Santiago de Chile
August 17, 2004
Moderator: Daniela Caucoto
This interview was conducted in Spanish.
Daniela Caucoto: Hello, good morning, how are you? Welcome to the second part of ‘Voces de la Tierra’ (Voices of the Earth). It’s Tuesday morning on the 17th of August and it is now one minute past 10 am. It is 7 degrees C, and the relative humidity in the air reaches 87%. But, now we are going to listen to something to introduce the first subject that we are going to talk about today.
Falun Dafa music - The music for the fifth exercise, a sitting meditation
Daniela: Well, this is music that is quite suitable as an introduction for the next subject that we are going to talk about now. I can start by telling you briefly that the discipline of Falun Dafa - that consists of meditation and qigong exercises - rapidly achieved millions of followers in the most populated country on the planet, which is also where a fierce persecution with thousands of victims began. But in many countries – 60, I believe - this discipline is freely practised, and has received many recognitions and awards. But to know more about what Falun Dafa is, and why there is this controversial persecution, we have with us this morning Pia-Maria Sandas, who is a practitioner of this discipline, and who also worked as a model for many years - also here in Chile - and then later came in contact with this discipline abroad. She is now going to tell us about her experience with Falun Dafa. Good morning. How are you?
Pia-Maria: Good morning Daniela.
Daniela: Oh, I forgot to say that you are from Finland…
Pia-Maria: Well, they will certainly notice my accent… and that there is something not very Chilean here.
Daniela: Pia, tell us a little bit about Falun Dafa and what it is in order for people to get acquainted with the discipline.
Pia-Maria: Falun Dafa is an ancient discipline that comes from China. It is a discipline that was previously transmitted from Master to disciple, but in 1992 Master Li Hongzhi introduced it to the public. Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is what we call a cultivation practice, and that consists of two parts.
The exercises part - which is a type of qigong - consists of five exercises: four standing ones in movement, and one sitting meditation. They are very easy to learn. Every one can do them; the youngest person I know that does them is only 4 years old, and the oldest 96.
And then there is the cultivation part. I always give the following example. We are obviously more than a body: You can do all the exercises in the world, but if in your daily life you lie, steal, kill people, obviously you are not a balanced being. It really takes more than a few exercises to achieve balance and internal peace. Today it is also know that about 70% of all illnesses are psychosomatic. A human being is a combination of various things, and Falun Dafa is a discipline that focuses on improving all aspects: the body, the mind and the spirit.
Daniela: So one can say that the exercises that are practised in the system of Falun Dafa, not only keep you physically in balance, but there is also obviously a balance between what one feels, with the soul, with the mind.
Pia-Maria: A combination of things. Falun Dafa is a discipline that focuses on improving all aspects of the human being: the body, the mind and the spirit, and the cultivation part is based on the universal principles Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, and how to incorporate them and live by them in our daily lives…
Daniela: Applying it…
Pia-Maria: Yes. It might sound easy…Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance…but if we start to analyze our lives and our acts, most of the time we are very far from these principles, something I also believe is reflected in what is going on in the world: terrorism, all the wars, all the suffering, depressions… When one starts to clean one’s heart and mind, starts living by these principles, starts being more truthful, more compassionate, more tolerant, towards oneself and others, then comes an internal peace that also influences the body in a very powerful way.
These principles, Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, are like – I’ll say it in English – the “cornerstones of humanity”. Falun Dafa is a practice that has received many, many awards. To begin with, in 1993 Falun Dafa received the prize for the Best Qigong at the Health Expo in Beijing, and has after that received countless awards around the world. Master Li Hongzhi has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last three years. And in the USA and Canada alone, Falun Dafa has received more than 800 awards and recognitions from Mayors and Senators, and this year 2004 we also received recognition from the anti- corruption police department in Peru. Even the Pope in Rome gave his world-wide blessings to Falun Dafa in 2000.
Falun Dafa is today practised in over 60 countries by about 100 million people, and it is totally free all over the world. It is not an organization, it all functions on a voluntary basis. One does not need to sign or register anywhere. In each country, in each city where it is practised, there are voluntary contact persons. For example here in Santiago: Veronica Rosselot, - who works for a company but in her spare time gives free classes two times a week. Falun Dafa is practised in the open air, and here in Santiago we practise in a park in Providencia. It is a very wonderful thing because absolutely anybody, of whatever economic means, can learn the exercises for free, which is not the case with many of the other disciplines that charge quite a lot.
Daniela: Now, Pia-Maria, what has been your experience regarding this discipline. How did you come across it?
Pia-Maria: It was a long road finding it to begin with. I worked as a fashion model for 8 years, as you mentioned, and worked four years in TV here in Chile, with Pollo Fuentes in “Venga Conmigo”. I found the modelling and TV world to be quite a hard world psychologically - it is quite a superficial world- and at the end I felt quite overwhelmed, even depressed, and I felt that life is more than just focusing on one’s image.
