This month the Shanghai Expo opened its door to the world with the slogan: ‘Better City, Better Life.’
But for followers of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, also called Falun Gong, life has not been better because of the Expo.
Levi Browde is executive director of the Falun Dafa Information Centre, a New York-based group. He says the Chinese regime is using the pretext of the Shanghai Expo to carry out its campaign to eradicate Falun Gong:
“Any time when there is a public event, where there is, for the lack of a better word, an excuse to have a security sweep, as if they were looking to secure the area for the event, what they will do is they will use that to advance an agenda that they’ve had on the table for 11 years—and that is to root out Falun Gong practitioners.”
In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party banned Falun Gong, despite its widespread popularity throughout China. Since then, the regime has brutally suppressed its followers.
According to the Falun Dafa Information Centre, there are more than 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners in China's labour camps, and over 3,000 have been killed at the hands of police or prison guards.
In Shanghai alone, since February last year, more than 100 Falun Gong practitioners have been abducted, and at least 26 have been sentenced to prison or these labor camps.
Levi Browde comments, "If they (Shanghai authorities) are really worried about the security of the Shanghai Expo, or in the case of the Olympics, what you would see is a roundup of people and then after the event they would be released. But what we saw in the Olympics—and we’re starting to see this in Shanghai—is these are people being put away in to jail for 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, all the way up to 18 years. Clearly there is another agenda here, and that is to throw Falun Gong (practitioners) into prison camps for as long as possible. It has nothing to do with the Shanghai Expo.”
Last year in Shanghai, mother and daughter Li Yaohua and Chang Yibo were abducted for practicing Falun Gong. In March this year authorities sentenced them to three-and-a-half- and one-and-a-half-year prison terms, respectively.
Chang Yi-yuan, Li Yaohua's son and Chang Yibo's brother, is a dentistry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Last month Chang travelled to Taiwan to call for their release. He says:
“The judgment was basically based on one thing, that is relying on Article 300 of the Criminal Law, saying they have used a certain organisation to violate the law. My mother is 63 years old and retired. How can she do anything to violate the law? Both of them have been law-abiding citizens their whole lives, and have not broken any laws.”
At least two districts in Shanghai have reportedly offered up to 1,500 dollars to locals who aid in the arrest of Falun Gong practitioners who are distributing informational literature.
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