Falun, but not forgotten

Falun Gong

Photo by Larry Dalton

Falun Gong is an ancient Chinese self-cultivation practice that millions of people worldwide say brings them inner clarity. In July 1999, the Chinese government declared the practice a cult and a threat to the Communist Party and began a venomous campaign to wipe it out. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been detained for practicing the peaceful, nonpolitical art. According to the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group, more than 100,000 people have been sent to labor camps, without first having been given a trial, and at least 550 have been killed. Pamela Liu, a volunteer for Falun Gong activities in Sacramento, can be found in McKinley Park every Saturday and Sunday from 8:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. teaching the art and spreading the word to increase public support for the practice. For more information on local Falun Gong activities, go to www.falunworld.com.

What is Falun Gong?

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a slow-motion meditation exercise for self-improvement. It’s very good for health and personal insight. We have three principles that we follow: truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance. Forbearance is like caring and compassion. Falun Gong can help you become a better family member, citizen, employee or community member. It’s not a religion, and it’s free of cost for anyone.

When did people start practicing it?

It was brought to the public in May of 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi, and since then, there are more than 70 to 100 million people practicing it in China. We can’t tell exactly how many because so many people are being persecuted for doing it. It’s even getting harder for people to do in their homes because there is a policy running in China that as a neighbor, friend and citizen, you must report anyone practicing it. Once the government knows you are a Falun Gong practitioner, you must denounce Falun Gong to be released. Otherwise, you will be arrested, sent to work camps or even killed. We know that at least 550 practitioners have been tortured to death.

Have you seen reports about brutality?

In the Washington Post, they had an article about a woman who was forced to run in the very cold wintertime. They would beat her and force her to run outside, and after that, they would ask her, “Do you still want to practice Falun Gong?” And she would say, “Yes,” and then they would torture her more and beat her more. And then finally, they poured cold water on her and made her run outside again. Finally, she couldn’t walk, so she started crawling, and they asked her again, “Do you still want to practice this?” And she said, “Yes, it’s good,” and finally she just couldn’t move anymore. They beat her to death. I think that’s the first murder case we heard about, but there are many cases like that. They use electric shock, murder, execution, torture, violence against women, forced abortions, beating nursing mothers—it’s really quite shocking. It’s hard to think that someone human could do these things.

Have you felt any effects of persecution here in the United States?

In June 2002, I went to Iceland because we had heard that the Chinese president was going to be there, and we wanted to peacefully appeal the Chinese officials and tell them that the Falun Gong practitioners are peaceful, good and innocent people. At Boston’s Logan Airport, I was trying to get on Icelandair, and I was denied boarding. They told me that my name was on a list. I asked them what kind of list, and they couldn’t tell me. I think that I was blacklisted by the Chinese government—that they sent a list of people active overseas. I am a United States citizen, and I don’t have the freedom to travel. That has happened to several Falun Gong practitioners. You can see how it has spread overseas even into places of freedom, like our country.

What can people do to help?

A lot of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners don’t have voices. They can’t speak out. When the Chinese government finds out that they practice, they can be sent labor camps. There is a special system where the Chinese government can send people to labor camps for up to three years without any trial. We are asking people to let their families, co-workers and friends know the truth about Falun Gong. Also, people can contact their senators and representatives and ask them to use their position to help stop the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. We feel that because we are outside of China, in a country with freedom, we can help our fellow Falun Gong practitioners. I hope all kind-hearted people can do something to help Falun Gong practitioners in China because they cannot have their voices heard.