Persecution of Falun Gong
The persecution of Falun Gong is the
Falun Gong is a modern
An extra-constitutional body called the
Foreign observers estimate that hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in "
In 2006, allegations emerged that a large number of Falun Gong practitioners
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a form of spiritual
Falun Gong initially enjoyed considerable official support during the early years of its development. It was promoted by the state-run Qigong Association and other government agencies. By the mid-1990s, however, Chinese authorities sought to rein in the influence of qigong practices and enacted more stringent requirements on the country's various qigong denominations. In 1995 authorities mandated that all qigong groups establish Communist Party branches. The government also sought to formalize ties with Falun Gong and exercise greater control over the practice. Falun Gong resisted co-optation, and instead filed to withdraw altogether from the state-run qigong association.
Following this severance of ties to the state, the group came under increasing criticism and surveillance from the country's security apparatus and
Tensions continued to escalate through the late 1990s. By 1999, surveys estimated as many as 70 million people were practicing Falun Gong in China. Although some government agencies and senior officials continued expressing support for the practices, others grew increasingly wary of its size and capacity for independent organization.
On 22 April 1999, several dozen Falun Gong practitioners were beaten and arrested in the city of Tianjin while staging a peaceful sit-in. The practitioners were told that the arrest order came from the Ministry of Public Security, and that those arrested could be released only with the approval of Beijing authorities.
On 25 April, upwards of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners assembled peacefully near the
Security czar and politburo member