A Canadian government official said Friday that Ottawa was seeking access to a Canadian citizen reportedly arrested in China and sent to a labour camp without trial.
Reynald Doiron, a spokesman with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that Kulun Zhang, 60, had been arrested by the Chinese authorities and that Beijing had refused to allow Canadian diplomats access to him.
Zhang's daughter Lindi Zhang said her father had been taken away to a labour camp two days earlier, without any trial.
Lindi Zhang told a press conference that her mother -- still a Chinese citizen but with permanent resident status in Canada -- was being held under house arrest.
She claimed her father, who had been arrested three times since July, had been subjected to electric shock torture and was "forced to write a confession denouncing Falun Gong."
He was released from an earlier detention, she said, after he and other practitioners of Falun Gong -- which combines martial arts, Buddhism and group founder Li Hongzhi's moral teachings, and which has been outlawed in China -- went on a six-day hunger strike.
She said her mother had been told that Kulun Zhang had been sentenced to three years in a labour camp even though he had not been formally tried or convicted.
Doiron told AFP that Kulun Zhang apparently had dual Canadian and Chinese citizenship and entered China with his Chinese passport. China, Doiron noted, does not recognize dual citizenship.
Doiron said Canadian authorities were "alerted to a potential problem a week ago," which was before Kulun Zhang was taken away.
However, at that time, Zhang's wife "declined consular assistance" when it was offered by Canadian diplomats.
"We are sending a diplomatic note to the Chinese authorities," said Doiron. "We are seeking information.
"One of the things we will request is consular access.
"We also want to know under what article of China's criminal code he was charged, when he was sentenced and why."
Lindi Zhang, now a student at Ottawa University, said her family moved to Canada in 1989 and her father lived in Montreal before going back to China as a professor of art at Shangdong Art University.
She said her family had been practitioners of Falun Gong for "about four years."
HONG KONG, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement said on Wednesday that China, which has outlawed the movement, was extending its persecution to Hong Kong-based Falun Gong followers.
Hong Kong practitioner Wang Yaoqing told a news conference China had jailed her for eight months after she was arrested in March in southern China's Shenzhen.
Wang said she went on a hunger strike during detention.
"When I was very weak due to fasting, they asked me to clean bathrooms, mopping floors and washing all the dishes," said Wang. "Because I refused to eat, the administrator forced me to drink pepper water, and scolded me all the time."
"They asked other criminals to watch me 24 hours a day. As soon as they discovered that I was practising exercises, they would ask other inmates to beat me up," said Wang, who came to live in Hong Kong about seven years ago.
"When I was released on November 4, I found out my house in Shenzhen was auctioned off by the court without notification to my family," she said.
While the movement is banned in China, it is legal in Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to the Chinese fold in mid-1997 as a highly autonomous administrative region.
Earlier this year, another Hong Kong-based Falun Gong follower Chu O-ming, together with Beijing practitioner Wang Jie, were arrested by Chinese police after suing President Jiang Zemin and his subordinates for cracking down on the group.
"Their whereabouts are still unknown to this day," said Sharon Xu, a spokeswoman for the movement in the territory.
She said mainland China had denied entry to more than 30 Hong Kong practitioners and confiscated their travel documents.
Chan Ming-kwong, another spokesman for Falun Gong adherents in Hong Kong, said Chinese authorities had tortured to death at least 86 mainland followers of the movement since July last year, when the ruling Communists started a crackdown on the group.
Chinese authorities have acknowledged several deaths in custody, but say most resulted from suicide or illnesses.
Local practitioners accused Chinese authorities of passing electricity through the bodies of Falun Gong adherents, hitting their heads with spiky brushes, forcing urine and excrement into their mouths, and kicking pregnant women in the stomach.
They claimed that in China female Falun Gong practitioners were stripped and thrown into the cells of male inmates.
TAIPEI, Taiwan - If this were Tiananmen Square, Tsao Huei-ling could barely manage the warm-up move - "Buddha Showing a Thousand Hands" - before being pummeled by the hands of China's security police.
But here in Taiwan's own replica of the Beijing's 100-acre plaza, practitioners of Falun Gong not only practice in peace, their numbers appear to be growing in reaction to China's repression of the Buddhist sect.
On a recent morning, with the light struggling to penetrate heavy clouds, Mrs. Tsao and her husband approached the large public square in central Taipei.
Despite the cold rain, six other persons joined the couple in performing the slow-motion exercises of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
On the same autumn day, more than 200 Falun Gong followers were kicked and punched by Chinese policemen in Tiananmen before being thrown into waiting police vans. Their demonstration marked the upcoming one-year anniversary of the criminalization of Falun Gong.
