Falun Dafa adherents from across Canada attended a conference in Toronto on July 16 to hear speakers talk about their spiritual journeys, with some sharing about having their homeland of China to avoid persecution for their beliefs.
More than 1,300 practitioners of Falun Dafa, a Chinese spiritual practice of self-improvement that involves five meditative exercises and moral teachings based on the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance,” gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Center for the annual one-day conference. The rally was the first large-scale in-person conference since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Called “Fahui” in Chinese, the conference was an opportunity for adherents to share how they applied the practice’s teachings to their daily lives and achieved higher moral standards through a process of self-cultivation and reflection. .
A practitioner, Mr. Bui, shared how he no longer suffered from a herniated disc in his lower back after he started the practice. He said that Falun Dafa also helped him give up the pursuit of fame and personal gain, and filled him with joy knowing that he was on the path to self-improvement. Through practice, he said he was able to take conflict lightly, act selflessly, and put the well-being of others before his own.
Persecution campaign in China
Made public in China in 1992, Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, quickly gained popularity across the country as word spread about its benefits to people’s physical, mental and spiritual health. By 1999, it had attracted between 70 and 100 million adherents in China alone, according to official estimates.
However, Jiang Zemin, then leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), perceived the popularity of Falun Dafa as a threat to the regime’s authoritarian rule and on July 20, 1999, launched a persecution campaign aimed at eradicating it. The campaign resulted in countless adherents being illegally imprisoned and subjected to forced labor, torture and death. They are also targeted for organ harvesting, where their vital organs are forcibly removed to supply China’s lucrative organ transplant industry.
A notable aspect of the CCP’s persecution campaign has been the use of propaganda tools to spread misinformation about the spiritual discipline and its adherents in order to demonize them.
Outside of China, Falun Dafa practitioners around the world have been working to raise awareness of this human rights crime since July 1999.
The CCP’s persecution not only targets Falun Gong adherents, but also their relatives. Director Mr. Fang recounted how, before starting to practice, he had to escape from Shanghai in early January 2019 after China’s National Security Bureau tried to arrest him for visiting his little girl. friend at the time, a follower of the practice, in Toronto.
Fang said that while he managed to get out of the country, he was “shaken” after having to flee from the police. He also noted that he dared not contact his family members back in China so as not to jeopardize their safety.
“My trip to Canada clearly showed me the brutal nature of the CCP and its persecution of Falun Gong,” he said.