JULY 20, 2000

If you have been following the dramatic Falun Gong story this past year, you have seen three Chinese characters with the English words "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance" on our banners, our web sites, and in our speeches and statements. "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance" is neither a motto nor a marketing slogan; "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance" is how Falun Gong practitioners endeavor to act and what we endeavor to become at every moment. We understand "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance" to be both the foundation of and the highest principles in the universe, and we work to bring ourselves into harmony with these principles.

One year ago this week, the government of China declared the practice of Falun Gong to be illegal. The Communist rulers of the most populous nation on earth banned a practice that not only promotes health and moral behavior among its citizens, but also prominently declares "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance" to be its guiding principles. What does this say about the hearts and intentions of the current rulers of China?

The campaign of ruthless suppression against Falun Gong practitioners in China began a year ago with midnight arrests. Tens of thousands have been arrested and detained since then, including several American citizens and citizens of other nations. In Beijing alone, 35,000 arrests were made during the period from July to October 1999, as confirmed in a speech by Vice Premier Li Lanqing. In June of this year, more than 1200 practitioners were arrested in nine provinces when they began doing Falun Gong's gentle exercises in public.

While being arrested, practitioners have never violently resisted or retaliated, yet they have often been beaten, kicked, punched, or dragged by the hair, regardless of age or physical condition. The physical abuse once inside detention facilities escalates into torture. Battering; rape; denial of food, sleep, and toilet use; exposure to extreme heat or cold; burning with cigarettes and heated metal; electric shocks these are just some of the recorded means of torture employed. One woman in Jiangxi Province was forced by her captors to have an abortion, in order to prolong her detention. In June, Ms. Zhao Xin, a 32-year-old lecturer in economics at Beijing Business University, was brutally beaten by the police, to the point where several vertebrae were crushed, and there is still no word of her having regained consciousness since the surgery for her injury.á

At least 24 Falun Gong practitioners have died in custody, including Zhao Jinhua, a 42-year-old farmer who was tortured to death, and then cremated in an attempt to hide the evidence. The fates of thousands of others are not yet known. This suppression campaign has also included the sentencing of at least 5000 to labor camps without trial; detention and drugging in psychiatric hospitals; show-trials of more than 500, often without benefit of legal representation and resulting in prison sentences of up to 18 years; loss of housing, jobs, education, and pensions; surveillance, harassment, and ransacking of homes. The latter punishments often extend even to family members who do not practice Falun Gong.á

Millions of Falun Gong books have been burned or otherwise destroyed in public spectacles. Recent attempts by Falun Gong practitioners to broadcast short-wave radio programs into China have been jammed. To cover up its violations of the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners, China has taken extensive steps to shut down Internet access and jam or wiretap phone calls, even outside of China. This year US News & World Report featured an investigation finding that the Xin An Information Service Center in Beijing China's secret police attacked U.S. Department of Transportation computers via a Falun Gong Web site in New York. The so-called Information Service Center even managed to shut down the Cal Tech university Web site for a few days, due to its having a link to a student Falun Gong group.á

The state-controlled media in China has transmitted and printed a constant stream of fabrications, distortions, and patent untruths regarding Falun Gong. President Jiang Zemin himself handed President Bill Clinton a package of propaganda about Falun Gong when they met last year. Without access to a free press of the kind that we are guaranteed in America, the Chinese people are misled and misinformed about a practice that is peaceful, positive, and of great benefit to many, both in China and around the world. Those Chinese practitioners who have attempted to disclose the truth to the Western media and the world have been handed prison sentences on the pretext of "leaking state secrets."

But through all of this all of the harassment, deceit, and torture Falun Gong practitioners have held constant to "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance":á

Truthfulness, in those who've walked thousands of miles to Beijing simply to tell officials, "Falun Gong is good."

Benevolence, in those who've endured inhumane and unjust treatment without hatred or anger in their hearts, but with compassion towards their oppressors.á

Forbearance, in those who've remained firm to all three of these principles in the face of shocks with cattle prods, severe beatings, and even death.

The only laws these practitioners have broken are the laws passed last year expressly for making Falun Gong illegal, laws which have even been applied retroactively at times. Practitioners are arrested and subject to inhumane treatment simply for exercising their constitutional rights to appeal to the government. Yet they continue courageously speaking out, and when they are mistreated for doing so even tortured they respond only with kindness.

What are the ways in which all practitioners strive to conform to "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance?" We perform five simple, peaceful exercises including meditation, all of which any practitioner will teach to those interested. More importantly, we bring the principles into our daily interactions with others in our normal lives of work, friends, and family.á

We are grateful for the fair-mindedness of the American media and its diligence in presenting all sides of a story. We would like to remind you that all of us who serve as public spokespersons and all Falun Gong practitioners who work to tell the truth about Falun Gong are volunteers. There is no paid staff, and we lack the enormous resources of the Chinese government's propaganda machine. Falun Gong collects no fees and no dues. All events, when they require expenditures, are funded voluntarily through of the generosity of practitioners.

Last November the U.S. Senate and House both unanimously passed concurrent resolutions condemning China's inhumane treatment of Falun Gong practitioners. President Bill Clinton has forthrightly spoken out for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners. Several prominent human rights organizations such as Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International likewise unequivocally defend the rights of the law-abiding, peaceful practitioners.

Our ongoing request to the Chinese government is that they sit down for a peaceful dialogue with Falun Gong practitioners. We welcome third-party diplomatic initiatives to assist in resolving this crisis. We are encouraged that the international community has extended increasing help and support for the concerns and human rights of Falun Gong practitioners in China. China must be held to the same standards as all United Nations members. We appeal to all UN member states to speak out on this important issue of human rights, defend the rule of law, and urge the Chinese leadership to cease the persecution of its own citizens.

We ask not for vengeance of any kind against the instigators of the suppression campaign that they must live with this weight on their own consciences will be punishment enough. We do not judge those individuals. History will be their judge.

We in America appreciate how fortunate and blessed we are to live in a nation which upholds the precious freedoms of expression, belief, and assembly. We admire the courage of Chinese citizens, such as the more than 18,000 who went out to a park in Guangzhou to do the banned exercises on June 18. They know the potential for drastic mistreatment that could result, yet nevertheless resolutely step forward to let the world know "Falun Gong is good."

On behalf of the millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China, we ask only to have the opportunity to speak face-to-face with government officials in China, to sit down and come to a mutual understanding. We hope that the government will see that not only is it in the best interest of practitioners, but also in their own to mend this schism in the nation. We appeal to all citizens of the world to help us reach a peaceful and just resolution that can soon put an end to this tragedy. Help us find a way for practitioners in China to resume their quiet practice, becoming better people and better citizens as they follow "Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance."