FALUN GONG – a decimated spiritual school in communist China
An article by Mihaela Gheorghiu
Truth–Kindness–Tolerance and a much too popular spiritual school
Li Hongzhi founded Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) in 1992; the school he initiated based on a very simple form of yoga had been very popular for 7 years. The Chinese government controlled Chinese association Qi Qong officially organized conferences kept by Li Hongzhi. The school participated to different expositions and received numerous prizes for “special contributions brought to improving people’s health and mind” as a result of the search made by the government. Groups of persons could be often seen in public parks practising Qi Qong exercises in the open.
A Chinese government’s statistical study shows that the number of the trainees reached 70-100 million in 1999, which is much more than the number of the Chinese communist party members of 60 million only). Thus, the government starts to look at the system’s great popularity as a threat for the political power. Followers begin being prosecuted. At first, they no longer receive authorizations for the practising places; after that, they get fines and are questioned without any reason. Abusive press campaigns continue and some books published by the mentor of the school are forbidden.
This is the way that later proved to be one of the most staggering actions in the modern crusade against spirituality started. And why is that? For the simple reason the school’s existence itself was a threat for those who desperately wanted to hold the power and feared people would get out of their control.
A harsh propaganda against Falun Gong and inhuman tortures for the Followers
In July 1999, the organization is officially banned by the Chinese government under the motive it is a dangerous, illegal (!) and anti-governmental organization. To protect Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi declared then: “we will not resist the government either now or in the future. The others can torture us, we will not torture anybody; we cannot take a human being for our enemy.” And every time his students proved that right, against all extremely harsh follow-up. They have always had a non-violent but dignified and courageous attitude, trying thus to prove their innocence to the government and the whole world.
The anti Falun Gong propaganda lasted 4 hours in the daily TV program for 6 months, a true national brain wash with the goal of turning the people against the followers. All countries around the world received anti Falun Gong propaganda documents full of fake accusations by embassies.
They said that:
– Falun Gong was responsible for the death of 1400 trainees, as they refused medical care in the name of their beliefs or the fact they did not want to accumulate material goods and money. Other mentioned causes were suicides and mental diseases.
– Falun Gong organized illegal meetings that represented a threat to the political stability of the country by “forceful taking over of the public gardens” (!).
– Holding of the normal religious activities (keep in mind that normal means situating between the established norms, not natural and also that the Chinese communist regime is more likely atheist).
– Illegal printing and display of books.
– Disclosure of State secrets by collaboration with USA, for the fact the American associations for protecting human rights defended Falun Gong (!).
It is useless to say none of these accusations were part of the Falun Gong teaching system, as Amnesty International report shows in March 2000.
The idea that destroying Falun Gong was President Jiang Zemin’s personal vendetta that had several disputes with the members of his cabinet was more and more vehiculated. On the other hand, his totalitarian behaviour regarding religious practices was well known. For instance, the same president forbade Christian churches in China and the simple importation of a Bible could bring long years of imprisonment.
In China, Christian churches are labelled as “malefic sects” (!). The motive is the same: those churches do not let themselves be controlled by the state and corrupted by atheistic practices. The environment protection organizations’ representatives receive the same treatment; they are punished for their activities by being sent to labour camp.
About the Falun Gong Followers, the measures taken against them are beyond any imagination. For instance, the following order was given in all prisons, police stations and labour camps: “The torture cases of the Falun Gong Followers that lead to death will not be punished by law. The cases of the Followers that die after torture will be registered as suicides. There is no need to identify the bodies as they will be incinerate.” Scenes that reminded of the Inquisition or Nazi period could be seen on the streets of China: big piles of school’s books were burned or bulldozered. Falun Gong Followers were fired, thrown out of the rented public places and put into jail just for practising a system for raising health and moral quality. The torture methods remind of the Middle Eve: red hot steel burns, cigarettes burns, special bars charged at 3-10.000 volts electrocution, pliers tortures, sleep deprivation for very long periods of time, abusive hospitalization in mental institutions and forced drug administration, labour until exhaustion, sexual abuses of women, beating to death, starvation and so on. Many of those arrested are not trialled. Between a beating and a torture session, trainees are constantly put to “re-education”, being forced to watch propaganda materials that blame the practice and deform the school’s teachings. All these are done “for the people’s benefit”. The authorities try to force the arrested to sign declarations that denounce the school and its practices.
