November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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Treatment of Falun Going far from abstract

Kats got your tongue
Laura Katsirdakis

News Editor

Studying and discussing the work of theorists in class becomes all the more frustrating when it is contrasted with reality, in which the world seldom works by the idealistic outlines of theorists.

On Monday, the Canada-Wide Falun Gong Car Tour for Justice had a booth set up in the University Community Centre atrium. Their aim was to raise awareness of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, and as my awareness level was raised, I was reminded of my classes exploring theories of how best to secure human rights and international justice.
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice introduced in China in 1992. According to Francis Madore, one of those touring to raise awareness, Falun Gong is not a religion. It sprung up from the Buddha school, but it is not a religious practice as Buddhism is. It is a system for the cultivation of mind and body through the three core concepts of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.

In 1998, the number of Falun Gong practitioners grew to 100 million in China and at that time the number of Communist Party members was approximately 40 million. Madore says it is no coincidence that in 1999 the systematic persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese government under Jiang Zemin began.

There is an abundance of information documenting the persecution of the Falun Gong practitioners, yet the situation has only grown in its brutality and its scope. Two Web sites, and, detail a wealth of information about what Falun Gong is and what the Chinese government has done to try to suppress it.

According to Madore, China now devotes 25 per cent of its financial resources to the persecution of Falun Gong. An independent entity was established by Zemin, called the 610 office, which is established in every state in China and has authority above the level of government to eliminate Falun Gong.

In addition to arresting and torturing Falun Gong practitioners who refuse to denounce their beliefs, the 610 office also has the authority to control how news and media outlets portray Falun Gong. Thus, this peaceful spiritual practice is portrayed in the media as terrorism or trouble-making. The 610 office has also conducted a nationwide signature campaign (which includes elementary school students) denouncing Falun Gong .

There are countless examples of the brutal torture of practitioners and they do not only occur within China. There have been reports of Chinese officials harassing and threatening Falun Gong practitioners in other countries through Chinese Embassies and Consulates. This has even occurred in Canada.

As I wade through readings for my classes on human rights and international justice, I am stricken with the horror of the Falun Gong situation. Yet, I strain my eyes trying to decipher which theorists disagree with whom for whatever hopelessly abstract reasons. This is frustration.



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