After 12 Years, Falun Gong’s Peaceful Resistance Brings Hope Amidst Repression

Falun Dafa Information Center Statement for July 20

New York—Twelve years ago this week, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a campaign to eradicate Falun Gong—a peaceful and popular spiritual practice embraced by tens of millions of Chinese citizens. This violent, systematic suppression in China that began on July 20, 1999 continues today, characterized by ongoing abductions, torture and death throughout the country.

Yet, there is also an optimistic dimension to this story, as Falun Gong practitioners have responded with grassroots civil disobedience on a scale unprecedented in China’s history. They have broken through the CCP’s veil of misinformation and are convincing a growing number of Chinese people to stop participating in the persecution.

For 12 years, human rights organizations have also documented the CCP’s defamation, beatings, rape, torture, and murder of tens of thousands of innocent men and women whose only crime has been to believe in a faith that is not controlled by the communist regime (excerpts). In 2006, United Nations Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak reported that Falun Gong practitioners accounted for 66 percent of victims of alleged torture in Chinese custody.

In April 2011, Amnesty International stated in its latest annual report that Falun Gong practitioners “who refuse to sign a statement [renouncing their beliefs] are typically tortured until they co-operate; many die in detention or shortly after release” (report). Last week, Freedom House expressed its grave concern over the ongoing campaign, stating that: “Today, Falun Gong adherents remain among those most severely persecuted in China” (press release).

Indeed, in 2011, the Falun Dafa Information Center has already documented three dozen cases of individuals who died from abuse since January 1 (news). Although the full death toll is certainly much higher, even at these conservative estimates, no other group of Chinese prisoners of conscience is known to suffer such high fatality rates from torture.

In the face of such horrific brutality, with the world’s most powerful authoritarian regime turning the full force of its repressive apparatus against them, Falun Gong practitioners have neither been cowed nor resorted to violence. Rather, both inside China and around the world, they have responded with one of the largest, most innovative nonviolent movements the world has ever seen.

Tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China operate an underground network of homemade leaflet and DVD distribution. Overseas Falun Gong engineers have developed remarkably effective tools for circumventing Internet censorship. Global media companies founded by Falun Gong practitioners bring uncensored news to China and smuggle first-hand reporting of on-the-ground events to the outside world. Thousands of Falun Gong volunteers from around the globe regularly call China, convincing perpetrators to cease their torture (analysis).

This 12th anniversary is a solemn day of remembrance for those who have been killed, maimed, and persecuted, and a reminder to the world’s people that the human rights situation in China remains dire.

But it is also a day of hope.

Twelve years after former CCP-head Jiang Zemin claimed Falun Gong would be wiped out within three months, the practice is not only still alive in China, but also thriving around the world. Practitioners’ peaceful resistance offers a lifeline of truth and compassion to millions of Chinese and a model worth rallying around for the international community.

On this day, the Falun Dafa Information Center hopes that all people in China and elsewhere will stop being led astray by CCP propaganda and financial enticements, and will come to the aid of these kind, courageous people. We call on government officials and average citizens around the world to openly condemn the CCP for its blatant attacks on Falun Gong practitioners, their families, and their lawyers (How Can You Help).  We urge them to openly call for the end to the persecution, so that China can begin a new chapter and move towards a bright future.