Early days in China
Falun Gong was passed down privately through generations in China, but only in 1992 was it first made public by Mr. Li Hongzhi, as a form of qigong (“qigong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training.” –Wikipedia).
Government surveys in 1998 estimated that in China alone, 70 to 100 million people of all social levels including government officials, had taken up the practice voluntarily, attesting to its effectiveness. Its primary text “Zhuan Falun” has been translated into 38 languages, published and distributed worldwide.
1999-present: The Unprecedented Persecution
By 1999, then-Chinese communist party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin felt disturbed by the popularity and independence of the practice: effectively more people practiced Falun Dafa then there were CCP members. Despite Falun Dafa’s theism and moral philosophy of Truth-Compassion-Tolerance, he viewed it as a threat to his own power. In July 1999, out of jealousy and despite oppositions within the party, Jiang Zemin launched a nation-wide persecution to “eradicate” Falun Gong.
Since 1999, millions who stand up for their faith have been arrested and tortured in detention camps. Those who refused to recant disappeared and became vast forced organ donor banks. In June 2016, David Kilgour (former Canadian Secretary of State), David Matas (Canadian human rights lawyer), and Ethan Gutmann (American investigative journalist) released an update concluding that China is transplanting between 60,000 to 90,000 organs a year (vs 33 611/year in the US despite not having an organ donation system) and that the organs come mostly from prisoners of conscience including Falun Gong practitioners.
Despite the persecution, Falun Dafa has flourished around the world. Through peaceful appeals, vigils, and international efforts to bring the persecution to light, more and more people are becoming aware of the human rights crimes perpetuated by the CCP regime. To date, 3538 awards and proclamations have been issued for Falun Gong’s courage by various governments, including Canada, Australia, and the US. For 18 years, the Chinese communist regime has used every means to try break these people’s spirits. Not only has it failed, but Falun Dafa is now practiced and celebrated by millions in every corner of the world.
For a succinct explanation of the persecution, watch the following videos:
The Persecution of Falun Gong
Falun Gong Misconceptions
For a detailed explanation, please see below:
In April 1999, an article appeared in Tianjin city deriding Falun Gong. Between April 19 – 24, Falun Gong practitioners held peaceful sit-ins outside the newspaper’s office to request a retraction, a lawful tactic that had prompted retractions in similar isolated incidents occurring elsewhere in China in the late 1990s. This time, however, several dozen of the participants were arrested. Other practitioners requesting the release of the detained practitioners were told that the orders came from the central authorities in Beijing.
Upon hearing that, over 10,000 Falun Gong adherents gathered peacefully outside the government’s central appeals office, which was near the Zhongnanhai Central Government Compound, on April 25. Several Falun Gong adherents met with then-Premier Zhu Rongji and other top leaders to request the end of harassment and restrictions on publishing Falun Gong teachings and the release of Tianjin practitioners. Zhu assured them that the Party was not opposed to Falun Gong and agreed to the release of the detainees. That event captured the world’s attention.
Having captured the world’s attention, Jiang falsely accused Falun Gong practitioners of “besieg[ing] the Central Government Compound” on April 25, 1999. He resolved that the CCP must eradicate Falun Gong, a growing practice with as many adherents as there were CCP members. On June 10, 1999, the Politburo Standing Committee created the 610 Office as a subdivision of the Party to monitor, track, and persecute Falun Gong and other disfavored religious groups. On July 20th, hundreds of Falun Gong adherents were taken into custody by security forces. Then on July 22, the “ban” on Falun Gong was officially declared.
Initially, the CCP-controlled press declared that Falun Gong was banned as a threat to social order because its spiritual beliefs and values of truth, compassion, and tolerance were incompatible with Marxist materialism. Falun Gong was not banned as an “evil religion” or “evil cult” then. That derogatory label was applied 3 months later to undermine public sympathy for practitioners and to mislead the world. The “cult” label was not the outcome of measured analysis, investigative findings, or theological debate, but a political move.
In totalitarian China, the “news” is a carefully crafted package of material designed by the state-controlled media to promote the interests of the CCP. Since the persecution started, state-run media have flooded the printing presses and airwaves with fabrications about Falun Gong and its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, to draft the entire society into the ranks of persecutors, thus creating an environment in which practitioners had no rights and no security. Deceptive propaganda about Falun Gong sweeps not only China, but also the world, such as the staged self-immolation of five people on Tiananmen Square in 2001. The state-run media then blamed it on Falun Gong. But it fails miserably when the same videotape that was broadcasted by the Chinese government was analyzed by neutral reporters (http://www.falsefire.com/ ). Overseas Chinese Consular officials spread false propaganda to incite hatred and then instigate mobs of emotional Chinese to attack Falun Gong in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney, and Warsaw.
The ultimate goal of the persecution has been forced religious conversion. Individuals who continue to practice Falun Gong (even if only in the privacy of their own home), display in public any symbols or images associated with Falun Gong, possess or distribute books or other materials promoting Falun Gong, or assemble for the purpose of practicing Falun Gong exercises are abducted, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, fired from jobs or expelled from schools, sent to forced labour camps or mental hospitals or secret concentration camps or drug addiction treatment centres, and even killed, and their homes are ransacked as security forces try to force them to renounce Falun Gong. Those who renounce the practice under pressure are targeted for monitoring and harassment upon release to prevent them from taking up Falun Gong again.
For the last 18 years, millions of practitioners have been forced into homelessness; tens of thousands have been killed so their bodily organs could be harvested for profit in China (http://organharvestinvestigation.net/). The film “Women above Ghosts’ Head” exposed the brutal methods used inside a women’s labour camp, such as solitary confinement, torture stretching, hanging, “tiger bench,” force-feeding with vagina speculum inserted into mouth. The detainees were tied to “death bed,” stripped, hit with electric batons on breasts and genitals; their vaginas were inserted with electric batons or filled with chilli powder (https://medium.com/china-syndrome-2/646e33e28eab).
The ban against Falun Gong was largely motivated by Jiang’s desire to consolidate political power within the Politburo of the CCP, and it was Jiang alone who decided that Falun Gong must be eliminated (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/1999-11/12/062r-111299-idx.html). However, according to Chinese lawyers and international legal experts, such as the Human Rights Law Foundation, the prohibition on practicing Falun Gong is an illegal act under both Chinese and international law; neither the 610 Office nor the CCP had the statutory authority to act on behalf of the state to take such measures against Falun Gong. The ban on Falun Gong may just be the latest in a historical continuum of violent campaigns that the CCP uses to consolidate its control. Indeed, since the 1950s not a decade has gone by without some state-led violent campaign aimed at the masses, be it the suppression of “counterrevolutionaries,” the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, or Falun Gong. http://www.amazon.com/Falun-Gongs-Challenge-China-Spiritual/dp/B007R949UO