Mainland outlaws Falun Gong

China Morning Post, July 23, 1999
By Mark O'Neill and Willy Wo-Lap Lam

Beijing yesterday outlawed the Falun Gong, accusing the cult of causing its followers to commit murder and suicide and of mounting the most serious threat to the Government since the 1989 student protests.

State television started a stream of programmes on what it said were the cult's crimes.

It called a protest on April 25 by 10,000 Falun Gong members outside the Zhongnanhai party headquarters in Beijing the most serious anti-government incident since the protests in 1989.

It accused the Buddhist cult's founder, Li Hongzhi, of coming to Beijing in person to organise the sect and said it had infiltrated key parts of the party and Government.

"The Falun Research Society and its subsidiary organisations have not been properly registered according to law and are illegal organisations that have seriously damaged social stability, promulgated superstition and fallacies and deceived people," a senior government official said.

"It has hurt people's health and led people into mental confusion, fear and loss of their reason, into stupor and hysteria. Some have gone crazy, others have died or murdered their relatives."

He said the sect had a national membership of two million, a fraction of the 60 million claimed by the organisation.

It had 39 branches nationwide, with 1,900 sub-units and 23,000 places where it held gatherings.

Television described how an 18-year-old follower from Chengde stabbed his parents with a long knife, yelling: "I am the Buddha and these two are demons."

It said Wu Deqiao, of Jiangsu, killed his wife who tried to stop him from practising Falun Gong.

It said many followers refused to take medicine, and this had led to deaths.

Security sources in Beijing said the police and People's Armed Police had been instructed to make mass arrests of members who continued to "make trouble" outside government offices.

There were hints that ordinary members who merely practised Buddhist rites and qi gong exercises at home and in a private capacity would be spared punishment.

The senior official said ordinary people who used Falun Gong for physical and breathing exercises would not be held responsible if they made a clean break from the organisation, but those involved in "planning and fanning troubles" and its senior organisers would be dealt with according to law.

The ban is the culmination of a three-month campaign by the Government.

A Beijing source said President Jiang Zemin gave repeated instructions in April to clamp down on the cult.

The Politburo heard reports from State Security Ministry personnel accusing Falun Gong leaders of "collusion with anti-Chinese organisations abroad".

Mr Jiang also set up a special committee to handle the crackdown and to wage a protracted educational campaign against "superstition and cults".

Yesterday, circulars were issued to party members and army officers ordering them to de-link themselves from the Falun Gong immediately, or risk heavy punishment.

Falun Gong leader Mr Li, 47, founded the movement in 1992. He left the mainland and lives in the United States, controlling his movement through the Internet.

Before yesterday's official announcement, several thousand sect members staged protests outside government offices in at least 10 cities.

However, most members withdrew after hearing news of the ban, with defiant ones vowing to stage even bigger protests later.

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