Italy: Falun Dafa Takes Root in Rome

Every summer, residents in Rome hold activities in the garden of Castle Sant'Angelo, located at the west bank of the Tiber River. On July 13, 2011, the government of the 17th District in Rome held a forum “Religions and Non-Religions in Italy” in the garden and invited Falun Gong practitioners to participate.

A Falun Gong practitioner speaks at the forum

Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Zhao explained to the forum participants what Falun Dafa is: “Falun Dafa teaches people to follow the universal principle of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance in their everyday lives. The practice has attracted over 100 million followers worldwide. The practitioners benefit tremendously from the practice, both mentally and physically. However, former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a genocidal persecution of Falun Dafa on July 20, 1999, and intended to eliminate the practice. To date, there are over 3400 verified deaths of practitioners.”

Ms. Zhao learned Falun Dafa from her parents. “In early 1996, my mother was bedridden for months because of complications from diabetes. One day a neighbor suggested that she practice Falun Dafa. My father took her to the nearest practice site on a bike. Three months later, my mother’s ailments disappeared. She was able to cook us three meals a day. Her recovery got the attention of the doctors, her coworkers, and the neighbors. Many of them began to practice Falun Dafa because of my mother,” said Ms. Zhao.

Ms. Zhao talked about her experience as a practitioner after the persecution started. Between January and June 2000, the authorities unlawfully imprisoned her three times because of her belief.

“On February 15, 2000, I was on my way to Beijing to appeal for Falun Dafa. I was arrested because I was reading a Falun Dafa book on the train and detained for 15 days. I was accused of 'disrupting the public order.' A practitioner who was with me at the time was illegally arrested as well. She was six months pregnant and was forced to have an abortion in a hospital. On June 26, 2000, several police officers came to my house and took away my computer and Falun Gong books and videos. They took me and my husband away for 'disrupting the public order.' I was released in two days, but my husband was imprisoned for 45 days. On June 30, six police officers pried open my door and broke into my house. They took me away and locked me up for over seven weeks. I went on a hunger strike to protest the illegal arrest. They force-fed me four days later.”

According to Ms. Zhao, there are still many Falun Gong practitioners in China being brutally tortured and persecuted because they refuse to give up their belief in Falun Dafa.

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