ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Danger from Falun Gong

Falun Gong, a non-political religious organisation in China, is being targeted by the Chinese government, which has banned the outfit. Practitioners of Falun Gong claim that many of its members have been detained or imprisoned. With a membership of over 100 million in China, Falun Gong continues to raise its voice demanding the right to practise its beliefs.

Beijing is becoming so obsessed with Falun Gong that its fight against the movement has even spilled over into Australia. So much so that a recent national television programme here featured it as its lead story, followed by a panel discussion. What prompted this were a series of recent press reports highlighting the targeting by the Chinese embassy of the Australian-Chinese members of the Falun Gong movement. Although the Chinese embassy has denied interfering and pressurising Falun Gong followers, the complaints were apparently serious enough to warrant a statement by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Downer, warning Beijing to lay off its citizens in Australia or anywhere else. According to Downer, “We have raised these concerns, that have been raised by some of the Falun Gong practitioners here, in Australia with the Chinese...” He added, “We would not expect anybody to harass Australian citizens either within Australia or outside Australia.” Just before China’s anniversary celebrations on October 1, Falun Gong followers in Australia sent a petition to President Jiang Zemin. The petition said: “Millions of Falun Gong practitioners in your country and around the world have nothing whatsoever to celebrate. On the contrary, they are being persecuted for simply wanting to be good people and for refusing to renounce their spiritual beliefs.” The open letter then went on to highlight interference with Australian Falun Gong practitioners. The letter said: “Most Australians will be disturbed to learn that the Chinese consulate in Sydney has dared extend this campaign of intimidation to our shores. Pressure has been put on local councils to ban the use of public parks for Falun Gong; practitioners’ property has been damaged, phones and e-mail tampered with, Internet sites hacked into and harassing phone calls made.” (According to Falun Gong sources here, 50,000 Gong members have been imprisoned or detained in China since its banning last year in July, with 53 deaths in custody.)

Almost nobody in China believes the Chinese embassy’s denial of its interference. A national daily said in its lead editorial, “This flies in the face of the evidence. Chinese diplomats have encouraged Blacktown and Hurstville councils [in Sydney] to deny the sect the use of community facilities. And there are credible accounts by Falun Gong members of having been followed by people who appeared to be Chinese, and of having had their telephones tapped, and property and vehicles damaged.” Obviously, if Beijing is so much worried about the activities of Falun Gong in Australia [a far away country with its tiny Falun Gong membership of 2,000], it must be having nightmares from its up to 100 million membership in China. The question is, why so?

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