HONG KONG, Jan 13, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) A Communist Party official in the armed police and a leading politician in Chongqing city have been removed from duty after protesting at the government's ongoing crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual group, a Hong Kong-based rights group said Thursday.

Major Yu Fenglai of the People's Liberation Army's armed police corps was taken into custody after demonstrating against the crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on January 2, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported.

Yu, a three-year veteran of the Falun Gong group, also handed over a petition to the State Council Complaints Bureau while in Beijing before being sent back to his native Shandong Province under police guard on January 4, the center said.

Relatives of Yu told the center he had been removed from his duties and kicked out of the Communist Party for his protest. It was uncertain if the state would bring criminal charges against him.

Meanwhile in Chongqing, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Zhou Jiaying, was relieved of her duties on Monday after she protested at the crackdown and called for an end to the ban on the group, the center said.

During a meeting of the conference last month, Zhou said the government's view of the group as a "religious sect" was not correct and called on the authorities to allow it to legally register, it said.

The Falun Gong was outlawed as an illegal organization last summer and has been seen as a major threat to Communist Party rule.

The group practices traditional Chinese breathing exercises and meditation, advocates clean living and boasts millions of followers in China. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)