Sheng Xue, an award-winning journalist and author who fled China for Canada after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, has followed the persecution campaign against Falun Dafa since it began in China in 1999.
She was an unexpected guest at the Falun Dafa Day celebrations on Parliament Hill on May 9, and said she came to lend her support.
“It’s been 19 years [since the persecution began]. There may [be] thousands of resistance movements in the history of humankind. The resistance from Falun Dafa practitioners is the most remarkable,” she said.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a spiritual meditation practice that follows the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was made public in China in 1992, and gained great popularity within a very short period of time, with government officials praising the practice for improving physical and mental health of its practitioners.
However, the great popularity of Falun Dafa was seen as a threat by then-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin, who launched a brutal campaign of persecution against the practice.
Sheng laid out seven reasons to explain why she believed Falun Dafa adherents’ resistance to the persecution is the most remarkable in history.
The first reason was simply the number of people affected by the persecution, “a huge number,” said Xue.
Official Chinese regime sources estimated that 70-100 million people were practicing Falun Dafa before 1999. International observers like Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department have estimated that Falun Dafa practitioners have accounted for at least half the population of labour camp prisoners, amounting to several hundreds of thousands of people, at points throughout the persecution.
And since the Chinese Communist Party still enforces a policy of punishing the family members, employers, and schools of Falun Dafa practitioners who refuse to renounce the practice, the number of victims is even larger.
The second thing that makes the persecution significant is the length of time—19 years. Since communism was established in China, the communist party has crushed any dissent violently and quickly. Falun Gong has been the exception.
The fact that Falun Dafa practitioners have always been peaceful in their fight for freedom of belief is another reason, she said.
As is the fact that the Chinese Communist Party has used the widespread practice of harvesting organs from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, a gruesome business that has been condemned by the Canadian Parliament, U.S. Congress, and European Union.
The fifth thing that made the movement distinct was the impact overseas Falun Dafa practitioners had on the world. Xue said practitioners had helped those outside China understand the evil nature of the Chinese Communist Party and communism itself.
Her sixth point was that overseas Falun Dafa practitioners had also helped the world understand the broader realities of human rights abuses inside China.
And her final point was that Falun Dafa has spread around the world, despite the persecution.
“You [Falun Dafa adherents] are heroes,” said Sheng to the crowd of Falun Dafa adherents gathered on Parliament Hill to celebrate Falun Dafa Day. “Every one of you is a hero. So, I have to be with you, to stand with you, and to support you.”
Canadian MP and former federal cabinet minister Peter Kent, who brought greetings from the leader of the Conservative Party Andrew Scheer to the celebrations, said he shares a dream with all those gathered that one day, Chinese citizens will be free to practice Falun Dafa in China.
“I know, and I share with all of you the dream that one day, all Chinese citizens will enjoy the freedoms of speech and assembly, all the democratic rights that we too often take for granted here in Canada,” Kent said.
“A day when the tenets of Falun Gong can be spoken out loud in Tiananmen Square: Zhen, Shan, Ren [in Chinese], truthfulness, compassion, tolerance.”