Interview with a Non-Practitioner During the Recent Events in Edinburgh

Shaun is broadcasting student. At the beginning of August, he had the opportunity to gain experience filming the Military Tattoo and Cavalcade in Edinburgh. Falun Gong practitioners had also taken the opportunity of the events in Edinburgh to join the famous Cavalcade, wining the first prize in the Community category for the third year running. The large number of visitors to the city also gave an opportunity to raise awareness of the human rights abuses of Falun gong practitioners in China through the use of an anti-torture exhibition, which re-enacts some of the torture methods in China. A friend of Shaun’s practises Falun Gong, so Shaun stayed with him and some other practitioners during his time in Edinburgh. It was not the first time Shaun had spent time with Falun Gong practitioners during such events; he had also gone to a large cultural event in Paris where practitioners had staged a large parade, with traditional Chinese dancing and drumming. For him, as a martial artist, Chinese culture is particularly alluring and something close to his heart.

Q: So you’ve spent a few days with Falun Gong practitioners. I’m interested to know how you found practitioners. Especially in light of all of the negative propaganda spread about Falun Gong by the regime in China

A: My basic understanding of practitioners is that there is a great travesty in China, there are lot of lies being spread and a lot of untruth going on. For me this is just amazing considering that it something which is quite clearly peaceful. You can see that in the practice, in the parades which is all about loving what they do. I like the attitude that everyone has about going about everyday things, how everyone’s so happy to be with each other and sociable and basically just happy.

Q: So what do you make of the negative things said about Falun Gong practitioners being somehow alienated from society?

A: Well, everyone has got an opinion. But the people who are saying that sort of thing don’t have a clue. It questions their out-take on society. You know, be it any group of people, whether it be a good martial artist, a group of rowers, people who are meditators, any group of people, they are different people who just love what they do and put everything into it. That is what they love and what changes their life. One of the main things I would say is that having seen practitioners of any meditation system from any background or culture, is that it does change your life if you go headstrong into it.

Basically I think that the whole propaganda is a complete joke in my eyes. It does kind of make you laugh; that everything which is going on under there is happening under one guy.

Q: So you don’t believe a word of what the regime says?.

A: No I don’t at all. But that’s my take on it. And I have been over to China too. But I did interview one of the PLA guys [The PLA are the Chinese Army who were performing this year at the Tattoo] and he was a sound guy, just like a normal guy, happy to be here, didn’t seem brainwashed or anything. I think that both Falun Gong and the PLA, these are all just normal, everyday people at the end of the day and they have this ruler who they have to adhere to and the problem is this one dictator really.

Q: Did you catch the anti-torture exhibition the other day?

A: I thought it was brilliant. Basically my main reaction to it was that while practitioners are in this country and have the protection to carry out this kind of exhibition, they should do, because the shock value is the best thing to go for. People see it and they think "What’s this about?” and they want to know more and they can know the truth of what’s going on. But they used still images; the exhibits were like kind of live still images so it wasn’t completely in your face. I thought it was brilliant to get a reaction out of people. I think that this is best kind of protest I have seen - and really effective. The fact that it got photos in the Scottish Herald is really brilliant.

Q: How about the parade? Did you see people preparing for it?

A: There is a lot of effort that goes into it. I went to the Paris one as well and saw the preparations there where the practitioners were rehearsing the dancing and drumming for days. It was brilliant to see how much enthusiasm they have for what they are doing. And even when it seems that it is going to go wrong, it just seems to pull through in the end, through perseverance. It was good to see. I thought the whole parade was really good actually.

Q: Did you feel that the message of the Falun Gong parade came across clearly? Did you feel that it succeeded in embodying the spirit of cultivation practice and Chinese culture?

A: Yes I did. Actually, you know seeing the PLA display kind of wound me up, because it has been so westernised. There is nothing traditional in it. It’s the same with places like Japan where the cultural traditions have been taken away from the military. I thought that the Falun Gong parade with the Buddha on top of the car...I thought it was a really good image to put across. With the dancers, their movements were so flowing and so peaceful. I thought that the message which came across was really good, and was the one they wanted to put across.

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