The Unprecedented Persecution

Falun Gong practitioner arrested in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China.
Falun Gong practitioner arrested in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China.

Scope of Persecution

After its public introduction in 1992 Falun Gong spread peacefully throughout China until 1999. In a short amount of time it became the most popular form of qigong in China. Various government surveys and media reports placed the number of people practicing between 70 and 100 million people by 1998. Thousands of people could be seen practicing Falun Gong exercises outdoors in parks in China’s large cities. Before the persecution started, Falun Gong had become an integral part of Chinese society. By the time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) turned against Falun Gong in 1999, there were 100 million Falun Gong practitioners.

The CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong is a comprehensive nation-wide effort that encompasses many different forms of cruelty and inhumanity. Torture, murder, brainwashing, imprisonment, rape, forced labor, propaganda, slander, robbery, and economic deprivation form the foundation of the campaign. The harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong practitioners for transplant sale has taken the persecution to a whole new level.

The CCP’s Torture of Falun Gong Practitioners

Whether in an attempt to get Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their beliefs or to simply intimidate and attack them, the harshest and most painful forms of torture have been employed. The scope of the torture is very large and the number of cases documented by governments and human rights organizations is well into the tens of thousands. The United States Department of State, Amnesty International, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and many other sources and investigations all corroborate the basic facts about the CCP’s widespread torture of Falun Gong practitioners. Countless first-hand accounts of torture have been also been recorded.

Over two-thirds of the torture cases documented by the UN Rapporteur on Torture in a recent report have involved Falun Gong practitioners. However, the number of documented cases is likely to be only a small fraction of the number of actual ones. It is probable that Falun Gong is presently the most frequently tortured group in the world.

Some of the most common forms of torture involve beatings, shocking with electric batons, piercing with sharp objects (often under the finger nails), sleep deprivation, injections with toxic substances, being physically restrained in painful positions, and being submerged in sewage in a dark chamber. Chinese culture has a very long history, which includes developing methods of torture. The CCP has been employing torture for many years as part of its methods for seizing control of every aspect of Chinese society and targeting various groups of its own citizens.

Financial incentives are used to extract confessions and encourage the renunciation of the practice from Falun Gong prisoners. When the torture of Falun Gong practitioners is taken too far, it can lead to the death of the victim.

The Communist regime will often involve family members as part of the torture. Sometimes they will get family members to cooperate by getting them to beg and plead with the victim to sign confessions or give up their belief. It can also involve threatening and attacking loved ones or even torturing them in the presence of the victim.

The CCP’s Killing of Falun Gong Practitioners

The CCP has killed numerous Falun Gong practitioners. It is very difficult to access the information needed to determine how many have been killed because the information is highly protected by the CCP regime and people responsible for the killing try and keep it secret. Frequently, relatives are told that their loved ones have committed suicide or died from an accident or illness, but the bodies of the victims are cremated before they can be examined for evidence. Of the cases that have been verified, an unusually high percentage are people who died of their injuries shortly after being released from prison. As of May 2015, there are over 3,500 confirmed.

Two separate independent investigations about the organ harvesting of living Falun Gong prisoners concluded that over 60,000 Falun Gong practitioners were killed in the process of extracting their organs for transplant and that only encompassed the period between 2000 and 2008. These numbers are not including the number of confirmed deaths since the bodies are not available for examination. Some of the most common methods the CCP uses to kill Falun Gong practitioners including beatings, torture, severe neglect in prison or detention, and removing their organs for transplant.

Prison and Forced Labor

One of the most common forms of persecution is putting practitioners in prison. The CCP does not follow any rule of law and it can simply imprison Falun Gong practitioners at will without trial. Even when there are trials they are little more than a demonstration, as the decisions are predetermined despite any evidence that is offered. Practitioners are routinely denied access to lawyers, or the lawyers may face their own persecution if they have the courage to represent the practitioners.

Whether it is prisons, labor camps, or brainwashing centers, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are estimated to be imprisoned at any given time, and millions have faced prison over the course of the persecution. Various forms of detention facilities are used to hold and carry out abuses against practitioners. These are the locations where the torture, brainwashing, rape, forced slave labor, and other forms of abuse have been carried out.


