Gong Xiaoyan, originally from China’s Qingdao City in Shandong Province, has settled and worked in Silicon Valley for many years now. But in her mother country, the persecution of the peaceful meditation practice, Falun Gong, hits close to home.
Falun Gong is a self-improvement spiritual practice that was introduced in China in the early 1990s. With truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as its core principles, the practice’s benefits for physical and mental health led to its widespread popularity, with more than 70 million adherents in China by 1999, according to a state survey. Practitioners say their numbers reached more than 100 million.
But Falun Gong’s popularity was perceived as a threat to the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian ideology, and the Chinese regime launched a nationwide persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in 1999. The official press office for Falun Gong, the Falun Dafa Information Center, estimates that millions of Falun Gong adherents have been arrested and detained since the persecution started, often enduring torture and abuse while imprisoned.
After enduring a decade of persecution, the Gong Xiaoyan’s family in China again faces danger.
In Oct., Gong’s family home in Qingdao City was raided by police. Gong’s parents were taken away by local police. Gong’s mother was allowed to go home the next day, but her father Gong Piqi has since been incarcerated at the Pudong Detention Center in Jimo District, Qingdao City.
Police also ransacked the home, confiscating Gong father’s notebook computer and over 157,000 yuan (US$23,600) in cash, Gong said. In China, Falun Gong practitioners regularly suffer this kind of unlawful treatment at the hands of the authorities, as documented by Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Gong explained that the latest round of persecution was carried out by the provincial authorities, executing a new directive from top officials, the “door knocking” campaign that began in March this year. Typically a team of two policemen goes in pair knocking on the doors of every home that belongs to a known Falun Gong practitioner. The policemen will probe if the person still practices Falun Gong. If the person is not at home, their workplaces, friends, and relatives are also visited. Anyone found in possession of Falun Gong-related literature or materials is detained.
According to related reports on Minghui.org, over 20 Falun Gong practitioners in Qingdao City were kidnapped and had their homes ransacked on Oct. 16, the same day as Gong’s parents, as part of the “door knocking“ campaign. Many of the practitioners are elderly, some over 70 years-old.
Pudong Detention Center has denied the lawyer representing Gong Piqi from visiting him, but what worries Gong Xiaoyan most is her father’s health. Not much detail is known about her father’s situation, but Gong has received some bad news. “I couldn’t believe in less than two weeks, my father can’t walk,” Gong said at a gathering to appeal her father’s imprisonment in front of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, California on Oct 26th.
History of Persecution
Gong’s whole family started to practice Falun Gong in 1995. Gong Xiaoyan still remembers her father finishing overnight the entire length of “Zhuan Falun,” Falun Gong’s main text of teachings. He was overjoyed to have found his path in life.
Since the persecution started in 1999, the family’s peaceful lives were disrupted. Young Gong spent her days in fear. She watched on as her mother got taken away to the police station every so often. Her mother would be gone for a few days, sometimes a few weeks. She knew no security while growing up.