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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 18:52 GMT
Falun Gong members jailed
Falun Gong arrest in Beijing
Thousands have been arrested during the crackdown
China has jailed 37 Falun Gong followers for up to 10 years for promoting the outlawed spiritual movement, according to media reports.

Some were locked up for downloading and disseminating articles about Falun Gong from the internet.

Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong founder
Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi is now in the US
The sentences were handed down on Thursday by five courts in and around Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said.

One member, Han Xue, received 10 years for organising an "illegal press conference", setting up an illegal printing house and making Falun Gong banners, the Beijing Daily reported.

Another, Xue Hairong, was jailed for seven years for producing leaflets from Falun Gong websites at his home in the capital, the paper added.

Four others were sentenced to between five and six years in connection with the case.

The rest were jailed for between three and nine years for distributing Falun Gong materials, painting slogans on walls and setting up loudspeakers at Qinghua University and at Beijing Zoo to denounce the government's crackdown on the group.

Deaths

The government banned Falun Gong in 1999, branding it an "evil cult". It says the movement has caused the death of 1,660 people by opposing modern medicine.

The authorities have detained thousands of followers over the last 19 months.

Human rights monitors say at least 112 people have died during the crackdown. Falun Gong puts the figure at nearly 160.

The movement, which drew millions of followers in the 1990s, combines gentle exercise, meditation and teachings loosely rooted in Buddhism and Taoism.

Labour camp

Earlier this week China said that 324 members had been sentenced since the crackdown began.

Human rights group say at least 10,000 more followers have been sent without trial to labour camps.

The Reuters news agency said Falun Gong had recently posted fliers in Beijing back streets criticising the government for neglecting poverty and unemployment.

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
China denies Falun Gong abuse claim
15 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
China denies Falun Gong torture
08 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
HK leader warns Falun Gong
30 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
China shows Falun Gong 'suicide'
13 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong member dies after beating
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