Religion & History II – Falun Gong’s back in the news!

Note from November 2007: This was originally posted on a blog of mine that was hosted on Blogger. I’ve since imported that blog over here to C Good’s Things on WordPress.

I do try to follow the story of Falun Gong, which is a recently created philosophy & health practice, originating in China and based on traditional Chinese practices, that the Chinese government has labeled an “evil cult” and is trying to suppress.

Yahoo! News had a recent article about a Chinese ex-diplomat who was seeking asylum in Australia and gave the Australian government documents that stated there were people in Chinese diplomatic missions whose job it was to monitor & persecute Falun Gong. The diplomat, Chen Yonglin, said there were 1,000 secret agents and informants in Australia alone.

There were other witnesses at the hearings who backed Chen up. Chen, his wife, and his daughter were all granted permanent residence in Australia. The Chinese embassy in Washington “could not be reached for comment”, and the Chinese foreign ministry said it was all lies and didn’t even merit an official response.

Yes, these statements could be lies, and since they seem to have helped Chen’s bid for asylum, that possibility must be acknowledged. But Chen also had other people give supportive testimony.

If what Chen says is true, this is nasty stuff. There have been a LOT of allegations of torture, kidnapping, harassment and abuse of Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese authorities.

This all originally started quite some time back (1999? 1998?) when Falun Gong groups said they were being harassed by the Chinese government. To try to let the Communist party leaders know that they (Falun Gong) were real people and would like the harassment to stop, 10,000 people showed up and lined the roads between the apartments complex where are all the top officials live, and the building where the officials all work. According to reports, the demonstration was peaceful, with people quietly standing by the side of the road, or sitting and meditating.

The reaction of Chinese party officials was NOT nearly as peaceful. Eventually, Falun Gong was officially declared to be an “evil cult”. While this sounds kind of dumb to us here in the U.S. (ooooh, they’re an evil cult, they’re gonna jump out of the bushes and get you, ooooohhhhh), I found out later that there are a number of incidents in Chinese history in which serious uprising and civil wars were started by followers of certain religious leaders, or members of cults. So, while the reaction of Chinese party officials doesn’t seem to be too well thought-out, the reasons for their concern are understandable.

But to send spies and secret agents out to foreign countries to monitor & harass Falun Gong in those foreign countries doesn’t make any sense at all, unless the Chinese government is all about controlling people and the capitalism-lite that they are supposedly moving towards is just a false front. If that’s the case, things will probably get very interesting and very ugly in the next few years.

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