FALUN GONG’S PEACEFUL RESISTANCE TO 20 YEARS OF PERSECUTION: A TESTAMENT TO THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE
BY EDITORIAL BOARD, THE EPOCH TIMES
History finds itself in repetition. Two thousand years ago, the Roman tyrant Nero set a fire in his imperial capital, attempting to pass blame on the Christians and eradicate their faith. Twenty centuries later, on July 20 of 1999, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin launched a persecution of Falun Gong and its tens of millions of adherents. A wave of terror engulfed the entire country.
In the face of an unprecedented onslaught that applied every technique developed by the Communist Party throughout its long history of political repression, Falun Gong practitioners did not back down. Instead, they embarked on a historic journey of peaceful disobedience to the persecution, persevering through lies and torture with their faith in the universal values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Over the last 20 years, this millions-strong community of unarmed meditators has forged a remarkable path. As truth and justice came under vicious communist assault, Falun Gong practitioners offered their own flesh and blood in defense. Truth and justice prevailed.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, was introduced to the public on May 13, 1992 by founder Li Hongzhi. The teachings of Falun Gong are based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Its five sets of meditation exercises spread rapidly throughout China by word of mouth, as people experienced miracles of health and moral improvement.
Falun Gong awakened the Chinese people’s deep-rooted spirituality and a longing for traditional values that had been lost under decades of communist rule. The practice and its teachings guided them towards refinement of their character, while uplifting the moral state of secular Chinese society.
Throughout the 1990s, Falun Gong practitioners doing their morning exercises to serene meditation music could be seen everywhere, from the biggest metropolises to towns in the countryside. In early 1999, a Chinese government estimate put the number of Falun Gong practitioners at 70 to 100 million people. An investigation conducted by a senior Chinese official concluded that Falun Gong had brought “countless benefits to the nation and the people, and not a single harm.”
However, the sheer number of people who had taken up Falun Gong, as well as the influence it was having on society became a thorn in Jiang’s side. Feeling threatened by the movement’s popularity, and perceiving his political power to be at risk, Jiang planned and launched a campaign to eradicate the practice as a threat to the atheist ideology of the Communist Party. The CCP had effectively declared war on millions of people, coming from all walks of life, who professed faith in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
In the two decades that followed, the persecution of Falun Gong has proven to be among history’s most severe cases of crimes against humanity, and in some respects, unprecedented in the depths to which its perpetrators have sunk in carrying out their despicable acts. All of China has fallen victim to this catastrophe.
Policies of Genocide
On June 7, 1999, in anticipation of the anti-Falun Gong campaign, Jiang gave direct orders to establish an extra-legal Party organization for the purpose of coordinating and directing the coming repression via nationwide branches. Known as the 610 Office for the date of its creation on June 10, its structure and functions were comparable to that of the infamous Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
Jiang declared that he would eliminate Falun Gong within three months by targeting practitioners’ reputations, seizing their wealth, and attacking them physically. Practitioners murdered as a result of persecution were to be declared victims of suicide and cremated immediately, without identification. The Chinese regime mobilized all resources available to it—including the courts, propaganda departments, cultural and political institutions, and schools—in its effort to destroy Falun Gong.
State-run media—television, radio, newspapers, and later the internet—at all levels served the CCP to produce fake news slandering Falun Gong’s teachings, defaming its founder, and dehumanizing its adherents. The hate campaign manufactured many hoaxes, such as the “1400 deaths” supposedly caused by practicing Falun Gong, the staged self-immolation at Tiananmen, and claims that Falun Gong was a threat to the Party orchestrated by overseas “anti-China forces.”
The CCP also extended its propaganda overseas to demonize Falun Gong and politicize the issue. Many international media outlets repeated the pejoratives and narratives crafted by the CCP to frame Falun Gong, effectively pushing the persecution to the global stage by priming audiences to misunderstand or feel hostility towards the practice.
The Chinese regime under Jiang’s leadership made liberal use of extreme violence, constant propaganda, and inhuman brainwashing tactics in its bid to force Falun Gong practitioners to choose between their faith or their lives. Over the course of the persecution, millions of people have been imprisoned or held in labor camps, detention centers, insane asylums, drug rehabilitation facilities, or unofficial “black jails” for refusing to give up their belief. Human rights groups have documented over 100 methods of torture used by the Chinese authorities to persecute Falun Gong, as well as the use of toxic, nerve-damaging substances. Many practitioners died, were maimed, or went insane as a result of this abuse.
The number of deaths caused by the persecution is difficult to estimate, due to the difficulty of transmitting information out of mainland China. Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website founded by Falun Gong practitioners to document the persecution, has confirmed and verified the deaths of 4,322 people at the hands of the authorities for refusing to abandon their faith in Falun Gong.
However, this incomplete statistic is just a fragment of a much more distressing reality, as many deaths have gone unreported, or due to the victims having been murdered under conditions of utmost secrecy—such as for the harvesting of their organs.
Besides physical and psychological torture, the Communist Party also imposed measures to shut Falun Gong out of public life. Adherents were fired from their jobs, expelled from school or college, or deprived of pensions and other welfare benefits. Relatives of practitioners have also endured great suffering, with the repression having broken up countless families.
Chinese human rights lawyers have urged the international community to recognize the persecution of Falun Gong as the world’s most severe abuse of human rights, which in its scale and viciousness is comparable to, and in respects has far exceeded that of a war.
Forced Organ Harvesting
An increasing number of reports and studies show that the CCP has been murdering Falun Gong practitioners and other victims in an unprecedented act of evil: forced organ harvesting.
Since 1999, the number of Chinese organ transplants performed annually has increased dramatically. Many doctors in Chinese hospitals have admitted to investigators posing as prospective transplant tourists that the organs they provide come from Falun Gong practitioners.
In March 2006, a woman from northeast China living in the United States became the first witness to speak out about organ harvesting, when she testified that her ex-husband had removed the corneas of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners since the early 2000s.
In the years since, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) and other independent organizations have conducted extensive investigations and verified the organ harvesting allegations. One investigator called it a crime “never before seen on this planet.”
On December 12, 2013, the European Parliament passed an urgent resolution demanding the Chinese authorities bring an immediate end to the practice of forced organ harvesting and release all prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong practitioners.
On May 19, 2016, WOIPFG published a comprehensive report that provided investigative phone recordings as well as other forms of evidence to show that organ harvesting was taking place with state support, and had been ordered personally by Jiang.
On June 13, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 343 to condemn the forced organ harvesting practice in China.
On June 22, 2016, investigators David Kilgour, David Matas, and Ethan Gutmann jointly published a 700-page report on forced organ harvesting in China. They estimated that Chinese hospitals performed 60,000 to 100,000 transplant surgeries on an annual basis, and that the chief source of donors were Falun Gong practitioners.
On June 17 this year, an independent people’s tribunal consisting of a panel of lawyers and experts ruled, “Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main – source of organ supply.”
The persecution of innocent Falun Gong practitioners over the past two decades has consumed an enormous amount of financial, human, and societal resources, while costing the Chinese state and people an incalculable fortune.
According to investigations by the WOIPFG, China spent an average of nearly one-quarter of its annual revenue to suppress Falun Gong during the peak years of the persecution. Another source indicated that the CCP mobilized resources equal to three-quarters of China’s GDP to maintain the persecution of Falun Gong. An official from China’s Ministry of Finance admitted that “the policy of suppressing Falun Gong was sustained by a generous amount of funding. Without this money, it would be impossible to sustain the crackdown.”
The Jiang clique mobilized millions of personnel to carry out the persecution. The salaries, bonus wages, overtime pay, and other benefits alloted to this group exceeded 100 billion yuan in annual expenditure.
Examples of other costs associated with suppressing Falun Gong include the use of financial rewards encouraging ordinary citizens to report practitioners to the authorities, the hiring of overseas agents and thugs to stalk and harass Falun Gong communities abroad, purchases of overseas Chinese-language media to defame Falun Gong, and foreign aid offered to developing countries in exchange for supporting China’s human rights record at the United Nations and in other international fora.
Abusing the Law
Freedom of belief is guaranteed by the Chinese constitution, and no law bans Falun Gong. However, benign exercises of this freedom, such as possessing a copy of Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong, downloading Falun Gong materials from the internet, doing the meditation exercises of Falun Gong, or talking to others about the practice are all activities that carry the risk of severe punishment.
On Oct. 30, 1999, Jiang hastily ordered the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, to pass a law banning “evil cults” so as to lend the persecution a veneer of legitimacy.
