"China upholds jail terms on Falun Gong leaders"

("Reuters", November 30, 1999)

BEIJING (Reuters) -- A Chinese court rejected the appeals of four leaders of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement on Tuesday and upheld sentences of up to 12 years in prison, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The People's High Court concluded that the sentences meted out by a lower court on November 12 -- the first since the government banned the movement in July -- were "appropriate," Xinhua said.
The high court in Haikou, capital of the southern island province of Hainan, also found the lower court verdict to be "correct," it added.
A Hong Kong human rights group said on Tuesday China had recently sent 30 Falun Gong members to labour camps.
Jiamushi and Shuangyashan cities in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang sent 24 Falun Gong adherents to a labour camp in Jiamushi city, the Information Centre of Human Rights & Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.
It said Changchun city in northeastern Jilin province also sent six Falun Gong members to a women's labour camp, which presently held 150 female followers of the group.
The information centre said it estimated conservatively that 2,000 Falun Gong members were in labour camps across the country and the number was rising.
It said several thousands others had lost their jobs for practising Falun Gong, while the Qinghua University in Beijing had dismissed 25 Falun Gong students this month.
China declared Falun Gong "an evil cult" in October and has vowed to wipe it out.
Song Yuesheng -- described by state media as an "organiser, schemer and commander" of Falun Gong in Hainan -- was sentenced to 12 years in prison for organising 13 illegal protests in the province between July 22 and September 9 and escaping from police custody.
Co-defendant Chen Yuan was jailed for seven years on similar charges of "using a cult to violate the law."
Jiang Shilong received a reduced sentence of three years after showing remorse and Liang Yulin, a woman, was given a two-year jail term after "admitting guilt with a good attitude," Xinhua has said.

Beijing cracks down on perceived threat

The Hong Kong group has said at least 35,792 Falun Gong members were detained between July 20 and October 30 and 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 after more than 10,000 members staged a surprise, silent protest outside Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound in April 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 movement claims 100 million members worldwide. The Chinese government says two million is a more accurate figure.
It 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.

"30 Falun Gong Members Sent to Camps"

("Associated Press", November 30, 1999)


BEIJING (AP) - Thirty members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement have been sent to labor camps in northeast China, adding to the followers of the banned sect jailed without trial nationwide, a rights group reported today.
Most of the 300 labor camps throughout China now contain members of Falun Gong, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported.
The 30 followers from three cities - Jiamusi, Shuangyashan and Changchun - were sent to labor camps last week either because they went to Beijing to appeal the ban or practiced the group's now outlawed slow-motion meditation exercises in public places, the rights center said.
It estimated 2,000 Falun Gong members have been sent to labor camps and said the number was growing. Police in China have the authority to send criminal suspects to labor camps for up to three years without trial.
Also today, a court in southern Hainan province rejected the appeals of four Falun Gong leaders sentenced to between two and 12 years in prison, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Song Yuesheng, Jiang Shilong, Chen Yuan and Liang Yulin were sentenced Nov. 12 in the first trial of Falun Gong members, two weeks after China's national legislature approved harsher punishments of cult members.
Beijing banned the multimillion-member Falun Gong movement in July as a threat to communist rule. Authorities have said people who recant would not be punished. They have refused to divulge the number of people swept up in a subsequent crackdown because the figure would show the popularity and tenacity of the group.
Authorities also have taken away jobs and unemployment benefits from people who have defied the ban, the rights center said.
Falun Gong was founded by Li Hongzhi, a former government clerk now living in New York who based some of his ideas on teachings from Taoism and Buddhism. Li denies the group is political or religious. Practitioners try to channel unseen forces into their bodies to promote health and morality. Thousands of them have traveled to Beijing to stage silent protests against the crackdown.