One of the apparent goals of the CCP in their persecution is to get Falun Gong practitioners to give up their belief. This puts the practitioner in the dilemma where they are greatly encouraged to either give up their beliefs or lie and say that they have given up their belief. However, lying goes against the principals of Falun Gong so many practitioners resist giving in. If they are forced under pressure to sign a statement slandering Falun Gong and promising not to practice they can be rewarded by reducing their sentence, receiving better treatment, better treatment for their family, etc. The prisoners who sign the statements are then often forced to “transform” other prisoners. If the prisoners refuse to sign the statements, then they can be threatened with additional punishments such as extended sentences, torture, or mistreatment of their family members.

The methods of brainwashing range from threats and cruelty to slander and forced “study sessions.”

The prisoners are forced to watch videos or listen to recordings of material produced by the CCP intended to slander Falun Gong, using any means of lying and deception to make their points. This is similar to the propaganda produced by their state-controlled media that is designed to attack Falun Gong with lies and slander and co-opt the general populace into supporting its vicious campaign.

Economic Persecution, Robbery, and Economic Deprivation

Another form of abuse the CCP carries out against Falun Gong practitioners is to fire them from their jobs, refuse to pay them for their work or pensions, or simply steal from them. Many times when Falun Gong practitioners are arrested the police simply take and keep their belongings, including very expensive or difficult to replace items such as their computers, printers, bank cards, and IDs. Other times practitioners are fired from their jobs simply because of their belief or their companies refuse to pay their salaries or their pensions. Frequently, practitioners have become homeless and destitute because they have fled their homes in an attempt to escape persecution.

The children of practitioners have also paid a heavy price since they are forced to become homeless or fend for themselves after the CCP imprisons or murders their parents, grandparents, and other relatives. For more information about the orphans of Falun Gong:

Intellectual Abuse

The CCP has integrated their slander and propaganda into all levels of school curricula so that children are indoctrinated with hatred toward Falun Gong. In addition, students are forced to agree with the slanderous answers in order to pass exams, including exams required to get into college. Therefore, students who refuse to answer questions in a way that violates their beliefs can be denied the chance to advance in school or receive the education they would otherwise have access to. Everyone taking the exam is forced to choose to agree with the CCP propaganda against Falun Gong in writing or lose points on their exam.

Propaganda and Censorship

All of the world’s large-scale genocidal campaigns have included large doses of propaganda to justify their brutal activities and to foment hatred among the population against the targeted group. The most famous example is the demonization of Jews by the Nazi party. The CCP’s attack against Falun Gong includes a massive media operation to slander and to attack Falun Gong. Spreading the propaganda is also a major task of the Chinese embassy system around the world. They attempt to spread the misinformation to government leaders and influential people throughout the world. Any time Falun Gong tries to get support from a government body the CCP’s embassy will begin its slander. They also use it to incite hatred among the local Chinese diaspora, which has resulted in attacks against practitioners in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and other places.

Inside of China the CCP’s state control of the media and comprehensive censorship serves to keep any competing reports or versions of events away from the population. This media monopoly controls the thoughts and opinions of Chinese citizens. If the Chinese people knew that Falun Gong was practiced with no state interference around the world, perhaps they would begin to question the veracity of the claims made against it by the Communist regime. In particular, just across a small strait from China sits Taiwan where citizens practice Falun Gong peacefully.

Reasons for Persecution

People who don’t know very much about the history of the CCP may be surprised about the scope and brutality of the persecution against Falun Gong. The majority of citizens in western nations think of China as the nation that supplies cheap labor for a myriad of manufactured products. This narrative about China takes up most of the attention of the mainstream media. People who know more about the history of the CCP remember that they have been carrying out brutal genocidal campaigns since they took control of the nation in 1949. Whether it was the land-owners, the business owners, religious leaders, intellectuals, or democracy activists, the CCP has engaged in systematic assaults on its own people that resulted in the murders of tens of millions of people as a matter of state policy. Just because this tendency has become less active since it peaked in the 1970s during the Great Cultural Revolution does not mean it had left the DNA of the CCP. The regime’s capacity for suppression and violence came alive again during the student democracy protests in 1989, and it remains a threatening subliminal undercurrent hidden in the minds and hearts of the Chinese people, many of whom witnessed the violence or heard stories of it from their family members. Indeed, Jiang Zemin, the main architect of the persecution against Falun Gong, was one of the leaders that directly ran the campaign in 1989.

These periodic campaigns serve as a brutal reminder to the Chinese people of what will happen if they have any plans on an alternative to the one-party rule of the CCP. They also serve the further purpose of testing the loyalty (and capacity for cruelty) of the government hierarchy and purging anyone who is not willing to follow the absolute directives of the party leadership.

Why was Falun Gong Targeted?

