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Banning the Falun Gong in China

2007-08-31 Author:By: Samuel Luo

On July 22, 1999 the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs declared the Research Society of Falun Dafa, an organization founded and chaired by Li Hongzhi, illegal. Following this announcement the Chinese Ministry of Public Security issued a notice prohibiting all public activities propagating and supporting the Falun Gong. The notice read:

· No-one may hang or post in any place streamers, pictures, insignias or other signs that advertise Falun Dafa (Falun Gong).

· No-one may distribute in any place books, magazines, audio and video products, and any other propaganda materials that advertise Falun Dafa (Falun Gong).

· No-one may assemble in any place for promoting Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) activities, such as synthesizing energy or fostering the Falun law.

· Activities, such as assemblies, parades, and demonstrations held in the form of sitting in and submitting petitions, for the purpose of protecting and advertising Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) are prohibited.

· All forms of activities of inciting the public to disturb social order through fabricating and distorting facts, or spreading rumours deliberately, are prohibited.

· No-one may organize, link up, and command activities of contesting relevant government decisions.

Any person violating these regulations will be disciplined or punished according to the law the notice declared. 1

Religious freedom has been at the center of human rights dialogue between western democracies and China. In recent years much of that attention has shifted to China's crack down on the Falun Gong which has been called a human rights violation. In response the Chinese government argues that the Falun Gong threatened the lives of its own members, public health, public order and violated the rights of others. Thus, its ban was legitimate.

Amnesty International admits that international laws do permit restrictions on freedom of expression, the right to form associations and religious freedom. But "such restrictions must be 'provided by law,' must be 'necessary,' and must be in pursuance of a 'legitimate' objective, such as the protection of national security, public order, or public health or morals."2 But the ban of the Falun Gong meets none of those requirements, Amnesty International contends.

The justification provided by the Chinese government has been ignored and discounted by western human rights groups, media and politicians. In the West the Chinese government has the image of a tyrant. It's human nature to conclude "once a villain, always a villain." Nevertheless, the story behind the ban needs to be told.

The death of 1,404 practitioners and Falun Gong's threat to pubic health

Master Li and the Falun Gong organization were held responsible for the deaths of 1,404 practitioners occurring between May, 1992 and July, 1999. Of these deaths, 1,218 died as a result of refusing needed medical treatment, 37 died while practicing the exercises, 109 committed suicide.3 The Chinese government charged that Falun Gong's advocacy and practice of abandoning medical treatment endangered the physical and mental health of Falun Gong practitioners as well as public health.

We know that Master Li claims to have the power to cure the sicknesses of his followers and by using psychological manipulation he persuades his followers to stop seeking medical help. But how creditable are the Chinese government's claims? If we can confirm these 1,404 people were Falun Gong practitioners who died following Li's teachings, if we can show that Li was aware of the grave danger of abandoning medical treatment, yet still promoted it, then the government's concern is justified and its charge is valid.

The first documentation of deaths of Falun Gong practitioners was the "Expose of the Swindler Li Hongzhi" written by Li's earliest followers in 1994. In Chanchun City alone, the Expose documented many ills among practitioners seven died, one went into a coma, three fell unconscious during their exercises and one became psychotic. These ills occurred during the first two years of the Falun Gong's existence in Changchun city; the names and work places of these practitioners were provided for verification.4 Five years before the Chinese government made its charges, this Expose accused Master Li of endangering the health and life of his followers by urging them to substitute needed medical treatments with his supernatural healing power.

In addition to the cases reported by the Expose, testimonials written by Falun Gong practitioners published on the Falun Gong's own website also validate some cases. Jin Youming, the daughter of Ma Jinxiu whose death was one of the 1,404 cases reported by the Chinese government, believed her mother's death was not the responsibility of Master Li and the Falun Gong. In her account, her mother had been diabetic for sixteen years before joining the Falun Gong in 1996 and she had been taking "more than 30 prescribed pills daily." Shortly after picking up the Falun Gong, "my mother's health improved miraculously," Ms. Jin says; as a result "she stopped taking medicine." Then in the middle of 1997, Ma's condition suddenly deteriorated. She was taken to the hospital where she later died. Ms. Jin argues that before her mother's death she was treated in the hospital therefore "the problem of refusing medical treatment" did not occur.5

By Ms. Jin's own observation her mother did abandon medical treatment after joining the Falun Gong and her health deteriorated while she was not taking needed medicine. As is generally recognized, diabetes is a chronic illness which requires ongoing medical care in order "to reduce the risk of long-term complications."6 A recent study shows that it can be deadly to quit taking drugs for heart disease or diabetes.7 Thus, ironically, Ms. Jin's rebuttal verifies the government's claim—the Falun Gong advocates abandonment of medical treatment and Ms. Jin's mother died prematurely in following this belief.

Although some of the 1,404 deaths can be confirmed by Falun Gong practitioners, it is impossible to independently verify every one of them without the help of the Chinese government. However, such verification is unnecessary because neither the Falun Gong nor Li himself deny their status as Falun Gong practitioners. The day after the announcement of the ban, Li in New York issued a statement responding to the charges against him. In a carefully crafted response he stated:

Some sources claim that I forbid people to take medicine. Actually, that is absolutely untrue. I have simply explained the relationship between cultivation practice and taking medication. I have enabled more than 100 million people to achieve health. Countless terminally ill patients have recovered and have become healthy. This is a fact. As for those who are critically ill or mentally ill, I have always advised against them learning Falun Gong. Yet some people nonetheless insisted on learning it without my knowledge. In that case, is it fair to call this kind of individual who died of his own illness my disciple8

Li has made giving up medical treatment an enlightenment quality that his followers should strive for, yet he always denies it in public. Does Li define for his recruiters' edification what exactly constitutes a terminally ill or critically ill patient He doesn't. His argument is simply a pretext to rid himself of responsibility.

Li was aware of the sudden deaths of his followers, but he gave different explanations. In 1995, in the first of his two directives that addressed the issue, Li characterized the sudden deaths of practitioners as a "prominent problem" and explained its "real" cause

At present there is a prominent problem When some students' Primordial Spirits leave their bodies, they see or come into contact with certain dimensions at certain levels. Feeling that it is so wonderful and that everything there truly exists, they don't want to return. This has resulted in the death of their flesh bodies…I have addressed this problem before… So when your Primordial Spirit goes out, no matter how wonderful you find those places, you must return.9

A normal Qigong exercise group or a legitimate religion would not have to come up with this kind of excuse for the deaths of their members. But Li needed such a bizarre explanation because he claimed to have the divine power to heal and protect his followers. He could not afford to have his followers attribute their colleagues' sudden deaths to illness or infirmity. A year later, Li again talked about the sudden deaths of practitioners, but this time he characterized it as the dire consequence of altering his teachings. He warned "Did you know that in recent years some students suddenly died Some of them died precisely because they did such things."10

Regardless of how Li rationalizes these deaths the fact that Falun Gong practitioners who abandoned needed medical treatment have died suddenly and prematurely over the years is a fact verified by his critics, his followers and his own words.

