In May of 1992, Mr. Li Hongzhi held the first Falun Gong class in China. In September of 1992, Falun Gong was officially accepted as a direct branch of the China Qigong Research Association and received a nationwide permit to teach Falun Dafa in China. Later, the China TV Broadcasting Agency Publishing Company and some other official publishing companies published Mr. Li's works, Falun Gong and Zhuan Falun.
Because of its tremendous power to improve health, Falun Gong stood out from the thousands of other forms of qigong (exercises for cultivating "qi" or "vital energy") of that time and spread quickly. Before July 1999, by early dawn, almost every Chinese park would be brimming with people practising Falun Gong. The number of Falun Gong practitioners reached 100 million within seven years. The practitioners live in different geographic regions and are of all ages, social strata and walks of life. Even the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee had read Zhuan Falun. Some of their family members practised Falun Gong and so did many highly ranking Party officials. Many government agencies and mainstream media acknowledged and supported Falun Gong.
In December of 1992, Mr. Li Hongzhi and some of his students attended the 1993 Oriental Health Expo in Beijing. Mr. Li Rusong, Chief Executive Officer of the Expo, and Professor Jiang Xuegui, Chief Consultant of the Expo, commented objectively on Mr. Li's cultivation power and the miraculous healing effects of Falun Gong. Mr. Li Rusong mentioned, "Falun Gong received the most praise during the Exposition and its healing effects are good." Professor Jiang Xuegui commented, "It can be said that Mr. Li Hongzhi was a shining star at the Exposition. I witnessed many of Master Li's miracles at the Exposition. I have seen patients who were dependant on walking-sticks and wheelchairs, those who were bothered by various conditions that prevented them from walking normally, miraculously stand up and walk after having been adjusted or treated by Master Li. It's just as it has been stated: Falun Gong is a miraculous cultivation system. As the Chief Consultant of the Expo and with corresponding responsibility, I recommend Falun Gong to you all. I believe that this cultivation system will genuinely bring people physical health and a fresh spirit and mind."
On the 25th of August, 1993, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry Propaganda cosponsored the Third Conference of the National Foundation for Heroes in Beijing. The Qigong Research Society and the Foundation invited Mr. Li Hongzhi to give free treatments to those who were injured or disabled in the line of duty. On the 31st of August, the Valor Foundation wrote a letter to the China Qigong Research Association and to Mr. Li Hongzhi to express their gratitude, in which it stated, "On the 24th of August, upon our invitation, Mr. Li Hongzhi made a special trip to the Public Security Ministry and offered treatment to Chairman Wang Fang. On the 30th of August, Mr. Li, Hongzhi, leading a group of students, offered treatment to up to 100 representatives at the Conference venue. Because of the remarkable effectiveness, the treatment received wide acclaim. Prior to the treatment, some people were suffering from ailments left over from knife and gunshot injuries. After the treatment, they were relieved of symptoms such as pain, numbness and chronic weakness. Those suffering from brain illnesses recovered and became sober minded after the treatment. They were relieved of symptoms such as headache and dizziness. Some people were relieved of tumours right on the spot. Some excreted gallstones in 24 hours after receiving the treatment. Some people suffered from stomach diseases, heart diseases or arthritis. After the treatment, all of them were relieved of symptoms right on the site. Among almost 100 people who received the treatment, only one person claimed no obvious effects. All others felt obvious improvements to various degrees. The representatives treated by Falun Gong were very grateful for this event arranged by the Valor Foundation and credited it as a tangible help offered during the Conference with the following statement: "Whereas the leaders of CQSRS and Mr. Li, Hongzhi directly offered that help, and the activity would help promote the general public's sense of voluntarily combating criminal activities, we hereby express our sincere thanks to you, other CQSRS leaders and Mr. Li, Hongzhi!" The People's Public Security News, published by the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, carried a report on the 21st of September, 1993 about this event.
The Chinese government has always been known for its efforts to strictly control the minds of the population. After the Communist Party took power, waves of political movements threw the country into constant turmoil. Today, elderly Chinese people can still vividly recall the series of framing, fabrications and persecution cases during the "Anti-rightist" movement and the Cultural Revolution. After the economic reform and "opening-up" policies took effect, China's economy developed quickly and the financial environment loosened up, but the same cannot be said about the government's iron-fisted control on diversity of thought. The Party did not lighten its suppression of nonconforming opinions and civil groups. Those in power have deeply rooted in their minds the notion of regarding those with differing ideas as their enemy; it's a form of "political hypersensitivity" formed during various upheavals during the Party's rule. The rulers' mindset provides an excellent opportunity for those who hope to seize power through starting a movement, or people who are always on the lookout for the path to promotion. Such was the unique social environment confronting Falun Gong in Mainland China, which had great impact on its development.
