(Minghui.org) 2013 was an eventful year. Falun Gong, the spiritual practice that attracted 100 million practitioners before the persecution started in China in July 1999, is relevant to all Chinese. There is always someone who knows someone who practices Falun Gong. And the 14-year-long nationwide persecution has involved the family, friends and colleagues of practitioners. That amounts to most of society in China.

We are glad to see that in 2013, more and more people inside and outside of China have realized how the issue of Falun Gong is relevant to them. They have chosen to stand up for Falun Gong. US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher stated that Falun Gong “is coming from the soul of China” at a public rally in October. While we don't think his view is very common outside of China or very clear with Mainland Chinese, we have seen the global trend toward this understanding.

In 2013, Falun Gong practitioners’ peaceful resistance have gained tremendous respect and largely changed the environment. The international community has taken a series of actions to help stop the organ harvesting; more and more Chinese people inside China and overseas are publicly standing up and speaking for Falun Gong; many murderers of the persecution have met with their karmic retribution; and the divine cultivation culture restored by Shen Yun Performing Arts has been appreciated the world over.

The following top 10 news stories highlight some of the encouraging trends in ending the persecution.

The World Takes Action to Condemn Organ Harvesting in China

Exposing the crimes of organ harvesting has come a long way. It had been met with skepticism since the news broke in 2006, as the crimes were simply too heinous for many to believe. However, through Falun Gong practitioners' persistent efforts and help from experts such as David Kilgour, a former Canadian diplomat and crown prosecutor, and David Matas, a renowned international human rights attorney, the global condemnation of forced organ harvesting in China culminated in a European Parliament resolution at year-end. A similar pending resolution in the U.S. has passed the Asia Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

In December, the European Parliament passed a resolution expressing “its deep concern over the persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs” and demanding “an immediate end to the 14-year persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice by the Communist Party of China.”

European Parliament members pointed out that a major cause of large-scale forced organ harvesting in China is the nationwide persecution of Falun Gong. Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott, European Parliament Vice-President, identified the persecution as genocide according to international laws.

On International Human Rights Day (December 10), a petition was submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling for “an immediate end to forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China.” Nearly 1.5 million people from over 50 countries on 4 continents have signed the petition.

In the past year, media outlets have paid considerable attention to this crime. For example, major Italian media outlets such as Corriere della Sera (Evening Courier) and RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) exposed the issue, and La Repubblica, the second largest Italian newspaper, used the term “monstrous acts” in an article published in December. In October, the German newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine published an article entitled, “The Fight Against Human Organ Transplantation,” reporting on efforts to stop these atrocities.

Shen Yun Adds Many Firsts to Its Global Success

In 2013, Shen Yun, the world-class performing arts troupe, achieved many firsts. In May, Shen Yun debuted in Mexico, its 30th country. Three shows were held at Auditorio Nacional, the largest theater in the world with 10,000 seats. In September, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra kicked off its first tour of seven cities in the U.S. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington DC. This was also the orchestra's debut at the venue. In December, Shen Yun formed its fourth troupe, meeting the increasing demand for shows planned for the 2014 tour.

Through music and dance, Shen Yun weaves ancient legends and modern heroic tales, taking the audience on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Eight shows in Buenos Aires led off its 2013 world tour, during which three troupes completed 354 performances in 106 cities. The full houses and robust ticket sales have made Shen Yun a global cultural phenomenon. Six weeks of packed shows in Taiwan drew many travelers from mainland China flying to watch Shen Yun in person, a reflection of Shen Yun’s reputation in China, where it is banned.

High-ranking Communist officials Accountable for Persecuting Falun Gong Fall

An investigation in December into the affairs of Li Dongsheng, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) vice minister of public security and director of the 610 Office, knocked down one more domino in the downfall of high-ranking communist officials involved in the persecution of Falun Gong. This ripple effect was preceded by the arrest and sentencing of Bo Xilai early this year. Bo and Li, both former CCP hotshots, were deeply involved in the organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Behind them was Zhou Yongkang, the former head of China's security apparatus and member of the CCP's Politburo Standing Committee.

Since the beginning of December, rumors have swirled about Zhou being investigated. Although the public has been told that Zhou and his family are guilty of graft for multi-billion dollar ill-gotten gains, the real crime of Zhou is his role in the persecution of Falun Gong.

Labor Camps Close, Yet the Persecution Continues

The Jiangsu Province Fangqiang Labor Camp (pictured) was shut down in February 2013, according to an Amnesty International report. However, Falun Gong practitioners were transferred to another labor camp after being “released.” The names at the gate say both “reform through labor” and “drug rehabilitation center.” While we know the labor camp has been declared “shut down,” it doesn't mean the drug rehabilitation center at the same location was also closed.

Chinese authorities announced at the beginning of 2013 their intent to close down the forced labor camp system by year-end. The forced labor system has played a key role in the persecution of Falun Gong. According to a recent report by Amnesty International, “Falun Gong constituted on average from one third to in some cases 100 percent of the total population of certain RTL [re-education through labor] camps.”

However, abolishing the labor camp system appears to be “a cosmetic change just to avert the public outcry over the abusive RTL system where torture was rife,” states an Amnesty International China researcher, “The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”

The Amnesty report states that 610 Office staffers routinely show up at the local labor camps on the day Falun Gong practitioners are released to transfer them directly to brainwashing centers and continue with the torture and other indignities typically forced upon them. Practitioners have been detained at the same facilities with different names such as “drug rehabilitation centers.”

