- BEIJING (Reuters)- Chinese
police dragged six middle-aged female Falun Gong protesters out of Tiananmen
Square by the hair on Friday as the group continued its protest for the
fifth straight day.
- The protest came a day after members of the banned meditation
movement stepped up their defiance against a government crackdown by appealing
for international help.
- According to witnesses, police kicked and pulled the
women into a waiting minivan. The confrontation was unlike previous days,
when protesters stepped into police minivans without resistance. On Friday,
the women sat down in the square and clung tightly to each other.
- One woman was picked up by her hair and feet and thrown
onto a police minivan as a crowd of up to 200 people, including tourists
from abroad, watched.
- The women remained silent, but police identified them
as adherents of the Falun Gong.
- Accounts of police brutality
- On Thursday, in an extraordinary move, nearly 30 Falun
Gong members invited six international journalists to a secretly arranged
news conference in suburban Beijing.
- Dozens of Falun Gong practitioners gave accounts of persecution
and police brutality during the news conference.
- An 11-year-old boy said he was expelled from school because
he refused to stop practicing Falun Gong.
- A 31-year-old hairdresser showed off her wrists, which
were still bruised >from being handcuffed, with one arm over her shoulder,
the other behind her back, in Beijing on October 17.
- The hairdresser and another woman described an 11-day
hunger strike that left one follower nearly too weak to breathe.
- Seven reporters contacted by e-mail about the news conference
first met at a restaurant on one side of Beijing. The reporters were then
escorted to a suburban hotel by the members. One wall of the conference
room held a poster of group founder Li Hongzhi in a saffron robe.
- Party vows to crush Falun Gong
- China's Communist Party, meanwhile, declared that Falun
Gong was a cult and vowed to show no mercy in crushing it.
- Falun Gong is a blend of traditional meditation, slow
motion exercises, and Buddhist and Taoist ideas. The group has organized
more than 300 protests since April 25, when 10,000 members besieged Communist
Party headquarters, demanding official status for the group.
- China banned the group on July 22, and has arrested dozens
of members for trying to mount protests across China since that time.
- Chinese President Jiang Zemin recently compared Falun
Gong with groups like the Branch Davidians in the United States, and Aum
Shinrikyo in Japan. Aum killed 12 people in a poison gas attack on the
Tokyo subway in 1995. The Davidians' 51-day standoff with the FBI in 1993
ended with the deaths of 81 people.
- Practitioners of Falun Gong have said violence is not
a part of their philosophy.