The adherents of the religion known as Falun Gong risk a lot to practice their beliefs. Though I know little about it, Falun Gong seems to be a meditative belief that teaches its members to focus their thoughts inward and how better to cultivate their chi. There is no Falun Gong organization that tracks members or directs its members from a central location. As such, its adherents are about as dangerous as those here in America who meditate over crystals or practice yoga regularly.
Unless you’re the Chinese government. In 1999, two months after a crowd of over ten thousand Falun Gong adherents silently protested a numer of beatings and arrests in the province of Tianjin, China ruled that Falun Gong was an illegal religion and that its adherents should stop practicing it immediately. The language used to describe it was starkly at odds with the practice of the religion.
In its decision on this matter issued today, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said that according to investigations, the Research Society of Falun Dafa had not been registered according to law and had been engaged in illegal activities, advocating superstition and spreading fallacies, hoodwinking people, inciting and creating disturbances, and jeopardizing social stability.
China then set about persecuting Falun Gong members with all the vigor of the Spanish Inquisition or Cotton Mather. According to the UN, some 66 percent of all instances of torture reported from China were committed against members of Falun Gong. Two researchers, one of whom was a former Canadian Secretary of State, also published a report concluding that since 1999 the Chinese government had been executing Falun Gong members and harvesting their organs to feed them into the lucrative organ transplant market.
One of the most outspoken critics of China’s treatment of Falun Gong has been a lawyer named Gao Zhisheng. Shortly after Gao sent a letter to several high Chinese Communist Party officials urging them to end the persecution of Falun Gong, his law office was shut down by the authorities. The official reason given was because he failed to deliver a change of address notification to the government and he allegedly submitted documents to a lawyer who was not a member of his firm. Mr. Gao’s trouble has only begun at that point.
In January, just a few months later, Gao reported that he had nearly been run down in the street, a victim of an assassination attempt. He has twice been abducted by the Chinese secret police and imprisoned. His latest imprisonment was in September 22, 2007 after he sent a letter to the United States Congress outlining the brutal treatment he and his family have endured and details of the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong members. He wrote that Congress should not support China’s Olympic Games so long as these persecutions continued. He managed a telephone call a month later to a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer, but has apparently not been heard from since.
On August 5, 2008, SOH Radio reported that an informant had told them that Gao has been beaten and tortured severely in an effort to make him write a series of letters repudiating his earlier work, condemning Falun Gong, and praising the Chinese Communist party. According that informant, he did not relent. He remains in custody, somewhere.