I decided to return to Europe. I started taking karate classes, and one day after class I saw a man doing some other kind of exercises. I felt almost hypnotized by them. They looked so beautiful, so tranquil; he radiated such an incredible peace. Afterwards, I asked him what they were, and he explained to me that it was Falun Dafa. He showed me the exercises another day, and also gave me the book Zhuan Falun as a present, and I continued practising till today. It is the most beautiful thing I have known in my life. It has totally changed my life and my relationship with others in so many ways.
I started noticing how much these principles – Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance – were lacking in my life, and day by day I also started noticing that I had actually been very egocentric all my life, always focusing on myself. I want this, I want that, I don’t think that I was ever a really bad person, but I certainly believe that the practice has made me a much better person than before. My mother – she does not practise - but she tells everyone how good the practice is and how much I have changed since I started practising Falun Dafa. Now I really try, or I don’t even try because it happens naturally, to think of others before I think about myself, and all my relationships with family and friends have become so much more harmonious.
Daniela: So, the perception of one’s life changes?
Pia-Maria: Totally, and moreover my health has improved a lot. Before I always had a lot of problems with allergies, and now most of the allergies are gone. I have also experienced an increased energy level, I sleep less, have more energy: it has really been an improvement in all aspects.
Daniela: How great. We are talking with Pia-Maria Sandas, a practitioner of Falun Dafa. We will be back after a break.
Daniela: Well we are now back. It is 10:17 am and we are talking with Pia-Maria Sandas who is a practitioner of Falun Dafa, this Chinese meditation technique that heals the body, the mind, and the spirit, and helps people become better persons.
But this qigong technique of meditation and exercises achieved, as we have said, millions of followers in the most populated country on earth, but right there in the same place, in the same country, a fierce persecution began that has led to thousands of victims, tens of thousands of victims, I do not know if it has led to deaths, but it …
Pia-Maria: Yes, it has… there are many deaths reported, but maybe I can explain a bit more in detail so that people can get a good understanding of what is going on.
Daniela: Yes, what is it that is happening? Why did it come to this persecution in China?
Pia-Maria: China is a communist dictatorship, and the country that is known for having the worst human rights in the world. Also, I would like to add that they do not only persecute Falun Dafa, but also other groups such as the Tibetans, Christians, Catholics, and different minority groups as well. It is a country that is quite problematic in many respects.
The persecution of Falun Dafa: First of all it is important to mention that Falun Dafa enjoyed great support from the Chinese Government between the years 1992 and 1999. They even gave many rewards and recognitions, and also carried out scientific studies at hospitals with impressive results.
But at the end of 1998 when the previous dictator Jiang Zemin, who now heads the military and as such continues with a tremendous power, did a government survey and discovered that between 70 and 100 million Chinese citizens were practising Falun Gong, he immediately banned it. The most widely accepted international explanation is that he took it as a threat to his power.
I also want to add that Falun Dafa is based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, and these principles are obviously very contrary to what a dictatorship stands for, a system which clearly does not maintain its control through the practice of these principles.
Jiang Zemin then established an office called the ‘6-10 office’, now internationally known as the ‘Chinese Gestapo’, with the one and only mission of this office being “to eradicate Falun Dafa.” Following this they started an outrageous and intense defamation campaign through the media - that is controlled by the Chinese Government - in order to try to turn public opinion against Falun Dafa.
They also did it - and they are still trying to do it – abroad, using the consulates to try to defame the practice to the media and the governments. A while ago the Canadian justice system condemned the Chinese Consul in Canada. They did not grant him immunity when he attempted to defame Falun Gong to the media and the government. Hence, the international community is taking this more and more seriously, because this is a discipline that is freely practised in 60 countries, and that moreover continuously receives awards.
Daniela: I believe than human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch are supporting you.
Pia-Maria: Yes they are. Amnesty International, the UN, they are all supporting us and condemning what is happening in China.
Daniela: The UN, I understand, has even classified it as Genocide.
Pia-Maria: As State Terrorism. But first I would like to continue telling a bit more about the defamations. I believe that the biggest proof - and this really shows to what extent the Chinese Government is willing to go in order to defame the practice - is the so-called “Self Immolation” in Tiananmen Square on January the 23rd 2001. Five practitioners of Falun Dafa were supposed to have set fire to themselves. Two institutions recorded this incident: CNN and the Chinese television CCTV, but CNN's tape was confiscated immediately, and they (the Chinese Government) began to distribute and show the Chinese version through news all over the world.
Afterwards, groups in Canada and the United States began to examine and analyze this tape, and today there exists a document at the UN - that I have here in front of me as you can see - it is in English but perhaps we can translate it, where the UN states that what the Chinese Government is doing is “State Terrorism” – other organizations have now classified it as Genocide – and that “the regime points to a supposed self-immolation at the Tiananmen square on January 23, 2001 as a proof that Falun Dafa is a...” and here is a defamatory word...”however we have obtained a video of that incident that in our view proves that this event was staged by the Chinese government”.