Is Li aware of the dire consequences of abandoning medical treatments when sick The government believes he is. The medical record of Li's own family has been presented to the public. This record shows that from 1982 to 1992, when Li worked for the state-owned Changchun Grain and Oil Supply Company, he had 73 medical expense reimbursements from the government, 48 of which were for treatments he himself received.11 On July 8, 1984, Li had an operation for acute appendicitis in Jilin City People's hospital. He was released on July 18; his doctor was Yingjie Li.12

With this information it was clear to the Chinese government that Li is a swindler and the Falun Gong is a fraud. Li's government critics attribute his advocacy of abandonment of medical treatment as a control mechanism. By indoctrinating his followers to depend on him for their very health, their very lives, Li can gain complete control over them. And, as a matter of a fact, Li has threatened those who disobey him with the return of their sicknesses "Your body will be reset to the level of everyday people and the bad things will be returned to you."13 Once a practitioner loses Li's protection, her body will return to its initial state, resulting in the return of sickness and sin.

Li refuted the Chinese government's claim. In an interview with Newsday, the then forty-seven year old Master proclaimed "I have never been to hospitals, never been ill."14 However, Li has failed to provide any evidence to back his rebuttal. This evidence could be physical examination that shows his perfect health, his scar less belly and an appendix that is still in him. Without any evidence we can conclude with common sense that Li did receive medical treatment and he might still be seeking medical treatment in secret. Li has been called a swindler. Yet he can be also called a cruel manipulator and even a cold-blooded murder for putting those people who trust him into painful and life threatening situations.

How many Falun Gong practitioners have been manipulated into adopting this dangerous practice and to what degree do they jeopardize public health The Falun Gong's own health surveys contribute to the answer. A survey conducted on October 18, 1998 in Beijing revealed alarming information—"418 [polled practitioners] had zero medical expenses after practice." The average annual medical expenses for the total 584 practitioners polled was reduced from roughly 3,500 RMB ($ 437.00) to only 70 RMB ($ 8.75). The practitioners were categorized according to illness. In the largest group, 225 out of 274 practitioners with cardiovascular system illnesses reported totally stopping their medical treatments. In a smaller group suffering from endocrine disorders (diabetes, hyperthyroidism, etc.) 26 out of 33 practitioners had totally stopped their medical treatment.15

Two important points need to be made here 1) these Falun Gong practitioners were not poor people who could not afford treatment; they had received medical care before they were indoctrinated in the Falun Gong. 69.2% of practitioners in this survey were fifty-one and older, who had worked under China's old socialistic system and therefore were entitled to a sizable or full amount of medical expense reimbursement from the government. 2) Practitioners in affluent western countries have also adopted the dangerous practice of abandoning medical treatment. Dr. Palmer from Canada notes that "within the Falun Gong community there is considerable social pressure on practitioners to abandon conventional medicine."16 And this author's parents in the United States, who have medical insurance, refused needed medical treatments when seriously ill.17

An estimate of the population in the Falun Gong that refuses medical treatment can be calculated with the information provided by the October 18, 1998 survey. A simple calculation finds that 72% of practitioners in this survey refused medical treatment. Extrapolating this percentage to the entire government-estimated Falun Gong membership of 2.2 million in China in 1999, the number of practitioners refusing medical treatment comes to an alarming 1,584,000! If the actual membership is higher than the government's estimation, as many believe, then this number is actually much higher. With so many of its citizens neglecting their illnesses and spreading this dangerous practice, China's public health authorities were alarmed.

Despite its recent economic success, China is still a poor developing country with overcrowded cities and over 800 million peasants in rural areas served by a dilapidated medical system. The Chinese government has been at work to put infectious disease like tuberculosis and hepatitis B which have ravaged people's lives under control. In 1991 the government and the World Bank implemented a project to provide free medical treatment to fight tuberculosis which had infected 1.2 million Chinese each year. The project was a big success. In the 13 provinces implementing the project between 1991 to 2000, the tuberculosis infection rate "fell by 37% more than in other areas of the country" the WHO reports.18 China's pubic health authorities had good reason to regard the Falun Gong as a serious threat to their work.

The scariest and deadliest infectious disease that broke out in China and spread elsewhere in recent years was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), caused by a deadly virus strong enough to live up to 24 hours outside of the human body and transmissible by air. In 2003, it contaminated 7,864 people and killed 643 in days, worldwide. Many of its victims were medical professionals—nurses and doctors—who were at the front line battling this virus. China, where the main battle took place, suffered the heaviest casualty—580 lives.

The ban of the Falun Gong in 1999 might have saved China and even the world from a pandemic. To understand how the Falun Gong could have jeopardized the containment of SARS, we need to first understand the containment of the deadly virus and the group's position on SARS.

Without a known cure, the only hope for survival and for containment of the deadly virus was early detection and quarantine. All those infected, as well as all who had close contact with them within a two-week period, had to be quarantined. Beijing had 2,521 probable cases and 30,178 people were quarantined.

While SARS was contaminating thousands, killing hundreds, and frightening world health professionals, while doctors and nurses risked their own lives to help the infected, Master Li called the SARS "heaven punishing people!" On April 20, 2003 Li made the following statement at a Falun Gong conference in New York predicting a worldwide pandemic.

You must have seen the epidemic that's come along in China now, right Hasn't a huge epidemic arrived To put it in human terms, it's Heaven punishing people. What it's targeting, we Dafa disciples know full well it's targeting those who don't deserve to be saved,… This is the first round of cleansing… People find it scary, but in fact, the truly horrible thing hasn't begun yet. This isn't the real, big cleansing when the Fa starts to rectify the human world. It'll be even more horrifying when that big cleansing arrives, and it'll target the entire world… Wait and see, this is going to be an eventful year. A lot is going to happen.19

Li's statement leaves little to the imagination a catastrophic SARS pandemic is good, victims of SARS are evil and deserve to die, Falun Gong practitioners—the only people who are truly righteous—will be saved. He also used SARS to remind followers about the Falun Gong Judgment Day, a psychological device used to scare his followers into obedience.

While Li was excited about the possible mass die-off, one of his faithful followers, Dr. Lili Feng, an associate professor from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, assured her fellow practitioners that they had the power to resist and contain SARS. Her statement was published in a Falun Gong website on June 02, 2003.

