China: February 13, 2001

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  China has increased it's efforts to suppress the Falungong movement. A special police organization, Bureau 610, is being used to collect intelligence on Falungong members and, increasingly, arrest them and keep them in prison. Until recently, only the suspected Falungong leaders were sent to prison. Now, any Falungong member that demonstrates risks a long prison term. Other Falungong members are feeling economic punishment. The government can fire employees of state owned companies and withhold pensions. Families are being made responsible for Falungong activities of any family member. This approach is an ancient Chinese practice, but is rarely used today because it is so unpopular. Over a hundred Falungong members have died, so far, in police custody. They died from beatings, torture or privation (lack of medical care for elderly prisoners.) Some in the government feel that it is unwise to pursue Falungong so vigorously. For if the government campaign fails, the government will lose considerable respect among the population.


 

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