Amnesty International: 2006 Annual Report (excerpts)

Repression of spiritual and religious groups

Religious observance outside official channels remained tightly circumscribed. In March, the authorities promulgated a new Regulation on Religious Affairs aimed at strengthening official controls on religious activities. The crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement was renewed in April. A Beijing official clarified that since the group had been banned as a “heretical organization”, any activities linked to Falun Gong were illegal. Many Falun Gong practitioners reportedly remained in detention where they were at high risk of torture or ill-treatment.[…]

  • In November, prominent defence lawyer Gao Zhisheng was forced to close down his law firm for a year after he refused to withdraw an Open Letter to the President and Premier calling on the authorities to respect religious freedom and to stop the “barbaric” persecution of Falun Gong. The order came shortly after he had filed an appeal on behalf of underground Protestant pastor Cai Zhuohua who had been sentenced to three years in prison for illegally printing bibles.

Torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trials

Torture and ill-treatment continued to be reported in a wide variety of state institutions. Common methods included kicking, beating, electric shocks, suspension by the arms, shackling in painful positions, and sleep and food deprivation. Restricted access to the outside world for detainees and a failure to establish effective mechanisms for complaint and investigation continued to be key factors allowing the practice to flourish. […]

  • Gao Rongrong, a Falun Gong practitioner, died in custody in June after being detained in Longshan Reeducation through Labour facility in Shenyang, Liaoning province. Officials had reportedly beaten her in 2004, including by using electro-shock batons on her face and neck, which caused severe blistering and eyesight problems, after she was discovered reading Falun Gong materials in the facility.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

In April the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal overturned all remaining convictions against eight Falun Gong practitioners for obstructing and assaulting the police during a demonstration in March 2002. Some charges against them had already been quashed on appeal in 2004.

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