EXCERPT FROM INTERVIEW:
Nowadays you go to China and you may see many skyscrapers, big bridges, and development, big shopping centers… you don’t see the persecution of Falun Gong, but it’s still going on. Thousands of practitioners are still in labor camps, in jails, mental hospitals, in brainwashing centers. You don’t see these people because they are detained, but you see the products they make in torturous slave labor conditions. Many electronic devices, toys, even chopsticks, are made in jails and labor camps, many of them are made by practitioners who are still under persecution and facing torture and death.
For example, there was a letter a couple of months ago reported in the media, that someone found hidden in a toy that was made in China. It was from a Falun Gong practitioner detained in a labor camp in the north east of China asking for help. It was a shock to society. It was just one voice that came out, but hundreds of thousands are still persecuted.
Here in the U.S., we have a non-profit human rights organization dedicated to helping persecuted Falun Gong practitioners in China, called Global Mission to Rescue Persecuted Falun Gong Practitioners in China.
It was formed to rescue our family members from China, and later on to rescue every practitioner who was being persecuted. We started to talk to the U.S. and other governments, to the United Nations, and all kinds of people to try to help the people inside China and relieve their pressure due to this persecution.
Even now, more than ten years later, I still get emails from homeless practitioners of Falun Gong in China asking us for help. They can’t go to their homes in China or they will be arrested and sent to jail or a labor camp.
At the beginning of the persecution, during 1999 to 2000, we had a nine-day seminar at the Boston public library. At that time I was working at Harvard medical school and I received a threatening call from a Chinese person with a very strong Cantonese accent who said they “got some information from the Chinese embassy. You are doing some anti-Chinese government movement, you be careful, otherwise I’m going to take you out.” At other times they would call and start to swear at and threaten me.
When the persecution worsened in 2004 and 2005, when I called my father in China, he said: “You be careful because the secret police from the government said to tell you to be careful”. He said they know every move I am making in the U.S. They know who I talked to, which restaurant I was in. They asked him to tell me to not be so active in raising awareness.
My friends houses have been broken into, for example, one from Georgia had his house broken into by a guy hired by the Chinese Embassy to steal sensitive information on his computer. He was brutally beaten up in his home and the assailants told him it’s because he practices Falun Gong and is so active in activities to raise awareness of the persecution. His eye was terribly swollen and his face was bleeding in many places.
Falun Gong practitioners risked their lives to clarify the truth about the persecution throughout society in China to try and stop it. I think they do that because they benefit from this practice and that’s their belief, their spiritual belief, which means you live by it, you practice on it, you don’t just theoretically talk about it and then live a different life, that’s not belief.
One of the most vicious ways the Chinese communist regime has used to force Falun Gong practitioners to give up or renounce their belief is brainwashing, which they call ‘re-education’ or ‘ideological education’. They want to control people’s minds, that’s what the communist regime has been doing over the past decades since they took over China. They brainwash people’s minds to force people to think the way they want them to think.
The majority of families in China, in one way or another, were persecuted during the time of the Cultural Revolution. In my family, my grandpa and my mom were persecuted.
A main goal of the Cultural Revolution was to destroy traditional Chinese culture and values. Because communism is not a Chinese ideology, it had to overtake 5,000 years of culture and tradition to take control over society. And because Falun Gong is really rooted in traditional culture and was reviving ancient spiritual belief, the Communist Party saw it as a threat to its power and wanted to eliminate it.
The first time I heard about the persecution of Falun Gong, I didn’t believe it. I thought, “How could that happen?” Because everything from Falun Gong is good; it teaches people to be good, it helps people improve their health, and millions and millions of people were practicing it, and the government knew that, it just seemed like such a ridiculous thing, just absolutely absurd! But it happened.
The main reason for the persecution was a conflict of ideology. Because communism requires everyone in society to be atheist, but Falun Dafa teaches people to believe in divine beings, like Buddhas, Taos, and Gods. Because the communist regime insists on total control of everyone’s belief and thoughts, the dictator at the time, Jiang Zemin, began the persecution. He didn’t want people to believe in anything other than communism.
When the persecution started my mother was one of the first people jailed. On the night of July 20, 1999, the communist party started arresting everyone who ran Falun Gong exercise groups across the country.
My mom was put into a labor camp for almost two years and my younger sister was put into a labour camp for one and a half years. My younger brother was sentenced to jail for ten years. This was all because they refused to give up their practice of Falun Gong.
