For mainland Chinese practitioners of the traditional spiritual discipline Falun Gong, New Year provides an opportunity to show that they have not submitted to 15 years of persecution and to express their appreciation and goodwill for the founder of Falun Gong, Mr. Li Hongzhi.
People from all across China do so by sending thousands of electronic greeting cards to minghui.org, a Falun Gong website. In the cards, Mr. Li is addressed as “Master,” a title of respect for a teacher or instructor in Chinese culture.
Greetings are pouring into Minghui from hundreds of cities, towns, and villages in multiple Chinese provinces and from dozens of nations around the world.
The thousands of cards, which can be viewed on dozens of pages published recently on Minghui, are usually sent collectively, on behalf of the practitioners of each town, village, or workplace represented, from Heilongjiang in China’s far northeast to the mountainous southwestern province of Yunnan, on the borders of the Himalayas.
Prior to the beginning of the persecution, launched by then-regime head Jiang Zemin in July 1999, between 70 million and 100 million Chinese had taken up Falun Gong (also know as Falun Dafa), according to the Chinese state. The practitioners were drawn from all parts of Chinese society.
The greeting cards represent this diversity, coming from individuals from all walks of life: medical workers and farmers in Heilongjiang, aerospace engineers in Nanjing, municipal officials in eastern China’s Shandong Province, and economists from no identified location. One message wishing Mr. Li a heartfelt happy New Year came on behalf of mainland China’s construction workers.
Among the cards and greetings are ones created by Falun Gong practitioners employed in Chinese military and security organizations. Individuals in the People’s Liberation Army, in state departments and cadres from the upper echelons of the Communist Party took up the practice prior to its ban in 1999.
The greetings from Chinese military personnel came from both active and veteran service members of a variety of branches and regions—including a Beijing air force complex, units stationed in the southern Chinese Guangzhou and Nanjing military districts, veterans in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, and practitioners employed in the military industry and engineering troops of Shanxi in the west.
For practitioners in the Chinese armed services, which are tightly controlled by the communist regime, circumstances are especially trying, as indicated by part of a collective message to Mr. Li from Chinese military personnel who practice Falun Gong.
“As a tool for the exclusive use of the evil communist regime, the Chinese military is under strict control and the environment here is most severe. Nevertheless, we believe in Master and in Dafa. Our faith in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance does not waver—no prohibition can deter us, no hardship can bring us down,” the message read.
Falun Dafa practitioners from all around the world have sent their greetings, many in the form of poetry or illustrations, to Mr. Li every New Year since 2001.
Falun Dafa, an ancient Chinese practice consisting of five slow-moving meditation exercises and a set of teachings for self-improvement and spiritual improvement, was introduced to the Chinese public on May 13, 1992. Starting in his home province of Jilin in northeastern China, Mr. Li Hongzhi gave lectures and held instruction sessions throughout China.
In over 50 lectures Mr. Li personally taught some tens of thousands of people, but soon millions of Chinese in all major towns and cities had taken up Falun Dafa, which was praised for its health benefits and positive effect on society. In December 1993, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security awarded Mr. Li a certificate of honor in recognition of Falun Gong’s contributions to society.
But in July 1999, the communist leadership under Jiang Zemin, who felt threatened by Falun Dafa’s popularity, began a comprehensive effort to eradicate Falun Gong that July. Jiang mobilized massive material and financial resources to carry out the persecution, which he believed necessary to safeguard the atheist ideology of the Chinese Communist Party.
Despite the apolitical and benign nature of Falun Dafa’s teachings, which stresses the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, hundreds of thousands of practitioners were thrown in jail, where brainwashing and torture were common. A sweeping propaganda campaign aimed at demonizing Falun Gong was affected to isolate Falun Gong in the eyes of the Chinese public.
Since then, the regime has continued its efforts to eradicate the practice, with deadly results. Deaths due to torture and abuse of over 3,800 practitioners have been documented by the Falun Dafa Information Center. The actual number of deaths is believed to be many times higher, considering to the difficulty of getting evidence out of China. Independent researchers estimate that tens of thousands of practitioners have been killed by having their organs taken for transplantation.
Outside mainland China, Falun Gong is practiced openly in over a hundred nations on six continents and the main text of Falun Dafa, called ‘Zhuan Falun,’ has been translated into 39 different languages.