11/12/2020, 12.23
RUSSIA
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Moscow, Falun Gong banned for 'religious extremism'

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The spiritual movement, already banned in China as an "evil cult", was declared an "extremist organization" in Khakatia and then throughout the Federation, "like Jehovah's Witnesses".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Two days ago, the activities of the spiritual movement Falun Gong were banned in Khakazia (southern Siberia) on charges of "religious extremism". The ban extends to the entire Russian Federation.

The official decree states, "the regional association of Khakatia, aimed at the self-improvement of the person according to the Great Law of Falun, called 'Falun Dafa', has been declared an extremist organization, and its activity on the territory of Russian Federation is prohibited”.

The text was published by the Interfax agency, which reported the decree of the V Court of Appeal of common jurisdiction of the city of Novosibirsk, whose session was held on 10 November.

In July of this year, the Supreme Court of Khakatia refused to declare the sect as an extremist, but the Deputy Prosecutor of the Republic, which is part of the Russian Federation, had lodged a complaint against the decision before the Court of Appeal, obtaining satisfaction.

A historian of religions, Prof. Roman Silantev of the University of Moscow, called the sentence against Falun Gong "an epochal turning point in the fight against religious extremism": "this sect, widespread and influential throughout the world, is now very active in Russia too, and not only in Khakatia. I hope that from this moment it will become possible to prohibit its activities throughout the territory of our country, as happened in the past with the Jehovah's Witnesses,” Silantev told Interfax.

The historian recalled that the Falun Gong association was founded in China by retired soldier Li Hongzhi in 1992: "It is a totalitarian occult sect, formed on the basis of the recreational activity of qiqong gymnastics. Its founder was able to transform a fairly harmless activity of gymnastic practices into a series of dangerous rituals both for the members of the sect and for the surrounding people ".

In 1999, the "sect" was banned in China, due to frequent cases of manic obsession and suicides among the members of the association, psychological distress, refusal of medical help for the belief in "miraculous healing", and - perhaps above all - for an attack on the country's constitution. On April 25, 1999, in a period of great development of the group, they organized a demonstration with tens of thousands of adherents in front of the Chinese power palace in Zhongnanhai. Officially they called for official recognition for the sect, but then president Jiang Zemin considered them a threat to him and the party.

On the territory of Russia, Falun Gong adepts have found obstacles to activity almost everywhere in recent years. In December 2010, the organization of a "Falun Gong" exhibition in the city of Elista was prohibited; in June 2015, the Izhevsk city law enforcement officers discontinued the activities of the leader of the sect's local cell, and in July 2020, six Americans and a British citizen, all linked to the Falun Gong sect, were declared "unwelcome people".

In the West, Falun Gong is generally described as a spiritual practice or movement. in 2010 a resolution of the United States House of Representatives was even passed, calling for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China, calling it "a spiritual practice belonging to traditional Chinese culture", and the European Parliament also came out in defence of the association.

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