Issue date: 2/9/06
Jian Bao applied and received a Martin Luther King scholarship for a paper she sent titled, "All My Devotion to My Dream." She applied because the name 'Martin Luther King' always reminded her of the group of Falun Gong practitioners who risk their lives to uphold their beliefs in truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.
"They persistently appeal for their freedom to practice in a nonviolent and peaceful way," Bao said. "The nobility and spirit maintained by Dafa practitioners, together with the non-violent resistance advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King, are glorious foundations to a monument of morality that mankind should cherish."
In 1992, Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, was introduced. It is a practice of meditation, gentle exercises and the cultivation of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance in oneself. Falun Gong quickly spread through China as news reports and word of mouth acclaimed its health benefits.
There were 100 million people practicing Falun Dafa by 1998, and the movement gained widespread respect throughout Chinese society. In 1999, China's leader, Jiang Zemin, cast those 100 million citizens as criminals. Zemin feared the widespread popularity of Falun Gong was overshadowing his legacy. He ordered the practice to be eradicated.
Just like King had a dream for his people, so does Bao for hers.
"I have a dream that people in China [will] no longer be arrested because of their human rights," Bao said. "I have a dream that our Falun Dafa practitioner will no longer be tortured to death because of their belief: truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. I have a dream that there is no longer violence exist[ing] this world."
According to a 1999 Washington Post article, "Communist Party sources said that the standing committee of the Politburo did not unanimously endorse the crackdown, and that Jiang alone decided that Falun Gong must be eliminated," in order to maintain his power base.
The Falun Dafa organization estimates there are now 75 million practitioners in China and 25 million elsewhere in the world.
"Falun Dafa has spread over 70 countries all over the world," Bao said.
Several cases of harassment against Falun Gong practitioners have been recorded in the United States and China. People in China are being illegally detained with many tortured in slave-labor camps, psychiatric hospitals and prisons. Practitioners are fined, fired from jobs, denied graduation, forced to divorce and forced to flee their homes.
In the United States, individuals who are known to have close ties with Chinese consulates carry out attacks against group members or are hired thugs for consulate officials. Business and government officials who support Falun Gong have been pressured and intimidated.
"I am a Falun Dafa practitioner, and I now profoundly understand the true meaning of the word 'non-violence.' Even if the Communist regime persecuted rigorously, and it spread overseas, even the United States, I would still be a Falun Dafa practitioner."
Bao said Kansas City and Columbia have groups that practice Falun Gong.