"China Said to Detain 35,000 in Sect"

by John Pomfret ("The Washington Post, November 30, 1999)

BEIJING, Nov. 29 - XChinese police detained more than 35,000 practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in Beijing alone between July 22--the day the group was banned--and Oct. 30, a human rights organization reported today.
The Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported that the figure was announced here on Friday during a speech to Communist Party stalwarts by Vice Premier Li Lanqing. According to the account, Li described the campaign against Falun Gong as "long term, difficult and complex" and said Falun practitioners were being "stubborn."
If accurate, the account would be the clearest indication to date of the size of efforts to crush Falun Gong's enduring opposition to the government ban. The human rights organization reported having three sources for the contents of Li's speech but did not identify them.
The number of detained people reported in the operation against Falun Gong dwarfs every political campaign in recent years in China except the crackdown on a student-led democracy movement centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. An estimated 15,000 people were sent to jail or labor camps within about 50 days of the attack on student demonstrators by China's army on June 4, 1989.
Human rights officials estimated that 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been sent to labor camps in the latest crackdown. Four Falun Gong leaders from the southernmost province of Hainan Island have been sentenced to jail terms. About 300 more await sentencing.
Falun Gong has posed an improbable threat to the government since it surfaced as a national phenomenon earlier this year. The group advocates no ideology. It promotes a mix of New Age beliefs, conservative social values and the cultivation of a "wheel" of energy in the belly of each follower. Its leader, Li Hongzhi, a former musician and night watchman, lives in Queens, N.Y. Most of Falun Gong's followers are retired or unemployed. It also appeals to elderly Communist Party officials and scientists, unlikely sources of dissent.
Nevertheless, the anti-Falun Gong campaign has lasted longer than the crackdown following the Tiananmen Square attack. Some officials and scholars, including some early critics of the movement, have spoken out against the crackdown. For example, a respected teacher from the central Chinese city of Chongqing was recently tried for his participation in the movement, sparking a widespread expression of sympathy among his students at the Chongqing Tax Academy, sources said.
According to the Hong Kong-based group, more than 26,000 of those detained in the past four months were seized in Beijing from July 20 to 22, when the government was preparing the order to ban the group. Another peak occurred at the end of October--around the time of the visit of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to Beijing--when 4,230 people were detained.
The human rights group quoted Li as saying that not a day has gone by since the ban when a Falun Gong practitioner has not been detained in Beijing. Currently, he was cited as saying, about 60 protesters are arrested daily on their way to a government complaints bureau to protest the ban. The great majority of those detained have been released.
Li reportedly added that an arrest was even made during China's National Day celebrations on Oct. 1. The detainee was a student marching from the prestigious Qinghua University who had prepared a banner reading "Falun Dafa," another way of saying Falun Gong. A Chinese source confirmed that incident independently and added that all student marchers were searched three times before they entered the square.
Parts of Li's speech in the Great Hall of the People were published by state-run media, but details on the detentions were not. The government has not given a full accounting of the crackdown, in part because the numbers would confirm Falun Gong's popularity and the fervor of its members. Li's speech was given to 3,000 party officials, including members of the political department of the Chinese army and other Communist Party security organs.
Chinese sources said President Jiang Zemin ordered the crackdown and has supported it from the beginning, but they said his motivation is not completely clear. Some have said Jiang was disturbed when 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners surrounded Communist Party headquarters in Beijing on April 25. Others have said he ordered the suppression when he discovered that close relatives practiced Falun Gong.
The practitioners who have protested the ban mark the first time a concerted campaign of civil disobedience has been carried out since China became communist in 1949. In Beijing, the protests take two forms. One involves sitting in Tiananmen Square and meditating; police drag those people away. The other involves heading toward the government complaints office; police ask complainants if they are Falun Gong members and lead away those who acknowledge membership.
The government estimates that 2 million Chinese follow Falun Gong; other estimates place the number closer to 10 million. At the height of its popularity, the sect was actively promoted by the government and sold 55 million books--all printed on state-run presses.