Falun Gong brought tremendous benefits to its practitioners as it helped them improve their moral level as well as their physical health. However, because Falun Gong principles are different from the atheism advocated by the Party and the number of Falun Gong practitioners quickly exceeded the number of Party members, gradually some official media developed misunderstandings about Falun Gong. In addition, some Party leaders and political opportunists' hypersensitivity took charge, and they thought they had to defend their power by going on the offencive and stirring up trouble. The conspiracy to persecute Falun Gong gradually took form in secret while the public and the Falun Gong practitioners were completely unaware of it. Luo Gan, who played an important role in the June 4th Massacre of students on Tiananmen Square, and his brother-in-law He Zuoxiu, a sham scientist and political hack, actively took part in the conspiracy.
On the 17th of June, 1996, Guangming Daily, a government-run newspaper, published an editorial article entitled, "A Loud and Long Alarm Must Be Sounded Against Pseudo-Science," which claimed that Falun Gong promoted superstition, and was "Pseudo-Science." It called Falun Gong practitioners fools for their belief. One month later, the Chinese News Publishing Bureau, under the Propaganda Ministry at the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, issued an order to all cities and provinces, prohibiting the publishing of Zhuan Falun and China Falun Gong, and other Falun Gong books with the excuse that the books were "promoting superstition." Soon, a dozen major official newspapers such as Qilu Evening News and China Youth Daily published articles attacking Falun Gong.
In 1997, Luo Gan, the secretary of the Political and Judiciary Committee of the CCP Central Committee ordered the police to secretly investigate Falun Gong throughout China and look for evidence to ban Falun Gong. Although they could not find anything wrong with Falun Gong, the police in certain regions started to monitor and fine Falun Gong practitioners and interfere with their daily lives.
When confronted with attack and slander, Falun Gong practitioners went to the media and government officials time and time again to peacefully clarify the facts about Falun Gong. Their sincerity and openness moved many people who had misunderstandings; they won support from open-minded Party officials. Some media published corrective reports after they learnt the truth. In order to prevent the Ministry of Public Security from continuing its secret attack against Falun Gong, on the 15th of May, 1998, Mr. Wu Shaozu, director of China's National Sports Commission (NSC) went to Changchun City, where Falun Gong had originated, to carry out some research about Falun Gong. After a thorough study, the NSC determined the overall efficiency of healing and keeping fit by practising Falun Gong to be 97.9%. On the 20th of October, the NSC sent a team of medical experts to Changchun to conduct more research. After the study, the head of the research team said, "We feel that both the Falun Gong exercises and their effectiveness are quite good. The impact on the stability of society and the strengthening of the spiritual culture are all quite evident. This deserves to be fully recognised."
In 1998, 135 well-known figures in society, also Falun Gong practitioners, jointly submitted a letter to the president at that time, Jiang Zemin, and Premier Zhu Rongji. The letter stated that the Ministry of Public Security violated the Chinese Constitution and the law by interfering with Falun Gong practitioners' normal activities and practise. It also said that the Ministry of Public Security should spend more time controlling criminals instead of creating trouble for Falun Gong practitioners. Premier Zhu Rongji wrote a note to the Ministry of Public Security, in which he said that Falun Gong had saved the government tremendous medical expenses, and that the police should focus on maintaining the people's security instead of harassing Falun Gong.
The political group of villains headed by Jiang Zemin, Luo Gan and He Zuoxiu ignored the openness and honesty of Falun Gong practitioners. They regarded the practitioners' peaceful appeal to the media and the government as a threat and challenge to their power, and they were intent on destroying Falun Gong. According to a Party member who wishes to remain anonymous, in the latter half of 1998, a group of retired National People's Congress officials led by Qiao Shi [the former Chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress] conducted a detailed investigation and study over a certain period of time on Falun Gong, because so many members of the public had sent letters mentioning the Public Security Bureau's illegal treatment of Falun Gong practitioners. The conclusion of the study was that "Falun Gong only benefits and does no harm to the nation and the people." They ended their report by saying "Winning the hearts of the people you gain the world. Losing the hearts of the people, you lose everything." The report was submitted in October to the Political Bureau (the directing body of the Communist Party ), which Jiang Zemin headed. Insiders at Zhongnanhai (the government compound in Beijing) reported that Jiang was very displeased with this report, and wrote a note to Luo Gan expressing his displeasure, a note that incited Luo's desire to advance himself by opposing Falun Gong. Luo Gan fully comprehended Jiang's intentions. Soon, even premier Zhu Rongji's notes and comments on Falun Gong to be passed down to local government agencies were withheld by Luo Gan. By early 1999, overwhelming pressure was mounted against Falun Gong, and the interference that had lasted three years escalated.
