Sat, Mar 02, 2002 - Page 8 News List

Falun Gong members deserve help

By Chang Ching-hsi 張清溪

A day before US President George W. Bush's visit to China, the US embassy in Beijing lodged an official complaint with the Chinese government regarding the inappropriate treatment suffered by American Falun Gung members when they were recently arrested by Beijing police.

Many Western Falun Gong members recently traveled to Tiananmen Square to demand that China respect basic human rights and stop its suppression of Falun Gong members. Perhaps because the number of the Westerners exceeded Chinese expectations, they suffered the same kind of abuse as their Chinese counterparts. Even when they weren't doing anything and were just in their hotel rooms, they were arrested.

Since the Chinese leadership started its all-out suppression of the Falun Gong movement in July 1999, merely practicing Falun Gong has resulted in expulsion from schools, party and public positions, discontinuation of retirement pensions, house raids, confiscation of property and arrests. Some have been sent to mental hospitals, labor reform camps and others have been persecuted to death.

Some reports say 369 Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted to death in China, over 500 others have been illegally sentenced, more than 1,000 have been forced into mental hospitals, over 20,000 have been sent to labor camps without due process of law and more than 100,000 have been arrested or thrown into jail.

In addition, innumerable practitioners have been beaten by law-enforcement personnel and had their families separated and their family, friends and co-workers have been implicated in their "crime."

Yet sect members only have to sign a written guarantee that they will no longer practice Falun Gong and they are then let go. So what does practicing Falun Gong really mean? And how come it scares Chines authorities to such an extent?

Falun Gong was founded by Li Hongzhi (李洪志) in his lectures and chi kung teachings in May 1992. By the end of 1994, he had taught 53 study classes in various provinces throughout China. Over 20,000 people heard his teachings. After that, local instruction stations spread rapidly, teaching chi kung and showing videotapes of Li's lectures.

Two years later, perhaps because membership had grown so fast, different levels of suppression began to take place in China. For example, beginning in 1996, the display and sale of Falun Gong books was banned.

Not until July 1999, however, did the Chinese government begin all-out suppression. Before this occurred, the Chinese public security system had sent out its people to investigate and infiltrate the group. According to Chinese statistics, there were between 70 million and 100 million Falun Gong members by the end of 1998. We guess that this is why the government decided to suppress the movement.

The Chinese Communist Party started out by organizing mass movements, so the masses are what they fear most. The fact that the number of Falun Gong practitioners today actually has surpassed total Communist Party membership (estimated at 40 million to 50 million members) may have made the party uneasy.

Falun Gong sees "truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance" as the highest universal principles, teaching practitioners that they should start out by being good people and that they should not get involved in state politics. Aren't such practitioners good for any nation or society? How come the Chinese government instead wants to use its state propaganda and public security systems to crack down on and even try to eliminate the Falun Gong?

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