THE FRIEND: The Spirit takes some beating

(UK publication)
August 31, 2001

It is possible for any of us to be stopped in our busy tracks and feel called to act. Last Monday I passed by five people who had started a hunger strike at 8pm. I read their literature, went back and spoke to them and felt I knew the Spirit from which they act 'There is a spirit that I know.' (James Naylor)

Over the last eight years a spiritual movement has spread across China called Falun Gong. It has a founder but no formal organisation. It's a movement rather than a religious sect as it has 'no membership, no hierarchy, no formal organisation, no donations, no worship, and no political agenda'. It 'moves' through personal commitment.
The founder's teachings encourage the improvement of one's head and 'mind-nature' in accordance with 'the fundamental characteristics of the universe, truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.'

As with early Christians and Quakers the movement has grown rapidly, in this case to 70 million practitioners (a little more than one per cent of the world population and more than [party's name omitted]) and the authorities have reacted. They outlawed it two years ago since when Amnesty International records an increasing catalogue of horrific beatings, fines, imprisonments and deaths affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

Like the early Friends at Meetings, or Gandhi's supporters at the salt mine, each day many people volunteer to enter Tiananmen Square with banners declaring their three principles and then take the beatings from the police. Their response is non-violent of course, refusing to call anyone an enemy yet condemning the evil of the regime.
The food and water strike was being held in Portland Place opposite the Chinese Embassy. It was in support of 130 strikers (then on day 21) in a Chinese labour camp who protest at not being released at the end of their sentences. Contravening its own laws, the regime declares it will never release them as none have 'reformed'. It's a crunch point. If they were released the regime would risk more detail coming out of its terrible oppressions.

The strikers ask that we fax the Chinese Embassy on 0207 636 298, write to the prime minister, our MPs, stay informed by visiting faluninfo.net or www.falundafa.org and tell everyone. We know from our experience when we first spoke our Truth something of what this persecution means.
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