Over 100 million citizens of China are being accused of criminal activity for practicing Falun Gong also known as Falun Dafa, which is the practice of refining the body and mind through special exercises and meditation.
The former leader of China, Jiang Zemin, banned the practice of Falun Gong in 1999. Since then millions of Chinese citizens who participate in this practice have been illegally arrested, detained, and/or abused by Chinese police. It has been reported that between 200,000 and 1 million people have been illegally sent to labor camps without trials and over 38,000 cases of server torture and abuse have been reported to global human rights workers.
Falun Gong is a traditional spiritual practice of exercise and meditation that was founded by Mr. Li Hongzhi and introduced to the public only 14 years ago. Through practicing Falun Gong, one strives to become a better person who is able to contribute more to society. Falun Gong is not a religion but more specifically referred to as an ancient form of self-cultivation, often recognized as qigong or "Chinese Yoga." The practice began in 1992 and spread by word of mouth throughout China. Falun Gong is now practiced in over 60 countries worldwide.
Jiang Zemin one of China’s former top leaders, feared that Falun Gong’s widespread popularity was overshadowing his own legacy. He developed a systematic campaign to eradicate Falun Gong in which he permits all aspects of society and utilizes all government departments and agencies to suppress Falun Gong. He established the “6-10 Office,” which is a Gestapo-like agency, with the power to implement the eradication policy nationwide.
Since this system was established, more than 500 Chinese citizens have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 18 years and at least 1,128 deaths through police abuse and torture have been confirmed. Although government sources inside China have indicated that the actual number could be has high as 7,000 or more.
“…Ten men were directed to attack me. They surrounded me and started punching me in my face and abdomen…One of the men was screaming, ‘I am going to beat you to death!’” a statement made by a Falun Gong practitioner Li Jun.
Chinese citizens have responded to their government harsh appeals to oppress this practice by petitioning to the Chinese government through peaceful, legal channels, and have resisted the persecution with nonviolent public protests. Many of these protests have lead to the citizens being imprisoned, tortured, and murdered at the hands of Chinese police.
“Falun Gong is… the greatest single spiritual movement in Asia today. There is nothing that begins to compare with it in courage and importance,’ said Mark Palmer, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and 26-year veteran of the U.S. State Department.
The United States government has responded to this case of human rights violations by unanimously passing resolution 218, which condemned Beijing’s actions and called for the immediate release of all jailed practitioners. Former Secretary of State Powell passed an even stronger resolution, HR 188, in July 2002. Powell spoke out and issued statements on the persecution of Falun Gong.
Governments worldwide have responded in the same fashion along with human rights groups and organizations including, Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, and the National Organization for Women.