(Minghui.org) 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of Falun Dafa's introduction to the public. Over 10,000 practitioners gathered in New York City for a rally, parade, and experience-sharing conference. Tens of thousands of greetings were received by the Minghui website from practitioners and non-practitioners alike around the world, highlighting the physical and spiritual benefits they have gained from the practice. Numerous reports and statements from the United States and other nations demonstrated their support of practitioners' perseverance in safeguarding basic human rights.
Inside China, however, the suppression continues for the 18th year. More than 900 practitioners were sentenced to imprisonment for their belief, while lawyers have defended practitioners in over 500 trials. At least another 40 practitioners lost their lives due to torture while in police custody. This triggered more Chinese to quit the Communist Party organizations and prompted additional global support for lawsuits against Jiang Zemin, the former communist leader, for persecuting Falun Dafa.
In contrast to the severe persecution in China, numerous free workshops have been held around the world, and a large number of people have joined the practice around the world, from Europe and Asia to America.
About 10,000 practitioners from 58 countries attended the 2017 New York Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference on Sunday, May 14, 2017, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, came onto the stage at around 2:00 p.m. to deliver a lecture and answer questions for about two hours.
The conference is an annual event in New York. Thirteen practitioners also went on stage to deliver reports of their experiences in applying the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in their daily lives. They discussed how to help more people learn about the practice and the persecution it faces in China.
The four-day celebration of the 18th Falun Dafa Day in New York City began at Union Square with a large group exercise demonstration on the morning of May 12. A grand parade followed on the same day and series of events in the city thereafter.
At least 12,200 New Year's greetings were received by Minghui in early 2017 from Falun Dafa practitioners and supporters worldwide. Greetings poured in from 31 provinces and municipalities in China and 28 countries, covering North and South America, the Asia-Pacific area, and Europe. Some of the greetings were sent by groups of practitioners from exercise sites, some were sent by families of practitioners, and some were sent by individual practitioners.
Individual greeters were from all walks of life, including government officials, military officers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and housewives. Many greeters expressed their appreciation to Master Li Hongzhi for healing their illnesses, restoring their health, and renewing their lives. Most greeters highlighted how the principal teaching of Falun Gong – Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance – has given them direction in their lives.
Similar phenomena also occurred around the Mid-Autumn Festival on October 4. Many non-practitioners said that their support of Falun Dafa brought them good fortune and blessings. One woman wrote that Falun Dafa was a beacon of light that is guiding her through today’s corrupt society. She said that she was a lost soul, but thanks to Falun Dafa, she realized how she should conduct herself according to Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
The U.S. 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom was released at a press conference in Washington D.C. on August 15, 2017. China is among the ten “Countries of Particular Concern” for its severe religious persecution. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson specifically mentioned the persecution of Falun Gong, noting that in 2016, “...dozens of Falun Gong members have died in detention.” He said that freedom of religion is “a core American value under the Constitution’s First Amendment, as well as a universal human right.”
In a report from Freedom House, the persecution of Falun Gong in China was highlighted and analyzed in detail. Twenty-two pages of the 142-page document focused on this severe, large-scale, human rights violation. “[The Communist Party initiated] the worst instance of religious persecution since the Cultural Revolution, with the clampdown against Falun Gong,” cited in the report remarks from André Laliberté, a leading scholar from Ottawa University on religion in China.
When several hundred Falun Gong practitioners from across the U.S. held a rally on Capitol Hill on July 20, 2017, several members of Congress, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and speakers from religious and human rights organizations expressed strong support in their remarks at the rally.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said, “Falun Gong practitioners are subject to widespread surveillance, arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture, and they are at a high risk of extrajudicial execution. And despite China’s best efforts to deny or whitewash the truth, there is good reason to believe that its practice of organ harvesting continues to this day.”
Also at the rally, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said that the Falun Gong practitioners in the audience and those residing in communist China are owed a special thanks. “Falun Gong saves the world from evil forces,” he said, adding that China and the Chinese people are under the control of a “clique of gangsters” who repress its people and threaten the world.
According to reports from Minghui, at least 974 practitioners were sentenced to imprisonment for practicing Falun Dafa between January and December 2017. Some of them are elderly, in their 70s. In addition, a large number of practitioners were severely injured, paralyzed, or experienced life-threatening conditions as a result of torture.
These practitioners are from all walks of the society. Yang Hong, who was educated in Japan, and his wife Jiang Yahuiwere were each sentenced to six years in prison. Si Deli, an associate professor from a cultural center in Xinyang City, Henan Province, was sentenced to 39 months imprisonment in June 2017 for suing Jiang Zemin.
The judgments are often decided prior to the trials. Liu Xiyong, 76, from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, was tried in October 2017. He was notified a month later of a three-year prison sentence. The verdict, however, was dated September 19.
Officials often said the decisions were from higher officials. For example, Ye Weidong from Haimen City in Jiangsu Province was sentenced to 21 months for pasting an article in QQ, a common social media tool in China. Presiding judge Lu Weidong said he was merely following orders from the 610 Office as well as the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC).
At least 503 trials in 2017 involved lawyers who defended practitioners pleading not-guilty. Among them, 196 took place in the first six months.
Liang Jianjun, a teacher in Guangdong Province, was tried on November 7, 2017. Two lawyers, one from Beijing and one from Guangdong, defended him. They maintained that practitioners are innocent according to freedom of belief described in Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution. Citing genocide criminals who were pursued for their entire lifetimes, one of the lawyers told officers that whoever persecuted Falun Gong would face consequences at a later time.
