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China jails 37 Falun Gong members

sect protest
China has ignored repeated calls to stop its 19-month long crackdown on the group  

BEIJING, China -- China has sentenced 37 members of the Falun Gong Spiritual Movement to jail for promoting the banned movement by using flyers.

Several Beijing courts handed down between three and five year sentences to the defendants who had printed and distrubted leaflets with information downloaded from the group's website.

One follower, Xue Hairong, was given a seven-year term for turning his Beijing home into a printing factory for the leaflets.

The sentences are the latest in Beijing's crackdown on the group, which it calls "an evil cult."

Falun Gong followers have not abandoned their belief in the teachings of their exiled leader, Li Hongzhi , despite a 19-month long campaign to wipe out the movement.

China has had to defend itself against condemnation by the United States and the United Nations over what both say are systematic violations of religious freedom and civil liberties.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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