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Raids as China tracks Falun Gong worldwide

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

BEIJING, China -- Police and security forces have raided the homes of more than a thousand grassroots leaders of the Falun Gong in yet another instance of Beijing's escalating battle against the quasi-Buddhist sect.

And the central government is collecting more evidence of the group's alleged links with cults in different parts of the world.

A Beijing source close to the security establishment said the authorities had identified the leaders of most of the sect's grassroots cells or liaison units, estimated to number several thousands. The homes of some of these leaders have recently been raided.

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"Police and state security agents hope to uncover evidence of 'cult-like practice' and economic crime, or evidence that the sect leaders have done bodily and other harm to members," the source said.

The evidence would then be used in the on-going nationwide vilification campaign being waged against the "evil cult."

It is understood police and state propaganda units are studying evidence which might suggest personal links between overseas-based Falun Gong practitioners and quasi-religious groups generally branded as cults in foreign countries.

Beijing's foreign-based intelligence network has been told to work harder at putting together dossiers of Falun Gong veterans in different countries.

Meanwhile, pressure has been put on the police and state security apparatus to prevent Falun Gong-related mishaps in the capital.

Some of the nation's most important events, including the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, are due to be convened in the Tiananmen Square area next month.

A Western diplomat who has studied the Falun Gong movement said security officers in provinces with large concentrations of sect practitioners had been told they would be penalized if "cultists" from their jurisdictions managed to go to the capital despite police surveillance.

"Morale among provincial police officers is not high," the diplomat said. "They have complained that once Falun Gong members from their areas end up as protesters in Tiananmen Square, their promotion prospects will be finished.''

Since early January, police have boosted check points in the outskirts of Beijing to prevent Falun Gong affiliates from getting into the capital.



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