"China Said Holds 35,000 Sect People"

("Associated Press", November 29, 1999)

BEIJING (AP) - Police in Beijing have detained more than 35,000 members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement in the Chinese government's four-month crackdown, a human rights group reported today, citing a speech by a senior Communist Party leader.
Li Lanqing, a vice premier and member of the party's supreme decision-making body, told other officials on Friday that 35,792 people were detained in Beijing between July and October, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.
Although parts of Li's speech in the Great Hall of the People were published by state-run media, the details on the detentions were not. The government has never given a full accounting of the crackdown in part because the numbers would show the popularity of the meditation group and the fervor of its members.
Li's speech was given to 3,000 party stalwarts, the human rights center said. It said it confirmed the contents of the speech with three sources but did not identify them.
More than 24,000 of the detentions took place from July 20-22, which culminated with the government's ban on Falun Gong, the center said. It said most of the detainees were picked up in and around Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing.
Another 4,230 detentions took place between Oct. 25-30, and since then police have detained about 60 Falun Gong followers a day, the center said.
Falun Gong preaches a mixture of slow-motion exercises and ideas drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and the group's founder, Li Hongzhi, an ex-government clerk now living in New York. Practitioners try to channel unseen forces into their bodies to promote health and morality.
They have waged a campaign of civil disobedience against the government ban. In October, after the initial police suppression in July and August subsided, thousands of followers streamed into Beijing from other parts of China to stage silent protests in Tiananmen Square against a tightening of the crackdown.
Even on Oct. 1, when Beijing was under a curfew for a carefully prepared military and civilian parade in Tiananmen Square to celebrate 50 years of communist rule, protests continued. Li said a parade marcher from prestigious Qinghua University clutched a Falun Gong banner but was quickly detained, the center reported.
It was unclear how many of the detentions were repeat offenders. A government spokesman, in giving partial details on the crackdown last month, told foreign reporters that 60 percent of those rounded up in Beijing and sent back to their home provinces later returned.
As part of the crackdown, state media censors suspended the business license of the government-run Qinghai People's Publishing House in western Qinghai province for printing four books on Falun Gong in January, the official Xinhua News Agency reported today. It said ``those responsible'' have been fired or demoted.


"China detains 35,792 Falun Gong members in 3 months"

("Reuters", November 29, 1999)

HONG KONG (Reuters) -- China detained at least 35,792 members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement between July 20 and October 30, a Hong Kong human rights group said on Monday.
Vice Premier Li Lanqing had reported the number at a recent government meeting on the fight against Falun Gong, the Information Centre of Human Rights & Democratic Movement in China quoted unidentified sources as saying.
Authorities had rounded up Falun Gong adherents every day since July 20, the group quoted Li as saying. Since October 30 they had detained more than 60 every day, it added.
The group did not say how many Falun Gong adherents were currently in detention.
Beijing banned Falun Gong, which blends Buddhist and Toaist beliefs with calisthenics, in July. It later declared the movement a cult and vowed to wipe it out.


"China state-run publisher hit for Falun Gong books"

("Reuters", November 29, 1999)

BEIJING, Nov 29 (Reuters) - China has suspended a  state-owned publisher and fired staff members for printing books  promoting the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, the official  Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.  
The State Press and Publication Administration (SPPA)  suspended the Qinghai People's Publishing House in the  northwestern province of Qinghai for its release in January of  four books promoting Falun Gong, Xinhua reported.  
Although the books were published months before Communist  authorities banned Falun Gong in July, SPPA officials told  Xinhua the publisher had seriously violated China's laws.  
The Qinghai publisher, also accused of producing books  "spreading feudalism, superstition and pseudo-science," had  its business operations suspended and received a notice of  criticism in the Chinese press, Xinhua said.  
Staff involved in producing the Falun Gong books were either  sacked or demoted, it said.  
China's Communist rulers were shocked in April when more  than 10,000 members of the Falun Gong movement staged a surprise  protest outside Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound to  demand official recognition for their faith.  
After banning Falun Gong, which mixes Buddhist and Taoist  beliefs with calisthenics, in July, the government later  declared it a cult and has vowed to wipe it out.  
More than 110 Falun Gong leaders have been formally  arrested. Many more are under various forms of administrative  detention, such as labour camps, which are not subject to the judicial process.


