In China, where it first became public in 1992, Falun Gong grew within seven years to 70-100 million practitioners by the government’s own estimate. Some Communist party leaders in early 1999 reacted negatively at seeing citizens from all walks of life, including party members, engaging publicly in a form of exercise, which had a belief system behind it different from Marxism-Leninism. The exercises, moreover, could be done anywhere at any time, singly or in groups, indoors or outdoors. The amorphous nature meant it was impossible for the party-state to control it.
The first vilification of Falun Gong by Party elements seeking to ban it in 1999 led to protests by practitioners, mobilized through cell phones and Internet coordination. A large protest at party headquarters in Beijing enraged then party-state leader Jiang Zemin.
Organ pillaging from Falun Gong practitioners has worsened since our work began.
For him and others, banning and persecuting Falun Gong became official violence easier to get away with than doing the same to other spiritual communities, because Falun Gong in China often lack Western connections. The incitement to hatred against them across China in Party media since mid-1999 has had many tragic consequences, most notably the widespread commercial trafficking in their vital organs.
The party-state has repressed Falun Gong savagely since July 1999. Torture, rapes, beatings to death, detentions in forced labor camps, brainwashing—all became the daily lot of many Falun Gong across China. Practitioners responded with a non-violent, but energetic defense of human dignity both within China and in other countries.
After 1980, the party-state had begun withdrawing funds from the health system as a whole across China, obliging it to make up the difference through service charges to mostly uninsured patients. Selling the organs of executed convicts soon became a major source of funds because of world demand created by chronic organ shortages.
Falun Gong later became a major additional source of organs for patients from China and elsewhere who did not question whether the “donors” were convicted prisoners sentenced to death.
Many Falun Gong were sent to labor camps after mid-1999 without any form of hearing on only a police signature. The system was created in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Third Reich and copied in China in the 1950s by Mao. Organ price lists were posted on Chinese websites. Hospitals boasted openly on their websites about the money being made from the sale of organs.