them to give up their beliefs and leave the sect.
However, centre director Frank Lu estimated there were at least 70 Falungong members working at the Qiqihar camp and that at least 1,000 Falungong practitioners, many lower-ranking members, have been sent to the country's 300 labour camps since the sect was banned in July.
Police in China are free to send people to labour camps for up to three years, without having to put them on trial as the punishment is considered an administrative sentence.
Meanwhile, a medical college instructor has been arrested in the central Chinese province of Henan for promoting the healing powers of Falungong on the Internet.
Li Fujun, who taught in the Xinxiang City Medical College, was arrested last Friday. Police accused him of calling Falungong "an advanced science" and trying to convince doctors it could help them heal their patients.
A staff member at the college confirmed Li's arrest.
She said Li was sent to Beijing to study for a masters degree last year, during which time he became involved with Falungong.
Li on Thursday was formally charged with "using evil religion to destroy laws."
China banned Falungong in July and last month declared it a cult, passing regulations to expand courts' powers to prosecute members for a variety of offenses.
The group focuses on traditional Chinese meditation and breathing exercises and advocates high moral values.
It rattled China's leaders with a 10,000-strong protest against the arrest of some of its leaders in front of Communist Party headquarters in Beijing on April 25.

What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne


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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