Saturday, January 13, 2001

In China, practitioners of Falun Dafa have been arrested and beaten to death for their displays, but in Regina, the municipal government is celebrating the holistic movement.

Mayor Pat Fiacco proclaimed today Falun Dafa Day based on "the information that was provided by organization ?a group of individuals that look as spiritually improving themselves".

Falun Dafa is a way for practitioners to cultivate their minds, bodies and spirits with five gentle exercises and by acting in accordance with the principal of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance". It was introduced to the general public in 1992 by its founder, Li Hongzhi.

Falun Dafa, also know as Falun Gong, is a holistic practice, which is neither political nor religious in nature. Anyone can access information, or take free classes on the movement.

"We just like practicing for the benefit for the body and the mind," said Gary Yang, a Regina resident who has been practicing Falun Dafa for almost a year and half.

He said the reason that the Chinese government banned this movement is because the Communists felt threatened by how quickly it caught on. Within seven years of its introduction, Yang said the movement had more supports than the government.

"It's just for health, we won't get into politics," said Yang.

How Regina's twin city in China (Jinan) will react to Regina's endorsement of Falun Dafa, is yet to be determined. Fiacco said he hopes it won't cause any problems.

"The intent is not to hurt the relationship with Jinan," said Fiacco. "If there are concerns we'll look at the information next year."

Members of the Chinese Communist Party began persecuting dozens of practitioners in July 1999. Police beat hundreds of people who supported the movement, and threw them in jail.

"They gonna cause them (to be) arrested and lose their jobs and their house ... everything," said Yang, wiping away tears. Because Yang practices Falun Dafa, his family won't speak to him; they fear the Chinese government too much.

"Any of my family don't answer my phone (calls) in China," said Yang. "If one guy in family practice (Falun Dafa) you gonna lose the job."

"Yang began practicing Falun Dafa because he had heart problems and asthma. He said after 40 years of searching for a cure, he didn't think the exercise would help, but it did.

"After a couple of weeks all these problems are gone ?this really surprise me," said Yang. "I spend my whole life looking for it ?that's the thing."

Nelson Shou also has anecdotal evidence that Falun Dafa can heal the body. The 76-year old has been practicing Falun Dafa for almost six years now. He said the exercise has allowed him to walk again.

"Before I practice I had pain in the leg. I cannot walk or sit. Even sleeping in the bed really hurts," said Shou.

He went to the hospital in Beijing but the doctors there couldn't help him. They told him to keep his leg warm and take painkillers. But when he started practicing Falun Dafa he felt better almost immediately.

"Since then I never go to see doctor or take any drugs. Practicing Falun Dafa is very easy ?easy to learn for all ages and very effective."

Yang said the proclamation of Falun Dafa Day, which has been accompanied by festivities Friday and today on Frederick W. Hill Mall, is important for the movement.

"It's helped us to let more people know," said Yang. "They're gonna benefit their health, their mind."