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Why is the Chinese government persecuting Falun Gong practitioners?

Falun Gong was first introduced to the public in China by Mr. Li Hongzhi, in 1992. The people who initially tried the practice not only found powerful healing effects, but many also found answers to their deepest questions in life. As they continued to practice, their friends and family started to notice how they were becoming healthier and becoming better people overall. Thus, almost entirely by word of mouth, the numbers of enthusiasts kept growing. Falun Gong spread into 50 countries and attracted people from all walks of life and all cultural backgrounds.

Originally, the Chinese government promoted Falun Gong, because the tremendous health benefits it offered eased the burden on China's crumbling health care system. However, in seven years the number of Falun Gong practitioners grew to outnumber Communist party members almost two-to-one. When Chinese President Jiang Zemin became aware of Falun Gong's popularity, he was shocked- and frightened. The sheer number of practitioners caused President Jiang to view Falun Gong as a potential threat to his power.

Acting on orders from the government, police began harassing practitioners, preventing them from practicing together, and threatening them with arrest. Meanwhile, certain newspapers began printing negatively biased articles. In one incident in Tianjin, police beat and arrested practitioners who dared to come forward to express their views.

Practitioners around the country responded by asking their local governments to assist them. They were told that the orders had come from the central government. Thus, on April 25, 1999 about 10.000 people gathered outside the main government buildings in Beijing to present their request for a legal and non-hostile environment in which to practice. The gathering was peaceful, orderly and lawful. After a few practitioners met with certain high-level government officials, everyone quietly went home.

After this incident, President Jiang decided that Falun Gong needed to be eradicated. Therefore, on July 20, 1999, President Jiang declared Falun Gong illegal, and ordered the arrest of Falun Gong practitioners. Police began raiding practitioners' homes, seizing books and tapes, and arresting anyone suspected of involvement with Falun Gong. Practitioners have been fired from their jobs, expelled from their schools, and evicted from their homes. Since 1999, tens of thousands have been arrested, tried (in many cases in closed-door trials, with no defense counsel) and sentenced to many years in prison, or sent without trial to forced-labor camps, where they are subjected to officially sanctioned persecution by the guards.

Jiang simultaneously launched a nationwide anti-Falun Gong propaganda campaign, using the state-run television, radio, and newspapers to feed the Chinese populace disinformation about Falun Gong- telling people that Falun Gong made people sick or insane- in order to get the citizens to accept the brutality of the persecution.

In spite of this harsh treatment, practitioners are so moved by Falun Gong power and purity that they continue to cultivate. Thus, the Chinese government has drastically increased the severity of its methods. Police have begun brutally beating and torturing practitioners, using clubs, whips, boots, and fists to force practitioners to renounce Falun Gong. Practitioners have been beaten, whipped, shocked with cattle prods, and burned alive. In Masanjia labor camp, eighteen female practitioners were stripped naked and forced into the cells of male criminals to be repeatedly raped and abused. Neither women nor the elderly are spared; all Falun Gong practitioners in China risk being tortured and killed at the order of the Communist Chinese government, and for no other reason than that they believe in Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance.

To date, more than four hundred fifty practitioners have been confirmed tortured to death while in police custody. Inside information places this number at over two thousand.

Overseas, the Chinese government has, through its embassies and consulates, put pressure on foreign governments to comply with its suppression of Falun Gong. Parliamentary ministers from Australia and New Zealand have publicly denounced the Chinese government for interfering with the press and police departments. In California, and Nevada, governors and mayors have been pressured by Chinese embassy staff to prevent them from proclaiming Falun Dafa Week in their cities, while university deans have been told not to allow Falun Gong clubs on campus.

The persecution of Falun Gong affects more people than any similar event in the history of mankind. If it continues unchecked, it could become the largest human tragedy in history. All practitioners sincerely hope that the citizens of the world will learn of the plight of the Chinese practitioners and demand a return to the rule of law and the restoration of practitioners' Constitutional rights in Communist China. We ask all news agencies to spread this information and help to end this tragedy.