04/28/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Falun Gong members commemorate 10 years of persecution in China

Public demonstrations in Asia and the world against the Chinese Communist Party. In 1999, the group had more than 70 million members in China, and conducted a protest demonstration. Since then, the group has been banned and its members punished with imprisonment and torture.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - On April 25, 2009, there were demonstrations in many big cities in Asia and the world, but not in Beijing, to commemorate the 10 years of persecution in China against the followers of the movement Falun Gong. Over the past decade, there have been tens of thousands of arrests, and thousands of deaths in prison.

In Yokohama (Japan), about 300 members braved heavy rain to protest against the torture practiced by the Chinese Communist Party. In Taipei (Taiwan), about a thousand members demonstrated in Freedom Square, calling for an end to the persecution in China. More than 3,000 gathered in New York.

In Hong Kong, where the religious group is permitted, hundreds of followers marched peacefully from Victoria Park to the government building, accompanied by three musical groups, wearing yellow shirts and holding banners reading "completely dissolve the Chinese Communist Party" or "50 million heroes have left the party," in memory of the approximately 53 million members of the group who have left the CCP in protest.

Only China was without demonstrations. In Beijing, the streets were patrolled by the police, ready to put down any demonstration.

The group, founded on the principles of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, preaches "truth, compassion, and tolerance," in addition to the regular practice of meditation and physical exercise in order to improve health.

On April 25, 1999, more than 10,000 Falun Gong members surrounded the general headquarters of the CCP in Beijing, to protest against the ban on their group. At the time, it numbered more than 70 million followers, including many members of the CCP and government officials. In response, Beijing began a systematic persecution, imprisoning anyone who participated in the group or spread its materials. According to the figures of the Falun Gong itself, in 10 years more than 3,000 followers have died in prison from torture and beatings, and there have been more than 63,000 documented cases of torture, but human rights groups say that "only" about a hundred have died in prison, and about 8,000 have been arrested. The group complains that recently the authorities have also begun to persecute its defense attorneys with threats, beatings, and arrests.

On April 23, foreign minister Jian Yu reiterated at a press conference that this group is forbidden because it is "wicked"and "has violated human rights through mental control of the people, causing sicknesses, infirmities, and even the death of many followers and innocence," and that the authorities have not violated any law.

(IN THE PHOTO: in Beijing, the police arrest a follower of Falun Gong)

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