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    HomeNewsFalun Gong members fear China's new security law

    Falun Gong members fear China’s new security law

    Eyes closed, legs crossed and deep in meditation, Hong Kong resident Yang Xiaolan finds herself most at ease — breathing in sync with the sound of music. But after China enacted a new national security law for Hong Kong, she no longer feels safe in the city. Yang is a follower of the spiritual movement called Falun Gong. The group urges people to renounce the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and is banned in mainland China. Yang moved to Hong Kong in 2009 — members have been able to practice Falun Gong freely — at least for now. But under the new security law — which punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison — Yang Xiaolan is worried about her future:”In the mainland, when I practiced Falun Gong, my life was constantly under threat, I could be kidnapped or disappear any time or even lose my life any time. I never felt a sense of security.” Founded in mainland China in 1992, Falun Gong combines meditation and slow-motion exercises with moral teachings broadly based on Buddhism and Taoism. Leader Li Hongzhi also adds some unorthodox theories, such as his belief that aliens have started to take over the world. It was banned in the mainland in 1999 after 10,000 practitioners of the movement silently protested in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party saw the group’s growing popularity as a challenge to its rule and called it an “evil cult” that threatened national stability, and jailed several of its members. China’s new security law makes no mention of religious or spiritual groups, but a Falun spokeswoman said — two members have already left Hong Kong fearing for their safety. “Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ formula has changed even before the deadline. For us, including my family, we’re very scared. It could be just like in mainland China where the police can trample on the law, and anything can be in violation of the law. There’s no sense of safety.” Although Falun Gong and its street stalls have been largely left in peace by the Hong Kong government so far, members have faced opposition from certain pro-Beijing groups for years. The Hong Kong government has declined to comment on how the new security law would impact Falun Gong, but said the law preserves quote “the basic rights and freedom lawfully enjoyed by law-abiding citizens.” And Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin doubled down on China’s criticism of the group at a press conference last week. “Falun Gong is a cult organisation outlawed by the Chinese government. It’s anti-society, anti-science, and anti-humanity.” Yang and six of the some 300 Falun Gong devotees who regularly practice across Hong Kong told Reuters they plan to continue as they did before the law. But some members say there have already seen changes, a prominent banner used to adorn one of Falun Gong’s stalls in Kowloon, suddenly disappeared about two weeks after the new law was implemented. Hong Kong police declined to comment on Falun Gong and said it did not track national security complaints against specific groups. Reuters could not independently verify that the police were behind the removal of any banners.
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    World News from Reuters

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