On the 11th of April, 1999, He Zuoxiu published an article to attack and slander Falun Gong in a nationwide journal issued by the Tianjin Educational Institute. In the article he claimed practising Falun Gong would make one go insane.
The article had a very bad influence in society and it was not based on facts. Worried that if they didn't clarify the truth, Falun Gong's reputation would be damaged and their right to practise would be taken away, during the period from th 18th to the 24th of April, some Falun Gong practitioners from Tianjin went to the Tianjin Educational Institute and related organisations to explain the true situation of Falun Gong. At first, the officials of the Institute met with the practitioners and said they would correct the article. The next day, they changed their mind and refused to correct it.
More and more practitioners went to the institute hoping to clarify the facts with their firsthand experience. On the 23rd and 24th of April, the Tianjin Municipal Bureau of Public Security dispatched about 300 riot police to beat the practitioners participating in the peaceful and lawful appeal. The authorities arrested 45 practitioners and the police injured some practitioners. The Tianjin City government officials told the practitioners that the arrests made were not within their control and if the practitioners wanted to appeal, they must go to the central government in Beijing.
The news spread quickly. People sensed pressure from the central government from the unusual violence of the Tianjin City government and police. The practitioners firmly believed there was nothing wrong with being good people according to Truth-Compassion-Tolerance, and also their own experience had proved Falun Gong to be good. With their trust in government and the hope of dispelling prejudice, about 10,000 practitioners went to State Council's Appeals Bureau near Zhongnanhai on the 25th of April.
On the same day, Premier Zhu Rongji met with representative practitioners.
According to what practitioner Shi Caidong, a Ph. D. student at the Chinese Academy of Sciences recalled, "It was around 7 a.m. when I arrived at the north end of Fuyou Street on the 25th of April. Practitioners had already filled up the two sides of Fuyou Street and nearby streets. Some stood there and some sat down, but they did not talk to passers-by. Some were holding books and reading. Even though there were a lot of people, they did not create a traffic jam, nor did they make any noise. Bikers on their way to work were pedalling by as usual. I crossed Xianmen Boulevard and entered the south side of the district. It was my first time there and I didn't even know where the gate was. I thought I would first circle around to see if I'd run into any practitioners I knew. So I walked south along the west side of Fuyou Street. Practitioners lined up neatly on both sides of the streets. Practitioners on the outside were standing and practitioners on the inside sat down. They were all reading the book Zhuan Falun. Judging from their clothing, I could tell that some were from the countryside and they looked sincere and kind. I didn't meet any acquaintances along my way, although I did see many young men reporting on the situation through walkie-talkies. They were probably plainclothes policemen.
"As I walked further down the street, I heard a low but enthusiastic applause. I turned to take a look and saw Mr. Zhu Rongji a few dozen meters away walking from the gate across the street. (I had just passed the west gate of Zhongnanhai). Several of his staff members were following him. They walked towards practitioners who were across the gate. Practitioners who were sitting down stood up and applauded. Everyone was very happy and surprised to see Zhu Rongji come out to meet practitioners as soon as he arrived at his office. Everyone wanted to approach him to explain the situation. I walked back quickly and also tried to approach him from inside the crowd. At that moment, a practitioner reminded everyone to stay put and maintain good order.
"Zhu Rongji probably had already learnt about Falun Gong practitioners' coming to appeal. He asked us loudly, 'What are you here for? Who told you to come here?'
'You have freedom of religion and beliefs!' He added.
'We are Falun Gong practitioners and we are here to explain the situation,' Some practitioners in the crowd replied.
'If you have any problem, you can send some representatives up here and I'll take you inside for a discussion.' Zhu Rongji paused, then said, 'I can't possibly talk to so many of you!'
