While Falun Gong is practiced openly in the 70-plus countries where it is found, today in its homeland of China it is subject to well-documented egregious human rights violations. The scale and scope of abuses taking place make this possibly the largest religious persecution in the world today.
It began in the middle of the night, July 20, 1999. Across China under the veil of darkness, police dragged hundreds of ordinary people from their beds. Many would be taken to holding centers and jails, others beaten, and some would die from torture.
Chinese practitioners of the spiritual movement Falun Gong continue to be severely repressed in China. Tens of thousand of Falun Gong practitioners in China have been arbitrarily detained since the spiritual movement was banned as a "threat to social and political stability" in July 1999.
The suppression of Falun Gong in mainland China escalated sharply in 2008. A significant body of evidence—including first-hand accounts of adherents, official Chinese government statements and, reliable third party sources—indicate that the escalation was largely made possible by the Beijing Olympics. Chinese officials, under the auspices of “ensuring a smooth Olympics,” utilized the environment of heightened security to arbitrarily detain, torture, and sentence Falun Gong adherents throughout China to re-education through labor camps for up to 2 ½ years or to prison for up to 13 years.
The Communist Party’s campaign against Falun Gong escalated sharply in 2008 as China’s rulers took advantage of the Olympic games to catalyze and justify the large-scale arrest, imprisonment, and monitoring of Chinese citizens known to adhere to the spiritual practice, the Falun Dafa Information Center said in an annual report published on Tuesday.
A former university librarian in Shanghai sits at her home computer. Using proxy servers, Ms. Liu Jin breaks through China’s vast “Great Firewall” and accesses a Falun Gong-related website. She downloads accounts of rights abuses against fellow adherents and begins printing. Soon, the stack of homemade, underground leaflets finds its way into the hands and mailboxes of neighbors, local shopkeepers, and former colleagues. A “materials production site,” one of tens of thousands across China, is born, bringing into people’s hands basic facts of injustice that the Communist Party has worked tirelessly to censor.
Soon after Chinese leader Jiang Zemin initiated the brutal persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, incidents appeared of Chinese officials threatening, harassing and assaulting Falun Gong practitioners, as well as pressuring foreign officials, businesses, and free media around the world to adopt Jiang’s stance against Falun Gong.
Utterly exhausted from 12 days without sleep, Lihong Ding’s captors forced him to pace his cell to keep him awake. Many times the 36-year-old collapsed while walking, banging his head on the walls and floors.