Associated Press, Apr. 19, 2003
NEW YORK — Several hundred demonstrators peacefully protested in Times Square and elsewhere in the city Saturday to attract attention to China’s ban on the Falun Gong meditation movement.
The protesters listened to music and speeches and passed out literature to people passing by in Chinatown and midtown Manhattan.
Beijing in July 1999 banned Falun Gong after the movement attracted millions in the 1990s with its mix of traditional Chinese religion and health exercises.
Hundreds of the group’s followers have been thrown in jail. Others have been tortured or sent to labor camps.
China says the movement is an evil cult, accusing it of killing some 1,600 followers by driving them insane or telling them to reject medical help.
But Betty Hunter-Beatty, a Brooklyn woman who demonstrated in Times Square Saturday, said the meditation “helps us to become a better person by ridding ourselves of our everyday attachments.”
“We build tolerance for our fellow man,” she said.
She said the rallies were meant to draw attention to basic human rights being denied in China.