Human rights lawyers, common citizens peacefully challenge Chinese regime's campaign against Falun Gong
NEW YORK—Human rights lawyers and defiant citizens alike are increasingly taking a public, unprecedented stand against the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong in China. Just a few years ago, such acts were unheard of.
Why are so many risking so much, and what does this mean for the trajectory of China?
“These unprecedented acts indicate two things,” says Erping Zhang, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center. “One, the Chinese people now widely see through government propaganda, including the hateful campaign against Falun Gong. Secondly, they are so fed up with the Communist Party regime, that they are willing to risk their own wellbeing to stand up for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners, even though they do not practice themselves.”
Last month four prominent lawyers from northeastern China were badly beaten for representing Falun Gong practitioners illegally detained. Since 2010 the number of petitions signed by Chinese citizens (often using their real names) to protest the abduction of local Falun Gong practitioners continue to swell, with some signees facing severe persecution themselves, ranging from harassment and loss of employment to imprisonment and torture.
This increased defiance of suppression arises amidst an on-going persecution that remains a dangerous reality for tens of millions. Torture is still rampant, and deadly, as in the case of Yang Chunling, who died in early April after seven years of prison abuse. Abductions without charge, even for siblings of Canadian citizens attempting to visit loved ones in detention centers, like Ms. Chen Yinghua, occur regularly. And, despite attention from government bodies like the US Congress and European Parliament, there is no indication that the gruesome practice of killing Falun Gong practitioners in order to extract and sell their organs for organ transplant surgeries has changed.
The Falun Dafa Information Center calls upon Western media in China to give the heroic acts of these lawyers and countless citizens the coverage it deserves. Those who stand up to tyranny and at great risk to themselves must have their stories told.
On the 15th anniversary of the event that thrust Falun Gong into the international spotlight – the gathering of more than 10,000 practitioners near the central government’s residential compound on April 25, 1999 – the facts of what actually took place on that fateful day, and the forces at work behind the scenes remain widely misunderstood.
Most Western media depicted the April 25 gathering of practitioners as a provocative act that precipitated the persecution that started three months later.
In fact, a plan to consolidate power by suppressing Falun Gong was at least three years in the works, and the April 25 appeal was one of the final attempts to stave it off. By 1999, the Chinese regime had already banned Falun Gong books, published defamatory reports, and harassment of practitioners had included “spying,” confiscation of property for “evidence,” and most alarmingly, beatings and arrests.
As the persecution enters its fifteenth year, and with an increasingly defiant public taking a stand, it becomes ever more important to tell this story with accuracy and an informed perspective.
In July of 1999 China’s autocratic Communist Party launched an unlawful campaign of arrests, violence, and propaganda against Chinese citizens practicing Falun Gong (or "Falun Dafa") with the intent of “eradicating” the apolitical practice. Since then, the Falun Dafa Information Center, based in New York, has reported over 3,000 deaths from abuse. The United Nations, Amnesty International, Chinese human rights lawyers, and foreign media have also documented Falun Gong torture and deaths at the hands of Chinese officials. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese who practice Falun Gong remain in captivity, rendering them the single largest group of prisoners of conscience in China. Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is an advanced practice of self-cultivation — a way to improve wellness and attain spiritual wisdom. The practice is from the Buddha School and is based on easy-to-learn exercises, meditation, and the universal values of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. It is believed certain Communist Party leaders launched the suppression of Falun Gong fearing the practice's growing popularity (70 to 100 million) and influence as a spiritual movement outside the Party's control.