On Saturday I reported on my visit to the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival (see Visualize Industrial Collapse). Groups like “The Coalition Against Civilization” weren’t the only ones I encountered; there were also some more-or-less normal people there. But all of them had in common a certain level of political activism, plus a center of ideological gravity that definitely listed to the left.
Then I came around a corner and encountered the Falun Gong.
There were two people on a prayer mat meditating silently while Chinese music played on a sound system. Next to them an earnest young Chinese man presided over a table diplaying posters and literature. I spent some time looking through the materials on the table, and then turned to the young man.
“You realize that you’re kind of in the enemy camp?” I asked him, sweeping my arm around to indicate Lee Park with all the other exhibitors and their visitors.
“Yes?” he said tentatively, smiling at me.
“I mean, these people, they’re all leftists — until quite recently they were great admirers of the People’s Republic of China.”
“OK,” he said. “Yes?”
I realized that he had no idea what I was talking about, so I let it go. I continued to look at the table, then took a brochure, thanked him, and moved on.
It’s true that the Left is not as fond of the PRC as it used to be. After all, they don’t like the new capitalism that China has introduced — how could true socialists do such a thing! But you don’t hear too much from them about China any more, not much mention of Tibet or forced abortion or Tiananmen Square or the laogai.
Or Falun Gong.
The brochure is packed with information.
|Why is Falun Gong being persecuted?|
|With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing, the regime banned Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, suddenly casting millions as criminals. Emerging evidence reveals that Jiang himself orchestrated the persecution, jealous of the practice’s popularity and growing numbers, among other reasons. Unable to crush the millions who had benefited from the practice, Jiang intensified the regime’s propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against Falun Gong while quietly imprisoning, torturing, and even murdering those who practice it.|
Not all of the Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted are Chinese or in China itself:
|Dr. Charles Lee, a Falun Gong practitioner and U.S. citizen from Menlo Park, California, was sentenced in March 2003 to three years in prison after a brief show trial. He was charged with attempting to broadcast information on state-run television about the persecution of Falun Gong. Dr. Lee has been subjected to the torture of forcefeeding and brainwashing, beatings by guards and inmates, and denied contact with friends and family. His sole legal appeal was rejected in May.|
|In a letter to the U.S. Consulate, Dr. Lee stated, “They tried
not to connect my case to the Falun Gong issue and treated this completely as a criminal case… Their purpose was to cover up their illegal persecution of Falun Gong.”
|“One learns from incidents like this that the law in China is a tool to be used in the persecution against Falun Gong. It has nothing to do with safeguarding justice.”|
|U.S. Families Affected by the Persecution|
|Charles Lee is not the only American affected by the persecution in China. There are 40 families in the U.S. known to have relatives suffering in Chinese jails and prison camps. In many cases, the families have no idea where their loved ones are being held or of their condition.|
|Blacklists and Harassment on U.S. Soil|
|Many U.S. citizens and residents who practice Falun Gong, along with those of other countries, were shocked to discover their names on blacklists compiled by the Chinese government. Because of these blacklists, practitioners were prohibited from entering Iceland in June 2002 and Hong Kong in July 2002, during former leader Jiang’s visit to those countries. Many were even kept from boarding Iceland-bound planes at major U.S. airports.|
|Other incidents of harassment and violence abound. Chinese officials have reportedly interfered with Falun Gong parades and activities, had practitioners’ hotel reservations canceled, and denied practitioners’ passports.|
|In New York, the chairman of an overseas Chinese association was arrested for allegedly directing and participating in an assault on Falun Gong practitioners during a peaceful demonstration in June 2003.|
All of this for something that looks to an inexperienced outsider more or less like yoga.
Imagine it. It’s easy, if you try.