- BEIJING, Aug 4 (Reuters)
- China is offering rewards of at least $6,000 for information leading
to the arrest of Li Hongzhi, leader of the banned Falun Gong sect, the
semi-official China News Service said on Wednesday.
- State television will run a list in mid-August of the
country's most-wanted criminal suspects, and "publicly ordering the
arrest of Li Hongzhi will be the first task," the article said.
- "Public security organs will provide rewards starting
at 50,000 yuan ($6,000)," more than six years' salary for an average
urban worker, it said.
- Interpol on Tuesday rejected a Chinese request for help
in detaining Li, saying the approach had religious or political motives.
- The international police organization issued a statement
saying it had informed Beijing that it could not employ its channels to
locate and arrest Li "in the absence of any information about ordinary
law crime he would have committed."
- Interpol, based in the French city of Lyon, said its
constitution forbids it from undertaking "any intervention or activities
of a political or religious character."
- China wants to arrest Li on charges of organizing demonstrations
to disturb public order.
- The Communist Party has accused him of trying to replace
the government and blamed his group for the deaths of at least 743 people,
mainly those who Beijing says shunned medical treatment in favor of meditation
to treat serious illnesses.
- Falun Gong members stunned China's rulers by surrounding
Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound on April 25 in a bold protest
against perceived persecution by official media.
- Beijing outlawed the sect on July 22 after thousands
of members surrounded government offices in 30 Chinese cities in the wake
of a crackdown on its leaders.
- The group, which combines elements of Buddhism and Chinese
mysticism with traditional meditation exercises known as qigong, claims
100 million members, while official estimates put the number at two million.
- In New York, where Chinese-born Li now resides, Falun
Gong has said the Interpol warrant was based on fabricated evidence. The
sect asked the U.S. government to protect Li and to urge China to resolve
the situation peacefully through direct talks.
- The United States has reacted coolly to the idea of extraditing
Li, noting that the two countries have no extradition treaty and that Washington
had publicly urged China not to punish people for "peaceful assembly."
- China has conducted a sweeping media campaign to discredit
the group since it was banned last month.
- On Wednesday, newspapers quoted top state religion officials
as supporting the ban on what Beijing calls "an evil cult."
- "It has spread doomsday theories, claimed it has
no strict organization, forbids followers from seeing doctors and worshipped
its founder as a god," said Han Wenzao, president of the China Christian
Council, the nation's top Protestant group.
- Jin Luxian, a senior bishop with the Chinese Patriotic
Catholic Association -- a state-controlled body which is not recognised
by the Vatican -- was quoted in the China Daily as saying Falun Gong sought
to deceive and cheat people rather than "love others as they love
- Zhao Puchu, head of the Buddhist Association of China
called it a "big cancer" that misuses Buddhist terminology.
- Falun Gong's mostly elderly practitioners say its exercises
have helped them feel healthy and brought order to their lives.