China Said To Sentence Sect Members

The Associated Press, October 21, 1999

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese authorities sentenced five members of a banned meditation movement to one year in a labor camp and rounded up some 500 other members in the past month, a human rights group said Thursday.

The five Falun Gong practitioners were detained in northeast China's Changchun city around the 50th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1, the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.

Authorities accused the five of organizing Falun Gong practitioners to go to Beijing to petition the government, the group said. When the five refused to admit wrongdoing, police sentenced them to one year of "reeducation through labor" on charges of "disrupting social order," the group said.

Police can send people to labor camps for up to three years without trial.

Since the five were sentenced Oct. 12, police failed to tell their families where they are held, the Information Center said, quoting one of the detainees' relatives. It identified the five as Li Zhiling, Tian Xiuhua, Sui Dali, Chang Yu and Zhang Jiezi.

The Information Center said authorities have detained at least 500 Falun Gong practitioners in 11 cities, including the capital, Beijing, this month. Most were held for 15 days to one month, it said. It said seven Falun Gong practitioners were also detained Thursday morning in the southwestern city of Chengdu while going through their exercises in a park.

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