RON-RHINELAND/PALATINATE Online (Germany): Why is Falun Gong Persecuted in China?

Friday, August 31, 2001

Last Saturday, the German Falun Gong Association collected signatures. They met between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm at the city hall square of the town of Ludwigshafen. The purpose of the signature drive was to support the International Society for Human Rights (Interntionale Gesellschaft fuer Menschenrechte in German; translator) and Amnesty International in their pursuit to bring an end to the brutal persecution of the Falun Gong followers in China. The Association also introduced the exercises and the main tenets of Falun Gong. Wednesday, German followers [of Falun Gong] protested in Berlin. We spoke about Falun Gong with Mrs. Ruth Hilmer, the Mannheim member of the Association, and also about the peaceful protest actions.

Mrs. Hilmer, what does the message of Falun Gong consist of?

Falun Gong or Falun Dafa is a meditation practice from China, [...], which was introduced to the public through lectures in 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi in China. The guiding principles are Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. [...] "Falun" is the Chinese word for a revolving wheel, [...] "Gong" means [cultivation] energy. The meditation consists of five exercises coupled with spiritual guidance. Most of the practitioners achieve a good mental state.

How many followers of Falun Gong are there?

Worldwide about 100 million, at least 70 million of those in China; in Germany perhaps between 1,500 and 2,000, spread over 25 cities. In the Rhine/Neckar region we have 40 to 50 members, five of them from Mannheim. The Association headquarters are at Ladenburgstrasse 10 in the town of Weinheim. There is no hierarchy; everyone is equal to the next person. I was introduced to Falun Gong in 1997 through the magazine "Esotera" and decided to affiliate myself.

Why does the Chinese government persecute Falun Gong members?

At first, Master Li had been awarded many proclamations. After that his movement grew to the point where the Chinese government felt threatened and Master Li emigrated to the United States. The followers [in China] see things differently than in the manner ordered by the totalitarian state and refuse to give in to the strict regimen.

In what form have you protested in Berlin?

About 100 followers made their views known about the persecution in front of the German Bundestag (Germany's governing body; translator). Wednesday there was a large gathering of politicians present for the debate about sending German soldiers to Macedonia. Then we marched to the Chinese Consulate and handed over a petition, then we went to the Foreign Office. Because 130 {Falun Gong] prisoners are on hunger strike in China, some German practitioners followed their lead.

Do you believe that your protests will bring results?

I don't know that. We can only alert [people] about the situation and ask the German government for help. The German Chancellor will fly to China at the end of September.

What are you planning for Saturday in Ludwigshafen?

We will show photos mounted on sandwich boards, will answer questions and demonstrate the exercises.

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