In April of this year a French online television channel, Étoiles du Cœur, broadcast a 2.5 hour-long interview with Alain Tang, the President of Falun Dafa Association in France, who discussed the 15 year-long of persecution of Falun Gong in China, and his personal experience in explaining to the public the circumstances of this persecution, and the nature of his practice, during his time living in France.
The host, Claude, described the Falun Gong persecution as a “dramatic topic that media doesn’t talk about much, for reasons that are purely commercial.”
Claude said that he hoped to raise the international awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong through the interview. “There is no reason that men, women, children, old people should be murdered, executed, and tortured, and there is no reason that they should be harvested for their organs,” he said.
Alain Tang, 49, is French-Chinese, and moved to France with his parents when he was 14 years old. He became aware of Falun Gong in 1995, when the founder of the practice, Master Li Hongzhi, was invited by the Chinese Embassy in France to lecture there.
Tang attended the Falun Gong lecture at the Culture Department of the Chinese Embassy located at Rue Van Loo in March 1995. “We discovered this precious Falun Gong because we tended to like things like meditation, Qigong, and Tai Chi. So for us, this was really a beautiful discovery,” he said.
Tang said many Chinese people still don’t know what Falun Gong actually is, and are scared once they hear the words—a consequence of the Chinese Communist Party’s defamation of the practice, he said.
Information about Falun Gong is blocked in China, and the Communist Party blocks independent debate about it, he said. “There’s no way for Falun Gong to debate in China,” Tang said. Even so, he referred to the failure of the campaign to actually defame Falun Gong outside of China, where it is practiced freely, and where people know that it is wrongly persecuted in China, he said.
“Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin ordered and led the suppression of Falun Gong in China because he was afraid that Falun Gong would take the spotlight, whereas we are only individuals spread all over the whole world that like to practice Chinese mediation,” Tang said. “We didn’t think at all to take part in any political action. It is really a personal pleasure to practice Chinese meditation—like Tai Chi or yoga.”
Tang said that he can’t go back to China due to his practice of Falun Gong. As the President of Falun Dafa Association in France, “I know I’m on blacklist,” he said. Tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been jailed, sent to labor camps, or put through forced ideological education courses, colloquially known as brainwashing classes, in order to force them to renounce their faith.
“You know, everyone loves his hometown. I’m from Wenzhou in Zhejiang province. Just a little up north, when crossing China Sea, I could see my hometown. I said ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to my hometown in my mind—and it breaks my heart, because of the persecution I can’t go to my hometown freely.”
Falun Dafa practitioners had formed no formal associations or organizations outside China before the persecution started, Tang said. The Falun Dafa Association in France was established in 2000, after the persecution was launched in 1999 in China, after French police recommended it, so that the group would have an official body with which to communicate with the government and society.
“The Association is the result of the persecution,” Tang said.
But even though Falun Gong is practiced freely in France, there have been some obstacles, Tang said. On several occasions that the Falun Dafa Association in France has applied to protest in front of Chinese diplomatic compounds when Chinese leaders visit France, the police bureau has rejected them, Tang said.
“Three times, our cases were judged by different judges. Every time, they contested the Paris Administration Office’s decision, and gave us the right to protest,” Tang said.
Claude, the television host, remarked that the persecution of Falun Gong reminded him of Nazi persecutions during World War II.
“The persecution has been happening for almost 15 years,” Tang said. “There are apparatuses organized to operate the persecution. We always hear about politicians saying that World War II was a historical lesson for us, but a Hitler-style persecution is happening in China… and when information about the persecution came out, many forgot the lesson, and became quiet because of practical interests.”