Falun Gong members claim human rights violations at Expo

Tokyo, Japan - Practitioners of China's outlawed Falun Gong claimed Thursday that their human rights have been violated at the ongoing World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture as the China Pavilion repeatedly denied them entry.

Followers of the spiritual group sent a written request to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who is in charge of the expo, the same day, urging him to implement remedial measures for the violations.

According to their statement, security guards at the pavilion blocked entry by members wearing Falun Gong T-shirts in late August and earlier this week. A pavilion staff member told them that anyone wearing such a T-shirt could not enter the building because the practice is banned in China.

The group reported the incident to expo organizers, but they told the members they cannot interfere with developments at the China Pavilion, the statement said.

The document said that in Japan, Falun Gong has been given the status of a nonprofit organization. "We are a legal entity and we cannot find any reason why we receive such discriminatory treatment," the members said.

The Tokyo metropolitan government granted the Japan branch of the Falun Gong movement the status of a tax-free NPO in August 2004, saying it does not view the group as religious. China outlawed Falun Gong in July 1999, branding it an "evil sect."