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Five years of persecution is five years too long
Suman Srinivasan

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In China, graduating high school students mockingly refer to the seventh month of the year as “Black July” because that is when they take the national college entrance exam, arguably the most important exam in their lives.
In the future, “Black July” might be used to refer to the same month in more horrific terms.

On July 22nd, 1999, then-Chinese leader and strongman Jiang Zemin launched a violent nationwide persecution campaign against a number of kind-hearted people who practiced a peaceful meditation and exercise system called Falun Gong. Five years hence, the persecution has claimed more than 1000 lives and has affected every aspect of Chinese society.

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that was introduced to the public by its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, in May 1992. Its core values of “Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance”, emphasis on moral and kind-hearted living and five gentle meditation exercises seem to have been the reasons for its incredibly quick popularity – practicing Falun Gong appears to have given a large number of its practitioners better health, happier lives, harmony with friends and family and more enthusiasm to live life fully.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Sherwood Liu, a researcher at the University of South Florida said, “I have practiced Falun Gong since 1998. The practice cured my acute headaches. My parents, who are in their 70’s, benefited tremendously. My mom was in constant pain from arthritis and my dad had facial spasms and imbalanced vision that caused headaches. Their problems all went away after a few months’ practice. All my family members who practice Falun Gong have experienced great health benefits.” Benefits like these appear to have helped Falun Gong spread by word of mouth quickly through China, with government estimates of at least 70 million people practicing by late 1998.

Yet, this incredibly quick spread was exactly what turned off Jiang Zemin. After an impromptu, large-scale peaceful appeal at Zhongnanhai, the central seat of the Chinese government, by practitioners of Falun Gong on April 25th, 1999 in response to illegal arrests in a nearby city, Jiang Zemin starting putting into action a devastating campaign to wipe out Falun Gong and those who practiced it.

On July 22nd, 1999, this campaign, which Jiang developed behind the scenes for months, was unleashed with devastating fury. From that day, the lives of close to 100 million Falun Gong practitioners were turned upside down.

Close to 1000 deaths due to torture have been verified (the number may be many times that, according to inside sources); hundreds of thousands of peaceful practitioners have been thrown into forced labor camps; thousands have been sent to psychiatric hospitals where doctors, instead of helping patients, inject them with mind-damaging drugs and turn sane people into shivering wrecks of humanity; bread winners have been thrown out of jobs; elderly people have seen their lifeline pensions cut; women, young and old, have been subject to horrifying and purposefully degrading sexual abuse and rape; and even, children, naïve innocent souls, have been beaten and tortured.

The persecution has even been extended to countries outside China. From 1999, Chinese government consulate officers and officials attempted to bend the government policies of the US and other countries to prevent them from issuing declarations of support for Falun Gong. Elected officials who issued proclamations recognizing the benefits of Falun Gong to the individual and society have been pressured to by Consular officials to rescind those proclamations.

On several occasions Chinese with close ties to North American Chinese Consular officials have physically assaulted Falun Gong practitioners who were peacefully appealing for an end top the persecution. Some of these attackers have been arrested and convicted; others have escaped.

Several North America Falun Gong practitioners have had their houses ransacked, cars vandalized and laptops and other communications equipment stolen. One Chinese practitioner in Chicago had his car firebombed in 2001. When Falun Gong practitioners staged a peaceful appeal in Iceland in early 2002, the Chinese government leaders successfully pressured the Iceland authorities to stop Falun Gong practitioners from flying into the democratic country.

The recent shooting incident in South Africa probably reveals the extent to which the Jiang regime will go to suppress any calls for justice from Falun Gong. On June 28th, 2004, David Liang was shot through both feet as he and other Falun Gong practitioners were driving to Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, to expose the crimes of two top Chinese officials who were visiting South Africa, and to serve them with legal papers. The chilling attempt on the lives of five practitioners in South Africa suggests that the Jiang Zemin faction is willing to go as far as it takes to stop people from learning the truth about Falun Gong.

It is said that the best people emerge in the worst of situations. Even as the Jiang regime has committed cruel and vicious deeds in its persecution of Falun Gong over the last five years, Falun Gong practitioners inside and outside of China have, despite all the difficulties and obstacles that have been imposed upon them, made every effort to peacefully stop the persecution. Outside China, parades and torture exhibitions are held to let the governments, media and people around the world see the despicable cruelty imposed on kind-hearted people.

Inside China, in a quieter yet more outstanding manner, Falun Gong practitioners have distributed flyers and video CDs, hung up banners and used cable television to broadcast the truth about Falun Gong and the persecution to let more people know the truth about Falun Gong. They do this in an environment where they stand to lose everything, including their lives, if caught.

Over the last 5 years, Falun Gong has not weakened. Instead, it has become stronger and its name recognition has become greater. People around the world are beginning to understand that this persecution is the most wide-scale and inhuman persecution of kind people that the world has ever seen.

But July 1999 will be an event, a memory, a month that will be remembered for a long time in human history. This July, five years on, thousands of Falun Gong practitioners from around the world will converge at Washington DC to hold large-scale activities to let people know the truth about Falun Gong.

They deserve to be wished all success in their efforts.

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