(Minghui.org) The year 2015 marks the 16th year of peaceful resistance by Falun Dafa practitioners in the face of violent persecution in China. It is also the 23rd year since the meditation practice was introduced to the public.
In 2015, a few major events highlighted Falun Gong's resistance. More than 200,000 practitioners filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese Communist Party leader who directed the suppression campaign. This movement to prosecute Jiang Zemin has gained support from politicians and on a grassroots level all over the world.
A new documentary examining the illegal organ harvesting industry in China was widely screened in multiple countries and won several awards. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese who have quit the Communist Party and its youth organizations has reached 200 million.
Perhaps the most encouraging mark of progress during the past year was the wave of lawsuits filed against Jiang Zemin. Since May 2015, more than 200,000 Falun Gong practitioners in China and overseas have filed criminal complaints against Jiang. Although some plaintiffs were harassed by local law enforcement in retaliation, most of the cases were received by the Supreme People's Court and Procuratorate.
The international community praised practitioners for their courage, including leaders from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Nearly 400,000 Taiwanese and 770,000 people in seven Asian countries signed the petition calling upon the Chinese legal system to bring Jiang Zemin to justice. Despite the ongoing persecution, some human rights lawyers and thousands of citizens in China also spoke out in support of the lawsuits.
In addition, thousands of government bodies of different levels, from California to Toronto, from Australia to Europe and beyond, issued proclamations for the 16th World Falun Dafa Day on May 13, commending the positive impact that Falun Gong has brought to societies with different cultural backgrounds.
At the grassroots level, more international attention was focused on the state-sanctioned harvesting of organs from living prisoners of conscience in China. The documentary “Human Harvest: China’s Illegal Organ Trade” put a spotlight on the practice of killing detained practitioners on demand, a crime that Party officials go to great lengths to cover up and deny.
The 25-minute award-winning documentary was first aired during primetime in April on the longest-running international affairs program in Australia. It was then screened in multiple countries, including at the British Parliament in November.
Numerous follow-up stories in the media drew the public's attention and triggered waves of petitions condemning the atrocity. Even in China, tens of thousands of citizens took a stand on the forced organ harvesting, calling it “worse than fascism.”
“Human Harvest: China’s Illegal Organ Trade” has received the prestigious Peabody Award and was honored as the best 2015 International Investigative Documentary by the Association of International Broadcasters (AIB).
In 2015, the number of people who have withdrawn their memberships in the Chinese Communist Party and its youth organizations reached 220 million. The movement began after the publication of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party in 2004. It took seven years for the number of withdrawals to reach 100 million; the second 100 million took only 3.5 years. The number is increasing by nearly 100,000 each day.
It is worth mentioning that Minghui.org published nearly 300 cases in 2015 in which government and law enforcement officials were believed to have met karmic retribution for actively participating in the persecution. Witnessing the fates of their peers, more perpetrators have stopped participating in the arrest, detention, and torture of practitioners; some have decided to separate themselves from the Party.
Around 140 practitioners passed away in 2015 directly or indirectly due to torture sustained in state custody.
The persecution also extended overseas. One case that drew massive media attention was that of Miss World Canada, Anastasia Lin, who was denied an invitation letter and a visa to enter China for the final round of the pageant in December. Lin was barred because she is a Falun Gong practitioner and has spoken out to raise awareness of the persecution and other human rights abuses in China.
Outside China, however, Lin gained a large number of supporters. The Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesperson Amy Mills said, “Canada commends Ms. Lin for her efforts to raise awareness regarding these issues.” She also expressed concern on behalf of the Canadian government that the Chinese government has harassed Ms. Lin’s family in China.
The New York Times commented, “Her David-and-Goliath clash with the Chinese government has drawn sympathetic media attention and legions of supporters around the world, providing her an even bigger platform to speak out about the imprisonment and torture Falun Gong adherents face in China.”
For the 10th year, Shen Yun Performing Arts brought authentic Chinese culture to audiences in five continents. In Europe alone, the classical Chinese dance company performed 42 shows in 12 countries.
“It is very moving to see that you are seeking your roots, and the roots of your culture and your traditions,” said Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee. “It's a very interesting show, because it gives you an idea of the Chinese traditions, from 5,000 years before till today. For people like me, it is a way of participating today.”
The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra drew long standing ovations and repeated encores in October. Shen Yun also expanded its presence in Latin America with 23 performances of the new dance production, The Monkey King.
“To combine that sound—that very ancient sound with the more modern, let’s say, Western symphony orchestra sound—is a challenge that they’ve met, they’ve met very well... It’s a fresh experience. Shen Yun doesn’t come often enough,” commented Kerry Stratton, Toronto Concert Orchestra conductor and radio host.
While Shen Yun's world-class performances left theatergoers in awe, Falun Dafa practitioners' participation in local community events were also well-received.
“Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance are principles for everyone. If everyone could follow these principles, things will be better in every country,” said one spectator when watching the Canada Day Parade in Toronto on July 1, 2015.
From the St. Patrick's Day Parade in March to the Santa Claus Parade in December, from celebrating World Falun Dafa Day in May to joining community festivities on U.S. Independence Day, Falun Dafa practitioners shared their joy with the public during parades, health expos, and other events.
At both regional gatherings and international experience-sharing conferences in New York in May and Los Angeles in October, each attended by thousands, practitioners shared their understandings on how to better align with the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and become better citizens. In particular, the annual China Fahui (experience-sharing conference) on the Minghui.org website provided opportunities for practitioners in mainland China and around the world to discuss such topics.
Annie, a practitioner outside of China, said she often had tears in her eyes while reading these articles. “What touched me the most,” she said, “was an article in which a practitioner spent a lot of effort memorizing the book Zhuan Falun over the past 11 years. Her health improved over the years, and she was able to recognize and eliminate many human notions.”
While the suppression in China left many practitioners' children unattended, young practitioners outside of China were able to, like their adult peers, consistently learn from one another and improve as practitioners. Numerous summer camps were held throughout the world, from New Jersey to San Diego, from France to Taiwan.
Practitioners also organized the Ride to Freedom, a 3000-mile bicycle journey across the U.S. to raise awareness of and rescue five children orphaned by the persecution in China.
“I am sorry for what has happened to you, and I admire your courage and perseverance,” said Glen from Wisconsin to the riders. He said what practitioners have endured would not be in vain; instead, their sacrifices would lead to a better future.
Rider Nikita from a Philadelphia suburb accepted citations on behalf of the Ride to Freedom team, including from U.S. Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, and Philadelphia City Council members.
Last but not least, Tianti Bookstore opened a new branch in Seoul, making it easier for people to access Falun Dafa books and instructional materials and learn the meditation practice. Holly, who attended a nine-day video seminar at the Manhattan store in March, told the group that she had practiced other meditation disciplines before, but had never reached such a peaceful state of mind as she had with Falun Dafa.