A research experiment in our lab has discovered that many Falun Gong practitioners' immune systems demonstrate a type of two-directional, regulating ability. What does this mean In their cases it means that when the immunoreactions become too high, they are automatically restrained, and when the immunoreactions are too low, they are automatically increased. It is this kind of a regulating function that acts as a safety valve for one's body to guard against viruses. Yet, the Chinese government has cracked down on the Falun Gong group. If the total of over 100 million initial Falun Gong practitioners in China had been allowed to keep up the practice of Falun Gong, they would have formed a gigantic, protective layer for Chinese society. They can protect more than just themselves. Why If over 100 million Falun Gong practitioners had been allowed to practice Falun Gong, they would have been able to resist the SARS virus, stop the SARS virus from being transmitted through them, and form a large immunity shield, which could protect more vulnerable people in China. This is the saddest thing for me and brings me to something I must emphasize. What I want to say is this persecuting Falun Gong is the most evil and foolish act. While this plague prevails over China, what we need most are those people with resistance to the SARS virus.20

It's amazing how medical scientists with credentials like hers can make such nonsensical statements. It is a testament to the power of Falun Gong's brainwashing techniques. With the Master's revelation and Dr. Feng's assurance, practitioners in and outside of China truly believed that they were immune to SARS.21 While the government struggled to put SARS under control some practitioners in China organized a campaign to promote the Falun Gong. "The SARS outbreak in China was a warning to those who persecute and hate the Falun Dafa," they claimed and "people who practice Falun Gong will not contract SARS."22 The Chinese government arrested 180 practitioners.

Considering the power of this deadly virus—the hundred plus deaths and the thousand plus cases of SARS in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Canada can all be traced back to one infected person23—if the Falun Gong had continued to thrive into 2003, it would certainly have created a SARS pandemic. How many more millions of practitioners would have been there if its geometric growth was unchecked Even if just one practitioner who did not believe in medical treatment was infected, it would have allowed the SARS virus to break through all epidemiological defenses and spread to the general population. This practitioner would not have reported the symptoms, cooperated with medical authorities, or observed the quarantine. Instead she would have spread this deadly virus to fellow practitioners in group practices and studies, who would have spread it to their acquaintance, families and co-workers thus creating a catastrophe in China. They could also have spread SARS to other countries, especially the United States, which has the largest group of practitioners outside of China. This is not a far-fetched scenario. And if so, Li would proudly have proclaimed himself a prophet.

One of the Chinese government's major justifications for banning the Falun Gong was its fear that the group's belief and practice in abandoning medical treatment endangered the health of both practitioners and the public. The deaths of 1,404 practitioners provided sound evidence, as did Falun Gong teaching and health surveys and testimonials of practitioners. The ban was "necessary" to save lives and was in pursuance of a "legitimate" objective.

Some human rights activists who are aware of Falun Gong's practice of refusing medical treatment argue that the state has no right to restrict an individual's liberty for his or her own good. In other words, Falun Gong practitioners have the right to get sick and resist medical treatment. These people have overlooked an important point practitioners cannot be said to have made a rational choice in the matter. Free choice implies that the chooser has access to enough information to make a rational choice. But practitioners are lied to in recruitment and brainwashed by this cult. The fact that Li and the Falun Gong constantly deny the existence of the teaching and practice of abandoning medical treatment in public—while leading their followers to believe the opposite in private—clearly shows this deception. Also, the ban does not force practitioers to take medical treatment, it only prohibits practitioners from spreading this dangerous practice.

Perhaps the following analogy will be useful a company being charged for selling counterfeit drugs that kill defends itself by arguing that its customers "willingly" paid for such drugs without anyone holding them at gun point. Therefore, the defendant insists, the government should not punish them even though the drugs they sell kill.

Another argument from the same people is that groups which promote faith healing such as Christian Science are legal in the United States and other western democracies, therefore the Falun Gong should not be banned in China for similar practices. This argument fails to acknowledge the differences between such groups. Christian Science, for example, attributes healing to God, but the Falun Gong holds that Master Li—himself the recipient of medical treatment—is the source of the power to heal. Christian Science is open about its faith-healing; therefore, members know about its beliefs before they choose to join this religion. The Falun Gong cult deceives in public and brainwashes people in private. Further more, Christian Science is much smaller than the Falun Gong was in 1999.

People who equate Christian Science to the Falun Gong to justify their objection to the ban fail to consider the cultural differences between the West and China. Faith-healing has been a part of western culture for a thousand plus years but it is not found in the Chinese culture. None of China's religions—Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism—claim their gods and leaders have the power to heal. Westerners have the right to believe that groups promoting faith-healing should not be banned in their country, but if they respect the principle of self-determination they should acknowledge that the Chinese people also have the right to believe that cults like the Falun Gong be banned in their country. In any case, the Chinese government has the right to take action to protect its society and citizens as long as these actions do not violate international human rights laws and Chinese laws.

International human rights laws such as the United Nation's "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" and the "Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief" permit limitations on freedom of religion or belief under certain circumstances. These human rights laws call for the protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, but they also both include the following clause "Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others."

Religious fanaticism can threaten human rights and the well being of societies; numerous religious persecutions and wars that took place in the history have proven this point. International human rights laws stipulate that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion on a personal level. In other words everyone should have the right to believe whatever they want to believe no matter how crazy that belief might be. However, when manifestation of this belief threatens "public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others," government can lawfully restrict the manifestation of this belief.

In the case of the Falun Gong, the notice issued by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security prohibits practitioners from manifesting their beliefs—they are not allowed to hold practices, studies and meetings in public nor are they allowed to distribute banners and pamphlets in public which promote and support the Falun Gong. But the notice does not demand practitioners to give up their beliefs. The Chinese government's action is in accord with the International human rights laws.

Falun Gong's violation of human rights and threat to public order

Prior to its famous Zhongnanhai protest on April 25, 1999 the Falun Gong had received both positive and negative media coverage. The group's success in China can be credited largely to its favorable reports but its downfall was triggered mainly by its militancy against critics. For seven years China's state-controlled media promoted the Falun Gong and gave Li great attention as its Master. China Qigong, the most influential magazine in the Qigong field, ran three stories on the Falun Gong and had Li on its cover as early as 1993.24 Three issues of Art's Window, another popular monthly magazine, ran special reports on the Falun Gong and put Li on its cover twice in 1994.25 As late as November 10, 1998 Yangcheng Evening News, the most influential newspaper in southern China, published a favorable report of the group titled "The Old and the Young all Practice Falun Gong."26 The group got free advertising, but more importantly, received a legitimacy that paid advertisements could never have achieved.

