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Tattoo is facing torture protest

Evening News, UK
July 15, 2004
Alen Roden
news.scotsman.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday July 15, 2004

Horrific acts of torture are to be re-enacted in the Capital in a protest against the visit by members of the Chinese army at this years Tattoo.

Followers of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual practice, will stage an open-air exhibition of torture methods they allege are used on their members by the Chinese government.

The stomach-churning torture, which will be simulated by actors, includes force-feeding, hanging, electric shocks and the burning of hair, skin and genitals.

The show also includes practices such as pressing, where a victim is tied underneath a bed while several people jump on top of it, forcing bamboo sticks into the fingers of prisoners through the tips of their fingernails and forced abortion.

Falun Gong followers claim 960 practitioners have been tortured to death in China using these methods.

The spiritual group is described by supporters as a harmless exercise regime with a philosophy of tolerance, but it is branded a sinister cult by the Chinese government, who banned it in 1999.

Beijing-born Christina Jing Ha, 37, who teaches the principles of Falun Gong in Edinburgh, said the show was designed to show the “brutality” of the Chinese government. She said: “The persecution of Falun Gong has been ongoing for almost five years.

It is wrong to invite the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army to Edinburgh because it sends out the wrong message regarding Scotlands position on human rights.”

Falun Gong practitioners recently handed a petition to MSPs asking them to intervene and prevent the visit by the 70-strong Chinese military band.

And they have also met with Tattoo organisers to discuss the alleged persecution of the Falun Gong by the Chinese Army.

Ms Jing Ha, who has lived in Edinburgh for six years, said she would be lending her support to the Free Tibet campaigns “March Against Oppression” on August 1.

A spokeswoman for the Free Tibet campaign said: “The PLA have been responsible for the violent oppression of Tibetans for over 50 years.

“Torture is still endemic in China and therefore we do not believe it is right for Tattoo officials to engage with the Chinese Army.”

John Watson, programme director for Amnesty International Scotland, said: “The Chinese state continues to engage in torture and widespread use of the death penalty.

“The Tattoo organisers should consider whether, given this record of abuses, it is right to lend the PLA the respectability of a place in a major UK and international cultural event.”

But Brigadier Mel Jameson, who produces the Tattoo, said his aim in inviting the Chinese band was to “hold out the hand of friendship” and to produce “an entertaining show”.

He said: “Of course human rights should be respected, but I am not political. My aim is to put on a good show for Scotland and the world by bringing excellent entertainers to Edinburgh.

“I have met with members of Falun Gong and I can understand their views. However, I am inviting non-combatant musicians and dancers, not soldiers. The show is an example of cultural exchange with China.”

An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the torture exhibition and will be in discussion with the organisers closer to the time.”

The torture exhibition will be staged in Waterloo Place in the city centre on Saturday, July 24, and Sunday, July 25.

The Free Tibet campaigns “March Against Oppression” will take place on Sunday, August 1, at 11am in Market Street.

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