ESS: A Falun Gong campaign in favour of prisoners of conscience: China still persecutes people who practise this method.

Credit: Saara Harju

Many local people in Lahti paid attention to a badly beaten Chinese woman in a cage in Lanun square. The bruises were not real, but the message was: Falun Gong practitioners in China have been tortured, killed and arrested during the last six years.

Falun Gong is a Chinese cultivation practice which includes the practice of exercises and meditation. Like Tai Chi it has been passed on from teacher to disciple since ancient times.

In 1992, the founder and teacher of Falun Gong Mr Li Hongzhi brought the practice to the public and this health-improving method gained great favour. At the end of the last century there were more than 100 million practitioners.

But the phenomena of this great popularity caused fear among the Chinese Communist Party regime. Falun Gong has been, among other things, characterised as the biggest threat to the Chinese Communist party after the democracy campaign.

Falun Gong doesn't have any political agenda. According to practitioners the only motive is to be able to practise in peace. To this, the Chinese government has not agreed.

Illegal in 1999

In April of 1999, twelve practitioners were arrested, after which 10 000 practitioners gathered to peacefully appeal for a legal and peaceful environment to practise. Although they were promised to be able to practise in peace, a few months later a large-scale campaign to eradicate Falun Gong began. It was declared illegal and all materials were confiscated and the destruction of it begun. Into this campaign was also included a distortion of its ideology and the slander of the practice.

Put the pressure on

At this time, Falun Gong practitioners were forced to choose between work, study or Falun Gong. Those who give information about practitioners get rewarded; those who are arrested are required to sign guarantee statements, if they refuse they will meet with different kinds of difficulties like losing their job. Lawyers are forbidden to defend Falun Gong practitioners and thousand have been sent to forced labour camps and "re-education centres" to transform them from Falun Gong.

The Chinese regime's action has lead to several deaths.(1) The police authorities burn the bodies before the relative manage to identify them. During long-term imprisonment, they are assaulted and tortured in an effort to force them to give up the practice.

Even though China has signed the UN human rights declaration and the activity is against the Chinese constitution, the persecution continues. But after The Epoch Times publication of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, people have come to realise the horror behind the Chinese Communist Party. A couple of weeks ago, nearly four million Chinese had already withdrawn from the communist party and the withdrawal continues to be 20,000 people per day, said Sinikka Suontakanen a Falun Gong practitioner who was in Lahti taking part in the activities.

People in Lahti uninformed but interested

The Finnish Falun Gong Association has been touring many Finnish towns during June to tell people about the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners.

The idea has been to get more signatures to the petition, which will be handed to the Parliament's Human Rights Unit.

"This petition can help to have some influence on China, like when the Finnish Government is in contact with China, they can discuss these human rights issues," said Falun Gong practitioner Sinikka Suontakanen. The tour has attracted a lot of attention.

A Chinese girl meditating, a picture of tortured practitioners and the lady sitting in the cage with bamboo sticks under her nails have made many people to stop and wonder.

"Many people have not heard of it before, but get interested when seeing us and we have got a great amount of signatures," said Suontakanen.

Falun Gong was introduced to Finland via Finnish people living in Sweden. Suontakanen became a Falun Gong practitioner five years ago. "I tried the practice and decided to embrace it", she said. "But at this moment Falun Gong practitioners are also bringing up the issue of human rights."

(1) To date, 2,733 Falun Gong practitioners are verified to have died in the persecution, although the actual number is believed to be much higher.

Originally published in Finnish at: http://fi.clearharmony.net/articles/200507/3003.html

Source: http://clearharmony.net/articles/200509/28981.html