Since the CCP came to power through a revolution rather than an election, it always has to face the fact that it does not have the support, approval, or legitimacy of the mainland Chinese. This undercurrent can be found throughout the propaganda efforts of the CCP. The CCP uses censorship and its “great firewall” to make sure Chinese citizens don’t have access to any information that it cannot control. This alone proves that the CCP fears its own citizens, and it knows that it is not legitimate. Therefore, no powerful groups or groups that could potentially become powerful are allowed to exist inside of China that are not directly overseen by the CCP. In the early years of its rule it attacked one group after another. Landowners, business owners, intellectuals, and spiritual leaders all faced persecution. All of these groups had one thing in common: They could potentially become legitimate, powerful, or cohesive rallying points outside the control of CCP doctrine. In order to assure its own control, the CCP went after these groups viciously in its early years to squash the possibility of having a rival group or doctrine to compete with. To this day, the CCP does not allow any large or powerful group to exist within China without being directly in control of it. It has never allowed anything close to a political competitor.

The CCP remains officially atheist, but it does allow some religions to exist in China. How does this work? There are five religions allowed in China that all must be registered with the state. In order to belong, a member must register their affiliation. The CCP then sets the official rules of the religion. This way religions can exist, but only if they are under the direct control of the party. If someone wants to practice a religion that is not part of the CCP, they are considered outlaws. Christians, Buddhists, and others all face widespread persecution by the CCP. The CCP then does things such as announcing that it will decide who the next Dali Lama will be. It is in control of the religion and therefore it controls the doctrine as well.

Falun Gong has always made it clear that it does not have any political identity or goals. However, it become a very large grassroots group inside of China very quickly. To Jiang Zemin, the architect of the persecution against Falun Gong, this large group could potentially become a rival. He was well-known to be jealous of the popularity of Falun Gong, and he found it an expedient group to attack and suppress in order to have a rival he could get the CCP bureaucracy to rally around and test their loyalty. He had learned this craft by coming through the ranks of the CCP.

Despite being a convenient target, it was not an easy one. Not only were masses of China’s citizenry learning Falun Gong, but reportedly, all seven of the Politburo members (China’s highest-ranking government officials) had read Zhuan Falun (the principal book of Falun Gong’s teachings). Relatives and friends of government leaders were practicing, and many high-ranking officials in the Party, government, and military attended Mr. Li’s (the founder of Falun Gong) lectures of their own accord. Given the level of government monitoring and control over the daily lives of China’s populace, it would have been impossible for such a social phenomenon to exist and flourish for seven years without government support. Despite this, Jiang insisted on attacking the group, and succeeded in starting the persecution.

Why is This Relevant to Western Society?

Some people may think that this situation does not have a lot to do with them since it is mostly confined to human rights violations inside of China’s borders and there are many other large-scale crimes and problems happening in the world today. Indeed, China is embedded in the world community and conducts significant economic activity within it. It is surely inconvenient that China also violates human rights laws and tortures its own citizens while it is the largest producer of consumable manufactured goods in the entire world and sits on the UN Security Council. But, just because it is difficult or inconvenient, does not mean that it does not have to be dealt with.

Attacks Overseas

Not all of the crimes and violence by the CCP have occurred within China’s borders. The CCP incites hatred among the citizens of Chinese origin throughout the world through its embassies, as well as state propaganda that is distributed through newspapers and televisions stations available in Chinese throughout the world. There have been documented attacks in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other places. Sometimes oversees agents of the CCP also get involved. There have been documented attacks from them in Atlanta and South Africa.

Slave Labor

The CCP has made China an important economic player with labor markets and products that compete with the rest of the world. However, part of that economic power is the result of sending prisoners of conscience who have committed no crimes to forced labor camps to serve as a large scale force of free slave labor. This fact is well-documented and many products made by imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners have appeared in countries all over the world.

Certainly this practice invalidates the concept of free trade and gives unfair advantages to Chinese companies and against workers in other countries.

A Complicated Set of Questions

The fact that the CCP is enacting these crimes in the world today creates a series of questions: If China is willing to do this to a harmless and innocent group of its own citizens, what wouldn’t it do to the rest of the world if it felt that it had the power and incentive to do so? Would it violate the human rights of other nation’s citizens, invade a neighboring country, or try something worse? Do we each have a responsibility to stand up for innocent victims who are being tortured and slaughtered by their own government? If your neighbor was not bothering you but they were slaughtering their family members what would your responsibility be? Given the truth of this situation, what is your responsibility?