AFP: US lawmakers blame Chinese government for Falun Gong attack

Thu Jun 5, 3:54 PM ET

Two US lawmakers accused the Chinese government Thursday of instigating
attacks on practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual group in New York and
called on Washington to lodge a protest with Beijing.

The practitioners of the sect, which is banned in China, were attacked last
month in Flushing, in the New York City borough of Queens, when they were
holding meetings and passing out fliers against the Chinese communist

Six people were arrested -- three charged with assault and others with
disorderly conduct, the New York Times reported at the weekend, quoting
local police.

Falun Gong members circulated what they said was a recording of a telephone
conversation in Mandarin between an investigator working on their behalf and
a high-ranking official in the Chinese Consulate in New York in which the
official was heard approving of the scuffles in Flushing, the newspaper

Republican lawmakers Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher charged Thursday that
the Chinese government were behind the attacks and called on President
George W. Bush's administration to lodge a protest with Beijing and seek an
immediate explanation.

"I believe that the Chinese consulate and others who were responsible for
organizing these thugs and attacking people who were peacefully going about
their business," Tancredo, the representative from Colorado, told a forum on
Capitol Hill.

"The government of the United States should investigate this and, if I am
accurate in my assumption about the cause, should lodge a protest to the
government of China, and take a strong an action as possible, including the
request for the removal of the offending parties," he said.

Judy Chen, 48, a Chinese-American mother of two sons serving in Iraq with
the US military, said she was among those assaulted.

"Am I in China or America?" asked Chen, who said she emigrated to the United
States after her family members were victimized during the Cultural

Falun Gong combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, but was
declared an "evil cult" in mid-1999 by Beijing and practitioners have
subsequently faced often brutal repression.

The two lawmakers said the attacks on the Falun Gong practitioners were a
clear violation of the right of religious freedom in the United States.

"We may not be able to help the people of China directly but we can help the
people who live here directly," Rohrabacher said, adding that the US
Congress would push the authorities to get to the bottom of the issue.
Jun 05,2008
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