Millions of innocent people in China have been fired from their jobs, expelled from school, jailed, tortured, or killed simply for practicing Falun Gong. \n\n\n\nFor the tens of millions of people who practice Falun Gong today in China, each day they live at risk of being taken away by Chinese authorities to be jailed, tortured\u2014or worse.\n\n\n\n\n\nWhy is Falun Gong Persecuted?\n\n\n\nThroughout the 1990s, Falun Gong garnered support from numerous \nChinese government agencies as a meditation practice deemed to improve \npublic health and morality.\n\n\n\nBut on July 22, 1999, a massive campaign of suppression was launched. What went wrong?\n\n\n\nOne basic explanation for the seemingly irrational campaign against \nFalun Gong is the nature of China\u2019s atheist and dictatorial Chinese \nCommunist Party (CCP), which fears all groups outside its control \u2013 \nparticularly ones that subscribe to a different ideology. From the \nmid-1990s, some in the Party felt their power threatened by Falun Gong\u2019s\n popularity. The full persecution occurred following years of escalating\n harassment (timeline),\n\n\n\nThe Party has tried several times to eradicate all expressions of \nreligion from China (a country traditionally referred to as \u201cthe land of\n the divine\u201d). To this day Roman Catholics, many Protestants, and \nTibetan Buddhists cannot worship freely in China and are at constant \nrisk of detention and torture.\n\n\n\nBy 1999, Falun Gong became a natural target as it was the largest \u2013 \nand fastest growing \u2013 spiritual group in China with 100 million \npractitioners nationwide, according to Chinese government reports at the\n time.\n\n\n\n\nhttps:\/\/vimeo.com\/385475263\nTHE PERSECUTION STORY A closer look at why and how the Chinese Communist Party targeted Falun Gong with a violent campaign to "eradicate" the practice. (10min)\n\n\n\nOthers have noted that the decision to launch the campaign is linked \nto former-Party head Jiang Zemin\u2019s \u201cfear\u201d and \u201cjealousy\u201d of Falun Gong, \nwhile other leaders at the time found the group innocuous. Sources cited\n by the Washington Post state that, \u201cJiang Zemin alone decided that \nFalun Gong must be eliminated,\u201d and \u201cpicked what he thought was an easy \ntarget.\u201d (more about the origins of the campaign)\n\n\n\nTorture\n\n\n\nPerhaps the most prominent feature of the campaign has been its \nprevalent use of extreme torture. Torture of Falun Gong adherents has \nbeen documented in each of China\u2019s provinces, in jails, labor camps, \nbrainwashing centers, and schools in China\u2019s big cities, small towns, \nand villages.\n\n\n\nCommon torture techniques include shocking with electric batons, \nburning with irons, tying the body in painful positions for days, \nforce-feeding saline solutions through a plastic tube inserted up the \nnose, and prying out fingernails with bamboo shoots, to name a few; rape\n and sexual torture of the Falun Gong in detention are prevalent as \nwell.\n\n\n\nTo date over 4,000 deaths have been documented, and at least 63,000 \naccounts of torture. An estimate of the real figure puts the actual \ndeath toll in the tens of thousands (more about torture).\n\n\n\nImprisonment and Brainwashing\n\n\n\nFor hundreds of thousands of people in China, the most basic reality of the campaign against Falun Gong has been long periods of detention in \u201creform through labor\u201d camps or prisons \u2013 China\u2019s Gulag system \u2013 after farcical or nonexistent trials. There they are forced to work up to 20 hours per day, producing \u2013 without pay \u2013 toys, Christmas tree lights, chopsticks, and soccer balls for export. Those who refuse are tortured (more about arbitrary detention and slavery).\n\n\n\nBe it in labor camps, jails, or in special reeducation centers, all \ndetained Falun Gong practitioners have been forced to undergo what can \nonly be described as brainwashing. The Communist Party\u2019s goal is to \nforce these people to renounce their spiritual beliefs and come to view \nFalun Gong as dangerous, as well as to turn in others who are active in \nexposing the persecution.\n\n\n\nThe key ingredients of the brainwashing process, or what the Party \ncalls \u201ctransformation,\u201d is sleep deprivation, hours on end of staring at\n videos vilifying Falun Gong, threats, and Cultural Revolution-style \n\u201cstruggle sessions\u201d. Some particularly \u201cstubborn\u201d individuals who refuse\n to transform are injected with psychotropic drugs in asylums as \ntreatment for the mental disorder of incorrect political thinking (more about psychological persecution).\n\n\n\nOrgan Harvesting\n\n\n\nThe Party\u2019s ultimate solution for the vast \nnumber of incarcerated Falun Gong adherents, however, is much more \nterrifying. According to current and former hospital employees, the \nFalun Gong have been used in reverse organ-matching \u2013 they have been \nkilled by the thousands so that their organs can be used for on-demand \ntransplants.