But Mrs. Tsao and her fellow believers were left undisturbed, for they live in Taiwan.
While Beijing wages war on the "evil sect" it accuses of subversion, Taipei happily condones the activities of the Falun Gong faithful.
Their slogans beckon the curious on public buses, squeezed between advertisements for a range of cosmetics.
"The Chinese government has created trouble for itself," Mrs. Tsao said of the crackdown on the mainland that has imprisoned thousands for their beliefs. "We are not plotting to overthrow the Communist Party; that's ridiculous. Like Master Li Hongzhi said, Falun Gong practitioners should not be concerned with politics. But once millions of practitioners outnumbered the Communist Party, they were frightened we would unite and protest against them."
On Oct. 30, 1999, China's rubber-stamp parliament rushed through an "anti-cult" law to criminalize -retroactively - both Falun Gong and several other groups that Chinese leaders feared were becoming too popular.
More than a year later, there is still no shortage of martyrs prepared to risk arrest, torture and death by protesting at Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of China.
The crackdown has pushed membership of the Taiwan Falun Gong Research Society, run by Mrs. Tsao and her husband, up to some 30,000 people.
"I thought Falun Gong must be good after I saw television news of the mainland authorities arresting people in Tiananmen," said Han Lee-chuan, rubbing her numb feet after an hour in the lotus position.
Every morning, the 59-year-old retiree comes to Taipei's Forest Park to meditate with a group ranging from students to great-grandmothers.
"People who knew me before say, 'How come you have such spirit now?' I used to feel tired all the time. Every day was passing, and I was getting old. I felt pains in my legs, back and waist. But after practicing Falun Gong, all my ailments have gone," said Mrs. Han.
"Even my memory is great, and now I have a purpose in life. And if my legs hurt after meditating, I know the master is helping me eliminate bad karma."
The feeling of rejuvenation is common among adherents. Mrs. Han said, "I want to tell everyone on the street how good Falun Gong is."
As she sits oblivious to the world in deepest cultivation of the all-important "mind-nature," her stall of leaflets attracts a few .
onlookersBut unlike their mainland cousins, the 23 million citizens of Taiwan are somewhat spoiled for choice.
"There is religious freedom here," explains Huang Ke-chang, director of Taiwan's Religious Affairs Department. "Over 11 million people follow one of 16 different religions. As long as people obey the law, they can believe what they like.
"But we don't even think of Falun Gong as a religion. They registered as a sports organization, and we have had no trouble from them."
For Mrs. Tsao, born in 1949, the year China and Taiwan went their separate ways, Falun Gong represents the culmination of a long search.
"I had read Buddhist books and New Age texts, but I always reached a plateau," she said. "I still had bad feelings in my heart I could not dispel."
Until she found Li Hongzhi, the master, in 1998, after Taiwanese visiting relatives on the mainland brought back his mystical doctrine.
Mr. Li now lives in exile in the United States.
For her part, Mrs. Tsao is determined to take his message to the world. From Geneva to Toronto, Paris to Sydney, Mrs. Tsao is globe-trotting for the cause.
In September, she joined practitioners protesting Chinese President Jiang Zemin's presence at the Millennium Summit in New York.
"The police said we were the most peaceful demonstrators - it was refreshing to look after us," she said. "We want people to know the truth about us, to understand that China was wrong to ban Falun Gong. We are peaceful, law-abiding people who help social stability. We don't want to overthrow anybody."
BEIJING, November 13 (Xinhuanet) -- The China Anti-Cult Association was established in Beijing Monday, grouping renowned personnel from various circles of the country, including scientists, doctors, lawyers, religious leaders and journalists.
Cults that have run rampant in the world in recent years have become obstacles to social progress and brought tragic disaster for numerous families and individuals, according to a written proposal launching the association, which was read at the founding ceremony.
The proposal says that the Falungong and other cults pose a grave threat to social stability as they cheat and fool the masses through the worship of cult leaders and the evil theories they have fabricated, which are strongly opposed by governments and people of the world.
To safeguard social stability and maintain order, the Chinese government has banned the Falungong cult. The move has received popular support from the people and most former Falungong practitioners have realized the evil nature of the cult.
However, there are still a handful of staunch Falungong members who wish to stage a desperate fight against the people and the government, the proposal says, adding that the purpose of setting up the association is to mobilize social forces to fight against Falungong and other cults.
At Monday's meeting, the chapter for the association was passed and leaders of the association were elected, with Zhuang Fenggan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as the president.
It was decided at the meeting that a seminar on anti-cult efforts will be held in Beijing in December this year.
BEIJING (AP) - A follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement died under suspicious circumstances at a labor camp, a human rights group reported Wednesday.
