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April 15, 2009: Falun Gong News Bulletin

Monitoring the Falun Gong Human Rights Crisis in China

April 15, 2009 | 10:15 am

News from Inside China:

•    FDIC: “Dozens of Falun Gong Adherents Sentenced to Up to 14 Years Since September 2008”
•    FDIC: “Urgent Appeal: Retired Professor Faces Imminent Long Sentencing for Practicing Falun Gong”
•    Chinese Human Rights Defenders: “Beijing Lawyer Cheng Hai Assaulted by Officials for Representing Falun Going Practitioner”
•    Epoch Times: “Confidential Documents Portray Persecution of Falun Gong; ‘Not guilty’ verdicts banned”

News from Outside China:

•    The Star: “Fears grow over Chinese lawyer’s disappearance”
•    Freedom House: Internet freedom study finds Falun Gong among most systematically censored topics
 
FDIC: “Dozens of Falun Gong Adherents Sentenced to Up to 14 Years Since September 2008”
April 3: This alert is a collection of available details for cases of Falun Gong adherents who were sentenced recently to long prison terms in China. This installment of the alert includes reports received by the Center over the past two weeks of the sentencing to prison of 28 adherents, 23 since the beginning of 2009. The ages of these prisoners of conscience range from being in their 20s to their 60s.

The cases listed here, and particularly, the lengths of the prison terms to which adherents were sentenced—from 1.5 to 14 years, highlight the dangers and systematic deprivation of basic rights adherents continue to face on a daily basis, including when they practice their faith in the privacy of the own homes. The trials fit into a broader pattern that the Center has observed since the end of the Beijing Olympics of a significant increase in the number of Falun Gong adherents being sentenced via criminal trials to lengthy prison terms. In several of the cases, high profile human rights lawyers have sought to defend adherents and enter a not-guilty plea on their behalf, but to no avail. 

To read more: http://www.faluninfo.net/article/876/?cid=84

FDIC: “Urgent Appeal: Retired Professor Faces Imminent Long Sentencing for Practicing Falun Gong”
April 6: A retired professor and father of a New York resident faces imminent sentencing for practicing Falun Gong after a trial last week in Shandong province that lasted just hours and at which police blocked his legal representation from attending. As part of a recent alarming trend of long sentences given to Falun Gong adherents, Mr. Zhang Xingwu now potentially faces up to 12 years in prison.

Zhang Xingwu (???), a 67-year-old retired physics professor at Jinan Normal University in Shandong, was arrested from his home on July 16, 2008. His detention was part of a broader pre-Olympic round-up of people known to practice Falun Gong living in the vicinity of Qingdao, where the sailing competitions were held.

Despite his rights to legal representation under Chinese law, according to media reports and testimony from his family, a heavy police presence outside the courtroom prevented Zhang’s lawyer Li Subin from defending him in court and stopped relatives from observing the trial. Voice of America reported that eyewitnesses said there were 70 riot police and hundreds of plainclothes police surrounding the courthouse.

To read more: http://www.faluninfo.net/article/877/?cid=84
See also: http://www.voanews.com/chinese/w2009-04-04-voa31.cfm 

Chinese Human Rights Defenders: “Beijing Lawyer Cheng Hai Assaulted by Officials for Representing Falun Going Practitioner”
April 14: “In the early morning hours of April 13, Beijing lawyer Cheng Hai (??) was attacked and beaten while on his way to meet with a client in Chengdu. According to Cheng, those responsible for the attack were officials from the Jinyang General Management Office, Wuhou District, Chengdu….

Cheng is in Chengdu representing Tao Yuan (??), a former Beijing Normal University graduate student and Falun Gong practitioner imprisoned… Tao, an inmate at Chengdu’s Hanyuan Prison, is now applying for release for medical treatment. Cheng was on his way to meet Tao’s mother, Zhang Chengrong (???), who lives in Wuhou District, when four or five men who had been monitoring and following Cheng encircled him and began striking him, pushing him onto the floor and kicking him.”

To read more: http://crd-net.org/Article/Class9/Class10/200904/20090414144022_14919.html
See also: http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=14975&size=A

Epoch Times: “Confidential Documents Portray Persecution of Falun Gong; ‘Not guilty’ verdicts banned”
April 2: “A document issued by the Qingdao Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Feb. 27 is said to be on the authority of a ‘unified directive from the Central, Provincial, and Municipal Party Committees.’ According to the document, Qingdao City is required to ‘strictly eliminate, investigate, guard against, and control the Falun Gong adherents…’

A document issued on Feb. 10 by the 610 Office of the Tiexie District in Shenyang City … requires that, ‘City courts implement internal audit systems, check guidelines, and strictly carry out orders to ensure ‘not guilty’ verdicts are denied to Falun Gong adherents. Otherwise, the first case of a ‘not guilty’ verdict will be a national political joke.’

To read more: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/14700/

The Star: “Fears grow over Chinese lawyer’s disappearance”
April 13: In the 69 days since [Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng] disappeared, rights activists, international lawyers and the Canadian government, have all expressed concerns for his safety….

Reliable sources requesting anonymity say that during the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights held in February in Geneva, Canada pressed China to conduct “an independent and impartial investigation” into allegations of Gao’s torture, to end “arbitrary detention” and to commit to “the prohibition of torture.” To date, China has offered no substantial response.

New York University law professor Jerome Cohen, who is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations,…called China’s treatment of Gao, “disgraceful.”… “It is the greatest blemish on China’s record,” Cohen said. “China wants to be considered a civilized modern state – and every day you get these (kinds of) reports.”

To read more: http://www.thestar.com/World/Columnist/article/617476
See also Prof. Cohen’s op-ed from the South China Morning Post: http://www.cfr.org/publication/18878/

Freedom House: Internet freedom study finds Falun Gong among most systematically censored topics
April 1: “The most systematically censored topics are those deemed by the Communist Party to be the most threatening to its domestic legitimacy. These include criticism of top leaders, independent evaluations of China’s rights record, …. the Falun Gong spiritual group, … and various dissident initiatives that challenge the regime on a systemic level, such as the Nine Commentaries (a series of editorials analyzing the history of the party and encouraging an end to its rule)… Tests conducted recently found that entries containing sensitive keywords such as “June 4,” “Falun Gong,” or “Dalai Lama” could not be displayed on Chinese blog hosting services, including the simplified Chinese version of Microsoft’s MSN Space Live service and Skype’s Chinese version, Tom Online….

Similarly, after being driven underground by a violent persecutory campaign, adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual practice have made use of the internet and mobile phones to maintain contact with one another, communicate with overseas practitioners, send documentation of torture abroad, and download censored information for the purposes of producing offline leaflets and DVDs that expose rights violations and call party propaganda into question….

In November 2008, Liu Jin, a former university librarian, was sentenced to three years in prison in Shanghai on charges of ‘using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law’ after she downloaded information about the Falun Gong from the internet and passed it to others, which her lawyer argues is a common occurrence.”

To read more: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=384&key=197&parent=19&report=79

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