Chinese People Offer Grassroots Support to Falun Gong

This year, more than ever, Chinese people have shown their courage to stand up and support Falun Gong publicly. The arrests of Li Lankui and Jia Zhijiang, Falun Gong practitioners in Hebei province, triggered a major local outcry early this year. Several groups of people signed a petition in March, calling for their release. The number of signatures ultimately reached 10,955. In May, more than 2000 locals in Hubei signed a petition calling for the release of Dai Meixia, who was sentenced to 5 years because of her belief in Falun Gong.

Some pictures of signatures as a part of the 10,955 total to support Falun Gong practitioner Li Lankui and Jia Zhijiang

Similar petitions have appeared all over China, 626 signatures in Hebei, 900 in Wuhan, 400 in Tongcheng, Hubei, indicating that more and more Chinese people have overcome their fear of the CCP, and spoken out for justice.

Practitioners and Family Members Protect Their Rights through Legal Means

More and more victims this year have filed lawsuits against the individuals and institutions involved in the persecution of Falun Gong. The Minghui website summarizes six categories of lawsuits: (1) lawsuits against workplaces for firing the victims or reducing their salaries; (2) lawsuits against policemen for kidnapping the victims; (3) lawsuits against forced labor camps; (4) lawsuits against judges for violating the law during trials; (5) lawsuits against prisons for torture; and (6) lawsuits against the 610 office.

Over 20 people, including four defense attorneys, family and friends of the detained Falun Gong practitioners, gathered outside the Qinglongshan Brainwashing Center on December 5 and demanded that Fang Yuechun, the center director, immediately release the illegally arrested practitioners. As shown in the picture, the identification plaque usually posted at the entrance was removed by officials the day of the attorneys' visit.

Chinese Tourists Seek Facts of Falun Gong during Trips Abroad

A trend in Chinese people traveling abroad has been observed this year. Many of them have added Falun Gong sites to their itinerary. Word has spread that Falun Gong practitioners are a great source of important facts that have been covered up or distorted in China. Some Chinese tourists have sent greetings to the founder of Falun Gong and hope that he can return to China soon. They engage in discussions with Falun Gong practitioners at tourist sites to learn the truth about the CCP-staged self-immolation and the atrocities of live organ harvesting.

The overseas trips are also great for quitting the CCP and its affiliations, the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers. Volunteers from the Global Service Center for Quitting the CCP have been helping Chinese people all over the world. The tourists not only quit the party themselves, but also bring the information to their friends and family back in China.

Chinese tourists read facts of the persecution at the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia in the U.S.

150 million Chinese Quit the CCP and Its Affiliated Organizations

The ever-increasing number of Chinese withdrawals from the CCP has exceeded 150 million in 2013. The movement to renounce the CCP and its affiliated organizations began in 2004 with the publication of Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party , which analyzes the communist party by detailing its history of repression and concludes that China will not be free as long as the Party remains in power. The first statement of resignation from the CCP was published online in December 2004. As of today, over 150 million Chinese have quit the CCP or its affiliated organizations.

Among the withdrawals, many are CCP officials, including high-ranking police and military officers. While some Chinese have yet to recognize the evil nature of the party, many insiders have already seen its doomed future and tried to separate themselves from it.

The 10th China Online Falun Gong Experience Sharing Conference Completes

The 15-day-long 10th China “virtual experience sharing conference” on Minghui.org in November was a great success this year. Over 100 articles were selected from the many submissions to be featured on the pages of the Minghui website. The articles reflect the tremendous changes Falun Gong practitioners are going through in their cultivation: How they reach clarity despite confusion, how they look within amidst conflicts to resolve difficulties fundamentally, how they persist with the principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance in the face of slander and persecution, and how they improve themselves when helping people understand the facts of the persecution.

Participants this year are from all walks of life, including farmers, scholars, high-ranking officials, and successful businessmen. They joined the practice for different reasons and have different cultivation experiences. However, they have at least one thing in common: they strive to be good people in their daily lives according to the principles of Truth-Compassion-Tolerance. They handle conflicts and tribulations with compassion and perseverance.

Tianti Bookstores Open in Midtown Manhattan

Tianti Bookstore opens on 30th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York.

Tianti Bookstore has operated online for over ten years, and due to increasing demand in the New York area, has now opened a physical location in midtown Manhattan on October 10, 2013. Tianti, as the name implies: tian=sky or heaven, ti=ladder, aims to provide readers with a way of self-improvement through practice of Falun Gong.

Tianti Books in Toronto opened its second store on July 1, Canada Day. Located in the predominantly Chinese York Region of Toronto at the Pacific Mall—the largest Chinese indoor mall in North America—the store is dedicated to providing books and multimedia on Falun Gong.

Future Outlook

Two major legislative initiatives are worth following in 2014 regarding stopping organ harvesting in China. US Congress will vote on a pending resolution condemning this crime. A legislation introduced by Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, which would create penal sanctions for persons who are knowingly involved in illegal organ transplant, may also gain traction.

The CCP officials’ downfalls will eventually lead to the demise of the major murderer of the persecution of Falun Gong, Jiang Zemin, the former communist party leader, which would be a start of the disintegration of the CCP. More Chinese people inside and outside of China will abandon the CCP, and consequently, more support for Falun Gong from Chinese people will rise.

With 10 shows in Houston, Texas, Shen Yun has launched its 2014 world tour on December 23. As in previous years, show-goers were enchanted by the beauty of Shen Yun's signature choreography, colors and costumes. Many were delighted to discover a deeper layer of spirituality within the performance, with allusions to the meaning of life and divine ancient culture permeating the music and dance programs. Shen Yun's stunning beauty and tremendous energy and completely new program will leave more audiences uplifted and inspired in the new year.