One of the greatest secrets hiding behind the iron gates that the Chinese Communist party has placed around the hearts and minds of many Chinese is the persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong, which translates to “Dharma Wheel Practice”, has ancient roots steeped in Chinese moral traditions and qigong a practice which emphasizes meditation and energy movement.
The Falun Gong movement, founded by Li Hongzhi, harnessed these roots to create an entire spiritual system in 1992. The popularity of the movement grew quickly and within a few years it had millions of followers within China. Then the Communist Party began to view this group as a threat since they were a large group that had philosophical differences from the ruling party. There was reason for concern because by 1999 Falun Gong had swelled to a group with 70 million adherents. At this time a faction of 10,000 gathered in Beijing for a peaceful protest to demand that they would be left alone by authorities. Then began a brutal crackdown on the movement that included wrongful imprisonment, extreme torture, and in some cases it was reported that adherents of the movement were used for organ harvesting. This backlash included a powerful propaganda campaign run by the state, which shattered the Falun Gong movement, and forced its members to flee.
Founder Li Hongzhi has lived in the United States since 1996 and has continued to spread the Falun Gong teachings. During a recent trip to New York City I met some members of Falun Gong who were adamant about getting the word out about their cause and sharing information regarding their persecution in China. They handed me literature with details of the central tenants of their movement and the mistreatment by the Chinese state.
Falun Gong has special significance this week as there has been a large body of evidence that imprisoned members of the group have been forced to produce products that are sold in the U.S. Among these products are seasonal decorations. A mysterious note tucked into a Halloween decoration in Oregon broke the silence of how the adherents of Falun Gong had been forced into slave labor. For more information check out the links below: