(Minghui.org) The U.S. State Department issued a statement on July 9 expressing concern over a Russian court on the suppression Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong. The statement reads, “We are deeply concerned by a Russian court’s decision to uphold the designation of the Khakassia regional branch of Falun Gong as ‘extremist’ and criminalize the peaceful practice of their spiritual beliefs. Russian authorities harass, fine, and imprison Falun Gong practitioners for such simple acts as meditating and possessing spiritual texts.”

Titled “Russia’s Continuing Repression of Members of Religious Minority Groups,” this statement was issued by Ned Price, department spokesperson, one day after the cassation court (also known as circuit court) in Kemerovo reached a judgment on July 8.

The U.S. State Department urged the Russian government to end its practice of misusing the extremist designation as a way to restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms, writing, “We continue to call on Russia to respect the right of freedom of religion or belief for all, including Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious minority groups in Russia simply seeking to exercise their beliefs peacefully.

“Yesterday’s decision is another example of Russian authorities labeling peaceful groups as ‘extremist,’ ‘terrorist,’ or ‘undesirable’ solely to stigmatize their supporters, justify abuses against them, and restrict their peaceful religious and civic activities,” the statement continued, “The Russian government has done so against a number of groups, whose members face home raids, extended detention, excessive prison sentences, and harassment for their peaceful religious practices.”

According to Russian practitioners, a resident in Khakassia was interested in learning Falun Gong in 2020 and was looking for a copy of Zhuan Falun. A local practitioner gave him one. A local prosecutor sued the practitioner a month later, claiming that Zhuan Falun was banned by the authorities and was prohibited from being spread publicly. The judge who handled the case reached a decision in favor of Falun Gong.

When the prosecutor appealed this case, the appellate court decided to ban the registered Falun Gong group in Khakassia. Practitioners further appealed it, but the cassation court in Kemerovo announced on July 8 to uphold the earlier verdict.

This decision has raised broad concerns. Many suspect the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at work. Falun Dafa associations and supporters in many countries have written to the Russian government, clarifying the facts and indicating that the decision has violated the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Russian practitioners also said they would continue to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

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Category: Falun Dafa in the Media