In December 1999, an Amnesty International report estimated 450 Falun Gong Followers put to prison, 600 abusively hospitalized in mental institutions, and 2000 abusively sent to labour camps. The number of the tortured until death persons dramatically increased, going over 1600, starting 2001. These figures represent a very small part of what really happened in China, as all the Falun Gong related news come from Xinhua (New China) agency and are totally distorted. In addition, verifying these data by an independent organization has never been allowed and any external inquiry has been stopped as it could be considered “interfering with China’s internal affairs”.
False collective suicide in January 2001
Things did not stop there. As the associations of human rights protection started asking questions, the Chinese government had to somehow justify its deeds. Without finding a real reason for the done abuses, it made out a devilishly built pretext that could not have failed. All TV broadcastings in the world presented the staggering self-burning of five persons introduced as Falun Gong Followers.
An important detail that deserves being mentioned is the fact that Falun Gong Followers respect a moral behaviour code of a very high level, both in particular and social; it was proved in several occasions. More over, the principles of the practice categorically forbid assault acts towards any kind of life form. Suicide is considered an absolutely unacceptable deed and against the principles of Falun Gong practice.
Although the Chinese government refused an objective and independent inquiry of this incident, there are several proofs on the video shot at the moment of the incident by the Chinese television, in their diabolic attempt of demonstrating the terrible things that happen inside the “sect”. These proofs show it was all done by the Chinese government itself. Let’s study them:
1. Who filmed?
They do not know who did it even though they said it was automatically shot by the cameras in the square area. It is strange that there are only immobile cameras in Tian-an-men square whilst these images are taken by mobile ones and the images are shot from the best angles. At one moment, the silhouette of another cameraman can be distinguished, which means there were several cameras there and their access there was absolutely granted, as they were working with the Police. Later, Chinese authorities contradicted themselves by saying it was CNN that filmed, but CNN declared its teams were arrested at that moment and their cameras confiscated. This appears to have been done in order to block the access of other sources, too.
2. The speed of information publication shows a higher order, previous to their occurring
Immediately after the event, Xinhua (New China), the public press agency controlled by the government, published a report that informed the 5 persons that self-burned belonged to the Falun Gong movement. The speed the news was published with is suspect. It is well known that publishing news by a governmental press agency in China takes a lot of time; it needs several approvals of governmental administrative and control organs’ all hierarchic levels. In this case, such thing did not exist. That makes us consider the release of the event had been approved before it happened (between the brackets, there were TV broadcasts that announced the arrest warrant before the Court of Justice had actually decided that in Gregorian Bivolaru case!)
3. From where did the policemen have extinguishers?
Persons that, instead of helping, calmly stood, as if they protected the area, nearby those in flames can be easily distinguished in the movie. This is totally unnatural under the given circumstances. The fact the policemen were very well informed of what would happen there is also indicated by the existence of the extinguishers. The closest police or fire station is 15 minutes away from the square, and the only explanation is the policemen brought them because they knew a fire was about to take place.
4. One of the women who burned herself died of head injury!
At one moment, a man throws a hard object on the woman who is committing “suicide”, hitting her in the head. The woman falls down due to the hit that came from behind. The man was dressed as a military. It is believed the woman died because of the hit.
5. What makes us believe it was not about Falun Gong followers?
A man in a similar Falun Gong followers’ sitting position is clearly shown on the video. The man screams a slogan and then burns himself. Behind him, a policeman patiently waits for the little act, patiently lets the man lights himself and much later covers him with the blanket he had with. “The anchors” to prove it is a Falun Gong Follower are the slogan and his posture. But even this posture gives him away. If we look closer, we can see the one who pretends to have been practising the postures for several years is not capable of doing it right. His hands are put in a similar way to those of the Falun Gong common postures but actually, it is wrong. A real student could not have done such mistakes as he knew every element of the posture. Furthermore, there are several clues that show the man was wearing a protection mask and that he burns himself as stuns do in movies! The line of his hair is too high, the ears have a weird shape, and the hair does not burn, although it is the hair that burns first. In addition, while he is burning, he does not move even if fire causes unbearable pains that would have made anybody else stand up and toss. The conclusion is obvious: that person was not a Falun Gong follower but a stunt paid to play this role in order to disparage the school.