It was staged by the Chinese Government itself. I believe that this is one of the biggest proofs which clearly show to what extent they are willing to go in order to try to defame the practice and to turn public opinion against Falun Dafa.
But it is also very important to mention that in reality this is not a persecution directed by all the Chinese Government, because it is known today that many people in the Chinese Government are actually against the persecution.
Daniela: But what is happening at this moment in China? Is the persecution continuing? Are people continuously being affected?
Pia-Maria: Yes, the persecution continues, and I want to emphasize that the persecution was started and continues to be directed by Jiang Zemin, the former dictator, who is now the head of the military. The persecution is directed by him, Luo Gan and some other people around them that continue to hold a lot of power.
Today it is verified through Amnesty International and the UN that there are more or less 100 thousand people incarcerated, thousands of people have been sent to mental hospitals, healthy people, and as of today there are 1022 verified cases of practitioners who have been tortured to death in Chinese jails. Amnesty has also verified the torture methods. I have seen photos of people that have been burnt with hot irons; they use electric batons on their bodies for hours, even on the women's intimate parts. They gang rape them, put them into cells with men, they leave them to walk barefoot on the snow for hours and hours…
Daniela: I see this image…
Pia-Maria: The photo of this woman… they destroyed her face by burning her with electric batons for hours until, as you can see, her face was destroyed. Another very sad case happened in 2001 I think, of a woman who was tortured to death along with her 8-month-old baby. They found the dead baby’s body full of bruises and scars. It is such a sad, sad persecution. One of my friends, Jane Dai, such a beautiful woman with so much integrity, they tortured her husband to death three years ago.
Daniela: For the same reason…
Pia-Maria: Yes, and she was left alone with her little daughter, Fadu, only 4 years old. They have been travelling around the world, to over 37 countries for the past three years, talking to governments, ministers and media, talking to them about what is happening. It is so sad. Little Fadu… she obviously knows that her father was tortured to death. One day when they visited me in Madrid, I saw the little one doing something, and I asked her “Fadu, what are you doing”? “I am talking on the phone”, she answered. I then see that her ‘phone’ is her little red shoe. So I asked her, “Who are you talking to”? And she answers, “With my father”. And she passes me the shoe and asks, “Do you want to speak to him?” She talks on her supposed ‘phone’ with her father, who was tortured to death. It is so sad, and it is painful to see. And many times she looks at her mother with her big eyes and asks: “But Mommy, I want Daddy, why did they kill Daddy”? And the mother explains that Falun Dafa is persecuted in China, and the little one does not quite understand and says “But Mommy, you and me also practise Falun Dafa”, and she then sits down and starts showing you the meditation exercise.
It is so sad to know about her case, and to know that there are thousands and thousands of families suffering the same way at this very moment over there.
Daniela: And it is necessary to say it that this is only happening in China, in that country obviously, because as we said in the beginning of the interview that in over 60 countries where Falun Dafa is practised there are no problems, and in fact there are recognitions of international entities, organizations and human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, etc.
And I would also like to ask you about the lawsuits, what is going on in this regard?
Pia-Maria: Yes, as of today lawsuits have been filed in 17 countries against those most responsible for this persecution, who are principally Jiang Zemin, Luo Gan and some other people close to them, and at this level.
Daniela: Has there been any answer yet?
Pia-Maria: They continue in process. And at this level, what is going on in China is classified as genocide, so the lawsuits are for Genocide, Torture and Crimes Against Humanity. The international community, big organizations, governments, people ranging from the president of the European Parliament to senators and others, have spoken up about this issue and they are all supporting us and condemning what is happening in China. I hope that we can count on the support of the Chilean people as well.
Daniela: For sure you can. Well, little by little we are getting to know this discipline in our own country, and I think it will have a lot of supporters and practitioners here as well, and hope that we can also get the authorities to, in addition to supporting the practice itself, condemn the human rights violations that are happening in China.
And here in Santiago, Chile, Verónica Rosselot is the person that gives free lessons?
Pia-Maria: Yes, two times a week in a park in Providencia.
Daniela: And for those of you who are interested we are going to give Veronica’s cell phone and for those who are listening but could not write it down, you can always call Radio Tierra and get the telephone number from here.
For more information you can visit the following web pages: www.falundafa.org and www.faluninfo.net. Pia-Maria, we want to thank you for having been with us this morning to share with us this revolutionary spiritual technique of Falun Dafa, that comes from China, and let’s see if we get together out there and start to practise.
Pia-Maria: Thank you Daniela.
Daniela: Be well, and let’s hope that everything will work out wonders, and that the violations or human rights abuses at the other end of the world will come to an end.
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