Members 'duped into joining rally'

Media Attack On Falungong

The Straits Times Interactive, July 28, 1999

BEIJING -- The Chinese media continued their offensive against the banned Falungong sect yesterday, highlighting confessions by former members who said they were now enlightened by the government's ban.

"April 25: I was duped into going to Zhongnanhai," said the headline of an interview with "Auntie Li", a Beijing woman who had practised Falungong for three years, in the popular Beijing Youth Daily.

Zhongnanhai is the seat of power of China's leadership. On April 25, the leaders awoke to find some 10,000 Falungong members encircling the Communist Party compound in a day-long silent protest.

Said Auntie Li, whose full name, age and other details were not given in the report accompanied by an uncaptioned photograph of a middle-aged woman:

"The night before the protest, I went to the usual place to learn Falungong."

There, some strangers told the members to assemble the next morning at Zhongnanhai as a report had criticised the group's founder, Mr Li Hongzhi, she said.

"I reached there at seven the next morning. On arriving, I felt that there were too many people, that it had been organised and planned so that people from certain places would be at certain spots," she noted.

"I later felt I did not know the whole situation. I regretted that I had been duped into wasting half a day at the stadium."

State television yesterday said that a court in Sanhe city in Hebei province had accepted a case from 20 alleged victims of the sect, demanding compensation from Mr Li.

The alleged violations included illegal gatherings and demonstrations as well as the use of superstition to swindle and threaten, noted lawyer Chen Wenxiu.

"We have filed a civil suit asking Li Hongzhi to provide economic and psychological compensation," she added.

A People's Daily commentary yesterday said Falungong had been engaged in activities against science, the government and society.

It had also tried to develop into a political force to contend with the Chinese Communist Party and government, it added. -- AFP

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