A week later, a second case is broadcasted by CCTV, the Chinese national broadcasting government controlled television. It is about Liu Siying, a 12 year old girl and her mother, Liu Chunling, two of the five protagonists of the incident from January 21. The little girl suffered severe burns and her mother died. CCTV was up to convincing the audience of the evil consequences of Falun Gong adherence. They did not prove again that Liu Siyng and her mother were indeed practising Falun Gong.
The result of this frame-up was the Government’s persecution against Falun Gong movement increased by launching a campaign where every citizen was forced to sign a declaration condemning Falun Gong. The authorities used the image of the little girl Liu Siying to turn the population against Falun Gong movement; the consequences were propostrious. Same methods of instigating groups of citizens against each other had been used during the Cultural Revolution, in the 70’s, under Mao Tzedun.
Regarding the school founder and the way he was introduced and treated by the authorities
The school founder, Li Hongzhi, took refuge to USA where he lives in exile together with his wife and daughter. In 1999 a warrant was issued under his name and the Chinese government even asked the Interpol to help catching him; he was presented as an extremely dangerous killer. Interpol refused the collaboration saying its politics do not allow interference in political or religious affairs. Failing with that, the authorities decided to offer a 50.000 yuan reward (6.000 USD – the 6 month average salary of a Chinese) for anyone giving information that could lead to Li Hongzhi’ arrest (notice this reward system was borrowed by those directing “MISA scandal”).
Li Hongzhi is presented as an extremely bad person that deceivingly “affected social order and sabotaged the so hard gotten social stability in China“. He is accused of founding “an illegal organization that negatively affects the body and soul and uses unauthorized methods”. There are plenty propaganda articles against him written in a style that is also familiar to the Romanian reporters. Li is accused of self proclaiming the head of the school, instigating his followers to attack the party’s publications, affecting disciples’ normal social life by alienating them from family and work, that his association is “very well organized, perfectly working” (remember a SRI report sustaining MISA reacted promptly, too organized and cohesive, which was a sign of extreme danger for national security in their vision).
Li Hongzhi is also presented as an impostor who financially benefited from his followers. He convinced them to donate large sums of money and in the end it is not specified if he is accused of accumulating huge amounts of money due to his conferences and written books or due to the fabulous tax evasion. According to the Chinese authorities’ point of view, the most damaging and dangerous ideas that Li spreads are that the human spirit is immortal, that heavenly paradise can be reached and that diseases represent punishments from the previous lives’ debts. These teachings are indeed dangerous for those ignorant and for those who want to control.
We can understand why the Chinese public press indulges in such a communist campaign, but we do not understand why democratic western mass-media takes over and amplifies this propaganda! This is what we find on BBC site in 2001: ”Li was a trumpet player that self proclaimed the Living Buddha”, “Falun Dafa followers are brain washed” and so on.
What is the situation in Romania?
There are Falun Gong schools in several cities of Romania of approximately 200 members. Adrian Sturza, the one who brought this school to Romania, speaks about the treatment he experienced during a meeting of the Falun Gong followers who came from around the world in China in 2002. They came to Tian-an-men square to protest against the treatment their Chinese colleagues were under: “They suddenly broke our lines. I had the feeling a train hit us. They hit me with their hands and legs, they broke a couple of ribbons, they dragged me out to a van”, Adrian went on. After 20 minutes of harsh beating, they selected them, took all their valuable things and brought them to a hotel. Questionings came after that, hitting to force them sign something in Chinese and after a 30 hour detention without food, water and permission to use the toilet, they took them out of the room, one by one. “I was the last one to leave. They grabbed me and put me directly in a plane. No explanations. Anyway, we were better treated than the Chinese. If we had not been westerns, we would have surely left our bones there”.