Chinese human rights lawyers consider the anti-Falun Gong campaign to be illegal, as it both violates the Chinese constitution and stems from the personal will of Jiang Zemin. The use of Article 300 in the Criminal Law to charge and sentence Falun Gong practitioners is a misapplication of the law, while the 610 Office established on Jiang’s orders itself was an organization that, until its purported dissolution this year, operated outside legal boundaries.
The 610 office is led by the CCP’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) which oversees the entire public security, procuratorate, and judicial system. This gave the 610 office the ability to manipulate China’s legal system and make it a potent force in the persecution. Meanwhile, by turning judicial staff and law enforcement personnel into violators of the law, the CCP wrought widespread and lasting damage to the Chinese legal system.
The massive legal violations required to carry out the persecution of Falun Gong has impacted various other groups, such as dissidents, other religious prisoners, human rights lawyers, and ordinary Chinese citizens. The PLAC’s misuse of the law also created opportunities for corruption, which have been exploited by members of the Jiang faction and other officials in the CCP’s system of unchecked power.
China in Moral Crisis
The Communist Party’s onslaught against the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance has dragged China and the Chinese people into a moral abyss. In this sense, the true victims of the CCP’s persecution are the ordinary Chinese who have been poisoned by its lies and propaganda.
In order to fuel the persecution of Falun Gong, Jiang resorted to corruption to govern China. He and his allies secured officials’ loyalty with opportunities for promotion, as well as opportunities for illicit profit. Party officials who were the most active and vicious in persecuting Falun Gong were promoted to high ranks, while the informants, hired thugs, and prison inmates who beat and abused Falun Gong practitioners were given rewards for carrying out their crimes. Some police officers, when arresting practitioners, admitted openly that vices like prostitution and gambling were of no concern to them, but truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance could not be permitted.
Countless people have become the CCP’s accomplices during the course of the persecution, including law enforcement personnel, media workers, and medical staff who participate in organ harvesting. Many of them have lost their conscience in following the Party’s monstrous crimes against humanity.
Internationally, the Jiang clique exported hatred while bribing and threatening governments, media, and foreign enterprises into turning a blind eye to or even aiding the persecution. Tying economic relations and profit to the issue of human rights, the CCP trained foreign countries and businesses to remain silent on the Party’s genocidal behavior. In some cases, the Jiang faction has even sold out China’s sovereignty in exchange for foreign support.
Punishing good and promoting evil, the CCP has thrown open the gates of hell. In today’s China, corruption and amorality plague society, contributing to the pollution and fake or poisoned products that scour the physical environment. The entire country suffers from a dearth of trust that has only worsened as the CCP’s misrule drags on.
The Significance of Peaceful Resistance
Over the past two decades, Falun Gong practitioners inside and outside of mainland China have used every means available to them to raise awareness about the CCP’s persecution. Despite the severity of the persecution, millions of Falun Gong practitioners remain active in mainland China, and in the 20 years of repression have proven an unbreakable resilience.
These unyielding efforts have inspired others to stand up for their rights and beliefs in the face of the Communist Party’s tyranny. Meanwhile, in revealing the nature of the Party itself, Falun Gong practitioners have shown the world a way to peacefully disintegrate the CCP and return to a culture of tradition and righteousness, making a selfless and enduring contribution to human conscience and morality.
Courage to Speak Out for the Truth
From the start of the persecution in 1999, more than 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners, sometimes together with their entire families, have traveled to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, risking their lives and freedom to tell the authorities “Falun Dafa hao”—“Falun Dafa is good.”
Other practitioners hosted press conferences, jammed television signals in mainland China to broadcast programs that rebuked the CCPs’ lies, hung up posters and banners on the streets, or printed out books and other materials to raise awareness about Falun Gong and the persecution by clarifying the facts face-to-face.
Abroad, Falun Gong practitioners visit governments and human rights organizations, established media companies, organize rallies and demonstrations, developed software to break through Chinese internet censorship, and reached ordinary Chinese via phone and fax. In many countries, Falun Gong practitioners can be seen holding up banners and practicing meditation outside the Chinese consulates and embassies. They have clarified the facts to at tourist sites, focusing their efforts on Chinese citizens traveling abroad in free societies.
A decade ago, an American report predicted that the software developed by the Falun Gong practitioners would tear down what it termed the Berlin Wall of the 21st century.
