China: January 9, 2003


China continues it's campaign against the Falungong religious movement. While local officials are allowed (or just tolerated) to ignore a lot of orders from the central government, the campaign against Falungong is considered one of those "this-one-is-serious-and-don't-ignore-it" directives. As a result, local police go after any Falungong members they can find. But the Falungong has become very good at keeping their heads down, and even in recruiting some police and government officials to join the Falungong movement. It's unknown how many Falungong are imprisoned, but it is easily in the thousands. China also has a system where local police can put someone into "re-education camps" without judicial process. These camps are for people who have not committed crimes, but are considered pests or annoy the powers-that-be in one way or another. Stays in these camps are generally short, usually less than a year, or a few years at most. Inmates  are forced to work in the camps, which is one source of the Chinese "slave labor" stories in the US media. Falungong leaders regularly get longer sentences, often twenty years or longer.


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