NEW YORK—Nearly 10,000 people turned out in New York on May 16 to celebrate the spiritual practice known as Falun Dafa.
The World Falun Dafa Day parade is a way for practitioners of the discipline to share their faith with onlookers and show solidarity with those still being persecuted for practicing the meditation in China today.
Founded 27 years ago by Mr. Li Hongzhi, Falun Dafa—also called Falun Gong—is a “self-cultivation practice of the Buddha School,” according to its website.
Falun Dafa was first taught to the public on May 13, 1992, in China. Its students practice slow-moving meditative exercises and follow a set of teachings centered around the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Rakesk Nayak, an American pastry chef originally from India, said he practices because of the principles.
“Since I went to school, I was Hindu, no one taught me those wonderful words,” said Nayak. “So I still continue to believe in truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.”
Martin Czertok, a practitioner from Argentina, said, “I practice because it’s what I was looking for, since I started asking questions about the meaning of life and why we’re here.”
Falun Dafa is taught free of charge and practiced by a diverse array of nationalities and backgrounds.
“For me, Falun Gong saved my life,” said Juana Sanchez, of Spain. “Because it helped me improve my character, and finish my studies, and stop consuming drugs … now I found my real purpose, to bring into the earth truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.”
However, for the last 20 years, Falun Dafa has been persecuted in China by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Gone, but not Forgotten
In Chinese culture, white can signify purity, but it also signifies mourning the death of a loved one.
To date, there are more than 4,000 confirmed cases of Falun Dafa practitioners being killed through torture and abuse while in custody. However, the real number of deaths resulting from the persecution is widely believed to be many times higher.
Guiyuan Yang, a practitioner from China who fled to Japan, described some of the torture methods he endured while imprisoned.
“They took the bedsheet and ripped it into strips of cloth,” said Yang. “They wrapped my entire arm up like this. After they wrapped me up, my blood stopped circulating and I felt numb. And then they locked my arms to the back, and use a rope to tie my hands behind my neck.”
“They would wrap my legs on top of each other,” he said. “And my two knees were tied together. And then they pressed my head to my knees, like being pressed into the shape of a ball.”
This is only one of the many torture methods reportedly used by the communist regime in China against prisoners of conscience for refusing to abandon their faith.
Since the mid-2000s, disturbing reports have emerged about state-sanctioned killing of prisoners for their organs in China—a crime called forced live organ harvesting.
An in-depth report by transplant ethics group International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, released in 2016, found a huge discrepancy between China’s official transplantation figures and the number of transplants performed at hospitals.
By analyzing the public records of 712 Chinese hospitals that carry out liver and kidney transplants, the report showed that roughly 60,000 to 100,000 transplants are conducted each year, far outstripping the official number of 10,000 to 20,000 per year. The shortfall, the report concluded, was largely made up of organs extracted from Falun Gong practitioners held inside China’s detention facilities.
In December 2018, an independent people’s tribunal based in the United Kingdom concluded that forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has taken place in China “on a substantial scale.”
Tuidang stands for “Quit the CCP. The movement has successfully helped over 300 million people renounce the CCP.
It has developed a non-violent method where people submit a statement renouncing the party to the Tuidang Center, which can be done anonymously.
“I started as a Falun Gong human rights worker since the first day of the persecution in 1999,” said Theresa Chu, an international human rights lawyer. “Now over 20 years we’ve made tremendous efforts around the world to ask people to help stop the atrocity against Falun Gong in China.”
The Tuidang movement began after the The Epoch Times published the series “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.”
This series exposed the CCP for its lies and propaganda; its persecution of scholars and people of faith; and its war against traditional values.
“So more people, we support the Chinese to stand up, to spread the truth of the cruelty that the CCP is doing,” said Chu. “Also to helping the Chinese people withdraw from the CCP: not to be an accomplice.”
NTD reporters Miguel Moreno and Ilene Eng, and Epoch Times reporter Cathy He contributed to this report.