Guangzhou (AsiaNews) - At least 21 members of the Buddhist Dharma Huazang sect were arrested in several police raids last month. The arrests took place in several cities: Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shanghai. The founder and teacher of the group, Wu Zeheng, known to be an activist for human rights, and 20 of his followers were accused of "using an evil cult to restrain the implementation of the law". They are also accused of "fraud" and "rape".
According to CHRD sources (China human rights defenders) the group is imprisoned in Zhuhai. Police raids began on July 29; from early August - and before they had official charges laid against them- state media gave wide coverage to the sect discrediting it and presenting it as an "evil cult" whose members are criminals.
There is no legislation for religion in China. Instead, the State regulates the freedom to be granted or denied religious communities. The definition of "evil cult" implies that the religion in question is a "crime" and therefore its members pursued. Among the most famous - and persecuted - of such "evil cults" is Falun Gong. These "evil" religions are always charged with being politically motivated. In the case of Falun Gong, the Party is terrified because many of its members are part of the army and therefore it fears it could encourage a coup against the government.
In the case of the Buddhist sect, the figure of the master is of great importance: in 1998 Wu Zeheng wrote an open letter to the leaders of the Party, demanding political reforms. For this, he spent 11 years in prison. Released in 2010, he has always been subject to police checks