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History of the movement

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History of Falun Dafa

The Falun Dafa movement is one tradition within Xulian -- ancient Chinese methods to cultivate mind and body as a means of keeping fit and healing oneself. They appear to have pre-historic roots that may date back many millennia.  However, the term Xulian had long been associated with practices that had religious sounding names. In order to make the practices more acceptable to the government, the leaders of Falun Dafa adopted a new word: Qigong (pronounced chee-gong). Qi means universal life energy; Gong means cultivation energy. 

Falun Dafa incorporates Buddhist and Taoist principles, and combines them with exercise and body cultivation.  Many individuals are drawn to Falun Gong because of the beneficial impact produced by its practices and exercises. "Published experiences by practitioners stress the positive effects for their health. Given the growing expense of the health system to many people and faltering mutual support networks, the positive effects of Qigong practice and the support networks resulting from membership will have been supportive for the spread of the Falun Gong." However, the Falun Dafa is taught as a path which is more than just the practice of Qigong;  is seen a way of life. 1  

Founder Li Hongzhi (a.k.a. Master Li) has said that, in the past, its secrets were passed only from master to student. Hongzhi made the movement public in China in 1992. It is now available to anyone. It currently has branches throughout the world. It claims a membership of 70 million on China and 30 million elsewhere in the world. Theirs is not a religious organization in the conventional sense of the term. They continually deny being a religion, cult or sect. They are mainly "a network for transmitting information and practices, in which people may dip on an incidental basis or more regularly.1

Falun Dafa was registered with the Qugong Research Association of China in 1992. However, it became obvious that Qugong's emphasis on "healing illnesses and keeping fit, as well as displaying supernormal powers at exhibitions" did not match Falun Dafa's emphasis on "genuinely guiding people to higher dimensions." So Li Hongzhi withdrew the movement from the Association. By this time, the Chinese government had become concerned about the popularity of the Falun Dafa. The number of Falun Dafa practitioners had exceeded the number of people in the Communist Party. In fact, Falun Dafa had included many party members. The government refused the Falun Gong permission to join any other association. Thus they have remained an independent group without legal protection or status in China.

Li Hongzhi left China in 1996, and now resides in New York state. He speaks at annual Experience-Sharing Conferences

About 10,000 Falun Dafa members engaged in a peaceful gathering outside the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing on 1999-APR-25. On 1999-MAY-9, three students were fired from a university in Dalian City, China for practicing Falun Gong. One student was expelled. In subsequent months, practitioners were harassed in various areas of the country, as they were performing group exercises. Some practitioners were told that their phones were being monitored and that if they continued, their retirement pensions would be terminated. Police and other officials started to break into practitioner's homes and confiscate Falun Gong material. Some followers were arrested and have disappeared from sight. 2 Thousands of members demonstrated peacefully in about 30 Chinese cities.

The group was outlawed on 1999-JUL-22. The government accused it of "spreading fallacies, hoodwinking people, inciting and creating disturbances and jeopardizing social stability." 3 On JUL-23, Master LI called on "all governments, international organizations, and people of goodwill worldwide to extend their support and assistance to us in order to resolve the current crisis in China." 4 On JUL-29, Chinese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Master Li. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing said that sect founder Li Hongzhi "spread superstition and malicious fallacies to deceive people, resulting in the deaths of many practitioners." He is also accused of organizing demonstrations without first applying for permits.  5

In an apparent violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which China recently signed, the government has arrested hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners and is proceeding with show trials. Some have allegedly been sent directly to labor camps without trials. A spokesperson for the Falun Gong Practitioners in North America has stated that: "lawyers in China have already been told not to defend these innocent civilians unless they agree with the government propaganda.  Also, no legal representation on behalf of them from the concerned international community is allowed to be present at the trial." 6

The U.S. Congress -- both House and Senate -- unanimously passed resolutions on 1999-NOV-18 and 19 which criticized the Chinese government for its crackdown of the Falun Gong. "Both resolutions urge the Chinese government to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it has signed, to stop arresting, detaining and persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, to release all detained dissidents, and to respect the basic human rights such as freedom of belief and freedom of speech." 7 Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi commented that Falun Gong is not a religious organization. It is not simply a Qugong group. He sees it as a destructive cult that harms Chinese society and its people. He regards the resolutions as a gross infringement of China's internal affairs. 8

In late 1999-NOV, over 700 Falun Gong practitioners went to Seattle WA during the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meetings. Their intent was to launch a global campaign that they hope will pressure the Chinese government into negotiating with them.

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References used:

  1. Barend ter Haar, "Falun Gong: Evaluation and further references," at:
  2. "Chinese Government's severe violations of Falun Gong practitioners' human rights," at:
  3. "Banned sect joins long Chinese history of religious repression," Associated Press, 1999-JUL-22.
  4. "Statement by Master Li on Falun Gong and the situation in China," 1999-JUL-23, at: 
  5. "Falun Gong crackdown", ABC News, at: 
  6. "Statement Regarding Pending Show-Trials in China," 1999-AUG-25, Falun Dafa Clearwisdom, at:
  7. "U.S. Senate and House passed resolutions related to Falun Gong," at: 
  8. "China strongly opposes U.S [sic] House Joint Resolution on Falun Gong," at: 

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Site navigation: Home page > Faith groups > Falun Gong > here

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Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-NOV-26
Latest update: 2004-JAN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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