Indeed, the seemingly impenetrable red wall of deception is about to crumble.
Falun Gong practitioners’ courage has inspired many Chinese to stand up for human rights, helping prepare Chinese society to deal with the moral crisis of communist rule. Many Chinese, upon becoming aware of the facts, have changed their perceptions of Falun Gong, and started to express sympathy, support, and admiration Falun Gong. Many more started practicing Falun Gong themselves. For over 10 years, over 100 righteous Chinese lawyers have risked their own safety to defend Falun Gong practitioners in court. Many Chinese have participated in the rescue of Falun Gong practitioners arrested by the authorities. Even some police officers, Party officials, and members of the judicial system have chosen to stand on the side of justice, following their conscience rather than participate in the persecution of Falun Gong.
One media professional in mainland China commented that Falun Gong practitioners were fighting for the freedom of belief on behalf of all humanity. During important Chinese holidays, many people who don’t practice Falun Gong have expressed their gratitude and greetings to its founder Li Hongzhi, expressing their appreciation for the contributions of Falun Dafa, as well as wishes for the day that Chinese can once again practice it freely.
Recently, governments and officials around the world, including those of the United States, Canada, European Union, and Taiwan have publicly condemned the CCP for its abuse of religious freedom. They have urged it to immediately stop the persecution and organ harvesting, and to release all Falun Gong practitioners currently in detention.
Falun Gong has spread beyond China to over 100 countries and regions, finding millions of adherents from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Many have discovered in Falun Gong the answers to their lifelong spiritual needs, while Chinese tourists often express surprise that Falun Gong is being practiced all over the world. Some have told Falun Gong practitioners: “you are angels sent by God, and are the hope for China.”
In the course of persecuting Falun Gong, the CCP has committed acts of heinous violence and spread enormous lies. The methods and nature of the repression was prefaced in campaign after campaign of the Communist Party’s 70-year-long rule over China.
In November 2004, to expose the CCP’s totalitarian regime, the destruction it has brought to the Chinese nation, and how it undermines the international order, Falun Gong practitioners began distributing the “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party” in China and beyond. They also started the nonviolent “Tuidang” (Withdraw from the Communist Party) movement encouraging Chinese to renounce their affiliations with the CCP and its two youth organizations.
The “Nine Commentaries” and the Tuidang movement are dissolving the CCP and changing China.
An ideological struggle between the free world and the global communist movement raged throughout the last century, triggering wars and conflict that shaped our modern world. Simultaneously, this struggle has served as a test for the strength of human conscience and morality.
The “Nine Commentaries” published by The Epoch Times, expressed clearly for the first time the nature of communism as an evil specter that opposes Heaven, Earth, and mankind. The “Nine Commentaries” told the inside story of how the CCP and Jiang Zemin acted out of mutual interest to persecute Falun Gong, and how the CCP’s repression of the Buddha school teaching and its practitioners would lead to its own ultimate collapse.
In November 2017, the authors of the “Nine Commentaries” published a new book, “The Ultimate Goal of Communism,” followed the next year by “How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World.” These works describe in detail the nature of communism as an evil specter, as well as its final aim of destroying humankind through the eradication of its traditional culture and faith in the divine.
Falun Gong practitioners’ resistance in the face of the CCP’s persecution, their dissemination of the “Nine Commentaries,” and promotion of the Tuidang movement to withdraw from the CCP encourages people to draw a line between themselves and the Party. This is nothing less than rescuing the souls claimed by the specter of communism, defeating the communist assault on morality and faith, and delivering humanity from destruction.
Reviving Tradition and Passing On Hope
In traditional culture, faith in God is the foundation of civilization and morality. Traditional values provide people with codes of conduct, ensuring the stable development of society. However, the CCP’s opposition to heaven, earth, and humanity, and its destruction of tradition and faith threatens human harmony.
While exposing the CCP, Falun Gong practitioners have at the same time committed themselves to restoring traditional culture, rebuilding morality, and bringing humanity out from the traps of atheism, the theory of evolution, and spiritual decline to return to the righteous path.
Since 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts have toured the world each year and can be said to be the significant cultural event of our time. This last season, lasting from Dec. 12, 2018, to May 12, 2019, Shen Yun’s six companies held nearly 670 performances in 150 cities, reaching an audience of millions. Most venues were sold out, and the show garnered an overwhelmingly positive reception.