Prison authorities in eastern Shandong province cremated the body of Zou Songtao, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said. Sixty-eight Falun Gong practitioners have died in police custody since China outlawed the group 16 months ago, the center said.
Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong followers have been pressured to renounce ties to the sect, and the Information Center said 10,000 practitioners have been put in labor camps - twice the number previously estimated. The number that could not be confirmed independently.
Zou visited Beijing repeatedly to protest the ban on Falun Gong, the Information Center said. It said police arrested him at his home in Qingdao city on July 18 and sent him to a labor camp for three years.
Zou's family was informed Saturday by the Wangcun Labor Camp that he had committed suicide by jumping from a prison building, the center said. His family, the center said, suspects Zou was killed.
Guards at the labor camp's third division, where Zou was reportedly held, declined to answer questions. Chinese authorities have not commented on every alleged death in custody, but have denied that any sect followers were mistreated in custody.
Falun Gong attracted millions of followers with its yoga-like exercises and a blend of ideas from Buddhism and Taoism. Chinese leaders blame the group for causing 1,500 deaths and banned it as a public menace and threat to Communist Party rule.
BEIJING (AP) - Chinese courts sentenced 10 people to prison Thursday for illegally printing and selling books. One defendant received a life term for dealing in publications for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
The 10, convicted in the southern city of Guangzhou, received sentences ranging from five years to life for illegal business activities and producing obscene materials, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.
The government strictly regulates publishing in an effort to prevent materials deemed subversive, pornographic or threatening to Communist Party rule from reaching China's book markets.
In a crackdown this year, party censors temporarily shut down at least 13 publishers and closed another. Censors banned books by two Shanghai novelists portraying the city's nightclub and drug subculture.
Officials have seized millions of books used by followers of Falun Gong since the sect was banned as a threat to party rule in July 1999.
Falun Gong publications were among nearly 4.95 million illegal books printed by two of those sentenced in Guangzhou, Liang Jiantian and Liu Jingsong, Xinhua said.
Liang was sentenced to life imprisonment and Liu was given a 20-year term, both on charges of manufacturing obscene materials and conducting an illegal business, Xinhua said.
Among books printed and sold by four other people sentenced was one about China's intelligence community. Chen Weicheng, Xie Ri'an, Liu Lixin and Long Zhirong were sentenced to 14 years, 11 years, seven years and five years in prison respectively, Xinhua said.
Xinhua said another defendant, Liu Yong, sold 8.31 million books, including one he put together himself about movie stars, and was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment
NEW DELHI - Amid the tombs of India's medieval Muslim Lodi dynasty, a dozen people move their bodies in a slow and fluid motion, attracting curious stares from early morning walkers.
They are the new adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned in China in July last year but now making small inroads in India, the home of yoga.
"The Indian people are very open (to new ideas). We would like to familiarise Indians with Falun Gong," said Ming Fa, a Frenchman of Laotian descent who is in India to spread the word about the spiritual movement.
Ming has taken time off from his auditor's job in Paris to popularise Falun Gong, a movement combining traditional Chinese physical exercises with Daoism and Buddhism which has been denounced by Beijing as an "evil cult."
China has demonised the group in its state media and accused it of trying to overthrow the government. It has also detained thousands of adherents and jailed some 150 prominent members for "using a cult to obstruct justice."
Ming can be seen with two colleagues persuading walkers in New Delhi's leafy tomb-studded Lodi gardens to try the Falun Gong exercises. They have put up boards announcing their presence and distribute leaflets touting its "stress-relieving benefits."
Besides Lodi gardens, where the rich and powerful take their walks, Falun Gong is being taught in two other neighbourhoods of the Indian capital.
WARY OFFICIAL EYE
While its numbers are still very small in India, Falun Gong -- which was started in 1992 in China by the US-based Li Hongzhi -- has aroused some curiosity.
"Stress management is very important to me. I have been practising Falun Gong for a week to see how it helps. It's still too early to say," said computer consultant Pradeep Jain.
He is aware of the Chinese government's ban on the group but does not believe its arrival will create any problems in India, where dozens of sects, beliefs and religions co-exist.
"It's OK. We are a democratic country," Jain said.
Still, the Falun Gong adherents say their activities have attracted some attention from Indian authorities.
Susie Trong, a Boston-based health worker, said officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had paid the Falun Gong pioneers several visits.
"They came to just ask us why we have come all this way to India to teach Falun Gong. They have not bothered us at all," said Trong.
CBI and interior ministry officials denied paying such calls, but did not rule out other government agencies making inquiries.
What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne
FALUN GONG UPDATES
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