Falungong movement is not 'exercise practice': Police

The Jakarta Post/March 5, 2002
By Yogita Tahilramani

Around 50 members of the Falungong movement held a peaceful six-hour protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta on Monday to express their opposition to the total ban imposed by the authorities in China on the movement.

The protest took place in Jakarta just one day after the police here disbanded a parade by around 700 Falungong members from 10 countries.

Wearing yellow Falungong T-shirts, the protesters sat cross-legged on the sidewalk across from the embassy as police personnel looked on.

"Oppression and torture against Falungong practitioners are violations of human rights, be aware," read one poster carried by the protesters.

The group dispersed peacefully in the afternoon.

On Saturday Falungong members had held a one-day conference in Jakarta.

Meanwhile, City Police Spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam defended on Monday a last minute ban imposed on Falungong members to hold a parade from the National Monument (Monas) to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Sunday.

"Police received credible information that this movement is not merely about exercise practice. It could most likely have been politically motivated," Anton told reporters without elaborating.

The Chinese embassy confirmed on Monday that it had approached police and government officials about Sunday's planned march by what it called an "evil cult."

In a statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Monday, the Chinese Embassy maintained that Falungong was not a sports organization but an evil cult that promoted being "anti-religion, anti-society and anti-science."

It also called the Falungong movement an anti-China activity organized and planned by forces in the United States and Taiwan, and that the movement was taking advantage of Indonesia's ignorance of Falungong's "evil cult nature" in order to expand its activities in the country.

"If Falungong is allowed to develop as it pleases and to conduct activities of various kinds publicly, it will damage not only the China-Indonesia relations, but also Indonesia's unity, social order and stability," read the statement.

The Indonesian police, Anton said, would take all necessary steps to maintain strong bilateral relations between Indonesia and other foreign countries, including the Republic of China.

Founded by Chinese martial arts master Li Hongzhi in 1992, the official name of the Falungong movement is Falun Dafa, which means Great Law of the Dharma Wheel.

As the Falungong organization grew in popularity and gained support from a large number of members in China, authorities there outlawed the Falungong in July 1999, saying its group exercises and mystical Buddhist and Taoist teachings were the biggest threat to communist rule since the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.

The movement claims it has some 100 million followers, while the Chinese government says the number is only 30 million.

Beijing was worried that as Falungong developed into more of a political movement, it could bring together an alliance of dissident networks around China. Some Communist Party members also reportedly joined Falungong.

The word Falungong, stands for: fa, meaning law or principle; lun, which means wheel; and gong, which denotes the cultivation of energy. The Dharma Wheel was reportedly described by Li as a microcosm of the universe, that he says he installs telekinetically into the abdomens of all his followers, where it spins constantly, absorbing and releasing power.

Falungong believers have stated that they can often feel the wheel turning in their stomachs, adding that their use of meditation and martial arts exercises can radically improve health.

Li had earlier written that he can personally heal disease and that the Falungong emblem exists in the bellies of his followers, who can see through the celestial eyes in their foreheads.

He has also stated that his followers could stop speeding cars using the powers of his teachings.

Benefits of Falungong, according to Li, include the reversal of the aging process, being healed of chronic illness and supernatural abilities, such as seeing through matter with the third eye. Since Li's teachings reportedly lead to better health, as well as supernatural powers, medicine is only for those who are non-believers.

He forbids followers to seek medical attention, claiming that they can be restored to health by reading his books.

Many critics of Falungong point out that Li's aversion to modern medicine has led to the death and insanity of many Falungong followers.

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