"China Expels 3 Falun Gong Members"

("Associated Press", November 27, 1999)

HONG KONG (AP) - Members of the banned Falun Gong meditation sect are regularly rounded up and beaten by Chinese authorities, three Chinese-Australian practitioners said today after they were expelled from China.
The three were among 15 Falun Gong practitioners picked up while attending a meeting at a private home Thursday in the southern city of Guangzhou. One Swedish exchange student was among those detained. She was deported to Sweden on Friday, while the three Chinese-Australians went to Hong Kong by train.
The three said that despite Beijing's clampdown on the movement, more and more Falun Gong practitioners are entering the Chinese capital in hopes of persuading the government to lift the ban.
``We learned that many practitioners were still being ill-treated and tortured while in detention,'' said Jiang Huijie, 31.
The other two Chinese-Australians - Gao Yuan, 36, and Jiang Xili, 42 - said they were manhandled even after they showed their Australian passports. Although they said most of those arrested were treated well, Gao and Jiang bore what they said were handcuff marks on their wrists and bruises on their arms.
``When I refused to give the names of other practitioners, the police got very angry,'' said Jiang, twisting her arms behind her back to show how she was dragged by police.
Jiang said police barged into their meeting while the practitioners were talking and drinking tea. The police demanded identification and accused them of taking part in an illegal gathering.
Jiang said the Australians were visiting China to see for themselves what life was like for Falun Gong members. During questioning, a woman was handcuffed from behind, dragged by the wrists to the ground and beaten, she said.
Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained since the communist government, fearing a threat to its power, banned the multimillion-member meditation group in July. Some members have been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison, and more are awaiting trial.
Hundreds if not thousands of others reportedly have been sent without trial to labor camps. Police have rounded up more than 1,000 members who made their way to Beijing to appeal for an end to the ban.
Falun Gong was founded by former government clerk Li Hongzhi, who now lives in New York City.
Drawing from Buddhism and Taoism, Falun Gong is a form of qigong, a popular Chinese meditation and exercise discipline meant to improve well-being by tapping unseen forces. Sect members say it makes them healthier and more moral.


"Foreign members of sect arrested"

("Sydney Morning Herald", November 27, 1999)

Beijing: Authorities in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have arrested two Australians and two other foreign followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, the group and human rights activists said yesterday.
The four - identified as a Chinese-American, a Swedish exchange student and two Chinese-born Australians - were picked up with 11 Chinese practitioners on Thursday afternoon.
It is the first time Chinese authorities have arrested foreigners in their persistent crackdown on members of the banned spiritual group.
A spokesman at the American consulate in Guangzhou confirmed the American had been arrested, but said her status and whereabouts were unknown.
The Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said the four are:
- Jiang Huijie, a 35-year-old Sydney woman who has practised Falun Gong for two years.
- Jiang Xili, a 40-year-old Sydney woman, computer networking engineer and Falun Gong practitioner for three years.
- Sun Jie, a 30-year-old US citizen and computer software consultant from Colorado who has practised Falun Gong for two years.
- Anna Hakosalo, a Swedish exchange student at Dalian University who has been practising Falun Gong since 1995.
The information centre believes the foreigners are being questioned in a hotel while the Chinese were taken to police stations.


"China expells Aussies for involvement in sect"

("Australian Broadcasting Corporation", November 27, 1999)

Four Australian members of a spiritual group have been expelled from China two days after their arrest.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says all four have now left for Hong Kong.
The four were amongst a group of practitioners of the Falong Gong spiritual movement detained for organising a gathering in southern China on Thursday.
China banned the organisation in July, after it staged a silent 10,000 strong protest in Beijing in April.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said two Sydney women who had been detained since Thursday left for Hong Kong late last night, while two others left this morning.
No further details are available.


"Australian members of Falun Gong"

("Australian Broadcasting Corporation", November 27, 1999)

Two Australian members of a spiritual group, who were arrested this week in southern China, are likely to be released today.
The two Sydney women Jiang Hiu Jie and Jiang Xi Li were arrested with two other practitioners on the outskirts of Guangzhou on Thursday.
They had arrived in China two weeks ago to lend support to Falun Gong followers, the 100 million strong spiritual movement which China banned in July calling it an evil cult.
An American practitioner arrested with the Australian women was released and deported on Friday.


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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