It was the spring of 1999. China was transforming. A cultural renaissance inspired by an ancient spiritual practice was flourishing, signaling a healthier and more hopeful future for the Chinese people. The Chinese Communist Party was split on this phenomena - investigating, promoting, and criticizing the practice, all at the same time.
Then, came April 25th.
What seemed to be a spontaneous, peaceful protest by Falun Gong practitioners, was actually orchestrated by some CCP officials and then used to ignite a persecution campaign that would plunge the entire nation back into the dark days of the cultural revolution, and worse.
Larry Liu, the Falun Dafa Information Center's deputy director of government and advocacy, writes in Licas News: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been trying to eradicate Falun Gong for over 20 years, deploying massive detentions, rampant torture, and large-scale deaths in custody to do so... But there is something particularly horrific about Chinese security forces continuing to prioritize the repressive effort in the midst of a pandemic...
According to the overseas Minghui website, which collects accounts of Falun Gong persecution from a network of correspondents in China, during the month of February alone, at least 282 practitioners were detained (some already held for at least eight days of administrative detention), 113 harassed, and 15 sentenced after sham trials to prison for up to nine years. The scale of detentions represents an uptick from February 2019.
Having barely survived a decade of torture in prison several years ago that left her emaciated, Ms. Song Yanqun (above, right), a 49-year-old woman from Shulan City, Jilin Province, was recently arrested again for not giving up her faith in Falun Gong.
Her younger sister, Ms. Song Bing (above, left) died in 2009 from prolonged abuse.
According to Minghui.org, of the 747 reported cases, 384 practitioners were abducted (172 still in custody at the time of writing) and 363 harassed. 313 had homes ransacked, 30 had money extorted, totaling 172k yuan and 43 practitioners are over 65 years old.
A 1,000 yuan reward has been advertised in Wuhan City and throughout Hubei Province for information related to Falun Gong practitioners talking about the persecution or the coronavirus. Elsewhere, CCP committee meetings were held in order to find Falun Gong practitioners who had leaked information about the pandemic to overseas media.
This past week (April 20) was the birthday of the "Conscience of China" -- attorney Gao Zhisheng.
While we can celebrate Gao's courage and character, there is not much cause for joy. Gao, who rose up to become one of China's top lawyers and was featured on the cover of the New York Times in 2005, never forgot his humble origins, and always defended the powerless.
After taking on cases of persecuted Falun Gong practitioners, however, he was disbarred, detained, and severely tortured by the Chinese Communist Party. To this day his whereabouts remain unknown.
The documentary 'Transcending Fear' captures the courageous life of Gao, standing between CCP tyranny and those in need. Watch the full film for free here for a limited time.