Falun Gong loses court bid for legal status

29 Nov

A Jakarta court on Monday dismissed a motion filed by the Falun Gong spiritual group against a government decree that blocked its bid to register as a legitimate organization.

The State Administrative Court (PTUN)said the case, stemming from a Ministry of Home Affairs directive issued on June 17 last year, was outside its jurisdiction.

The court, which has the authority to rule on government decrees, also said “formal requirements for the case to proceed” had not been met.

Muhammad Isnur, counsel for Falun Gong, said the PTUN’s decision was a setback for the group, which saw its registration applications in 2003 and last year rejected by the ministry.

“The judges argued that the ministry’s decree had no legal implication. This is absurd,” he said.

The decree, a copy of which was obtained by the Jakarta Globe, did not specify what requirements Falun Gong — outlawed in China over a decade ago — had failed to meet.

The ministry said it refused to recognize the group as a legal organization based on inputs from the ministries of foreign affairs, justice and religious affairs, as well as the National Police and State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

The decree also noted recommendations from the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta. Isnur said the court suggested that the group lobby for authorization from the embassy and state institutions.

“This is bizarre,” he said. “We are now discussing the verdict with Falun Gong practitioners and [will] decide whether we want to appeal.”

Gatot Machali, a Falun Gong practitioner, said the ministry decree prevented the group from holding activities freely. “Police officers have refused to grant us permission [to hold] parades or seminars, saying we are not a legitimate organization. The ministry decree is discriminatory,” he said.

Ministry officials, however, could not be immediately reached for comment. Falun Gong, founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992, draws from Buddhist and Taoist traditions, encouraging its practitioners to reach enlightenment through training, meditation and the study of its founder’s teachings.

Nyoman Suryanta, a Falun Gong member, said the group did not have an hierarchy, favoring a “fluid” setup instead. “It was the government [that] told us to become a formal entity,” Nyoman said. “We submitted all the required documents in 2003 and again in 2010, but they refused to recognize us.”

Falun Gong has been similarly stifled in China, where the Communist Party denounced it as a propaganda cult in 1999.

There are now over 100 Falun Gong communities in 15 provinces nationwide.

Bantarto Bandoro, an international relations expert from the University of Indonesia, said Falun Gong was a touchy issue for the state, due to its ties with China, an economic power.

“China has the upper hand,” he said. “Falun Gong members fleeing China are welcome in Indonesia. Recognizing Falun Gong as a legitimate entity in Indonesia is another matter.”

 

(Jakarta Globe, January 10, 2011)

text from: http://english.kaiwind.com/Reports/World/201101/t123575.htm

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