Falun Gong

expense of the health system to many people and faltering mutual support
networks, the positive effects of Qigong practice and the support networks
resulting from membership will have been supportive for the spread of the Falun
Gong." However, the Falun Dafa is taught as a path which is more than just
the practice of Qigong; is seen a way of life. 1

Founder Li Hongzhi (a.k.a. Master Li) has said that, in the past, its secrets
were passed only from master to student. Hongzhi made the movement public in
China in 1992. It is now available to anyone. It currently has branches
throughout the world. It claims a membership of 70 million on China and 30
million elsewhere in the world. Theirs is not a religious organization in the
conventional sense of the term. They continually deny being a religion, cult or
sect. They are mainly "a network for transmitting information and
practices, in which people may dip on an incidental basis or more
regularly." 1

Falun Dafa was registered with the Qugong Research Association of China in
1992. However, it became obvious that Qugong\'s emphasis on "healing
illnesses and keeping fit, as well as displaying supernormal powers at
exhibitions" did not match Falun Dafa\'s emphasis on "genuinely guiding
people to higher dimensions." So Li Hongzhi withdrew the movement from the
Association. By this time, the Chinese government had become concerned about the
popularity of the Falun Dafa. The number of Falun Dafa practitioners had
exceeded the number of people in the Communist Party. In fact, Falun Dafa had
included many part members. The government refused them permission to join any
other association. Thus they have remained without legal protection or status in
China.

Li Hongzhi left China in 1996, and now resides in New York state. He speaks
at annual Experience-Sharing Conferences.

About 10,000 Falun Dafa members engaged in a peaceful gathering outside the
Communist Party headquarters in Beijing on 1999-APR-25. On 1999-MAY-9, three
students were fired from a university in Dalian City, China for practicing Falun
Gong. One student was expelled. In subsequent months, practitioners were
harassed in various areas of the country, as they were performing group
exercises. Some practitioners were told that their phones were being monitored
and that if they continued, their retirement pensions would be terminated.
Police and other officials started to break into practitioner\'s homes and
confiscate Falun Gong material. Some followers have been arrested and have
disappeared from sight. 12 Thousands of members demonstrated peacefully in about
30 Chinese cities.

The group was outlawed on 1999-JUL-22. The government accused it of
"spreading fallacies, hoodwinking people, inciting and creating
disturbances and jeopardizing social stability." 9 On JUL-23, Master LI
called on "all governments, international organizations, and people of
goodwill worldwide to extend their support and assistance to us in order to
resolve the current crisis in China." 11 On JUL-29, Chinese authorities
issued an arrest warrant for Master Li. According to the official Xinhua News
Agency, the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing said sect founder Li Hongzhi
"spread superstition and malicious fallacies to deceive people, resulting
in the deaths of many practitioners." He is also accused of organizing
demonstrations without first applying for permits. 16

In an apparent violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, which China recently signed, the government has arrested hundreds of
Falun Gong practitioners and is proceeding with show trials. Some have been sent
directly to labor camps without trials. A spokesperson for the Falun Gong
Practitioners in North America has stated that: "lawyers in China have
already been told not to defend these innocent civilians unless they agree with
the government propaganda. Also, no legal representation on behalf of them from
the concerned international community is allowed to be present at the
trial."

The U.S. House and Senate unanimously passed resolutions on 1999-NOV-18 and
19 which criticized the Chinese government for its crackdown of the Falun Gong.
"Both resolutions urge the Chinese government to honor the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights that it has signed, to stop arresting, detaining and
persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, to release all detained dissidents, and to
respect the basic human rights such as freedom of belief and freedom of
speech." 13 Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi commented that
Falun Gong is not a religious organization. It is not simply a Qugong group. He
sees it as a destructive cult that harms Chinese society and its people. He
regards the resolutions as a gross infringement of China\'s internal affairs. 15

In late 1999-NOV, over 700 Falun Gong practitioners went to Seattle WA during
the World Trade organization (WTO) ministerial meetings. Their intent was to
launch a