February 3, 2004

TAIPEI, Feb 3 (AFP) - Taiwanese members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement said Tuesday they would file a lawsuit against the French government for the "harassment and illegal arrest" of practitioners during demonstrations in Paris last month.

The group, outlawed in China [and persecuted in China], said it was bullied by police as the French government sought to take a hard line against the peaceful demonstrators during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

"The French government should conduct a fair investigation, make public the truth, punish responsible officials and apologize to the affected Falun Gong practitioners," they said in a statement.

The lawsuit would be handled by lawyers from eight countries including French lawyer L.L. Forster, and will be filed soon, it said.

Some 30 Taiwanese Falun Gong members and colleagues from overseas staged demonstrations during Hu's visit.

During a press conference Tuesday, the group played a videotape showing how they were "rudely" rounded up.

The group also delivered a protest to the French Institute in Taiwan, France's de facto embassy in Taipei.

"They were checked by French police on the streets just because they were wearing yellow scarves," said Chang Chin-Hwa, a spokeswoman for Taiwan Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong.

She added some members were arrested and questioned for two hours before being released.

Some 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners from across the globe, including 170 from Taiwan, had gathered in Paris late last month to condemn Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, for persecuting [innocent Falun Gong practitioners] in China.

Some members from Germany and Denmark, who were not involved in any violence, were also reported to have been harassed, Chang said.

Taiwan Falun Dafa is estimated to have 300,000 members.

China outlawed Falun Gong, which combines meditation with [traditional exercises and the belief in the principle of Truth-Compassion-Tolerance] in mid-1999 and practitioners have subsequently faced often brutal repression.

The outlawed group claims at least 1,600 Falun Gong followers have been killed, 500 others illegally sentenced, 20,000 sent to re-education camps and 100,000 jailed.


Category: News & Events