July 17, 2003 Thursday Final Edition

TORONTO (CP) -- Several dozen adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement rallied Wednesday to mark the fourth anniversary of the punishing crackdown in China on the group.

Comparing the campaign to the Nazi persecution of the Jews, they called for an end to the attacks, torture and imprisonment of practitioners in China and to a global propaganda war being waged by Beijing.

"The extent of the brutality is shocking," said Li Zhang, whose engineer husband Lizhi He, 38, has been in a Chinese prison for more than two years.

"Knowing I could be kidnapped at any moment, I fled to Canada alone."

Falun Gong practitioners, based on the 1992 teachings of a Chinese man, Li Hongzi, use meditation and gentle exercises to enhance their well-being. The practice has spread to millions of people in countries around the world including Canada, although the largest group of adherents remains in China.


Four years ago, Jiang Zemin, the Communist leader of the country ordered a crackdown.

Falun Gong practitioners were jailed. Authorities have been accused of torturing some of the prisoners to death.

Thirteen family members of 10 Canadians were jailed in the crackdown, although eight have been released.

Proponents accuse the Chinese government of exporting its anti-Falun Gong campaign through its embassies and consulates, including in Canada.