United Kingdom: Cambridge Rally Marks 9 Years of Persecution in China

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The European Tian Guo marching band performed in Cambridge on July 27th to raise awareness about the severe human rights abuses that practitioners of Falun Gong have endured for the past nine years.

On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned Falun Gong in China. Falun Gong is an ancient spiritual practice from the Buddhist school. In late 1989, a survey revealed that 70-100 million people were practising Falun Gong in China. Feeling threatened by such a large group, the CCP banned the practice and began a brutal persecution against all of its members as well as their families.

Radio presenter Paul Hoppit John Dee

“It is hard to believe that a government could carry on a systematic persecution of one group of its own people for so long – and even more surprising – with such ferocity and violence,” said John Dee Vice-Chair of the European Friends of Falun Gong at the rally in Cambridge city centre.

Dr Wei Liu said “It is known that over 3,100 Falun Gong members have been tortured to death in detention for their belief and several hundred thousand have been unlawfully imprisoned in forced labour camps and detention centres. But the actual figure is far more than that, due to the information blockade by the CCP.

“Furthermore – and beyond imagination – it has been disclosed that some hospitals in China are working with the detention centres and using Falun Gong prisoners of conscious as unwilling organ donors for the very lucrative organ trade industry in China.

“This crime has shocked the entire world. People cannot imagine this horrific, inhuman tragedy can happen in today's world.”

Paul Hoppit, a radio presenter of the Chinese in Cambridge programme said, “One of the privileges of broadcasting for radio in a free society is to highlight the plight of those who do not enjoy the same rights as we.

“Falun Gong practitioners are one such example. Falun Gong, a qi gong practice of ethics, exercises and meditation along with its three core principles truth, compassion and forebearance, has become hugely popular in China. The CCP has turned on its followers with all the strength at its disposal, imprisoning, torturing and murdering them. Yet where is the danger that they pose? They haven't been a threat to anyone.”

One Falun Gong practitioner explained how she was imprisoned and tortured to give up her belief, though many of her Falun Gong friends had died in prison in China.

Ms Jiang Xin Xia said “In 2002 I was arrested again. This time it was for giving out leaflets. When I was arrested, a police woman forcibly searched me. She tore open my shirt and then handcuffed me with two pairs of handcuffs. This officer humiliated me. The scars from those handcuffs are still clearly visible even today.

“They wanted me to tell them where I had gotten the leaflets. I refused. They rubbed tiger balm into my eyes and pinched me again and again to stop me from sleeping. The room where I was locked up was very cold. They forced me to stay standing for three days solid.

“Three days later, they put drugs into my food. I seemed to lose control of my mind and body. I developed an unnatural hunger and experienced a feeling of total lunacy.

“I became very weak, falling in and out of consciousness. They splashed me with cold water to keep me awake. My whole body became swollen and I could barely walk. They tried to persuade me to betray other Falun Gong practitioners in return for a shorter sentence. I refused.

“I was forced to watch videos and read books slandering Falun Gong. I was not allowed to sleep and I became mentally exhausted. I wished for only one second’s peace. My heart was broken and my self-respect was destroyed. Finally I promised, in writing, to give up Falun Gong.

“I woke up the next day and immediately regretted my statement, but the police refused to give it back to me. The police ordered drug-addict prisoners to follow me everywhere and intimidate me 24 hours a day. After four months they wore me down. Full of fear, I again betrayed myself by helping the police brainwash other practitioners.

“I was sent back home after two years of torture. I could barely walk and I came down with several illnesses. My mum was terrified because of my state. I had also suffered severe malnutrition.

“I felt like I had been killed after being forced to give up my belief. The only thing I wanted was to practice Falun Gong. So I began to do the Falun Gong exercises at home again. Six months later I was back on my feet and feeling right again.”

Richard Normington, Parliamentary Spokesman for the City of Cambridge Conservatives couldn't attend the rally but sent a statement of support, “I support freedom of speech and thought as one of the birthrights of Britons. Now they should be the right of every citizen in every nation, especially China. I wish your rally every success in showing that the Chinese people’s demand for freedom is alive and commanding support from across the world."

An audience member was asked what he thought about the rally. Cllr Patrick Smith from the London Borough of Waltham Forest said, “I think you should attract the maximum publicity because it is sheer inhumanity on a massive scale which is very under-reported and under-represented in Britain and in Western Europe and in America.”

He added, “The persecution is really on the same scale as the Jews – genocide – which isn't fully understood. We don't know the true scale of fatalities in China today, this is partly due to the shortage of information coming out of China. But there is certainly enough information to make it a human rights issue in Europe and I sincerely hope it will be made so by our British Liberal Democrat MPs.”

The Tian Guo marching band played Ode to Joy among other uplifting pieces. The organiser, Nicholas Schols explained that the band hoped to raise awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong in China through the beauty of music. All of the 70-piece band are Falun Gong practitioners, hailing from different countries in Europe.

John Dee ended with this appeal, “It is time now for the world to act. We must encourage western governments to speak out against China's despotic attitude. We cannot simply turn a blind eye. We must send a clear message to the Chinese government that they must stop the persecution now.”

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