"Zhu Rongji encouraged us to designate representatives to talk to him. However, we had all come spontaneously and most of us did not even know each other and had never thought about designating representatives. Since our practise is entirely voluntary, we just come to practise whenever we feel like it and if we don't have the time we just go about our own business. Nobody signs up for anything and nobody ever checks headcounts, let alone elect representatives.
'Do you have any representatives? Who among you are the spokespersons?' He again asked.
"At that moment I walked up towards him and ended up about two meters from him. 'Premier Zhu, I can go with you.' I was the first one from the crowd who volunteered to walk to his side.
'Who else?' Zhu Rongji asked.
All of a sudden, everyone raised their hands.
Every practitioner wanted to go in to convey his or her message.
'We cannot have too many people.' Zhu Rongji pointed at the first three persons. In fact, we were not elected or designated representatives, but spontaneous volunteers.
"Zhu Rongji turned and led us toward the west gate of Zhongnanhai. As he walked he raised his voice and asked us, 'Didn't I already comment on the situation you guys reported?'
'We did not see it!' We replied in surprise.
"He probably realised something and changed the subject, 'I'll get the director of the Appeals Bureau to talk to you. I'll get the Deputy Secretary to talk to you.' He turned to his staff members and asked them to find the people he mentioned. At that time we arrived at the Security Guards Post on the west gate of Zhongnanhai. The staff members signalled us to stop and took us to the left into a reception room while Zhu Rongji went into Zhongnanhai to work."
"Falun Gong practitioners made three requests: 1) Release the Falun Gong practitioners who were arrested in Tianjin; 2) Give Falun Gong practitioners a legitimate and relaxed practise environment; 3) Allow Falun Gong books to be published.
"Later in the day, Premier Zhu Rongji ordered the Tianjin Police Department to release the practitioners and repeated the government's policy of not interfering with people's freedom to practise.
"At 10 p.m., the practitioners left quietly. They were so peaceful and orderly that they didn't even leave a piece of paper behind."
The April 25th incident was the first time the Chinese government solved a crisis through peaceful dialogue with ordinary citizens. International media highly praised the incident and thought it was a milestone marking the Chinese government's progress toward democracy. Many people held new hopes for the Chinese government. Unfortunately, what ensued was a drastic and unexpected turn. The Party leader Jiang Zemin's reaction toward the appeal was completely opposite from that of Premier Zhu Rongji. As revealed by an insider, "on the day of the "Zhongnanhai incident" on April 25th, those in charge of the top-level offices of appeal, along with Luo Gan and others, reported on the legal course of appeal taken by Falun Gong practitioners. Upon hearing this, Jiang Zemin waved both hands and shouted, "Crush Falun Gong! Crush it! Crush it completely!" This forceful outburst shocked everyone who witnessed it, including Luo Gan.
"On April 25th, as a Prime Minister should do, Zhu Rongji had offered an open-minded and peaceful resolution to the appeal of Falun Gong practitioners. Upon realising that the world would praise Zhu Rongji for solving the Falun Gong issue, President Jiang became mad with envy. At the first meeting of the Standing Committee on the 'Zhongnanhai Incident,' Zhu spoke out, suggesting, 'Just let them practise.' Jiang pointed his finger at Zhu, and said, 'You're wrong! You're being a fool! Falun Gong will destroy the Party and the nation!' Premier Zhu Rongji fell silent and from then on he no longer commented on Falun Gong. When the meeting ended, he shook hands and said goodbye to all the staff members present. Other politburo standing committee members were also silent.
"Failing to gain full support from the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, Jiang Zemin undertook a method likened to that of Mao Zedong's (former Chairman of China during the Cultural Revolution) writing big posters, by writing to all the politburo members, and repeatedly issuing 'instructions' in his own name, defining the Falun Gong issue as 'very serious,' 'competing with the [Communist] Party for the masses,' and 'threatening the nation and the Party.'"
Jiang exerted pressure on the politburo, the Secretariat and the Central Military Commission to cooperate with him on the persecution. He also ordered his speech on Falun Gong to be circulated within the Party. Under Jiang's direct order, on the 10th of June, 1999, the Central Party Committee officially set up an office for the "leadership group" and named it "the Head Office for Handling the Falun Gong Issue," also called the "6-10 Office." Later they changed the name to "Anti-evil Cult Organisation Office."
By this time, the preparations for a persecution individually started by Jiang with the goal of completely wiping out Falun Gong was in full force. To thoroughly persecute Falun Gong was a political task assigned to all levels of government.