Religious fanaticism often expresses itself in the way of intolerance towards critics and infidels. Falun Gong's suppression of critics and threat to public order was another factor leading to its ban. The Chinese government charged the group with organizing seventy-eight illegal protests against media organizations and government institutions before April 25, 1999, and three hundred and seven such protests in the three months that followed.27 "These activities have seriously disrupted the public order," the government claimed, and "infringed upon their [critics of Falun Gong] freedom of speech and personal safety."28

Some of Li's earliest followers in his hometown of Changchun city became Falun Gong's first critics. Zhao Jiemin and Song Bingcheng were Li's earliest students and they had worked hard to promote the group until they realized the dark side of Li. Together with six other disgruntled practitioners they documented Li's many lies and harm done to people who abandoned medical treatment in following his teachings in a lengthy report "Expose of the Swindler Li Hongzhi"29 which was sent to the China Qigong Science Research Society and the media at the end of 1994. It was the first attempt by former practitioners to warn the public about the deceptive nature of Li and the harmful effects of Falun Gong practices. Unfortunately it was ignored until the Falun Gong was banned.

In the five years that followed, there continued to be much positive coverage about the Falun Gong but as Li's teachings changed more people's lives, critics emerged steadily. These critics, family members of practitioners, ex-members and members of China's religious and academic communities who were concerned about the harmful effects of Falun Gong teachings and practices managed to publish some criticism of the group.

Falun Gong's first critical media report appeared in the Guangming Daily in June, 1996. In article titled "Zhuan Falun Promotes Superstition" Li's many supernatural claims were critiqued as no more than superstition. In response, Falun Gong practitioners bombarded the Guangming Daily with over a hundred protest letters on a daily basis for a month.30 Li himself talked about the Guangming Daily article in August, 1996 suggesting that it was a test of the determination of his followers.31 At this time the Falun Gong was much smaller.

Protesting the media with written complaints was legal but the Falun Gong also used illegal and potentially disruptive methods to suppress its critics. The order to silence critics with a show of force came straight from the top. In a directive entitled "Digging out the Roots," published on July, 1998 Li called critics scoundrels and encouraged his followers to confront them.

Recently, a few scoundrels from literary, scientific, and qigong circles, who have been hoping to become famous through opposing qigong, have been constantly causing trouble, as though the last thing they want to see is a peaceful world. Some newspapers, radio stations and TV stations in various parts of the country have directly resorted to these propaganda tools to harm our Dafa, having a very bad impact on the public. This was deliberately harming Dafa and cannot be ignored. Under these very special circumstances, Dafa disciples in Beijing adopted a special approach [italics mine] to ask those people to stop harming Dafa—this actually was not wrong.32
When this directive was published the Falun Gong was already using illegal public demonstrations—one of its special approaches—to harass the media. This directive was written one month after the group had held a successful but illegal protest against the Beijing TV station.

In this directive Li darkly urged his followers to disregard the safety of the society when protecting his reputation and the image of his group.

I have long noticed that a few individuals do not have the heart to safeguard Dafa, but instead intend to safeguard certain things in human society. If you were an everyday person I would have no objections—it is certainly a good thing to be a good person who safeguards human society. But now you are a cultivator…. I will use every means to expose all of your attachments and dig them out at their roots.33

Li separates Falun Gong practitioners from everyday people and denigrates the latter as incapable of detecting "the existence of this characteristic—Zhen (Trufulfulness), Shan (Compassion) and Ren (Tolerance)" in the universe.34 He often reminds his followers that "As a practitioner, one cannot conduct oneself based on the standard of everyday people. It is not permitted if you go do things simply because everyday people consider them right. When everyday people say that it is good, it may not be good."35 Li instills an "us versus them" mentality in his followers, here he is pushing them to choose the "right" side.

Li's advocacy of intolerance of critics and his willingness to damage social stability was alarming, but there was a more frightening statement in this important directive

You cannot always rely on me to bring you up to a higher level while you, yourself do not move. Only after the Fa is explicitly stated do you make a move. If it is not taught clearly, you do not move, or move backward. I cannot recognize such behavior as cultivation practice. At the crucial moment when I ask you to break away from humanness, you do not follow me. Each opportunity will not occur again.36
What did Li mean by "break away from humanness" Would he brainwash his followers into perpetrating attacks as the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo did in its subway sarin attack Or would Li one day demand that his followers leave this world as Jim Jones had done in Jonestown Li wielded absolute and undisputed authority within the group; when he spoke, all his orders had to be strictly obeyed.

The Master's ominous and militant statements in August, 1998 provided validation for his followers who were already using illegal protests and set the stage for many confrontational events that followed—events which the Chinese government came to view as a violation of human rights and threat to public order.

In these illegal Falun Gong demonstrations hundreds—and in some cases thousands—of practitioners literally "besiege" media organizations over what they said was unfair coverage, Asiaweek reported.37 These protests were illegal because the group never bothered to apply for permits and they were used to suppress free speech. Practitioners would aggressively "clarify the truth" to the staff of these media organizations until an agreement was reached to publish favorable coverage of the group.

Desperate to put a stop to these harassments, many of the media organizations gave in to the Falun Gong pressure. On May 27, 1998—twelve days after China Central TV, the largest network in China, had aired positive coverage of the group38—the local Beijing TV station broadcast a critical report. More than a thousand practitioners besieged the station for days until "the TV station's chief fired the 24-year-old reporter involved and broadcast a favorable report about the group a few days later," the Wall Street Journal reported.39 Sometime in the same year, hundreds of practitioners protested Benxi Youth Knowledge, a small newspaper which ran a critical story about the group. Under pressure this newspaper reprinted a positive article of the Falun Gong from Economics Times.40

The Falun Gong had the power to effectively suppress the press because of its huge numbers. In 1996 the Falun Gong was small but by 1998 it had developed into a well-organized, well-funded international organization. It became a grassroots power that found no match in China. The group was aware of its power and did not hesitate to use it. All attempts to suppress its critics were done under the direction—and for the benefit—of the man who wielded absolute control of this power.

Li had many motives for silencing his critics. Financially, critical reports would have a negative effect on recruitment, leading to a reduction of income. Perhaps Li was also worried that a determined and courageous press could dig deep into his real life history and exposes his lies. Perhaps he believed that if his followers knew the real story of his wealth, they would turn away from his movement. Silencing critics was also essential to protect his authority. If those media reports were not stopped, they would inspire the critical thinking of followers who might then start to question Li's teachings and authority. Li—a megalomaniac who speaks like god and is treated like one in the group—simply could not tolerate any negative remarks by those "scoundrels."

