The Falun emblem is the symbol of the Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) created by Li in 1992. According to Li “this Falun emblem is the miniature of the universe.” The central character is the Chinese "wan," also known as manji. It is an ancient Buddhism symbol. To Western eyes it resembles the swastika used by Nazi Germany (except that it faces right and is rotated 45 degrees.)
Friday 21 April 2006
at White House
charged in US court
by Peter Kaplan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A heckler from the Falun Gong spiritual movement who disrupted a White House appearance by Chinese President Hu Jintao was charged on Friday with harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official.
The woman, who entered the White House grounds as a reporter, interrupted a formal arrival ceremony between Hu and President George W. Bush on Thursday and shouted: "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong."
According to the court documents, the woman, identified by U.S. officials as Wang Wenyi, 47, also yelled at Hu, "Your time is running out" and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime."
The embarrassing episode marred the South Lawn event and created a diplomatic stir. Bush personally apologized to Hu for the incident.
U.S. officials said Wang entered the White House grounds as a reporter with The Epoch Times, an English-language publication strongly supportive of the meditation movement that is banned in China.
The misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of up to six months in jail. The law at issue bars willfully harassing, intimidating, coercing or threatening a foreign official in the performance of their official duties.
Dozens of Wang's supporters turned out in her support on Friday. Afterward, outside the courthouse, they held up signs complaining of mistreatment at the hands of the Chinese government.
Wang did not say anything during the hearing lasting about 30 minutes.
But her court-appointed lawyer, David Bos, challenged the criminal charge on free-speech grounds.
"It's making the First Amendment rights of all Americans just evaporate," he said, calling Wang's remarks "relatively innocuous."
Angela George, from the U.S. attorney's office, said Wang had gone beyond political speech and that the verbal attack was personally directed at Hu.
George argued that Wang's First Amendment rights did not allow her to violate the law.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson did not rule on the free-speech issue. She refused to dismiss the criminal complaint against Wang, saying it was too soon to make a decision about throwing out the case.
Robinson released Wang without bail, but ordered her to stay away from the White House.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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Traditional Chinese: 法輪功
Simplified Chinese: 法轮功
Pinyin: Fa(lún Go-ng; literally "Practice of the Wheel of Law") is also known as Falun Dafa
Traditional Chinese: 法輪大法
Simplified Chinese: 法轮大法
Pinyin: Fa(lún dàfa(; lit. "Great Law of the Wheel of Law") is a system of semi-religion introduced by Li Hongzhi in 1992. Falun is also sometimes associated with New Age movement. Central to Falun Gong is five sets of meditation exercises (four standing, and one sitting). A few years after its public introduction in 1992, Falun Gong quickly grew to become one of the largest cults in China, and is observed by cult watch-groups around the world.
Falun Gong has been the focus of international controversy since the government of the People's Republic of China began a nationwide suppression of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999 for its illegal activities. Concerns were triggered especially when 10,000 practitioners assembled in peaceful protest at the Central Appeal Office at Foyou street, outside Zhongnanhai. (need citation)
When the clampdown began, the number of Falun Gong practitioners in China was estimated by the government at 2.1 million . The membership claimed by the Falun Gong was much larger; it claimed to have 100 million followers worldwide with 70 million in China. The actual number of practitioners is unknown.