On the 20th of July, 1999, Jiang launched the full-blown persecution with mass arrests, beatings, and unlawful detentions of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners. The police burned Falun Gong books and ransacked the practitioners' homes, and the media saturated the country with propaganda to defame Falun Gong.
If we look at the complete process from Falun Gong's introduction to the public to its being banned, we can see that there have always been different voices within the Chinese government. Many open-minded Party officials including Premier Zhu Rongji acknowledged and supported Falun Gong, while those who antagonised and suppressed Falun Gong were only a small minority, namely the dictator Jiang and the political opportunists represented by, Luo Gan and He Zuoxiu.
In early September of 2000, Jiang had a special interview with Mike Wallace of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). In order to shirk responsibility, Jiang claimed that all the members of the Politburo Standing Committee raised their hands to support the persecution of Falun Gong. The truth is that the persecution was solely Jiang's idea. He bypassed the law and wilfully overthrew premier Zhu Rongji's decision on the April 25th appeal. He was the behind-the-scenes director of the whole persecution.
Why did Jiang Zemin persecute Falun Gong? What was his motive?
All dictators suffer from insecurity about loss of power. As a result, they exhaust all means to solidify their grasp on power and to strengthen their rule. Anyone who has the courage to persist in their opinions and uphold their rights would be regarded as a threat to the dictator's rule, and he would do everything to ruthlessly silence those brave voices. If the dictator is not merely cold-blooded, but also incapable and unintelligent, and he obtained power through underhanded means, then the public would only regard him with disdain. Unfortunately Jiang Zemin has all of the above traits.
The Chinese people all know that Jiang became president, not because of his abilities or longevity in the Party, but because he was one of the first to side with the central government's hard line approach during the June 4th Massacre. Many people inside and outside the Party have criticised Jiang's lack of credibility as the president of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Therefore, it is clear that Jiang possesses the dark mentality of most dictators as he suspected, resented and eventually fanatically persecuted Falun Gong.
To be more specific, Jiang absolutely could not accept the fact that Falun Gong taught different things from what he wanted to instill in the people.
Secondly, Falun Gong attracted 100 million people within a few years and the number of practitioners exceeded the number of Party members, a fact that deeply disturbed Jiang and made him very envious. He could not tolerate the fact that the size of a civil group was larger than the Party under his control.
Thirdly, although Mr. Li Hongzhi was only an ordinary citizen and did not have any title or official rank, he had millions of disciples who respectfully called him Teacher Li or Master. Many of his disciples were senior Party members and government officials. As the head of the country, Jiang had always craved such heart-felt respect for himself, but could attain it. His jealousy rose to a boiling point because he could not allow an ordinary citizen to have greater prestige than himself.
He was also jealous of Premier Zhu Rongji for handling the April 25th appeal in an upright manner and winning acknowledgement from the international community.
Last but not least, he was shocked that Falun Gong practitioners came time and again to the government to appeal without hesitation or fear of retaliation, as many ordinary citizens do. He judged the practitioners' courage to be a challenge to his power.
His mentality can be summarised with one word: jealousy. Jealousy towards Falun Gong and Mr. Li Hongzhi is the root cause that drove Jiang to single-mindedly persecute Falun Gong.
There are also other analyses on the reason for the persecution.
Someone said that the moral decline after the 4th of June, 1989 led to rampant corruption and great social unrest for which Jiang is largely responsible. Falun Gong's principles, Truth, Compassion and Tolerance directly contradict Jiang's own perversity and malice, and as a result he could not help but persecute Falun Gong.
Some have said that expanding one's power by starting a political movement is an often-used ruse by Chinese dictators. Obviously Jiang is no stranger to such tactic. In the article "China's suppression carries a high price" by Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a CNN senior China analyst points out, "It is no secret that several Politburo members thought the president had used the wrong tactics." The reporter also quoted a Party veteran as saying, "By unleashing a Mao-style movement, Jiang is forcing senior cadres to pledge allegiance to his line... This will boost Jiang's authority."
But why did Luo Gan and He Zuoxiu play the roles of point men in this persecution? The dictator and his minions rely on one another. What the minions usually do is make some noises to please their master. Falun Gong has many practitioners and has a great influence in China. If they could destroy Falun Gong, they could hope for a grand promotion.
Nowadays in China, corruption is rife. Falun Gong teaches people to conduct themselves according to Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance; it benefits the society and causes no harm. By turning on Falun Gong instead of punishing the corrupt officials, Jiang shows himself to be irrational, if not clinically insane.
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