Li not only had the motivation and power to teach the "scoundrels" lessons but was also in a unique position to carry it out. In 1998, Li was living a comfortable life in New York far away from the reach of the Chinese government. Using his followers as his agents, he could create trouble in China yet the Chinese government could not touch him. But Li probably didn't think the Chinese government would dare to punish him. He really might have believed that he had seventy million followers in China—a number larger than the membership of the Chinese Communist Party. His power as a spiritual leader with political ambitions seemed absolute.

If all the "scoundrels" had refrained from challenging Li's wisdom and if all the media had given in to the pressure, the Falun Gong would not have had to escalate the conflict to the doorsteps of China's top leaders. Falun Gong's harassment of an obscure magazine in Tianjin City eventually led the group to a face off with the Chinese government.

Science and Technology for Youth magazine is a university owned media outlet; on April 11, 1999, it published an article written by Zuoxiu He, a theoretical physicist who was critical of the group. In this one thousand word article Dr. He told the story of one of his colleagues who became mentally ill after practicing the Falun Gong. Starting on April 19, practitioners who were deeply offended besieged the magazine office. Three demands were made 1) publicly apologize to the Falun Gong, 2) retrieve and destroy all magazines containing the article, 3) publish an announcement to stop anyone from reprinting the article.

During the struggle, Dr. He was harassed. He was accused of "distorting the facts, framing the innocent, maliciously attacking the Falun Gong and humiliating Master Li in the hope of damaging the stability and unity of Tianjin City."41 He and his family were harassed by phone calls, letters and home visits by the practitioners.42

In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Falun Gong increased its pressure. By April 23rd, with "nearly 10,000 practitioners"43 now encircling its office and harassing its staff, the company called in the police. At 5 pm that afternoon, the chief of police ordered the practitioners who held the protest without a permit to leave the premises of the magazine. He also advised the Falun Gong leader that the lawful approach to deal with the magazine was to "file a lawsuit."44 Refusing to cooperate, Falun Gong practitioners held their ground. At 8pm that evening, four hundred policemen had to force an evacuation. About one dozen practitioners were arrested.45

The arrest turned the government of Tianjin city into the new target for protesting for that evening and the next day. The mayor was presented with a threatening open letter with the signatory of "a few hundred thousand Falun Gong practitioners in Tianjin." The letter characterized the arrests as "a violation of the Constitution" and demanded the release of all practitioners "to prevent the stability and unity of Tianjin city from being damaged."46 When their demand was not met immediately, the Falun Gong decided to escalate the struggle by directly putting pressure on the central government.

Very early in the morning on April 25, 1999, Falun Gong practitioners started gathering on Fuyou Street near Zhongnanhai in Beijing. Zhongnanhai, located west of the famous Forbidden City, is a complex of buildings where top Chinese leaders both live and work. You could almost say it is the Chinese White House. The line of practitioners, mostly from outside of Beijing, grew silently. Within a few hours, it had stretched from ground zero at Fuyou Street to circle Zhongnanhai.47 Nervous security guards and policemen guarded the gates, afraid that the crowd would try to storm the compound.

At about 800 am, then Prime Minister Zhu Rongi and his staff walked out to talk to the practitioners.48 Zhu invited three representatives into the compound to hear their demands. That evening, when the first of their three demands was met—the release of practitioners in Tianjing City—satisfied Falun Gong demonstrators left Zhongnanhai and disappeared into the Beijing crowds.

Falun Gong's bold move sent a shock wave through the country. Zhongnanhai is the political center of China; anything that happens here touches the nerves of the Chinese. This protest was a powerful display of Falun Gong's strength. The Chinese government had been challenged before, but each of those challenges—the student movement in 1989, for example—had called for political reform or other goals that were in the interest of general public. The Falun Gong challenge, in stark contrast, was self-serving and a trampling on the law and human rights.

The central government's concession to the group was unprecedented and raised serious concerns—could anyone now say no to Li and the Falun Gong In an interview with the Wall Street Journal a Chinese official admitted that "Right now, no one dares to criticize them.49 Sinan Ma, a television producer and anti-cult activist was wary of being openly critical to the group "I don't want to offend disciples of Li Hongzhi, who are notoriously frenzied about any criticisms of their teacher."50 Ma was also concerned about the political potential of cults "Some of the fastest-growing cults could develop into a political threat, as any cult is set against the ideology of mainstream society."51 At this point few Chinese would see the Falun Gong as a simple exercise group. Through its action the Falun Gong has transformed itself into a powerful political entity.

Until the Zhongnanhai protest the Chinese government had supported the Falun Gong as a Qigong exercise group. The Falun Gong was promoted by governmental organizations52 and on March 4, 1999, just one and a half months before the Zhongnanhai protest, the public safety bureau of Harbin City, the largest provincial capital in China, presented an award to the Falun Gong general assistant center in the city.53 Examples like these reveal an environment friendly to the group. The Zhongnanhai protest must have come as a great surprise for China's top leaders.

When China's state controlled press reported the incident the protest was mildly criticized as "completely wrong" for disturbing the normal lives of the leaders and the masses.54 "Government officials have never banned people from practicing in various kinds of qigong," the report said. "People are allowed to voice different voices and opinions, but they should express their views and opinions through normal channels."55 The importance of maintaining social stability in the interests of the general public was stressed "People should treasure the positive situation and conscientiously safeguard social stability."56 This mildly toned report reflected the wary position of Beijing.

Social stability is treasured by most Chinese who have been through decades of turmoil. It is recognized in China that without a stable society there will be no development in the areas of economy, human rights, democracy and etc. But emboldened by the Zhongnanhai success, the Falun Gong responded with a sharp increase of illegal protests—as reported by the Chinese government three hundred and seven illegal protests were held between April 25th, and July 22nd, 1999.

What was truly outrageous was that the Falun Gong felt entitled to hold social stability ransom in order to silence its critics. On July 7, 1999 more than five hundred practitioners besieged the Beijing TV station demanding that the station pull a program from its schedule. A letter presented to the station head was laced with veiled threats of civil unrest "Should CCTV broadcast this program, its image will be seriously smeared. It may even set off a chain of social reactions that could cause and aggravate social conflicts."57 Adding to this tone of militancy was the claim that "Hundreds of millions of Falun Gong practitioners around the world will not tolerate such things to happen."58 The Falun Gong's threat to public order was explicit.

What was even more unbelievable was that the Falun Gong wanted to make it the responsibility of the government to silence its critics. The letter continued "Since this program will jeopardize the social stability in China and bring benefits only to the very few with ulterior motives at the expense of the good people at large, we Falun Gong practitioners sincerely hope that the governments at each level will prevent the airing of this slanderous program."59 The Chinese government has been criticized for suppressing the free speech of its critics; the Falun Gong obviously believed the government should silence people on its behalf.

