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China Continues Suppression of Falun Gong, with 16,413 Arrests and Harassment Cases Confirmed in 2021: Report

Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade in Flushing, New York, on April 18, 2021, to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the April 25th peaceful appeal of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
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Danella Pérez Schmieloz | New Tang Dynasty

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continued arresting and harassing Falun Gong adherents during 2021, as part of its nationwide suppression campaign launched more than two decades ago against the spiritual discipline.

According to a report from Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China, 5,886 arrests and 10,527 harassment cases of practitioners were confirmed in 2021.

However, out of the cases reported in 2021, 841 arrests had occurred in 2020, while 7 cases of harassment took place in 2016, and 1,275 in 2020, but had not been previously confirmed because of difficulties to obtain information from China due to the CCP’s heavy censorship.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline involving meditative exercises and moral teachings based on three core principles: truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. The practice gained popularity in China during the 1990s, with estimates putting the number of adherents at 70 million to 100 million. The communist regime, fearing the number of practitioners posed a threat to its authoritarian control, initiated a sweeping campaign to suppress the practice and its adherences in July 1999.

Since then, millions have been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, with hundreds of thousands tortured while incarcerated, according to the Falun Dafa Info Center. Thousands have been confirmed dead as a result of torture and abuse under detention, though this number is likely to represent the tip of the iceberg, experts say, due to the extreme difficulty in verifying information from China.

One of the CCP’s strategies to eradicate the practice includes subjecting practitioners to torture and brainwashing in a bid to force them to renounce their faith.

The CCP’s systemic campaign of repression against Falun Gong practitioners has been labeled a “cold genocide” by experts, due to the regime’s gradual and persistent efforts to annihilate the faith group over the past two decades. This term is used in contradistinction to a “hot genocide” which aims to eliminate a group in a short period.

As reported by Minghui, in 2021 a peak of arrests and harassment cases occurred between April and June, as part of the continuation the CCP’s “Zero-Out campaign,” a zero-tolerance policy towards Falun Gong that first appeared in southwest China’s Guizhou Province in March 2020 and then spread to other provinces. The campaign consists of harassing blacklisted practitioners one by one, to have them renounce their faith.

The peak also coincides with two important dates for Falun Gong practitioners: World Falun Dafa Day on May 13; and the anniversary of practitioners’ peaceful protest outside the Chinese Communist Party headquarters in Beijing on April 25, 1999, when they appealed to authorities for the right to practice their faith freely. This appeal occurred months before the CCP launched the persecution.

Arrests and harassment escalate around these dates in order to hinder practitioners’ efforts to spread the word about the persecution, says Minghui.

Such was the case for 13 practitioners arrested in Suzhou city of eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, on May 10, 2021, plus two that went missing on the same day whose arrests were later confirmed. The authorities did not give information on the adherents’ whereabouts to their families.

On Oct. 23, 2021, Minghui reported that 14 of those Falun Gong adherents were still held under detention in a “secret hotel-turned- brainwashing center,” where they were subjected to physical and verbal abuse aimed at forcing them to renounce their beliefs, according to information obtained by the detainees’ families from an insider.

Brainwashing centers have recently “re-emerged” in China to detain practitioners who refuse to renounce Falun Gong despite harassment under the “Zero-out” campaign, according to Minghui.

Nine new centers opened in Wuhan, adding to the 60 already-existent ones, states the report. In one of those new centers Falun Gong adherents were confined in dark rooms, made to watch videos that slander their spiritual practice and were subjected to sleep deprivation, while others started hunger strikes but were force-fed.

From The Epoch Times

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