Falun Gong Rally for Freedom in China

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The CCP is one of the world’s leaders in Internet censorship. According to David Feith in the Wall Street Journal, the Chinese regime uses more than 40,000 censors in a dozen government agencies to limit web content via the “Great Firewall” of China. “Just as East Germans diminished Soviet legitimacy by escaping across Checkpoint Charlie, ‘hacktivists’ today do the same by breaching Internet cyberwalls,” says Feith.

Falun Gong’s GIF, accessible to Internet users worldwide, has been invaluable to dissidents in such countries as Burma, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Vietnam, and Iran. During Iran’s Green Revolution, demonstrators had more contact with the outside world because of GIF. They so flooded GIF’s servers to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites, that on June 22, 2009 the consortium had to temporarily block usage in order to keep the system from crashing.

Devastated Iranians sent thousands of messages to GIF, pleading for restoration of the service. “Technically, to us, Iranian people, web means Freegate, Ultrasurf. . . Please hear us. Don’t let freedom die. Don’t let hope fade away. And let people be informed, connected and empowered,” one message entreated. GIF worked nonstop to resume services to Iran after midnight the same day, but without resource-consuming video services. They then received many requests from Iran for YouTube services to post videos about the crackdown. So the GIF team again worked tirelessly and resumed YouTube and some other video services early the next morning. According to Feith, during the protests of June 20, 2009 alone, more than one million Iranians used GIF to visit 390 million pages on the uncensored Internet.

In July of the same year, the U.S. Senate’s State Department/Foreign Appropriations Subcommittee approved $30 million for Internet freedom activities. With additional (U.S. made) servers, GIF swiftly could increase its capacity to 50 million users per day and would never have to block usage as they had done during the Green Revolution. Sadly, although the State Department received the $30 million from Congress in October 2009, it has not released the funds for these purposes.

Commenting on this in the Washington Post on April 5, 2011, Anne Applebaum revealed that a State Department official told her that the department “lacked technical expertise and had been forced to reorganize itself to ‘unify the policy’ before issuing a call for proposals.” Applebaum added that there may be other, “darker motives: weakness, cowardice, anxiety in not wanting to displease the governments that create firewalls — especially the Chinese government.” Even in the unlikely case that those darker motives do not exist, the State Department is drowning a simple solution to circumventing Internet censorship in the murky waters of government bureaucracy.

The New York Times on June 12, 2011 reported in glowing terms on the State Department’s internet freedom activities. But Horowitz, an advisor to GIF, says that the Times story “glamorizes black box stuff, ignores present, real world possibilities for mass circumvention of closed society Internet firewalls and applauds an R & D approach to Internet freedom that, at best, won’t/can’t be operational for years.” He and other activists continue to urge the U.S. government to support the extremely efficient and already successful work of groups like GIF rather than, literally, reinvent the Internet.

Another of the Iranian freedom fighters of 2009 wrote poignantly to GIF, “If it was not for flicker, twitter, facebook and simply email nobody would have known what is happening in Iran. . . . If not for internet these events would have been 1000 times uglier and more brutal. . . . Let the citizens of the world know you as freedom heroes.”

Sometimes “freedom heroes” never intended to fight, only to cultivate daily the virtues of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance like the followers of Falun Gong. But the CCP brought the fight to them, and now they are on the frontlines of a battle for freedom not just for China, but for victims of repressive governments all over the world.

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).

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  • Bert

    We also need a Falun Gong Rally for Freedom in America as well as in China.
    The Obama gang is increasing its dictatorial power as fast as they can and loyal Americans are on the defensive.

  • Steve Chavez

    Fifty bucks, oops make that five cents since that's all the "Change" I have in my pockets, that Obama ordered his chefs to make Chinese food that day.

    He also probably called his state dinner pals to laugh at the "falun nuts outside my window. And guess where all their posters, magic markers, clothes, shoes, bullhorns, WERE MADE? CHINA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA!" Michelle: "I'm calling the National Guard to remove them immediately! They are insulting our Chinese Comrades with their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly!"

  • LindaRivera

    The human soul longs to be free! G-D made the soul with that longing for freedom!

    Evil men in their idol worship of 'Power and Control' are determined to smash all freedom. The idol of 'Power and Control' is the biggest idol the world has ever known. The worship of this idol is always accompanied by horrific cruelty and tremendous violence.

    The men who worship this idol crave the worship of humanity. Politics and religion have both been utilized to satisfy their demand for worship.

  • g_jochnowitz

    When I was in Israel in 2009, I saw copies of a Hebrew-language edition of EPOCH TIMES, the free newspaper of Falun Gong. One could pick up copies in boxes along the street.
    A few years earlier I saw a woman in Washington Square wearing a T-shirt that said Falun Dafa (an alternative name for Falun Gong) spelled out in Hebrew on the back of the shirt and written in Chinese on the front of the shirt. I walked up to her, pointed to the shirt, and said "Falun Dafa." She gave me handouts in English encouraging recipients to join the organization. She spoke to me in Hebrew telling me I should become a member, She knew neither English nor Chinese.
    Falun Gong means "law-wheel service." Falun Dafa means "law-wheel big-law."

  • Lisa_H

    I learned about Falun Gong several years ago and I was interested because I practice Qi Gong and wondered how it might be related. So I took a few books out of the library on this subject and all indications are that they are a cult. I read two books by the master and founder (Li) as well which confirms this impression. They may be doing wonderful work as described in this article to promote freedom but they are also, in my opinion, dangerous in their beliefs. If you want to find out more here is a link http://www.apologeticsindex.org/f02.html

    • http://www.theird.org Faith

      As a Christian, I believe that only Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but I still believe that there must be freedom of belief, conscience, and religion for all. The site you listed also includes Qi Gong. ____And yes, the Falun Gong are doing wonderful work to oppose Communism with the Nine Commentaries, and to counter repressive governments with GIF.

