OTTAWA—Twenty-two years ago on May 13, the spiritual practice of Falun Dafa was introduced in northeastern China by Mr. Li Hongzhi. That date is now World Falun Dafa Day and is celebrated annually across the globe by adherents and their friends, families, and supporters.
In the lead-up to the Ottawa festivities, to be held on Parliament Hill on May 7, letters recognizing the event from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other legislators were received by the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC).
“Millions of people around the world have benefitted from the teachings of Falun Dafa. Promoting the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, the practice has found a receptive audience in Canada,” Harper noted in his letter.
He also relayed a message of support for FDAC’s efforts to stop the persecution of adherents by the Chinese regime.
“Canada has a strong record of supporting freedom of religion, human rights and the rule of law. Last year, our government was pleased to launch Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom to encourage the protection of religious minorities around the world so that all can practice their faith without fear of violence or repression. The Falun Dafa Association of Canada is a valued partner in these efforts.”
Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal sent best wishes to everyone attending the 2014 anniversary celebrations.
“Since it was introduced to the public in 1992, the Falun Dafa movement has been rapidly spreading worldwide. In Canada, Falun Dafa practitioners actively promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all members of our diverse society, which greatly contributes to the advancement of Canadian multiculturalism,” he wrote.
In her greeting letter, conservative MP Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay said in part: “It is with great pleasure that I extend my personal greetings and best wishes to all practitioners, supporters, families and friends of Falun Dafa.”
Dr. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, also sent greetings.
“Falun Dafa practitioners actively promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all members of our diverse society. These teachings greatly contribute to the advancement of Canada,” she wrote.
Adherents Persecuted in China
The ancient discipline of Falun Dafa, which is practiced all over the world, includes a set of four gentle exercises and meditation as well as teachings focused on self-improvement in daily life. In China, unfortunately, a systematic, large-scale persecution of those who practice Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) has been ongoing since July 1999.
In its support of religious freedom, the Canadian government was the first to publicly condemn this persecution by filing an official protest with the Chinese foreign ministry shortly after large numbers of Falun Dafa practitioners were arrested and held in detention in 1999.
A Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong (PFOFG) group consisting of senators and MPs from all parties was formed to “make sure parliamentarians are better informed about issues related to Falun Gong,” said Bill Siksay, chair of the group at that time.
Since its inception, members of PFOFG have demonstrated their concern and support by hosting education events for fellow parliamentarians and the general public. Many attend the annual Falun Dafa Day festivities on Parliament Hill and either state or send their support and good wishes.
Over the years, MPs have helped gain the release of several Falun Dafa practitioners with family members living in Canada who were illegally imprisoned in China.
In February, Liberal MP and former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler called for excluding China from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) because of widespread and systematic violations of human rights—including the forced harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong practitioners.
The following month, Canada’s U.N. representative Anne-Tamara Lorre raised the issue of state-sanctioned organ harvesting in China during the 25th session of the UNHRC.
The UNHRC’s official daily press release quoted her as saying that Canada “remained concerned that Falun Gong practitioners and other religious worshippers in China faced persecution; further, reports that organ transplants took place without free and informed consent of the donor were troubling.”
Ottawa Falun Dafa Day activities run from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Parliament Hill and include performances by the Tian Guo Marching Band, opening remarks by FDAC, VIP speeches, and traditional Chinese dancers.