BEIJING, Aug 10, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) About 130 members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement have been on hunger strike for more than 10 days at a labor camp in northeast China, the group said Friday.

The hunger strikers, inmates of the Masanjia camp in Liaoning province, are protesting against the camp authorities' decision to keep them beyond their original terms, according to the Falun Dafa Information center, a Falun Gong news service.

An official at the camp contacted by AFP by telephone denied the report.


The Falun Gong news service said the refusal to release the group's practitioners stemmed from a directive issued by the Liaoning judicial authorities.

The Falun Gong said the Masanjia camp was notorious for its brutal treatment of inmates.

It cited reports that camp officers allegedly stripped 18 female Falun Gong practitioners naked and threw them into the cells of male convicts.

The camp official contacted by AFP declined to comment on the report.

Since the Falun Gong was banned two years ago, tens of thousands of practitioners have been sent to "re-education through labor" camps and hundreds have been given prison sentences.

A total of 156 have died in police custody, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. ((c) 2001 Agence France Presse)