      • Lisa_H

        Dear Faith, thank you for your reply. Qi Gong as such is not a religion. I learned this exercise and meditation practice in a 6-week course at a community centre from a master who I never saw again. It is comparable to Tai Chi (just not as intricate and more emphasis on health). Falun Gong is an offshoot of Qi Gong (which probably has thousands of different ways of practicing it, as it used to be frequently taught within Chinese families so lots of variations). With Falun Gong, however, there is only one master and this man has made some pretty outrageous claims (for e.g., that it replaces medicine–much like Scientology; belief in aliens on earth corrupting society; and to me most disturbingly says he plants "the dharma wheel" in each follower, which means that they have an unbroken connection with him) and he appears to elevate it above all other forms of Qi Gong. Alarm bells went off for me when I saw the name because I have studied cults (someone I know joined the Moonies in the early 1980s and was subsequently kidnapped by his friends and deprogrammed) but I am not disputing anything you have written in your article and any persecution of this group would be unwarranted. –Lisa

  • James

    Good Article!

  • humtum

    Please note that there are absolutely no breathing techniques in the cultivation practice of Falun Dafa (Falun Gong). Don't take my word for it, look it up in the core text Zhuan Falun and/or ask any Falun Dafa practitioner. This was a well-researched article overall, so why not make it even more accurate by correcting this statement: "Practitioners of the spiritual discipline combining meditation, graceful exercises, and breathing techniques with cultivation of virtue sat cross-legged on the ground in dozens and dozens of rows facing the U.S. Capitol."

    Thanks Bob G.

    • http://www.theird.org Faith

      Thank you, Bob G. Sorry about that. I had read of comparisions to Qigong, and so thought it incorporated all of the same things.

  • Marcus G

    Thanks Faith and Bob G
    Yes there are no breathing techniques in Falun Gong
    I have often wondered why in the last 13 years every news report says this?
    Thanks for the article!
    Marcus G

    • Noah

      I believe it is a sign of just how much "copy and paste" misinformation has gone on regarding Falun Gong. Actual first hand research/reporting is short in supply.

  • Cyrus

    I have practiced it for more than 9 years, of which I have not been sick since starting the exercises. What attracted me was that it was free, not a religion, no one to worship, no membership, and the thee words of Truth, Compassion and Forbearance. With truth one has a loyal, honest and noble character. With Forbearance, one is tolerance, patient, forgiving and can endure suffering without anger or spite. With Compassion one is kind to everyone one no matter what their belief or who the are.

    The negative comments about the practice are not accurate and are a case of incite to hatred. Anyone can quote and say anything, but the books are easily download and transparent at falundafa.org and in this way it has spread to 100 million people in over 114 countries.

  • Rebeunga

    why don’t you keep your comments on topic instead of using this article to espouse your divisive ill informed fear mongering. I’m so tired of Obama bashing. The problems in this country run far deeper than the president. As far as Chinese goods you can than Nixon for the start of that..
    Human rights in China are appalling and US corporations exacerbate the issue with unending investments there.

  • Lisa_H

    Incite to hate? That's a low blow. Please show some of this tolerance for other opinions that you say you espouse! I simply believe that it is prudent to know more rather than less about any person or group especially if you are going to get involved with them. As for the movement's helping people in China and other countries gain access to an uncensored web–that is truly commendable so long as no prostelizing occurs at the same time.

    Since I thought I might be overreacting a little and was not as well informed as I ought to be, I did 5 more minutes of digging and found this analysis by a cult expert on why he considers Falun Fata/Gong indeed a cult. Take it with a grain of salt if you wish. http://www.cultnews.com/?p=2346

  • Noah

    If you dig a little deeper Lisa, you will find out Rick Ross was paid to do that presentation for the Chinese Acadamy of Social Sciences, a CCP mouthpiece. I think that says enough about how much of a grain of salt to take it with. I encourage you to read the court testimony of Prof. David Ownby, an actual field researcher and journal-published writer about belief system. It is very objective, in my opinion. http://ahdu88.blogspot.com/2009/05/falun-gong-def

    Since there is nobody to worship, no membership, no churches, and no money exchanged/collected, it appears a whole lot less cultish than most western religious pracitces. (A man who walks on water, and can cure the blind is going to come take you away to a heavenly kingdom?) Not meaning disrespect, just noting that most beliefs sound odd when taken out of context.

    The primary reason they even bother to make a public issue at all is to get the word out that they are still being persecuted (often to death), and hope that it can stop.

    I have practiced for 10+ years, and have a quite normal life. I am a mechanical engineer, so I am not some uneducated sucker, and I can credit practicing Falun Dafa directly for many many positive changes in my life including health and family relationships.

  • Olaf

    Lisa: Actually, qigong is an offshoot of cultivation practice (xiulian), which is what Falun Gong is all about. Communist cadres in the 1950s wanted to disassociate the spiritual teachings of these practices from the physical movements, and thus qigong was born. Nevertheless, Falun Gong was widely endorsed by the Chinese authorities in until the mid-1990s, when it started to become “too popular” in the eyes of some opponents of qigong. Before that, it was even showcased in Chinese embassies around the world as “genuine Chinese culture”. Have a look at the Wikipedia article on Falun Gong and its rather impressive list of references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falun_Gong

  • freedomissacred youtube

    There is a movie in support of the Falun Gong in the uklisteners channel in Youtube “Beyond Justice”. I would love to have your opinion of it. There is more discussion in the blog freedom-is-sacred at blogspot(dot)com if you care to comment there.