Associated Press, Aug. 15, 2003
By TED ANTHONY, Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) – Practitioners of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement commandeered China’s main television satellite twice this week, the Chinese government said Friday.
Sino Satellite, known commonly as SinoSat, was “taken over by illegal TV signals” transmitted by Falun Gong at 9:05 p.m. Tuesday and at 8:23 p.m. Wednesday, the Ministry of Information Industry said.
The action prevented Chinese audiences from watching programs on China Central Television and China Education Television, among others, the government said.
Though the government’s Xinhua News Agency did not detail what was transmitted during the intervention, Falun Gong members in the past have sent programs about their movement and the abuses they say it endures.
Falun Gong representatives in the United States say that hacking is the only way they can circulate their message within China.
“(Falun Gong) practitioners in China have discovered a nonviolent means – one that harms neither people nor equipment – to break through the information blockade and let the people see programs that openly show the human rights violations happening in their own country,” Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang said last week in a release posted on the group’s Web site.
The Chinese government banned Falun Gong in 1999 as a threat to public safety and calls it an “evil cult.”
The movement has attracted millions of followers with a mix of traditional Chinese calisthenics and doctrines drawn from Buddhism, Taoism and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi, a former government clerk.
Since it was banned, thousands of its followers have been detained by the Chinese government. Activists abroad say scores have died in police custody from beatings or mistreatment.