In the one year since that gathering, we have come to witness the Chinese Government execute one of the largest, harshest, and most arbitrary of persecutions in modern history. On July 22nd, Chinese leaders turned their country upside down with their decision to ban the practice of Falun Gong. In the middle of the night practitioners around the country were dragged from their homes, arrested, detained, and even beaten, commencing the first wave of oppression. In the following days, thousands of law-abiding Falun Gong practitioners would be arrested for merely trying to appeal the ban, despite appeals being a legal, constitutionally-enshrined right.
During the ensuing nine months practitioners in China have faired little better. Over 35,000 practitioners of Falun Gong have been arrested and detained for their practice, while another 5,000 have been sent without trial to labor camps. Still others have received harsh prison sentences of up to 18 years. Numerous others have been vanquished to mental hospitals for nuanced torture. An estimated 10,000 university students must now choose between their practice and losing their education, while any high-school student who continues to practice must forgo what would have been his or her college education. Millions of Falun Gong books, videos, and audio tapes have been confiscated and destroyed. Confirmed reports of torture and inhumane treatment grow by the day, with instruments of punishment including electric batons, cattle prods, anti-psychotic drugs, the “prison in hell” device, forced abortions, beatings of every sort, and even sanctioned rape. To date, fifteen practitioners have died in custody, most, if not all, by way of torture. Many others have been stripped of their jobs, homes, education, and even family. With over 70 million people in China practicing Falun Gong as of early 1999, the social upheaval caused by the ban is hard to fathom. Hardly anyone has gone unaffected.
Falun Gong practitioners have no political interests whatsoever. They merely strive to cultivate “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance” in daily life, while their qigong exercises give them desired health. Practitioners are good, law-abiding citizens from all walks of life. Through all this, no practitioners have resorted to violence?despite their bearing inhumane offenses. According to official Chinese sources, practitioners continue to appeal every day at Tiananmen Square and visit the appeals offices. Their belief is that if officials only knew how good this practice is, there would be no way to oppose it. Many have risked their lives to publicize the truth.
While a growing number of international organizations and governments have been unequivocal in their criticism of China’s actions, there appears no end in sight to the persecution. We reiterate our call for a peaceful dialogue with the Chinese Government, and ask for the support of all good people and institutions around the world. A peaceful resolution would benefit not only practitioners, but also the entire people of China and their government.