News / Asia

Indonesia's Falun Gong Tolerated But Not Legal

Falun Gong practitioners play instruments during a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia (2010 File)
Falun Gong practitioners play instruments during a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia (2010 File)
Brian Padden

Indonesia recently refused legal status to the spiritual group Falun Gong. The group is banned in China and human rights organizations say the ruling to restrict Falun Gong in Indonesia was made to maintain good relations with one of its biggest trading partners.

On a Sunday morning in front of Jakarta's main sports stadium Falun Gong practitioner Yap Sungkono leads a group of about 20 members in their exercises.

A recent decision by the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs to not recognize the group as a legal social organization has not stopped their weekly gatherings. But Sungkono says it does prevent the group from organizing large demonstrations.

He says for bigger events like parades there were some problems from the authorities and that they are always questioning the group's legality.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, began in China in the 1990s. It involves meditation and slow stretching to promote spiritual awakening. The group says it is non-political and not a religion. Many of its Indonesian members are Muslim.

Titi Rachman, like many of the people out walking and jogging near the Falun Dafa exercisers, sees the practice as healthy.

She says it is good to exercise the soul and the body and it is the same as wai tan kung or tai chi.

Wai tan kung and tai chi are two traditional forms of exercise in China.

Falun Dafa followers perform their exercises in public places throughout the country in part to recruit new members. The group claims over 7,000 members in Indonesia. Practitioners also use these events to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong members in China.

The limits Indonesia has placed on Falun Gong pale in comparison with China's ban on the group. China considers Falun Gong a cult and imprisons many of its members. It denies any mistreatment of the group but the United Nations has documented numerous cases of human rights abuses by Chinese authorities against Falun Gong followers.

There are a few Chinese Falun Gong members living in Jakarta. Indonesia will not allow them to stay permanently, nor to work while they seek asylum in other countries.

He Yungfeng says before he escaped China he was imprisoned for years for publicly declaring his beliefs and tortured by the Chinese police.

He says in the winter when it was very cold in the prison, they stripped his clothes off, poured cold water over him, then brushed his body in a way that almost tore up his skin.

An Indonesian Home Ministry official told VOA that maintaining good relations with China was one of the reasons for refusing to recognize the Falun Gong. Court documents the Home Ministry filed on its ruling say that China requested Indonesia to ban the group.

Haris Azhar, coordinator for the human rights group Kontras, says China's efforts to pressure other countries to punish groups Beijing does not like is not surprising. But he says as a democracy Indonesia should protect minority rights, not restrict them.

"We are getting concerned when the government (is) also reluctant to secure them, to protect them from the other group who would like to persecute this group," Azhar said.

He is concerned that as China's economic influence in the region grows, Indonesia and other countries will further repress the Falun Gong to maintain good relations.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs