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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong
"A public act of defiance to Beijing"
 real 56k

Fulan Gong's Sophie Xiao
"We would like to tell the world the truth"
 real 28k

Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 23:45 GMT
China denies Falun Gong torture
Falun Gong members being questioned
Members of the group have been subject to tight controls
A senior Chinese government official has denied allegations by the Falun Gong spiritual movement that some of its members have been tortured or have died as a result of ill-treatment in prison.

The Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington, Zhang Yuan-yuan, told the BBC that some had died in custody as a result of old age or sickness.

Other had died as a result of suicide or because they refused food or medicine, he claimed.

He accused Falun Gong of being politically motivated and maiming and killing people.

'Inhuman and deadly'

Mr Zhang added that the recent immolation of five people in Tiananmen Square, described by government officials as Falun Gong members, was testimony to the group's inhumanity and deadliness.

His remarks come, as the European Parliament has demanded that China halt its activities against Falun Gong and guarantee freedoms for all religious faiths.

In a resolution, the parliament also condemned the continued and severe violation of human rights in Tibet, the destruction of mosques and the arrests of people who teach the Koran without official permission.

The European Union's elected chamber called upon Beijing to fully guarantee constitutional rights to freedom of religion and belief along with freedom of conscience, expression, association and assembly.

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See also:

01 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police break up Falun Gong demo
13 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong member dies after beating
21 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
UN-China rift on human rights
14 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese 'cult busters' set up
27 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
New Falun Gong protest broken up
27 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
US warns China over Falun Gong trials
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