U.S., Canadian and Taiwanese Citizens Held at Iceland Border in Makeshift Detention Center
German Falun Gong Practitioner Detained, Arrested and Released as Renowned Icelandic Human Rights Lawyer Intervenes
LONDON, June 11, 2002 (European Falun Dafa Information Centre) – On June 10, The Associated Press reported that a school building has been set aside to serve as a makeshift detention center for any Falun Gong practitioners who arrive in Iceland and seek entry during president Jiang’s visit.
According to phone calls from Falun Gong practitioners seeking entry into Iceland, 20 Taiwanese passport holders were stopped at the Iceland border on Monday, June 10, and moved to the school building-turned detention center.
U.S. and Canadian citizens who arrived at Iceland’s airport this morning called from cell phones saying they had been detained and were being loaded onto a bus and driven to the makeshift detention center. Among the group of 20 or so arriving at the airport at the time of the call, at least six are U.S. citizens and at least three are Canadian citizens.
Another 20-40 Taiwanese passport holders were also detained today as they sought entry into Iceland.
German Citizen Released on June 10 After Being Arrested at Iceland Airport
In a bizarre series of events, Peter Recknagel, 30, a German citizen and Falun Gong practitioner, was detained, released, then formally arrested without reason and finally released again by Icelandic police at the Iceland airport.
Mr. Recknagel arrived in Iceland Monday afternoon on a plane from Frankfurt, Germany, and was promptly detained and questioned about his affiliation with the Falun Gong spiritual practice. His name appeared on a list officials at the airport were using to check passengers arriving in the country, Mr. Recknagel says.
After an hour of questioning, Mr. Recknagel was released. As he was waiting for a bus outside the airport, however, police detained him once again, escorting him back into their offices at the airport.
This time, Mr. Recknagel says, he was informed that he had been formally arrested. His belongings were confiscated and searched. He was not allowed to contact the German Embassy. The officials told Mr. Recknagel that they had known his name, flight number and personal information prior to his arrival in Iceland.
At approximately 9 PM, Mr. Recknagel’s fiancée, Lillian Staf, who had been in Iceland already for several days, contacted a well-known Icelandic human rights lawyer, Mr. Ragnar Adalfson. “Mr. Adalfson made a call to the Ministry of Civil Affairs,” says Ms. Staf, “and told them that what they were doing was blatantly illegal. Peter was released shortly afterwards.”
During his detainment at the airport, Mr. Recknagel says officials apologized for their behaviour, adding that his arrest had been a “mistake,” and that orders had come “from above:” The police chief at the airport explained that it had not been in his power to decide what to do about the situation.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance.” It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.
With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China’s President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999, fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiang’s regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.
The Falun Dafa Information Centre has verified details of over 422 deaths since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600. Over 100,000 have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps without trial.
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