Signature drives were also held calling to release detained practitioners. For example, 354 people called for the release of Wang Huaxue in Chaoyang City, Liaoning Province. More than 400 people urged the release of Sun Jinghe in Jiutai City, Jilin Province, and over 500 signatures were collected on behalf of Li Yujun in Longkou City, Shandong Province.
Because of returned or dismissed cases, at least 75 practitioners were released without trial between January and December 2017.
In 2017, 42 Falun Gong practitioners lost their lives for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. Due to the Chinese communist regime’s information blockade, the actual number of practitioners who have died in the persecution is likely to be much higher than the number of confirmed deaths.
Thirteen of the deceased practitioners died in custody while serving prison terms or waiting to be indicted. One died while serving probation, and another died while on medical parole. Five passed away when facing indictment or trial. The remaining 22 passed away after they were released following their latest arrests in recent years.
One example is Ms. Xing Ximei of Shandong Province, who was arrested on November 7, 2017. She died just a few days later at a local hospital. Her family was prohibited from taking photos of her body or ordering an independent autopsy. They still haven’t been given an official explanation of the cause of her death.
Taiwan recently denied entry to at least three Chinese officials who have been involved in the persecution of Falun Gong. The delegates led by the officials were also denied entry.
Chiu Chui-Cheng, deputy chief of the Mainland Affairs Council, confirmed that the council is restricting permits for human rights violators from China. Chinese officials are immediately denied entry if they have a record of persecuting Falun Gong practitioners and belong to the 610 Office, an extralegal Party organization that oversees the persecution of Falun Gong. This is to emphasize and carry out Taiwan’s policies, which value and protect human rights, according to Chiu.
In the U.S., two state-level legislatures passed resolutions to condemn the state-sanctioned organ harvesting.
The Missouri House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 7 on April 25, condemning forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience, and urging further action to stop the atrocities.
“The resolution is about trying to bring awareness to prevent a terrible injustice to humanity,” said State Representative Lynn Morris, R-Ozark, the sponsor of HCR 7, on the House floor.
The Pennsylvania House of Representative passed a similar resolution, (House Resolution 27) on the same day. Matthew Baker, majority chairman of the House Health Committee and prime sponsor of both resolutions, said more such efforts are needed on a national and international level.
Falun Gong has spread to more than 100 countries around the world. The main book Zhuan Falun has been published in over 40 languages.
In 2017, Falun Gong practitioners around the world continued the efforts of introducing this ancient Chinese self-improvement cultivation practice to the public.
In Indonesia, practitioners came to a high school in Batam on November 11. About 700 students attend the workshop.
The University of South Carolina (USC) at Aiken is offering a new honors course starting in Fall 2017, entitled, “Introduction to Falun Dafa Meditation and Cultivation” (HONS 201). It's taught by tenured professor Dr. Xie Tian. This special class is designed for highly-motivated students with a minimum GPA of 3.5.
The Tianti Bookstore in Seoul, South Korea holds two free Falun Gong workshops every month. Due to the warm response, the bookstore now holds two workshops, morning and afternoon, a total of four times per month.
Mr. Yin Hongzhen, an attendee of the workshop at the Tianti bookstore, had developed water intoxication a few year ago.
“I had an MRI at a big hospital and had acupuncture therapy, but nothing helped. I really suffered. What amazed me was that, on the fifth day of the workshop, the symptoms disappeared. That night was the first night I had a good sleep in the past few years,” Mr. Yin said.
Mr. Yin also had cardiac arrhythmia, which often woke him up from sleep. “Now, I do the fifth exercise—the meditation, and the arrhythmia disappeared.”
In 2017, at least 31 high-ranking Communist Party officials, who were actively involved in the persecution, fell from their positions of power. Some of these officials, at the provincial level or above, were tried in court and sentenced to prison.
There is an old Chinese saying, “Good is rewarded, and evil is met with karmic retribution.” Although all the fallen officials were punished because of financial corruption or political reasons, many Chinese believe that they met with retribution.
For example, in Hebei Province alone, 1368 government officials who were involved in the persecution were punished in a variety of ways. Some died from accidents, some were sentenced. The number in Heilongjing Province was 995.
Meanwhile, more than 210,000 Falun Gong practitioners and their family members all over the world have filed lawsuits against Jiang Zemin, the former Party leader, who personally launched and directed the persecution.
As of December 8, 2017, 2.6 million people from 31 countries had signed petitions supporting the lawsuits against Jiang.
Falun Gong practitioners in China and overseas have made efforts to tell Chinese people about the evil history of the Communist Party for over a decade, and tried to convince them to abandon the Party by quitting.
As of December 20, 2017, 292 million Chinese had announced on the Epoch Times website, that they publicly quit the Party and its affiliated organizations.
A lawyer said in his announcement on October 19: “In the recent years, I've found that the Communist Party is taking a dangerous path. This Party has destroyed a few generations of Chinese people. Its ideology has spread to the world like a virus. Communism is not only the source of disasters in China but also of the evil ruining the world.”
The trend of quitting the Party was triggered by the book Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party published by the Epoch Times in 2004.
The same editorial office published another series, The Ultimate Goal of Communism on November 20, 2017, which, based on extensive and solid evidence, asserts that the communists' goal is to destroy human beings.