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April 25: 14 Years After Appeal, Falun Gong’s Persecution Continues
[Levi Browde, Executive Director, Falun Dafa Information Center]:
“Most people think this is the event that created the persecution. Falun Gong had the audacity to surround the central leadership and so the persecution started because of that. Actually that wasn’t true. There’s a lot of evidence that indicate that the leaders were building up to suppress Falun Gong for even years before that.”
Standing on the sidewalk, reading books, doing qigong exercises—this is the site of an appeal outside China’s government ‘s headquarters, Zhongnanhai. On April 25, 1999, an estimated ten thousand practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual practice gathered silently outside the compound. They were appealing against a seemingly sudden suppression by authorities.
[Daphne, Falun Gong Practitioner]: “I simply thought that it was wrong for the police to arrest people just because they practice truth, compassion and tolerance. It was wrong for sure, so I had to go [to the appeal], I said I was going.”
Their request was simple: release detained practitioners and allow Falun Gong to be freely practiced in China. Their requests were initially granted, but what ensued was a persecution that went far beyond anyone’s expectations.
[Levi Browde, Executive Director, Falun Dafa Information Center]: “Most people think this is the event that created the persecution. Falun Gong had the audacity to surround the central leadership and so the persecution started because of that. Actually that wasn’t true. There’s a lot of evidence that indicate that the leaders were building up to suppress Falun Gong for even years before that.”
Shortly after this, at least 70 million Falun Gong practitioners became subjects of a systematic persecution headed by former Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin.
According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, practitioners make up the largest group of prisoners of conscience in Chinese labor camps today.
59-year-old Wang Chunying was arrested in 2002 for practicing Falun Gong. She was held at the Masanjia Labor Camp in Liaoning province for more than five years.
[Wang Chunying, Former Masanjia Detainee]: “Two male police, Zhang Liang and Peng Tao, dragged me to confinement in a small room, and hung me up.”
On April 6, Chinese state-run Lens magazine ran an exposé on the inhumane treatment of inmates at Masanjia–NOT mentioning Falun Gong. It prompted an investigation by Liaoning officials, which many discredited because of its biased team.
While the investigation denied the claims made in Lens Magazine, it made a surprising admission.
[Heng He, NTD Senior China Analyst]: “Their investigative report mentioned Falun Gong, said this is all the Falun Gong’s, you know, slam to Masanjia labor camp. But at least they admitted Masanjia was used for persecution of Falun Gong. That actually, the last paragraph about Falun Gong they described actually, make people believe that torture really happened.”
While the Lens Magazine article was shortly removed, Masanjia’s exposure could be a sign that political winds are changing. Cases of both individuals and groups standing up for Falun Gong practitioners have also recently increased .
[Levi Browde, Executive Director, Falun Dafa Information Center]: “But clearly there are people in China that are ready and willing to expose the persecution of Falun Gong and that’s never been the case before.”