Taiwan Falun Gong asks US to help stop China's alleged abuse
Taiwanese members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement requested Washington to use President Hu Jintao's visit to press Beijing to stop abusing sect members in China, despite a US investigation that found no evidence to back recent claims.
The group made the appeal to the American Institute in Taiwan, the defacto US embassy in Taiwan since Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
In the appeal addressed to President George W. Bush, the group asked him to raise the issue while meeting with Hu in Washington on Thursday.
"Recent reports have revealed many concentration camps in China where tens of thousands of Falungong practitioners are being held and face possible death," the group said in a statement.
China outlawed the Falun Gong, which combines meditation with Buddhist-inspired teachings, as an "evil cult" in mid-1999 and practitioners have subsequently faced often brutal repression.
The US government said Friday that a team of US officials had found no evidence in northern China to support claims that Falun Gong followers had been killed and their organs harvested in concentration camps.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington had taken the Falun Gong's charges "seriously" and had urged the Chinese government to probe the claims.
Hu is due to arrive in the US capital Wednesday, before meeting with Bush the next day.
There are an estimated 300,000 Falun Gong adherents in Taiwan.
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