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Law Passed to Punish Falun Gong Leaders

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Falun Gong, considered a cult in China, includes a Qigong variant claimed to be "a powerful mechanism for healing, stress relief and health improvements." It is also claimed to "get rid of the root cause of an illness." [1] A recent Associated Press article describes it as an offshoot of traditional schools of slow-motion slow motion exercise that channel "unseen forces of nature" (Qi) to the body [2].
In August 1999, Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government. In October, China's criminal code was revised to make leaders of Falun Gong and other groups labeled cults liable for prosecution for murder, fraud, endangering national security, and other crimes, with penalties harsher than the 2- to7-year prison terms under the previous law.
An Associated Press report states that Falun Gong has been accused of illegal assembly, resisting bans, organizing across provincial lines, and causing deaths by preventing medical treatment. The latter charge would open the way for leading members to be tried for murder, a death-penalty offense. Falun Gong followers are not supposed to take medicine. The Chinese government has blamed the cult for 1,400 deaths, many of the them among people who refused to be treated for illness [3].


1. Hongzi L. Falun Gong. Revised English Edition, 1999.
2. Schoof R. Four leaders of banned sect charged in Chinese crackdown. Associated Press, Oct 31, 1999.
3. Hutzler C. China OKs draconian law to punish Falun Gong: Mean sure allows for long prison terms and eventual execution for spiritual movement's leaders. Associated Press, Oct 30, 1999.

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This article was revised on November 1, 1999.