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China behind the drive-by shooting
Evelyn Shih, Taipei Times

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The Chinese government was behind an attack on nine Falun Gong practitioners in South Africa last month, the director of the Taiwanese branch of the organization, Chang Ching-his, said yesterday.

"We want to bring these terrorist actions to the attention of the free world," he said at a press conference.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Cho-shui supported Chang's accusations.

"The Chinese authoritarian government has always used violent, repressive measures against its people within the country, but with this incident, they have applied the same atrocious methods on foreign soil," Lin said.

Nine Chinese Falun Gong practitioners from Australia were on their way to protest the arrival of Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong in South Africa on June 28 when they were overtaken by a white van. Several shots were fired from the van at one of their vehicles, Chang said.

Five bullets hit the car, and driver David Liang was shot in both feet. Liang was wearing a vest clearly marked with "Falun Gong" at the time of the shooting, Chang said.

According to South African newspapers, the investigation into the shooting is still in its early stages and it is too early to speculate on motives for the attack.

Chang said that the incident seemed designed to terrorize and could not be a robbery or an assassination attempt.

"By speeding off after the shooting, they proved they were not after money. Furthermore, they did not target individuals, but used a wild spray of bullets," Chang said, adding that the Chinese government should be condemned for its crimes against human rights.

"The Chinese government has a special department within 32 of its embassies worldwide created for the express purpose of undermining the reputation and livelihood of Falun Gong practitioners abroad," said Theresa Chu, the Taiwan spokesperson for the Attorneys' Group for Bringing Jiang [Zemin] to Justice.

The group has brought lawsuits against former Chinese president Jiang and his followers in seven countries, including the US and Taiwan. It is also pursuing lawsuits in the International Criminal Court and lobbying for support from the UN Commission on Human Rights, Chu said.

Lin compared the attack in South Africa to the methods employed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the years after World War II.

"This shooting reminds me in particular of the Jiang Nan Incident [the assassination of the writer Henry Liu]," he said. "It is truly hard to believe that, decades later, another ethnically Chinese government has committed such a similar crime on international soil."

Saying the incident humiliated all Chinese worldwide, Lin stressed the importance of this issue to Taiwan.

"When our government opens negotiations with China, we must address the issue of China's human rights violations. Once we institute direct transportation links with China, we will be in grave danger of similar persecution," he said.

Fellow DPP Legislator Lin Cheng-moh compared the Falun Gong to the I Kuan Tao religion, which was heavily persecuted by the KMT during the Martial Law period.

"But today, I Kuan Tao is everywhere, so I believe the followers of Falun Gong will also triumph in the end," he said.

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