Excerpts Relating to Falun Gong from the US Department of State’s Human Rights Report

The Government continued its crackdown against the Falun Gong (FLG) spiritual movement. Thousands of practitioners were incarcerated in prisons, extrajudicial reeducation-through-labor camps, psychiatric facilities or special deprogramming centers. FLG adherents conducted far fewer public demonstrations than in past years, which some observers attributed to the effectiveness of the Government's crackdown [although fewer practitioners have been going to Tiananmen Square, more and more Falun Gong practitioners have been stepping forward to clarify the facts of the persecution in different ways. Please refer to the “News From China” and the “Righteous Thoughts and Actions” sections on the Clearharmony home page]. Several hundred Falun Gong adherents reportedly have died in detention due to torture, abuse and neglect since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999.




Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

The official press reported a number of extrajudicial killings, but no nationwide statistics were available. During the year, deaths in custody due to police use of torture to coerce confessions from criminal suspects continued to be a problem. Several hundred Falun Gong adherents reportedly have died in detention due to torture, abuse and neglect since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999. For example, Zheng Fangying of Weifang, Shandong Province, was arrested in December 2001 after she tried to unfurl a pro-FLG banner in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Zheng was taken to a detention center where she was punched and shocked with electric batons. Police released her after she staged an 18-day hunger strike. Three days later, she reportedly died from her injuries at her home.




d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems. The law permits authorities, in some circumstances, to detain persons without arresting or charging them, and persons may be sentenced administratively to up to 3 years in reeducation-through-labor camps and other similar facilities without a trial. Because the Government tightly controlled information, it was impossible to determine accurately the total number of persons subjected to new or continued arbitrary arrest or detention. Official government statistics indicated that there were 230,000 persons in reeducation-through-labor camps. According to a 2001 article by the official news agency, 300 reeducation-through-labor facilities have held more than 3.5 million prisoners since 1957. In addition, it was estimated that before 1996 as many as 1.7 million persons per year were detained in a form of administrative detention known as custody and repatriation; the number of persons subject to this form of detention reportedly has grown since 1996 to approximately 2 million per year. The Government also confined some Falun Gong adherents and labor activists to psychiatric hospitals. Although the crime of being a "counterrevolutionary" was removed from the criminal code in 1997, western NGOs estimated that as many as 1,300 persons remained in prison for the crime. Another 600 were serving sentences under the State Security Law, which covers the same crimes as the repealed law on "counterrevolution."




According to researchers, the country had 20 "ankang" institutions, high-security psychiatric hospitals for the criminally insane, directly administered by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). Dissidents and other targeted individuals were housed with mentally ill patients in these institutions. The regulations for committing a person into an ankang psychiatric facility were not clear. Credible reports indicated that a number of political and trade union dissidents, "underground" religious believers, persons who petitioned the Government for redress of grievances, and hundreds of Falun Gong adherents were incarcerated in such facilities during the year. For example, political activist Wang Wanxing, originally held for trying to unfurl a banner on Tiananmen Square to commemorate the third anniversary of the June 4, 1989 massacre, was confined in a Beijing ankang facility. Huang Jinchun, a judge in Beihai, fired from his job and admitted to a psychiatric hospital in November 1999 for refusing to renounce his belief in Falun Gong, also remained in an ankang facility at year's end. He reportedly displayed no signs of mental illness but was given daily injections of narcotics. According to NGO reports, more than 30 persons were committed during the year to the Harbin Psychiatric Hospital against their will after petitioning authorities for redress of various personal grievances. In August The Royal College of Psychiatrists sponsored a motion to expel China from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) for using psychiatric facilities to incarcerate political prisoners; a decision was pending at year's end.


Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution states that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental rights to be enjoyed by all citizens; however, the Government tightly restricted these rights in practice. The Government interpreted the Party's "leading role," as mandated in the preamble to the Constitution, as circumscribing these rights. The Government strictly regulated the establishment and management of publications. The Government did not permit citizens to publish or broadcast criticisms of senior leaders or opinions that directly challenge Communist Party rule. The Party and Government continued to control many and, on occasion, all print and broadcast media tightly and used them to propagate the current ideological line. All media employees were under explicit, public orders to follow CCP directives and "guide public opinion," as directed by political authorities. Both formal and informal guidelines continued to require journalists to avoid coverage of many politically sensitive topics. The State Security Law forbids journalists from divulging state secrets. These public orders, guidelines, and statutes greatly restricted the freedom of broadcast journalists and newspapers to report the news and led to a high degree of self-censorship. The Government continued an intense propaganda campaign against the Falun Gong.




Government restrictions on the press and the free flow of information continued to prevent accurate reporting on the spread of HIV/AIDS and the role of blood collection procedures in the spread of the disease in rural areas.

For several years, journalists openly have called for legislation granting press freedom protection. In May 2000, the legal affairs bureau of Anhui Province issued a regulation banning government departments from refusing press interviews.

The Government kept tight control over the foreign press during the year and continued efforts to prevent foreign media "interference" in internal affairs. The June 15 edition of the Economist was banned due to an editorial it ran entitled "Set China's Politics Free." Time Magazine was temporarily banned after an article appeared on the Falun Gong. In July BBC World Television was blocked for several weeks after it ran a report about the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.




During the year, Falun Gong followers overrode television broadcasts several times to broadcast pro-FLG statements during regular programming. In September 15 persons were given sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison for interfering with a cable television system in the northeastern city of Changchun in March. On December 30, the Intermediate People's Court in Xining sentenced four FLG adherents to up to 20 years in prison for tapping into cable television signals. The Government also reported several instances of individuals interfering with domestic broadcasts transmitted via satellite, replacing regular programming with pro-FLG material.




b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly; however, the Government severely restricted this right in practice. The Constitution stipulates that such activities may not challenge "Party leadership" or infringe upon the "interests of the State." Protests against the political system or national leaders were prohibited. Authorities denied permits and quickly moved to suppress demonstrations involving expression of dissenting political views.

At times police used excessive force against demonstrators. Demonstrations with political or social themes were often broken up quickly and violently. The most widely publicized demonstrations in recent years were those of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. The Government continued to wage a severe political, propaganda, and police campaign against the FLG movement during the year. Since the Government banned the FLG in 1999, mere belief in the discipline, without any outward manifestation of its tenets, has been sufficient grounds for practitioners to receive punishments ranging from loss of employment to imprisonment, and in many cases, to suffer torture and death...However, the great majority of practitioners were punished without a trial, primarily in the reeducation-through-labor system. Many thousands of persons have been detained in reeducation-through-labor and custody and repatriation camps; others have been confined to psychiatric hospitals. In 2001 facilities were established specifically to "rehabilitate" practitioners who refused to recant their belief voluntarily (see Section 2.c.).




c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and the freedom not to believe; however, the Government sought to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and to control the growth and scope of the activity of religious groups. There are five officially recognized religions--Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. A government-affiliated association monitored and supervised the activities of each of the five faiths. Membership in religions was growing rapidly; however, while the Government generally did not seek to suppress this growth outright, it tried to control and regulate religious groups to prevent the rise of groups or sources of authority outside the control of the Government and the Communist Party.

Overall, government respect for religious freedom remained poor, and crackdowns against unregistered groups, including underground Protestant and Catholic groups, Muslim Uighurs, and Tibetan Buddhists continued...Various sources reported that thousands of FLG adherents have been arrested, detained, and imprisoned, and that several hundred or more FLG adherents have died in detention since 1999; many of their bodies reportedly bore signs of severe beatings or torture or were cremated before relatives could examine them [please note that Falun Gong is not a religion. For more information on the nature of Falun Gong, please click here]. The atmosphere created by the nationwide campaign against the FLG reportedly had a spillover effect on unregistered churches, temples, and mosques in many parts of the country...Party and PLA personnel have been expelled for adhering to Falun Gong beliefs.

Full text available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/18239.htm

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