This was quite common throughout China. I know many families where everyone was persecuted, even the family members who were not practitioners. For example, their wages or their salary was cut it they didn’t help the government to force their family members to give up their belief.
When I heard my mom was into labor camp, I was very worried. I wanted to go to China to bail her out, but the government wouldn’t allow anyone to be bailed out. All the policies were very restrictive. Then so many more of my family were jailed. Basically my family was just torn apart. When my family was torn apart, I felt inside, torn apart.
In January 2001 there was a report from Chinese Central Television that said Falun Gong practitioners set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square and that within a couple of minutes the fire was put out by very prepared policeman.
I know how big Tiananmen Square is and I know there are no firemen around there to be prepared for this type of incident on a regular basis, so when you see the video, it’s obvious the event was very well prepared, staged, like it’s a TV program or a movie. They made it very emotional so that people who don’t know how evil the Chinese communist regime can be, if they only watch the video, they would think the people burned themselves because of the practice. It was intentionally made that way as propaganda from the regime to try and justify the persecution.
This event and the propaganda around it caused so many people all over China to hate Falun Gong. Even if they had never heard about Falun Gong, after watching the TV and seeing all the Chinese media repeat the story again and again, every day for so long, they started to hate Falun Gong, because they thought that Falun Gong caused these people to set themselves on fire.
Even though it’s been proven in the West to be staged by the Chinese regime, the propaganda already caused so much hatred in China.
I heard about it from the New York Times and from CNN, but I knew immediately it was a lie. If you think about it, in 1989, if a regime can send tanks on to Tiananmen Square and China’s biggest avenue to crush young students, then it’s not hard for them to stage a murder of practitioners of Falun Gong and use it to defame them and say it was a self-immolation. It’s too easy for them, a piece of cake.
But people outside of China, Western people are too kind, they cannot imagine this kind of evil, they cannot believe that a political party or government could do such a form of state murder, and publicly use it to defame a group of people and their belief.
The goal of the self-immolation was to trigger hatred towards Falun Gong and Falun Gong practitioners and at the same time, generate a much bigger excuse for the regime to crack down on the Falun Gong movement.
Falun Gong spread in China by word of mouth. A typical example is how my family learned it. I learned Falun Gong, then I practiced. I felt very good so I called my mom back in China and said “Mom, this is what you want.” She had been trying different qigong practices for quite a few years to treat her health problems. After she practiced for a couple of weeks, her diseases were cured, so then she told my father. My father told my sister, who told my brother…
That’s a very typical example of how Falun Gong spread throughout China very organically. There were no advertisements. People benefitted from it, so they naturally wanted to share it with their loved ones.
I’ve read a lot of books on philosophy, both Western and Chinese, but nothing talked about these kinds of profound principles and expressed them so directly. I can almost recite the Tao Te Jing, it’s not too much, only 5000 words, but this Falun Gong is totally different.
For the exercise and meditation part, I’ve been practicing these types of things since I was in college, so I have an appreciation for practicing martial arts, qigong, and internal cultivation ways. They give you a much more powerful energetic feeling. You can actually feel it and the more wonderful thing is that you feel peace in your heart, not just the power of the energy in your body. When you do the sitting meditation of Falun Gong, even though at the beginning you feel pain in your two legs, but in your heart you feel calm.
I first heard about Falun Gong from one of my best friends from graduate school. He had tried many forms of qigong. He said, “This one’s different”. So I read the main book called “Zhuan Falun”, and it was much more profound than I expected.
The first time I read the book, I found the ideologies from Dao school, the Buddha school, the Confucian school… all the essence of Chinese culture is embedded into Falun Gong’s teachings, so I feel this is so profound because all of Chinese traditional culture is embedded in it.
To my understanding, the close relation between Falun Gong and Chinese culture is the spiritual side, because especially over the past 50 years, since the CCP took over China, we have lost it. Chinese people have been forced to forget about the spiritual aspects of Chinese culture. Falun Gong reminded me of all the great values from our ancient culture.
It was the principles, the three words – truth compassion, tolerance – that really moved me. During the time when I was in China, there were so many qigong masters, but this was the only one talking about the spiritual aspects, universal principles, and transformation of the energy in the body. None of the others could compare with this.
This practice [Falun Gong] requires the practitioner, whenever a conflict happens, or whenever you don’t feel comfortable, to look inside to find what is wrong with you, or why are you not comfortable within the situation or the environment. It makes you really want to be more considerate towards others. I think that’s one of the main reasons why practitioners, whenever they interact with people, they are very considerate. If you are not considerate enough, you cannot be peaceful when you deal with people around you.