Falun Dafa Sect Crisis In China
Press Statement
Contact: Gail Rachlin (212) 501-8080

WASHINGTON, D.C. - We have called this press conference today because, as we all know, we currently have a crisis situation in China. If we allow things to escalate any further, no one, not the Chinese government nor Falun Dafa practitioners, will stand to benefit. The kind of brutal suppression that has been displayed this past week by the Chinese authorities has not been seen since the Tiananmen incident ten years ago. And the kind of scare tactics and ideological "re-education" programs that are being used seem like some throwback to an era that is better forgotten.
Is China and the rest of the world really prepared to see yet another Cultural Revolution? With the lives of tens of millions of practitioners at stake, the consequences of continued escalation could be staggering, both economically and politically. Is a government that attacks its own one that the people will ultimately trust and respect?
Falun Dafa is a peaceful practice by nature and we harbor no ill will towards the Chinese government. We only hope that the government will release the practitioners that they have detained because they have done no wrong. Practicing a peaceful Qigong practice in the parks to better one's physical and mental health is a popular traditional activity in China and can hardly be called dangerous.
If the government were to grant us the freedom to exercise our beliefs and end the brutality and harassment, they would find that there is nothing to fear. There is no political agenda. Falun Dafa has existed in China for several years now and there were never any problems previously. Quite the contrary, U.S. News and World Report quoted an official in the Chinese Sports Commission a few months ago as saying that the practice of Falun Gong was saving the government hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
The current conflict can only damage us all if it is allowed to continue. We are asking that you, as members of the international community and the media, help us express our continued goodwill to the Chinese government and convey our wish to resolve this issue through peaceful means. This may be time for an open and sincere dialogue so that we can draw up a plan that is acceptable to all.
Falun Dafa is a phenomenon that is utterly unprecedented, and attempts to compare it to religions or various mass movements in Chinese history will inevitably fall short. This practice has captured the hearts of literally tens of millions of people around the world, and not without good reason.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a kind of traditional Chinese Qigong practice. Practicing different types of qigong like Tai-chi is a kind of national pastime in China in the same way baseball is here in the U.S. People in China like to practice in the parks in the morning and then they go to work or school feeling refreshed.
But what attracts people to Falun Dafa in particular is its powerful and proven healing effects on many illnesses and ailments, as well as the spiritual guidance it provides. Stories of cured diseases and new-found spiritual well-being abound. The practice has spread so quickly in seven short years almost purely through word of mouth, not because there is some insidious master plan to challenge any government. When someone sees that their neighbor has fully recovered from a previously debilitating case of arthritis or heart disease or depression, how can they not be curious?
Falun Dafa teaches that for a person to be truly healthy in both mind and body, one needs to become a person of high moral character and one must have great virtue in order to reach higher spiritual levels. A true practitioner of Falun Dafa always tries to hold himself to to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, seeking to discard negative habits and to be kind and considerate of others.
Practitioners come from all walks of life from prominent scholars and government cadres to elderly women and young children. There is no set structure or membership -- people just show up at practice sites or practice on their own as they please.
As all of you are probably aware, the government of the People's Republic of China is brutally suppressing the practice of Falun Dafa. Tens of millions of peaceful people are being denounced as supporters of an 'evil religion' and promoters of superstition.
Last week, police in China arrested almost a hundred key Falun Dafa contact persons, ransacking their homes and confiscating materials in the middle of the night. When tens of thousands of other practitioners started gathering in groups all over the country to request their release, the Chinese authorities responded by forcing people out of the cities, often dragging them by the hair and kicking and beating them, then holding them in stadiums for days on end without food or water. Police have not hesitated to use force against elderly women and even young children.
The latest word we have now is that 1,200 practitioners who are also Communist Party members have been sent to a school near Beijing for so-called "re-education." Authorities say these practitioners must guarantee that they will "quit" Falun Dafa before they will be released, even though, technically, there is no organization to quit. One either believes and practices or one does not. No one has been released to date.
We are convinced that the government of China has made a serious error by suppressing our practitioners. They falsely accuse us of opposing the Chinese government, and we do not. They falsely label us a 'cult' and a 'sect', and we are not. Falun Dafa is not an organization. Its practitioners are volunteers. It is not political. And it is not resisting. We are non-violent, and anxious to begin a dialogue with a government which has convinced itself that we are dangerous opponents -- and we are not.
The Chinese government outlawed Falun Dafa last week. They claim that the practitioners in China are being controlled and funded by overseas interests to go against the Chinese government. This is completely untrue. There would be no way to externally 'control' the actions of so many tens of millions of people under the watchful eyes of the PRC authorities. The Chinese government also charges Falun Dafa practitioners with damaging public property when they have large gatherings, but all assemblies have been peaceful and orderly, to the point where no one even litters or blocks traffic. No practitioner who holds to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance would willingly damage anything or harm anyone.
We are mentioning these charges and accusations because we have heard that, according to the 'laws' that the Communist regime drew up a few days ago, conviction on these charges based on 'evidence' is now punishable by death.
The government has also listened to and believed a few stories in which people either killed themselves or others or entered into a state of trance after learning Falun Dafa. But these people were mentally ill to begin with and were practicing different Qigong systems at the same time. Falun Dafa clearly requires that no mentally ill patients are allowed to practice Falun Dafa. It is a well known fact in the community of cultivators that it is dangerous for mentally ill individual to practice any form of Qigong, including Taichi. Moreover, these individuals cited by the government tried different systems at the same time. Is it fair to blame Falun Dafa for the tragic end of their lives?
The government labeled us as superstitious. But by the same token, are religions like Catholicism, Protestantism and Buddhism superstitious, too? What we have been taught in Falun Dafa does not really exceed the scope of their teachings. Does the constitution allow the freedom of belief?
There are too many false allegations in the Chinese government's smear campaign against Falun Dafa to address here. We have attached responses to many of the accusations.
We need your help and need it now. This is a serious problem of international dimensions involving as many as one hundred million people. They are truthful, compassionate and peaceful. But the human rights of these practitioners to assemble, to free expression and the practice of their beliefs is being suppressed in violation of the constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is not an internal matter for China but an issue of urgent concern to the international community.
Just as the international community is alarmed by ethnic cleansing in other parts of the world, it must speak out against this insidious type of spiritual cleansing in China. We are appealing to the international community including the United Nations and concerned governments all over the world to immediately intervene and help us resolve this crisis peacefully and justly.
We are urgently asking that you assist us in establishing a dialogue with the Chinese government and encourage them to release those practitioners who have been detained, and to reestablish the rule of law and a culture of tolerance.
We understand that the government is unnerved by the large numbers of Falun Dafa practitioners, even more so when a considerable portion are members of the Communist Party, but the two are not mutually exclusive. How does the government expect to control the minds of so many?
Falun Dafa has not and will not get involved in politics. Practitioners of Falun Dafa have no interest in political power. Our only hope is that the detained practitioners be released and that we all resolve this crisis peacefully so that we can continue to exercise our beliefs in peace.