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Page last updated at 06:24 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 07:24 UK

S Korea deports Falun Gong pair

By John Sudworth
BBC News, Seoul

Falun Gong session in Thong Nhat Park in central Hanoi
China pressures Asian countries to support its ban on Falun Gong.

South Korea has sent two members of the Falun Gong spiritual group back to China after they had their applications for political asylum turned down.

A further 31 Chinese nationals also face the risk of deportation following a court ruling that they cannot prove that they face persecution back home.

Falun Gong, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired philosophy, is banned in China.

The movement's members say they face arrest and abuse in China.

South Korea deported the two Chinese members of the Falun Gong spiritual group in July after they lost their battle for refugee status.

In March this year South Korea's Supreme Court upheld a ruling denying asylum to a group of more than 30 Falun Gong members.

It said that they could not prove that they had been persecuted in China and nor could they show that they had played leading roles in spreading Falun Gong teachings.

Their supporters claim that South Korea is acting under pressure from the Chinese government and that the actions make a mockery of Seoul's condemnation of China's forced repatriation of North Korean refugees.

But a ministry of justice spokesman denied any political interference, saying that the government cannot grant asylum without clear evidence of the risk of persecution.

Campaigners for the two Falun Gong members sent home so far say that they have been unable to make contact with them.

They say two other members of the group are being held in an immigration detention centre in South Korea and are in imminent danger of being repatriated.



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