\n\n\n\nLivers, kidneys, hearts, and cornea are removed from the living, \nanesthetized Falun Gong adherents with matching blood-types and sold to \nParty officials and other desperate-yet-wealthy individuals from China \nand abroad. Undercover investigators\u2019 phone calls to Chinese hospitals \nhave caught doctors boasting about this practice on tape (more about organ harvesting).\n\n\n\nCensorship and Propaganda Fuel Violence\n\n\n\nBut, as in every genocide of the twentieth century, extreme violence \nfirst required dehumanization of \u201cthe other\u201d through propaganda. Indeed,\n one key measure in the Party\u2019s suppression has been to limit, and \ndistort, information about Falun Gong\u2014both in China and elsewhere.\n\n\n\nFrom day one of the suppression, the regime banned all books and \ninformational media produced discussing Falun Gong positively. All \nwebsites relating to the practice were immediately blocked. Millions of \nFalun Gong books were forcibly seized and burned publicly. The regime \nfeared people might learn, if they knew not already, that Falun Gong was\n a healthy, normal, and positive way of life embraced by millions (more about censorship).\n\n\n\nThese censorship efforts have, of course, extended to cyberspace, \nthanks in no small part to Western companies who have enthusiastically \nsold Internet surveillance technology to the Party\u2019s security \napparatuses. As a result, Chinese people are now in jail for posting \nevidence of torture online or simply downloading articles about Falun \nGong (more about the persecution and the Internet).\n\n\n\nAlongside censorship, the Party has sought to scandalize Falun Gong \nthrough an aggressive propaganda blitz. The regime has been determined \nto paint Falun Gong as dangerous, deviant, and abnormal.\n\n\n\nFormer Party Chairman Jiang Zemin led the way, attaching onto Falun \nGong the label of \u201ccult\u201d three months after his ban as a means to \nfurther bend public opinion. Under CCP guidance, various ministries and \nstate media outlets then launched numerous publications, radio and TV \nshows, and even plays, comic books, and exhibitions meant to demonize \nFalun Gong (more about this propaganda campaign).\n\n\n\nGovernment officials around the world, meanwhile, report receiving \ndefamatory materials from Party emissaries. These are often accompanied \nby attempts to pressure the elected officials to stay silent about \nabuses perpetrated against the Falun Gong, to rescind proclamations in \nrecognition of Falun Gong\u2019s contributions to the community, and to block\n local Falun Gong activities such as parades or conferences.\n\n\n\nBusiness owners, journalists, and scholars have also been subjected to similar pressure tactics and threats (more about pressure overseas), leading to a sometimes eerie silence in Western press and academia (see \u201cOut of the Media Spotlight\u201d).\n\n\n\nSocial & Economic Impact\n\n\n\nIndeed, those who chose the latter have most commonly faced forms of \noppression that do not make headlines \u2013 dismissal from work, expulsion \nfrom universities, deprivation of health care and pensions, divorce, \nhomelessness, and a range of other forms of discrimination (more about: persecution in the family, persecution at work and school, and destitution).\n\n\n\nResistance\n\n\n\nWhen the persecution was launched in 1999, tens of millions of \nChinese who practiced the meditation discipline were faced with a \nchoice. One option was to again surrender to the Communist Party and \nabandon a practice that had brought them better health, spiritual \nguidance, and, invariably, newfound hope. A second option seemed to be \nto continue practicing quietly at home \u2013 but as raids quickly showed, \nthis was impossible even if one were able to turn a blind eye to the \npersecution of family and friends. A final option was to openly resist \nthe persecution in spite of knowing full well what the painful \nconsequences might be. Whatever the chosen response, Falun Gong \nadherents have displayed remarkable resilience, with tens of millions \nstill practicing in China today and some new people even joining their \nranks.\n\n\n\nFor those who have chosen to more actively resist, Falun Gong \npractitioners have been consistent in refusing to adopt violence as an \noption, focusing instead on using every available peaceful avenue to \nhave their voices heard. Adherents first tried to reason with Communist \nParty rulers through letters and petitions. When these fell on deaf \nears, the Falun Gong turned to Tiananmen Square where \u2013 through quietly \nmeditating or displaying banners before being arrested \u2013 they sought to \ncall upon the conscience of the Chinese people as well as world leaders.\n As the persecution continued, the Falun Gong began countering state \npropaganda by distributing information exposing the persecution through \nleaflets, VCDs, emails, and phone calls.\n\n\n\nCollectively, this resistance movement \u2013 composed of bold individual acts in spite of great personal risks \u2013 constitutes what is probably today\u2019s largest nonviolent movement in the world (see \u201cPeaceful Resistance\u201d).