US Department of State: International Religious Freedom Report 2006: China [Excerpt]

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,
and Labor

The constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and
the freedom not to believe; however, the Government seeks to restrict religious
practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship
and to control the growth and scope of activities of religious groups. The Government
tries to control and regulate religion to prevent the rise of groups that could
constitute sources of authority outside of the control of the Government and the
Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Nonetheless, membership in many faiths is growing

During the period covered by this report, the Government's
respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remained poor, especially
for religious groups and spiritual movements that are not registered with the
Government. Unregistered religious groups continued to experience varying degrees
of official interference and harassment. Members of some unregistered religious
groups were subjected to restrictions, including intimidation, harassment, and


Falun Gong practitioners continued to face arrest,
detention, and imprisonment, and there have been credible reports of deaths due
to torture and abuse. Practitioners who refuse to recant their beliefs are sometimes
subjected to harsh treatment in prisons, reeducation through labor camps, and
extra-judicial “legal education” centers, while some who recanted returned from
detention. Reports of abuse were difficult to confirm within the country and the
group engaged in almost no public activity within the country. Overseas Falun
Gong practitioners claimed this was a result of the harsh government campaign,
which began with the 1999 crackdown against the group. There were continuing revelations
about the extra-legal activities of the Government's 610
including torture and forced confessions, a state security agency implicated
in most alleged abuses of Falun Gong practitioners.


on Religious Freedom

During the period covered by this report, government
repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement continued. Membership in the Falun
Gong […] was illegal. Distributing Falun Gong literature or encouraging others
to join the spiritual movement was punishable by criminal and administrative sanctions,
including reeducation. As in past years, foreigners who distributed Falun Gong
materials were expelled from the country, including an Australian expelled in
October 2005 after attempting to distribute the book Nine Commentaries on the
Communist Party
. In January 2006 the Government released U.S. citizen Charles
Lee after three years of imprisonment for Falun Gong-related activities.


Abuses of Religious Freedom


There were credible reports
of torture and deaths in custody of Falun Gong practitioners in past years and
overseas Falun Gong groups claimed that such incidents continued.

In December
2005 a Beijing attorney sent an open letter to President Hu Jintao highlighting
abuses of Falun Gong practitioners. The letter described the electric shock torture
of Zhang Zhikui, a Falun Gong practitioner arrested for repeated petitioning in
Beijing, and the October beating death in Changchun, Jilin Province of Liu Boyang
and his mother Wang Shouhui. The letter, and a similar open letter sent by the
attorney in 2004, referred to the extra-legal activities of the 610 office, reportedly
involved in many of the abuses of Falun Gong. In 2005 the Government revoked the
attorney's license to practice law, and the attorney has claimed repeated
government harassment, including an automobile accident that he publicly described
as an “assassination attempt.” Foreigners attempting to meet with the attorney
have been detained and harassed.

According to Falun Gong practitioners in
the United States, since 1999 more than 100,000 practitioners have been detained
for engaging in Falun Gong practices, admitting that they adhere to the teachings
of Falun Gong, or refusing to criticize the organization or its founder. The organization
reported that its members have been subject to excessive force, abuse, rape, detention,
and torture, and that some of its members, including children, have died in custody.
NGOs not affiliated with the Falun Gong documented nearly 500 cases of Falun Gong
members detained, prosecuted, or sentenced to reeducation during the period covered
by this report. Credible estimates suggested the actual number was much higher.
In November 2005 police at the Dongchengfang Police Station in Tunzhou City, Hebei
Province, reportedly raped two Falun Gong practitioners. Reliable sources indicated
that Zheng Ruihuan and Liu Yinglan were detained in Shandong Province in July
2005 for practicing Falun Gong. In May 2006, Yuan Yuju and Liang Jinhui, relatives
of a Hong Kong journalist who works for a television station supportive of Falun
Gong, were sentenced to reeducation […] relating to their distribution of Falun
Gong materials. Some foreign observers estimated that at least half of the 250,000
officially recorded inmates in the country's reeducation-through-labor camps
were Falun Gong adherents. Falun Gong sources overseas placed the number even
higher. Hundreds of Falun Gong adherents were also incarcerated in legal education
centers, a form of administrative detention, upon completion of their reeducation-through-labor
sentences. Government officials denied the existence of such “legal education”
centers. According to the Falun Gong, hundreds of its practitioners have been
confined to psychiatric institutions and forced to take medications or undergo
electric shock treatment against their will.


date: 17/Sep/2006

Original article date: 16/Sep/2006
Category: World


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