(Clearwisdom.net) On September 15, the U.S. State Department released its 2006 International Religious Freedom Report. For the eighth consecutive year, China was named as a "Country of Particular Concern." The report said: "Falun Gong practitioners continued to face arrest, detention, and imprisonment, and there have been credible reports of deaths due to torture and abuse." Citing the Taiwan Falun Dafa Society, the report said the total number of Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan had grown rapidly in recent years to approximately 500,000 and continued to increase.

The Chinese Communist Regime Persecutes Falun Gong Most Severely

According to a report from the Central News Agency, U.S. Congress passed a resolution in 1998 that requested the State Department to submit a report on international religious freedom to Congress every year. Since the first report was submitted in 1999, China has been named as a "Country of Particular Concern" each year. The 2006 Report stated that religious freedom in China remained poor.

The report stated that from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006, the Chinese government continued to stress that only government-sanctioned beliefs and activities are legal and the government continued to persecute house churches, arrested bishops or religious leaders, as well as members of house churches.

The Report stated : "The Government continued its repression of groups that it categorized as "cults" in general and of small Christian-based groups and the Falun Gong in particular.

The report said, "Members of groups categorized as cults by the communist regime who refuse to recant their beliefs are sometimes subjected to harsh treatment in prisons, reeducation through labor camps, and extra-judicial "legal education" centers."

About 500,000 Falun Gong Practitioners in Taiwan

Regarding religious freedom in Taiwan, the Report stated: "There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and official policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion."

The report said that approximately 50 percent of the population regularly participated in some form of organized religious practice, and 81 percent adhered to some form of organized religion. According to the Religious Affairs Section of the MOI, an estimated 18 percent of the population was thought to be atheist.

Regarding Falun Gong, which is being persecuted in Mainland China, the report stated: 'Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa as it is sometimes called in Taiwan, is considered a spiritual movement and not a religion. The Chairman of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Society said membership in Taiwan had grown rapidly in recent years to approximately 500,000 and continued to increase."