3 Jul 2003

Chinese Falun Gong members arrested at South Pacific Games

9:37 am on 3 July 2003

Authorities in Fiji have ordered three Chinese women who are members of the Falun Gong religious movement to leave the country by today.

The women, who arrived from Australia, were arrested and questioned after they were found distributing pamphlets and banners at the opening of the South Pacific Games in Suva on Saturday.

Police then raided their hotel rooms and seized Falun Gong literature.

Police say they acted following complaints from the Chinese community in Suva.

But one of the women, Yan Liang whose sister is in prison in China because of her religious beliefs, says Chinese Embassy officials in Suva were behind their arrest.

The Chinese ambassador in Suva, Zhang Junsai, has appeared on TV to say that Falun Gong is a cult which was banned by his government in 1999.

Followers of falun gong have faced persecution in China leading to strong protests from human rights groups and the United States government.