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Thousands of People Around the World Rally to Celebrate 30 Years of Falun Gong

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: May 13, 2022
Falun Dafa adherents march along the Burrard Street Canada Day Parade route on July 1, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Image: George Rose via Getty Images)

As Falun Gong practitioners and supporters all around the world gather to commemorate and celebrate on May 13 — known as World Falun Dafa Day — many in China are unable to do so as they remain targets of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for upholding their faith in the practice. 

What is Falun Gong?

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline practiced by tens of millions of people in China and around the world since its introduction to the public in 1992 by its founder Mr. Li Hongzhi. 

Li first taught the practice to the public on May 13 in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun, instructing a group of about 200 students in meditation exercises and moral self-improvement through its guiding principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

Another pillar of the practice focuses on the improvement of practitioners’ personal character and moral conduct through daily life and interpersonal conflicts — stressing the importance of being kind and considerate of others in all regards. 

Shortly after being introduced, Falun Gong gained enormous popularity, garnering the support of over 100 million Chinese citizens, including countless professionals and even high-ranking Communist Party members. 

Over two decades of brutal persecution

In July 1999, then-Party leader Jiang Zemin spearheaded a massive campaign to eradicate the faith after viewing the practice’s quick rise in popularity as a threat to the CCP’s authoritarian rule. 

Millions of Falun Gong adherents have since been incarcerated and thousands have perished from torture and abuse at the hands of Chinese police, with the number still on the rise. Hundreds of thousands have been subject to relentless harassment, arrests and arbitrary imprisonment. Falun Gong followers have also been routinely targeted and killed for their organs in a disturbing organ transplant trade worth over $1 billion a year in China.

According to findings by UK-based NGO, the China Tribunal, investigations into “reports of thousands of transplant tourists going to China to purchase organs,” found that the Chinese transplant industry, together with other evidence, suggests that the CCP has been involved in forced organ harvesting and selling for profit organs from murdered prisoners of conscience.

Although China has had an organ transplant industry for decades, the volume of transplants increased exponentially in the early 2000s, coinciding with the timing of when the CCP began its massive crackdown against Falun Gong and its adherents. 

In addition to being jailed, killed for their organs, and tortured for their beliefs, Falun Gong followers have also faced all forms of repression — from being fired from their jobs to receiving heavy prison sentences and enduring unimaginable torture, such as force feeding, beatings, and sexual assault at the hands of prison guards and other inmates.

According to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that documents the persecution of Falun Gong, over 4,365 practitioners have been tortured to death since the oppresive campaign began. However, based on first-hand accounts from those living under perpetual harassment by the Party’s various security organizations, the practice’s adherents speculate the real number of deaths to be in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions.

READ MORE ON THE PERSECUTION OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN CHINA:

The widespread campaign against Falun Gong covered all aspects of Chinese society, from practitioners being arrested by the thousands to round-the-clock propaganda broadcasts describing Falun Gong as dangerous and brandishing the practice as an “evil cult.”

Since its inception in 1949, the CCP has had a long track record of targeting religious faiths and minorities for violent assimilation to its atheist ideology. In addition to Falun Gong practitioners, many Christians, Buddhists, Tibetans, and members of the Uyghur Muslim minority have been jailed, tortured, and face rampant oppression in China everyday. 

According to findings from the U.N., and other widely reported accounts, more than one million Uyghur Muslims remain jailed in concentration camps across remote parts of western China.

Friends of Falun Gong rally in show of support 

Despite undergoing over two decades of persecution, abuse and torture, Falun Gong disciples all around the world continue to spread messages of peace, harmony and compassion everywhere they go — garnering the support of many politicians and human rights’ activists in the process. 

Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners meditate through body movements to mark the 10th anniversary of the practice being outlawed in China on July 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Image: TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“This day recognizes the millions of people around the world that have found this ancient Chinese culture practice to be key in addressing stresses and anxiety of modern-day life,” Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania wrote in a letter on World Falun Dafa Day in 2020. 

Tamara Jansen, a Conservative Party member of Canada’s Parliament, wrote, “Though the festivities are taking place in a different form this year, the Falun Dafa principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance are being honored and celebrated.”

“On World Falun Dafa Day, we strive to uphold the universal tenets of truthfulness, compassion, & forbearance, ideals that are fundamental to the expression of the Falun Gong faith,” Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said on May 13, 2021 in a message of support posted to his Twitter account. 

Moral obligations

On March 31, U.S. politicians issued the Commission’s 2021 Annual Report on human rights abuses in China. The report highlighted the ongoing persecution, suppression, and abuse against prisoners of conscience and other religious minorities — particularly that of Falun Gong adherents. 

“Documenting the human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government is not only the Commission’s mandate, but our moral obligation to those who, due to repression and censorship, are unable to tell their stories,” said Cochair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) James McGovern. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to put the CECC’s recommendations into action.”

The report concluded with the committee reiterating the priority of “documenting the CCP’s unspeakable crimes,” and holding the Chinese regime accountable for those who are “suffering grave abuses due to China’s forced assimilation policies.”