China jails Falun Gong followers - HK group

Reuters, February 14, 2000

HONG KONG, Feb 14 (Reuters) - China sentenced two leaders of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement to six and eight years of incarceration on Monday, Hong Kong rights group said.

The Changan district court in northern China's Shijiazhuang city handed down the eight-year sentence on Duan Rongxin for "using an evil cult to disrupt the implementation of law" and `"leaking state secrets," the Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.

The court accused Duan of arranging Shijiazhuang's Falun Gong followers to join the 10,000-strong protest by Falun Gong adherents outside China's Zhongnanhai leadership compound on April 25 last year, the Hong Kong group said.

He was also charged with spreading the information contained in a confidential government document about Beijing's intention to crack down on Falun Gong.

The court also sentenced another Falun Gong leader, Liang Yening, to six years in prison for `"using an evil cult to disrupt the implementation of law."

Liang was arrested last October for leading the movement's followers to protest in Beijing.

Over 100 Falun Gong practitioners have been on a hunger strike since February 4 to protest their detention by China's authorities, the rights group said.

It said 140 Falun Gong followers began the hunger strike in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun on the eve of the Lunar Chinese New Year on February 4.

It did not say when the 140 adherents were detained.

The group said a Falun Gong member died in jail last October four days after beginning a hunger strike.

The Chinese authorities banned Falun Gong, which combines elements of Buddhism, Taoism and meditation, in July last year after members demanded official recognition for their faith in a series of protests, including the April gathering at the leadership compound in Beijing.

Beijing has arrested some 2,000 Falun Gong adherents since the Lunar New Year, the group said. The Information Centre estimated that China has sent more than 5,000 Falun Gong members to labour camps and sentenced 300 others to jail since it began its crackdown last year.


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