Although protest meetings are organized in many civilized countries and the authorities support the exposure of the Chinese crimes in the Falun Gong case, things are different in Romania; this is probably due to the old friendship between the two States. In autumn 2001, gendarmes confiscated the banner with the emblem of the school and the banner wearer was given a fine. In March 2003, Police stopped the manifestation of a protest meeting in front of the Chinese Embassy even if all the regulations had not been broken. The participants were fined. A painting exhibit of a Falun Gong follower, Zhang Cui Ying, at Teatrul Foarte Mic, was banished under the pressure of the Chinese Embassy in Bucharest. In July 2003, several Falun Gong supporters who were gathering signatures on the street to support the USA trial against former president of China, Jiang Zemin, were stopped by the police forces, threatened and fined. In August 2003, in Cluj, Falun Gong followers doing exercises in front of Matei Corvin Statue distributing information fliers were suddenly attacked by Cluj Police.
In June 2004, with the occasion of the Chinese President’ visit to Romania, the Association made a complaint to the Prosecutor’s office to the Upper Bench and Justice against minister Bo Xilai who was involved in the killing, tortures and crimes against the followers in China. The followers wanted to calmly protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in order to ask the end of those abuses and the punishment of the guilty ones. In a country that wants to be democratic, they got themselves bitten, dragged out to Police vans and each fined with 10 million lei for “creating a group with illicit intentions ” (it looks like we are in communist China, too, right?). The SRI’s important forces were involved in strict surveying of the Falun Gong members for the whole duration of the visit.
In august 2004, the followers that met in Herăstrău Park to do exercises in the open received fines as they did not have the authorization needed for that.
Regarding this behaviour of the Romanian authorities that proved one more time the same old communist techniques are still in use Romania and not only against MISA, Gabriel Andreescu wrote in Ziua on June 17, 2004:
“Romania finds herself somewhere in the middle of the distance between North Korea and Canada. The mentality of those ruling Prosecutor’s office, Police, Gendarmerie and SRI (Romanian Information Service), of course, is the same as the one during Ceausescu. They have not found out they protect democracy and not the officials’ coziness who want to have quiet lunches with the Chinese guests. What is more precious than the freedom of people expressing their disgust towards a criminal repression like the one in China and towards its tools like Bo Xiai (one of the Chinese officials that ordered the tortures of the followers in China)? Are not they (policemen, gendarmes, officers of Romanian Information Service) hired for protecting this freedom? Although their role is to assist, that is to support the right of peaceful manifestation, they imagine they are called to limit it. Our order officials complaint they do not have resources to protect against organized crime, drug dealers, reporters’ hitters, but use important forces to “fight” with a peaceful movement. I even wonder: why should we pay for the salaries of those who track Falun Gong followers? Why do we accept to be “organized” by people with a mentality as such?”
At present, we have a sad review: over 1500 persons are already confirmed dead, over 100.000 illegally sent to labour camps, over 500 condemned to more than 18 years of prison and hundreds of thousands illegally arrested and detained. On October 18, 2002 a collective action from a USA Court against Jiang Zemin and “610” office (a kind of a Gestapo created by Jiang Zemin to eliminate Falun Gong movement on purpose) started. The accusations brought are torture, genocide, refusal of the right to live together with other several abuses. Two days after this started in USA, the Chinese minister of external affairs tried to cover it up, but he was forced to withdraw his declarations. In the mean time, Jiang Zemin’s supporters started a pressure campaign against the Government Department of USA in order to block the process.
The Falun Gong case is one of the most relevant contemporary examples of what a Government mechanism set on destroying a spiritual school under any circumstances can do. We might say it is because of a communist regime where oppression, atheism and dictatorship are something regular. And yet, even if we talk about a communist China, the directing of this school’s destroying campaign so resembles to the western modern Inquisition’s method. We notice the same themes: press campaigns spiced up with rumours, arrests, beatings, abusive detentions, same brain wash accusations, national security destabilizing, real social danger, mental disease outbreaks, so-called suicides, killings among followers, rewards and prizes put on the heads of the movement’s leader, instigating the public opinion for turning in the followers. If we look at them as a whole, they are only variations of the same topic, the same imported scenarios from one country to another and applied with more or less interest. The only thing that differs is that in the communist countries this fight is direct, implicitly declared, while in the countries called democratic, the same “anti-sects” actions are presented as being done in the name of the democracy. It is actually the one and the same thing, no matter the political colour of the governors, which proves that a single hidden director is behind all this, ruling this planet, who swore to annihilate any form of spirituality.