(Minghui.org) This year marks the 19th year since Falun Gong was banned in China. Many people have begun to think more deeply about what the suppression means for society and for China as a nation. Michael, a lawyer who has taken on cases for Falun Gong practitioners, has reflected on this recently and his understandings about it.

It started with Nathan, one of Michael's clients. As a gang member, Nathan had been involved in many street fights. During one fight his intestines had fallen out and four of his ribs were broken. In prison he witnessed innocent Falun Gong practitioners being mistreated for their belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, and how they did not swear or fight back against their persecutors. In addition, the practitioners demonstrated respect and care for him, without any prejudice.

“Before then I was heartless and no one liked me,” Nathan recalled. “Through the behavior of these practitioners, I understood that Falun Gong was something out of the ordinary because these practitioners were so kind. That is why I wanted to practice Falun Gong.” Nathan has now changed completely and is almost an entirely new person. His mother was moved by the changes she saw in him, and his estranged wife and son returned to him after witnessing his positive changes. Nathan later contacted Michael to help rescue other Falun Gong practitioners who had been detained for their belief.

This experience really touched Michael. He recalled being unable to sleep one night, as his head was reeling. “Jiang Zemin the former communist party leader who initiated the persecution is really a vicious individual, and Chinese communism has no hope,” he wrote. “Just think about it: no one knew how to deal with a gang member like Nathan. And yet, he became a good person in a short time because of Falun Gong. Such a gangster had been a headache for society and a big problem for his family. But Falun Gong changed all that.”

This insight even changed Michael professionally. In the past when he had accepted cases, he treated them simply as a job. But he is now willing to fully devote his thoughts and energy on his cases and address them to the utmost of his ability. In fact, after reviewing the legal documents and the persecution policy that has been in place for the past 19 years, he found that the persecution has no legal grounds.

“It is just like one of my colleagues has said – the suppression of Falun Gong, when viewed based on existing law, is illegal. Tens of millions of innocent people are wronged in the name of law. This is the moment for us to safeguard justice and the law,” Michael said.

“Our efforts will help protect the Falun Gong universal principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, as well as righteousness in this world,” he continued.

A Former Street Tyrant

Stories like Nathan's are not uncommon. Six-foot-tall Yang Jianbo used to be a street tyrant in Langfang City, Hebei Province. He was well trained in martial arts, and he often bullied others and faced no consequences for his actions. His porcelain shop did not pay taxes, but government officials and the police dared not bother him about it.

This all changed after he began to practice Falun Gong. Following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, he became a good citizen and started to pay his taxes on time. During an experience sharing conference in Langfang City that was attended by thousands of practitioners, he was in tears as he spoke about these changes, “Had I not met Master Li (the founder) or Falun Gong, I would have continued doing bad deeds and destroyed myself.” Many people at the conference were also touched.

After the communist party banned Falun Gong in 1999, Yang was arrested 10 times, sent to labor camps three times, and imprisoned for six years. The torture while in detention put him in life-threatening danger several times.

A Gambler

Hu Dongsheng, a resident of Wuhan City in Hubei Province, became addicted to gambling after he was discharged from the military. Because he was out gambling, he would return home very late at night and sometimes would not return at all. Both his wife and two children were unhappy, but they couldn't do anything about it.

He went through big changes when he started to practice Falun Gong in early 1999. The improvement in his health and character also impressed those who knew him. However, the persecution began a few months later, and he was detained numerous times for his faith. He was most recently arrested in 2013 and was sentenced to five years of imprisonment one-year later.

Labor Camp Detention and Imprisonment

Feng Lianyou from Beijing used to commit all kinds of bad deeds and had been imprisoned four times, for a total of ten years and six months. After starting to practice Falun Gong in October 2000, he not only put a stop to his wrongdoing but also returned items that he had stolen from others. “When thinking about bad things I did in the past, I often feel so regretful that I'm in tears,” he said.

Feng was arrested on two occasions while telling others how he had benefited from Falun Gong. The first time he was sentenced to a labor camp for two years, and the second time he was sentenced to a five-year term at Qianjin Prison in Tianjin. His most recent arrest was on May 26, 2016.

Disabled Through Torture, Passed Away

Liu Yunchao from Wuhan City, Hebei Province, had been a troublemaker since he was young. After growing up, he became a street tyrant, and even he considered himself “rotten to the core” and hopeless. Practicing Falun Gong turned him into a new person—he became considerate and tolerant of others. Liu said he was fortunate to become a practitioner and to have a new beginning.

Due to the persecution policy, he was detained and tortured many times. At Fanjiatai Prison, he was severely beaten, tortured, and forcibly given unknown drugs. After more than 700 days of mistreatment, he was nearly blind and his lower body was paralyzed. Many wounds and bruises covered his body; he had herpes simplex on his hands, legs, and back. His mind was not clear and he was unable to speak.

Liu died on July 7, 2012, at the age of 56.

Life-Changing Experience

With the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, Falun Gong can change a bad person into a good one, and make a good person become better. Here is another example.

“The year 2006 was the darkest time of my life. I was completely overcome by my drug addiction. I had returned home to the countryside with a body covered in gun and knife wounds that I had accumulated over years of gang fights. With tears in her eyes, my mother had remarked with resentment, 'Had I known you’d grow up to become a gang member, I’d have killed you the moment you were born! I would have jumped into a pond with you and killed both of us if I'd had the strength to do so.'”

This was a former gang member's experience. He remembers feeling hopeless at that time and waiting only for death.

His mother introduced Falun Gong to him. She had seen her other son's health benefit greatly from the practice. “My brother gave me the book Zhuan Falun, and I read it through three times. This book taught me how to improve as a human being. I clung to my mother’s shoulder and cried like a baby, wishing I had read it earlier,” he wrote.

The changes were quick and surprising. Within two weeks of reading Falun Gong's teachings, the swelling in his legs disappeared and his strength had returned. His drug addiction was also completely cured.

Since then, the former gang member has not only become a good person but also helps others by telling them about the benefits of the practice. He has been arrested several times and imprisoned again, but nothing is able to stop him from following his righteous belief.