EXCERPT FROM INTERVIEW:
The popularity of Qigong in China has followed a torturous course. When Qigong initially went public in 1978, it was cracked down on by the Chinese government as a ‘practice of superstition’. Police would arrest Qigong Masters.
At that time I served in the Ministry of Public Security and thus had to practice Qigong secretly. By the time when the persecution of Falun Gong occurred, I had a thorough understanding of Qigong theoretically and practically, and I had the confidence to tell the Ministry of Public Security that I am a Falun Gong practitioner.
Since its taking power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never stopped its attempts to destroy traditional culture through political movements, especially the Cultural Revolution. That is why all the Qigong schools before Falun Gong dared not associate themselves with traditional Chinese culture and only focussed on healing. Falun Gong speaks about Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance and spiritual cultivation, which are the true essence of Chinese culture.
I experienced almost all the movements by the CCP since I was 17 years old and I knew very well that the CCP would never tolerate Falun Gong because it stands in sharp contrast to it. I was even prepared for being put in prison for practicing Falun Gong, as early as in 1996, when the central Propaganda Department cancelled the publishing license for the main book of Falun Gong, Zhuan Falun.
The whole purpose of all the movements initiated by the CCP is to persecute good people and destroy traditional values. The message delivered to the public is that good people are not allowed to speak or have their own faith, otherwise they would risk losing their lives and the lives of their family.
It was a horrible era when people lived under terrorism, deprived of belief, faith, truth and soul. They had to follow the CCP unconditionally to survive. To make things worse, the cultural revolution shattered China’s economy and the whole country was facing gloomy prospects. It was under such background that Falun Gong was made public. It was so great and significant.
However, the principles of Falun Gong, which are opposite to that of the CCP, wouldn’t be tolerated. China is under an authoritative regime, and the then leader, Jiang Zemin, exploited the state machinery, including nationwide media, to serve the objective of persecuting Falun Gong. All the news media have assisted Jiang’s regime in fabricating and spreading lies and smearing Falun Gong.
In fact, Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan, China’s Security Chief, had been hatching the persecution of Falun Gong since as early as in 1995. The campaign against Falun Gong dated back to January 1995 when the authorities announced they would outlaw four Qigong schools, one of which was Falun Gong. The ban was then cancelled after many government staff and agencies approached the authorities to appeal the decision.
In 1996, the state-run newspaper, Guangming Daily, ran an article attacking Falun Gong as a practice of ‘superstition’. This was followed by a large meeting called by the United Front Work Department of the CCP telling the minor parties that Falun Gong was a heretical religion. In July, the Central Propaganda Department issued an order banning the publishing of Zhuan Falun.
Since 1997 the Ministry of Public Security launched a national investigation into Falun Gong practitioners with the purpose of collecting evidence that Falun Gong was engaged in illegal activities. The outcome reported was that no problems were found.
In 1998, the ministry ordered another investigation, this time directly declaring Falun Gong a heretical religion. They ordered infiltrators to collect evidence for proof of wrongdoing.
After The Guangming Daily defamed Falun Gong, the central government received tens of thousands of letters from practitioners with their personal stories of how Falun Gong had improved their health and well being.
In 1998, Beijing Television Station broadcast an interview attacking Falun Gong. Many practitioners approached the station. The director, after learning the truth, admitted that this was the largest mistake the station had ever made since its establishment. The two journalists involved were then sacked and the interviewee on the program, He Zuoxiu, was banned from the station.
He Zuoxiu then published an article in a magazine in Tianjin slandering Falun Gong as superstitious and harmful to youth. Tianjin Falun Gong practitioners responded to the article by peacefully petitioning in front of the editorial offices. Editors show sympathy for the practitioners and initially agreed to publish a retraction of the He Zuoxiu article. But Luo Gan ordered the Ministry of Public Security to involve and arrested the practitioners on April 21st, 1999. Local police asked the practitioners to turn to the Central government for a solution, which led to the event on April 25th that gained worldwide attention.
What is known as the April 25th event is a peaceful appeal of tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners to end the escalating harassment against the group. They quietly assembled outside the Central Appeals Office until then Premier Zhu Rongji met with representatives and agreed to release the arrested practitioners and assured them that the government does not oppose Falun Gong. the practitioners returned home relieved.
But it was from that day that the state media started to fabricate and spread lies about Falun Gong under the order of Jiang Zemin. Party propaganda fabricated the rumor that Falun Gong practitioners were going to commit group suicide on May 1st and then the date changed to May 4th. The smear campaign had been escalating up until 20 July 1999 when Jiang Zemin rolled out the nationwide campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong.
All the exercise sites were shut down and many coordinators, including my good friends who were arrested and put into labor camps or prisons. Some of them are Li Chang, who was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment; Wang Zhiwen, who was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment; Zhang Yujie and many famous professors.
Since the first day of the persecution, tens of thousands practitioners have traveled to Beijing to appeal to the central government, including practitioners from overseas who were also arrested and tortured. The efforts have never stopped and have been gaining momentum over the years.”