Falun Gong practitioners in the US estimate at least 100,000 adherents have been locked up in prison, psychiatric hospitals or “re-education through labour” camps in China’s notorious gulag system since a vicious campaign to stamp it out began in July 1999. They say about 3,200 followers have been tortured to death while in custody, including more than 100 last year.
“In my view, the persecution of Falun Gong amounts to genocide as defined in Article 2 of the Genocide Convention,” says Edward McMillan-Scott, vice-president of the European parliament and a vocal campaigner for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners and political dissidents in China.
(...)Even within the regime itself many senior officials disapprove of the disproportionate response and particularly the unsavoury tactics of the so-called “610 unit” – a dedicated anti-Falun Gong task force well-known for extra-judicial abuses and named after June 10 1999, the date it was created.
“The problem with the Communist party is they cannot admit any mistakes. Jiang Zemin [the former president] made the decision to crack down on the movement and he is still powerful behind the scenes so nobody can criticise the persecution,” says Mr Zhang. “These days the party realises they probably made a mistake when they massacred the students in Tiananmen Square but they can never admit it, and it is the same with Falun Gong.”