Under pressure some city governments did promise to suppress criticism of the Falun Gong in written form. On July 14, 1999, a few thousand practitioners protested the Weifang City government, demanding that the city ban all critical reports of the group. The protest was resolved only when the city government accepted the Falun Gong's demands by producing a formal written concession.60 Given the fact the even the central government had caved in to the Falun Gong, concessions like these by city governments were understandable and not uncommon in China.

In addition to the pressures exerted by practitioners on the ground, the Falun Gong leadership in New York also issued a warning. On July 19, 1999 just three days before the ban, a letter addressed to top Chinese leaders was published on the group's official website. Reasserting its membership of one hundred million strong, it stated "if anybody should further slander, attack, and sabotage the precious great law [Li's teachings], we definitely will not take a passive stand."61 The group believed Beijing was monitoring its websites; publishing the ultimatum online not only was the fastest way to deliver the message but also encouraged practitioners.

Falun Gong's presumptuous actions and threatening statements made the picture very clear. It definitely could not tolerate any criticism and the destruction of social stability was a price it was willing to pay for suppressing critics. The group dared to openly and lawlessly suppress the media and the government because it believed it had a membership that was greater than the Chinese Communist Party. A group consisting of ordinary citizens threatening the authoritarian Chinese government might sound like a farce, but in 1999 it was a reality that the Chinese government had to deal with.

Li's ability to lead his followers into confrontations with the government shows the power of his brainwashing. The groundwork for these actions had been laid in the Master's indoctrination ordinary society was demon-ridden and would be weeded out; only practitioners could discern the moral principles of the universe. Virtually all testimonials written by practitioners participating in the protests accessible on the group's websites reflected a strong sense of fanaticism and a black and white thinking that is often associated with cults. In labeling critics as evil and the Falun Gong as virtuous, these practitioners had no respect for the views of others and their human rights. These practitioners, once law-abiding citizens, now became fearless and lawless Falun Dafa cultivators. Protecting the reputation of their Master and the Falun Gong was an essential part of their practice of cultivating into godhood.

In the three months when the Falun Gong held three hundred plus illegal protests nationwide the Chinese government took no action. But this unusual "cool" reflected only the intense concern of the authorities. Certainly no one, especially the Chinese government, likes to be humiliated and threatened but arresting Falun Gong demonstrators would certainly provoke another Zhongnanhai incident which would embarrass the Beijing authorities on an international level. The Chinese government was taken by total surprise on April 25, now it wanted to figure out what the Falun Gong was and who was behind it before taking any action.

An enormous amount of material about the Falun Gong and Li was released with the announcement of the Falun Gong ban. Obviously while the Falun Gong was besieging its agencies the government was undertaking the task of compiling information. Surely it was at this time that the government learned about Li's teaching of abandoning medical treatment. But perhaps the most alarming discovery was Li's total contempt for the law. On May 30, 1998 Li taught his followers "the law of a government is made by humans, and when humans make laws, they have the intention to rule and punish others, or they make laws against their conscience in order to protect things and gain power or votes. So they are not made with good intentions."62 The government must have realized that they were dealing with a megalomaniac, a mad man who happens to have control of millions of its citizens.

What made the situation more sensitive was the fact that Li lived in the United States. This fact complicated things. The government must have wondered if there was someone who wanted to create trouble in China by using Li and his movement.

The Chinese government had to make choices. It had to choose between suppressing the rights of the critics as the Falun Gong had demanded or suppressing the Falun Gong. It had to choose between losing face and authority or exercising its authority to save face and public order. Suppressing the Falun Gong would mean confronting a group that was in the millions. The Falun Gong had become the most serious political challenge the Chinese government had to face since 1989.

On July 22, 1999 Beijing announced the ban of the Falun Gong. The government realized that the group could ultimately be dismantled only by suppressing its well-organized mass illegal protests. So two days before announcing the ban, in order to thwart the expected protests, the Chinese government arrested dozens of Falun Gong leaders nationwide who had organized illegal protests in the past. It also blocked Falun Gong websites in order to cut off its communication. A massive media campaign was organized to educate people about the real picture of Li and the harms practitioners have suffered. Falun Gong critics were given the center stage to pick apart the Falun Gong belief system and Li's lies.

The Chinese government was cautious and restrained in dealing with Falun Gong protesters. Immediately following the arrests of the leaders, just as the Falun Gong had threatened, protests took place nationwide. The Washington Post reported that "at least 30,000 people rallied in more than 30 cities."63 Protesters numbering in the thousands were arrested and bused to designated locations, usually stadiums and vacated schools, where they were registered and warned before being released in the evening. "Falun Gong members detained in Beijing appear to have been well-treated for the most part,"64 reported the Washington Post. In many cities, a curfew was ordered in the vicinity of government institutions, which were guarded by hundreds of police. Units of the Armed Police, China's National Guard, were mobilized to reinforce the regular police. The country hadn't seen such massive numbers of arrests, nor such high levels of tension, since the 1989 student movement.

The government did not consider the millions of ordinary practitioners to be enemies, but victims of this cult. On July 22, 1999, Xinhua, the official press agency of the Chinese government, while announcing the ban also emphasized that the government's goals were to "unite, educate and extricate the majority of practitioners [and]…punish the handful of criminals who deceive people and damage social stability."65 Even the Human Right Watch which has been very critical on China for banning the Falun Gong acknowledged that "The authorities, in carrying out the crackdown, seem to be carefully distinguishing between organizers and ordinary Falun Gong followers."66 In November, 1999 the People's Supreme Court instructed the courts to make a sharp distinction between Falun Gong leaders who should be treated harshly, and common practitioners who should be extricated, educated, then reintegrated into the social fabric.

The banning of the Faun Gong has had wide support in China according to the Chinese media. One might dismiss this information since the media is controlled by the government, however, why wouldn't the majority of the Chinese support the ban of a fraudulent, dangerous cult that kills and bullies The Chinese media has also reported that the majority of practitioners have left this cult. They can again practice whatever exercises they want and seek medical help to free themselves from suffering illnesses. And they no longer have to fear Li's judgment day. One might question whether this is a rosy picture painted by the Chinese government, but, why wouldn't most of the practitioners leave after the exposure of Li's lies and the wealth he secretly amassed In any case, the overwhelming majority of Falun Gong's millions of practitioners were never arrested. And as late as December, 1999 only about "35,792" Falun Gong demonstrators had protested the ban, estimated by the Hong Kong based Information Center for Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China.67

The Falun Gong ban has been perceived as Beijing's worst human rights violation in recent years by the West, particularly the United States. It is in this part of the world that the manipulative nature of Li, the harm practitioners have suffered and the Falun Gong's violations of human rights are unknown. These facts are unknown in the West not because they are not available but because they have been ignored and dismissed. The Falun Gong has been characterized as an exercise group and a spiritual movement. Li has been given honors including the nomination for Nobel Peace Prize by American law makers for promoting the highest humanitarian values. Banning an exercise group that promotes healthy living and moral principles would of course be an egregious human rights violation! But anyone who spend a few minutes reading Li's Zhuan Falun will know that the Falun Gong is not an exercise group and Li is not promoting the "highest humanitarian values."

