C h i n a N e w s D i g e s t
January 17, 2001

Hong Kong SAR Warns Falungong Over Breach of Contract

[CND, 01/16/01] The government of Kong Kong warned the Falungong spiritual movement that they were in violation of a rental hall agreement to remain low-key, reported AFP on Tuesday.

Members of the spiritual group used a public rental hall where some participants allegedly had made "political complaints." A Hong Kong spokesman said that the Falungong had deviated from their original purpose, which is to share experiences "mainly on culture and religions," reported the China South Morning Post.

At Sunday's meeting, "offensive" and "insulting" comments were allegedly overheard, leading to the banning of the group's renting any governmenmt venues in the future. In attendance at the meeting were over 1,000 worldwide Falungong practitioners. (Sue Bruell, WU Yiyi)

Canadian-Chinese Falungong Member On CCTV

[CND, 01/16/01] Chinese Central Television (CCTV) showed footage Saturday of a Canadian-Chinese Falungong member complimenting re-education camp staff, according to an AFP report the same day.

The recently released ZHANG Kunlun reportedly sat beside prison guards as he said, "In this place, [the staff] definitely follows the rules of the reeducation camp, using care, patience and sincerity, and the principles of education, persuasion and rescue. Through this, they teach inmates who have wronged. They really do this ... the staff sleep on the floor, while we sleep on beds. We eat and sleep on time. They stand by our side, but can't eat when they should eat, and can't sleep when they should sleep. It's moving to us."

Commentary shown along with the nationally-televized footage said that through the "patient teaching of the reeducation through labor institute, Professor Zhang very quickly realized his activities were wrong." Because Zhang, aged 60, had reportedly learned the truth about the outlawed Falungong, he was released last Wednesday after only three months of his three-year sentence.

This TV footage was viewed as just one piece of a week of anti-Falungong propaganda building up to the Spring Festival holiday, when Beijing is worried that practioners will protest en masse once more in Tiananmen Square, reports say.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa released a statement saying that Zhang "has gained a better understanding of the cult nature of Falungong and his illegal activities and indicated he would distance himself and break away from the group." Because of this, the statement said, Zhang was released early. Others believe that he was released for more diplomatic reasons on the eve of a visit by the Canadian Prime Minister next month.

Director of the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Frank LU, said that the CCTV broadcast was not trustworthy and claimed that Zhang denied denouncing Falungong. Zhang could not be reached for comment, though Canadian embassy spokeswoman Jennifer May said that the day he was released, Zhang told the consular staff that he was fine, but tired. She said that he did not comment upon whether the claim he had denounced Falungong was true. (Tamara Perkins, YIN De An)

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