Falun Gong Defies Beijing China Cracks Down on Meditation Sect

Article excerpt

HONG KONG -- Outlawed by Beijing, the Falun Gong meditation sect drew followers from around the world to a conference in Hong Kong yesterday and said it won't buckle in the face of a violent crackdown on China's mainland.

"Over 100 of our great Falun members have lost their lives to spread the truth," adherent John Hu told the group.

"But this won't change our beliefs and determination to practice Falun Gong, and I want to advise those who have treated us wrongly not to do it any more for the sake of their own future," said Hu, a real estate agent from Singapore.

Falun Gong is legal in Hong Kong, and organizers took advantage of the territory's free speech guarantees to meet under Beijing's nose.

The group demands the right to practice freely in Communist China and an end to the suppression that it claims has resulted in the torture-killings of 120 followers by mainland authorities.

"There's no human rights in China because you cannot even say a word about Falun Gong in Tiananmen Square," said Hong Kong practitioner Fiona Ching.

Mainland police are routinely seen rounding up and beating practitioners trying to demonstrate, but it is impossible to verify all Falun Gong claims about abuse and death at the hands of Chinese authorities.

Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said about 1,200 followers attended yesterday's gathering in a Hong Kong City Hall auditorium. The group said the presence of 700 overseas followers from 23 countries shows its massive appeal.

The conference drew sharp criticism from pro-Beijing forces, furious the sect can attack Chinese policies right on Chinese soil. …