Americans are true believers of human rights and they do not believe in banning cults. It is recognized in the U.S. that the best way to fight cults is to educate the public by exposing the lies of cults through the media. This was exactly what the critics were doing in China until the Falun Gong audaciously suppressed them. When a cult suppresses its critics in total disregard of the law it has to be dealt with on a different level than just exposure in the media. Would Americans consider banning a cult if it numbered in many millions and had aggressively suppressed the media in total contempt of the law What if it had besieged the White House threatening social disturbance unless the government silences all of its critics or if it was controlled by a megalomaniac living in a foreign country Many Americans might still argue that this cult should not be banned because even cultists have the right to organize and American laws only criminalize the behavior of individuals. But does that mean a sovereign country like China has to follow their way in dealing with the Falun Gong cult

In the area of the right to organize, the United States has gone further than most countries in the world. Cults like the Unification Church and hate-preaching groups like the Ku Klux Klan enjoy the protection of the First Amendment. But not all western democracies are as permissive in this area as the United States. Enabled by its anti-cult law, France, a nation with a long democratic tradition and respect for religious freedom, permits the government to dissolve a cult-like organization and jail its leader.68 Germany takes a similar approach towards cults and it bans Nazis groups.69

What's more, the ban of the Falun Gong is in accord with international human rights laws. Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects the right to organize and the freedom of associate with others, however, it also stipulates that "in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,"70 this right can be restricted. As explained in the previous section the Falun Gong was a threat to public health. And it did violate the rights of others and threaten public order. The ban of the Falun Gong is allowed by international human rights laws.

The Chinese constitution also permits the ban of the Falun Gong. Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution states "No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state."71 The fact that this Constitution, enacted in 1982, specifically addressed the issues of public order and the health issue show that the Chinese government has had a long term concern in these areas and the banning the Falun Gong is consistent with this concern.

In banning the Falun Gong the Chinese government prohibits pro-Falun Gong speech. Although this sounds like a human rights violation, it is actually permitted by international human rights laws. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference, but, it also clearly states that "For respect of the rights or reputations of others; for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals," free speech can be restricted. Restricting free speech is unthinkable in the U.S. but many western democracies like Sweden, Canada, Spain and Germany have hate speech laws criminalizing hate speech. In other words the level of free speech Americans believe in and practice is not universally accepted.

It is very unfortunate that eight years after its ban the Falun Gong is still being reported by western, particularly American, media as a legitimate, benign eastern meditative group. The condemnation of the Chinese government for banning this cult reflects the ignorance of the West about the Falun Gong. The Chinese government has a human rights record that is hard to defend. However when respected human rights groups such as Amnesty International characterize the Falun Gong as a group that "teaches a practice of meditation and exercises,"72 we must respectfully conclude that these groups have not examined the beliefs and practices of the Falun Gong, nor considered the justification provided by the Chinese government. Their judgments are based entirely on the complaints of the Falun Gong and reflect a bias towards the Chinese government.

Although this paper argues for the legitimacy of the ban, this author does not agree with many of the actions taken by the Chinese government in enforcing this ban. Over the years many practitioners have been allegedly tortured during detention. These allegations must be looked at seriously and considered separately from the banning of the group. This author has a profound sympathy for those deceived and exploited by the Falun Gong cult and he does not condone any torture.

Seven years after the ban, unfortunately, justice has still not prevailed. Master Li, the one who has destroyed the lives of many followers, the one who has brought unhappiness to millions of Chinese families, is still not held accountable for his deeds. Instead of being punished, he has been awarded many honors. Such honors, given mostly by American politicians showcased on Falun Gong websites, are insults to justice and American values.73 


1. Text of notice banning Falun Gong, BBC, July 22, 1999.

2. "The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called 'heretical organizations," Amnesty International, March 23, 2000.

3. Ji Shi,  Li Hongzhi & His "Falun Gong" Deceiving the pubic and Ruining Live, New Star Publishers, Beijing, 1999, page89.

4. Zhao JieMin, Song BingCheng and others, "Expose of the Swindler Li Hongzhi," November, 1994. Note This version of the Expose is a short form of the original report. It's in Chinese. The Falun Gong generated a response in 1995 called "Reveal the Scheme of the Very Few People from Changchun." This response verified that Zhao JieMin and Song BingCheng were among Li's earliest students and "they once were in charge of the Changchun Falun Gong General Assistance Center." The version of the Falun Gong report available online was updated in July, 1999, therefore some of its content are responses to the situation at the time.

5. Jin Youming, The Truth behind One of the 1400 Cases of Death, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, January 26, 2000.

6. Lawrence M. Tierney, Jr, Stephen J. Mcphee, & Maxine A. Papadakis, editors, Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment, (Norwalk, Connecticut Appleton & Lange), page 983.

7. Carla. Johnson, Many Patients Quit Medicine Too Early, The Associated Press, September 26, 2006.

8. Li Hongzhi, A Brief Statement Of Mine, July 22, 1999.

9. Li Hongzhi, "An Explicit Reminder," Essentials for Advancement I, December 21, 1995.

10. Li Hongzhi, "Dafa Can Never be Plagiarized," Essentials for Advancement I, September 22, 1996.

11. 李洪志欺世盗名真相, Xinhua, August 4, 1999.

12. 请看李洪志如何自相矛盾自打嘴巴, People's Daily, November 22, 1999.

13. Li Hongzhi, "The Issue of Pursuit," Zhuan Falun.

14. Mae M. Cheng, "Li, the Thorn In China's Side," Newsday, July 25, 1999.

15. The Effects of Falun Gong on Healing and Fitness, a Survey among Practitioners from Beijing Zizhuyuan Assistance Center, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, October 18, 1998.

16. Susan J. Palmer, "From Healing to Protest Conversion Patterns Among the Practitioners of Falun Gong," Nova Religio, Vol. 6, No. 2, April, 2003, Pages 348-364.

