The arrest this month of 11 members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement for using the Internet to disseminate photos of the torture some of them have undergone in prison was condemned today by Reporters Without Borders as yet another freedom of expression violation by the Chinese authorities. More than 20 Falun Gong followers are already in prison for the same reason.
"In a country where the press is under the authorities’ control, Falun Gong members have no choice but to use the Internet to denounce the atrocities of which they are victims," the organisation said. "Like political dissidents, they are targeted by a regime that cannot stand criticism and closely controls information circulating online."
Liao Yuanhua, the most well-known victim, already spent four years in prison for being a Falun Gong member. He was arrested on 2 December for circulating photographic re-enactments of the torture he underwent while in detention. In September, a Falun Gong site posted photos showing the torture he received in Fanjiatai prison in the city Shayang (in the central province of Hubei) being re-enacted. see the pictures.
Through the People’s Daily, the Chinese authorities described the offending photos as "pure invention." They also reiterated the position that the Falun Gong is a sect that needs to be "eradicated" because it fosters "lying and conspiracy in order to disturb the construction of a well off society."
Reporters Without Borders calculates that at least 30 people are currently detained for posting or viewing documents on the Internet that support the Falun Gong or criticise the systematic torture its followers undergo in Chinese prisons (read)