Shen Yun revives the traditional art forms of human culture and promotes traditional values. It brings patrons an upright and beautiful artistic experience permeated with a pure message: to return to the right path and maintain hearts of compassion.
The CCP Is Headed for Collapse
The Communist Party persecuted Falun Gong for exactly 20 years, and in doing so, has sealed its own fate.
Since 2000, Falun Gong practitioners have taken a series of legal actions against the Party’s worst abusers, including filing criminal complaints in nearly 20 countries. Those sued include Jiang himself for his chief role in launching the persecution, as well as affiliated officials Luo Gan, Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Zeng Qinghong and other main offenders. Practitioners have also filed criminal complaints and civil suits against officials serving in Chinese embassies and consulates.
According to Minghui, since May 2015, at least 209,900 Falun Gong practitioners and their family members have filed lawsuits against Jiang Zemin, submitting their cases to the highest judicial organs of the Chinese state. The crimes include “crime against humanity”, “crime of torture” and “genocide”.
Up until the beginning of December 2018, a total of 34 countries and more than 3.03 million people across the world have reported Jiang Zemin’s anti-human crimes of persecuting Falun Gong to the CCP’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Supreme People’s Court, while demanding that Jiang be brought to justice.
Good is rewarded and evil is met with retribution. Minghui and other media have documented tens of thousands of cases of CCP officials who persecuted Falun Gong. Many of them have come to grief, including being purged and imprisoned, suffered serious illness, or other forms of retribution.
On May 31 this year, Minghui published a notice saying the U.S. government would be applying more stringent review of applications for travel visas. Those responsible for severe violations of religious freedom may be denied visas, and those who have already been issued visas could be denied entry. According to the notice, U.S. State Department officials told Falun Gong practitioners in the United States that they may submit lists of those involved in the persecution of Falun Gong.
On June 3, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing posted an introduction to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Law on its Weibo social media account. The law stipulates that all officials and their accomplices who commit human rights persecution are potentially subject to American sanctions, including visa restrictions and freezing of U.S.-based offshore assets.
On June 5, WOIPFG issued the notice titled “A Comprehensive Collection of a List of Criminals and Crimes Committed in the CCP’s Persecution of Falun Gong.”
The notice “calls all righteous people around the world to take immediate action” in helping compile the list “in order to provide evidence for the upcoming major trial that will systematically track and bring to justice the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Jiang Zemin faction.”
The CCP is currently beset with turmoil at home and abroad. Civil grievances are boiling over in incessant “mass incidents” of demonstration, protest, and rioting that are proving impossible to suppress fully.
Meanwhile, the CCP has hit a wall in numerous arenas, from the U.S.–China trade war, technological theft, diplomacy, military issues, culture, and media. From the mainland to Hong Kong, and then to Taiwan and beyond, the forces of justice are rallying. The surging wave of resistance to the CCP is bringing on the collapse of communist tyranny in China.
History Is in the Making
Nero committed arson and framed the Christians, yet he could not stop the spread of a righteous faith. In modern times, at the turn of the last century, the Communist Party’s launching of its persecution of Falun Gong created a great battle between good and evil.
This is no accident. Today, history has shown that where the CCP wreaks tragedy and destruction, Falun Gong offers hope and redemption.
Let this July 20, the 20th anniversary of a day filled with darkness beyond compare, serve as a reminder not to ignore the sins of tyranny, and not to neglect the calls of our conscience. Millions of people have yet to awaken to the nature of communism and the CCP; they do not know the consequences of shaking hands with the devil.
At this moment, large numbers of innocent Falun Gong practitioners are still suffering in the cells of prisons and labor camps, where they face the threat of torture and even organ harvesting. The persecution must end, and every day it continues is a day that communism continues to triumph over the human conscience.
We commemorate all the Falun Gong practitioners who have given their lives for the sake of freedom and truth. We hope that more people can cherish the precious truths that those spiritual cultivators validated through their selfless sacrifice; that they may choose goodness, reject evil, and stand on the side of justice.
It has been 20 years since the practitioners of Falun Gong began their peaceful appeal against the brutal violence meted out by a totalitarian regime. They have held up the torch of hope to break through the darkness of persecution. Their will to persevere are the legends of our generation, to be etched in eternal record and retold for ages to come.