AFP: Taiwanese Falun Gong [Practitioners] Protest Police Harassment in France

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Members of Taiwan's Falun Gong group Friday claimed French police had harassed and arrested practitioners as they mounted a peaceful demonstration in Paris during the visit there this week by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The group [...] demanded Taiwan's foreign ministry relay a strong protest to Paris over what it called an "unreasonable and unlawful" act infringing on the basic rights and freedom of its members.

"They were checked by French police on the streets just because they were wearing yellow scarves. The police could not give them any proper reasons, except (for) saying 'yellow scarves are illegal in France today'," Chang Chin-Hwa, a spokeswoman for Taiwan Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, told AFP.

She added some members were arrested and questioned for two hours before being released.

Some 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners from across the globe, including 170 from Taiwan, had gathered in Paris over the past week to condemn Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, for persecuting [practitioners] in China.

Some members from Germany and Denmark, who were not involved in any violence, were also reported to have been harassed, Chang said.

"France has turned a blind eye to China's human rights violations but exercised pressure to infringe on the basic freedom of law-abiding people," she said.

"We want the French government to investigate why the police could make unwarrantable arrests and to apologize to Falun Gong members."

Taiwan Falun Dafa is estimated to have 300,000 [practitioners].

Earlier this month, the Falun Gong group in France also alleged they were barred from joining a parade on the Champs Elysees to celebrate Chinese New Year under pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Paris.

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