17. Vanessa Hua, "CULTURE AND RELIGION Critics and followers of Falun Gong Adherents find fulfillment, but detractors call movement a cult," San Francisco Chronicle, December 18, 2005.

18. "Global tuberculosis control - surveillance, planning, financing," World Health Organization, 2005.

19. Li Hongzhi, Teaching and Explaining the Fa at the Metropolitan New York Fa Conference, April 20, 2003.

20. Dr. Lili Feng, Discussion SARS, the Human Body, and the Mind, June 02, 2003.

21. Falun Gong practitioners in the United States who I spoke to confirmed to me that they believe they are immune to SARS and medical treatment is not needed for them even if they are infected.

22. Reuters, China Jails 180 Falun Gong Members for SARS Rumors, June 5, 2003.

23. Monica Mendoza, SARS The First New Virus of the 21st Century, Genetic Science learning center of University of Utah.

24. Reports from Magazines China Qigong and Art's Window in 1993 and 1994, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, May 6, 2002.

25. Reports from Magazines China Qigong and Art's Window in 1993 and 1994, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, May 6, 2002.

26. Yangcheng Evening News The Old and the Young All Practice Falun Gong, An excerpt and picture of this article is available on the website run by the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group.

27. People's Daily, August 5, 1999. It is available here in Chinese.

28. "Falun Gong Cult Endangers Society." Chinese government, November 4, 1999.

29. Zhao JieMin, Song BingCheng and others, "Expose of the Swindler Li Hongzhi," November, 1994. Note This version of the Expose is a short form of the original report. It's in Chinese. The Falun Gong generated a response in 1995 called "Reveal the Scheme of the Very Few People from Changchun." This response verified that Zhao JieMin and Song BingCheng were among Li's earliest students and "they once were in charge of the Changchun Falun Gong General Assistance Center." The version of the Falun Gong report available online was updated in July, 1999, therefore some of its content are responses to the situation at the time.

30. "The story behind Falun Gong's organized attack on the Guangming Daily," Guangming Daily, November, 11, 1999. It is in Chinese.

31. Li Hongzhi, Huge Exposure, FalunDafa.org, August 28, 1996.

32. 33. Li Hongzhi, Digging out the Roots, FalunDafa.org, July 6, 1998.

34. Li Hongzhi, "Why Doesn't Your Gong Increase with Your Practice" Zhuan Falun.

35. Li Hongzhi, Upgrading Xinxing, Zhuan Falun.

36. Li Hongzhi, Digging out the Roots, FalunDafa.org, July 6, 1998.

37. David Hsieh, "A Two-Way Siege, Asiaweek, FEBRUARY 11, 2000.

38. "Three sets of precious historical photos in 1998," Falun Gong minghui.org, April 24, 2003. A list of positive media coverage of the Falun Gong is displayed here including the program aired by China Central TV on May 15, 1998.

39. Craig S. Smith, "NEW YORK -- The greatest threat to China's ruling Communist Party may not come from democracy advocates or disgruntled workers, but from mild-mannered New York resident Li Hongzhi," Wall Street Journal, April 26,1999.

40. Falun Gong practitioner, A Record of 1,000 Practitioners from Benxi City Appealing in Beijing on June 19, 1999, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, July 6, 2003.

41. "An open letter to Secretary Zhang Lichang and Mayor Li Shenglin," Falun Gong practitioners, Tianjin, China, July 24, 1999. It's in Chinese.

42. Zuoxiu He, "How Falun Gong harassed me and my family," Li Hongzhi & His "Falun Gong" Deceiving the pubic and Ruining Live, New Star Publishers, Beijing 1999, page 18.

43. 44. 45.46. "An open letter to Secretary Zhang Lichang and Mayor Li Shenglin," Falun Gong practitioners, Tianjin, China, July 24, 1999. It's in Chinese.

47. Seth Faison, In Beijing A Roar of Silent Protesters, New York Times, April 27, 1999.

48. Shi Caidong, "Remembering April 25th, 1999 Zhu Rongji Led Us Inside Zhongnanhai," Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, March 9, 2004. Note Shi Caidong was one of three Falun Gong representatives that negotiated with Prime Minister Zhu. Since November, 2002, he resides in New York.

49. 50. 51. Craig S. Smith, "NEW YORK -- The greatest threat to China's ruling Communist Party may not come from democracy advocates or disgruntled workers, but from mild-mannered New York resident Li Hongzhi," Wall Street Journal, April 26,1999.

52. The Falun Gong was often invited to participate in government-organized events and received coverage for it. On August 20, 1998 during the Shenyang Asia Sports Festival, for example, the Falun Gong was one of twenty-five exercise groups, including students of Taichi and the famous Shaolin martial arts school that marched in the opening ceremony of the Chinese Traditional Art of Health Preservation week. This festival was covered by major media, including the Chinese Youth News, a government-own popular newspaper. Four paragraphs were devoted to the Falun Gong's health benefits. This report is available on Falun Gong Minghui.org here. The Falun Gong continued receiving governmental promotion as a genuine Qigong group into 1999.

53. "Harbin Public Safety Bureau Issued 'Award for Not Keeping Found Money' to Dafa Practitioners before the Persecution in 1999," Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, June 1, 2002.

54. 55. 56. Seth Faison, China's Press Says Rally by Sect Was Completely Wrong, New York Times, April 29, 1999.

57. 58. 59. Please Do Not Show Slanderous TV Program, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, July 7, 1999.

60. Peaceful petition of Weifang Dafa disciples on July 14, 1999, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net, July 16, 2003. It is in Chinese.

61. Awakening, Minghui Editorial Department, Falun Dafa Minghui.org, July 19, 1999. It's in Chinese.

62. Li Hongzhi, "Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe," Falundafa.org, May 30, 1998.

63. "China Outlaws Nonconformist Spiritual Sect," Washington Post, July 23, 1999.

64. John Pomfret and Michael Laris, "China Expands Sect Crackdown," Washington Post, July 25, 1999.

65. People's Daily, July 23, 1999. It's in Chinese, click here.

66. China Uses 'Rule of Law' to Justify Falun Gong Crackdown, Human Right Watch, November 9, 1999.

67. Elisabeth Rosenthal, "Beijing Says 35,000 Members of Outlawed Sect Have Had ′Run-Ins′ With Police," New York Times, December 2, 1999.

68. France passes anti-cult law," BBC News, June 22, 2000.

69. "Germany bans neo-Nazi group," BBC News, September 14, 2000.

70. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations.

71. "CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA," Chinese Government, adopted on December 4, 1982.

72. The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called 'heretical organizations,'" Amnesty International, March 23, 2000.

73. Governmental Awards and Recognition of Falun Dafa from the United States, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom.net.



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