Chinese clamp down on traditional religious practice

 Many Christians are in prison in China. What is less know is that is that hundreds of thousands of devotees of an indigenous religious practice are also being persecuted. Today marks the sixth year since China's senior leadership launched a nationwide campaign to "eradicate" the traditional Chinese exercise and meditation practice Falun Gong. By the Chinese government's own estimates, there were 100 million practising Falun Gong in China. Beginning in the early morning hours of July 20, 1999, hundreds of people throughout China were pulled from their beds in the middle of the night. Over the next several days, tens of thousands were detained. Within a week, China's state-run media was saturating the country with stories vilifying Falun Gong, and demonizing those who practice. China's state-run television attacked Falun Gong in broadcasting marathons, some lasting 24 hours each. In one month's time, the People's Daily, published 347 articles attacking the practice. By early 2000, the systematic use of torture was reported across the country, as police and labour camp personnel were, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, authorised by the CCP's top leaders to use "any means necessary" to coerce people into renouncing Falun Gong. Anyone suspected of practising or merely sympathising with Falun Gong was forced to go through classes where psychological torment, often combined with torture, was used to "re-educate" them. Most also lost their jobs or expelled from school. Many had their homes repeatedly ransacked, their pensions terminated and their livelihood taken away. While China has toned down its public rhetoric against Falun Gong in recent months in the face of increasing international pressure, the horrors continue behind prison camp walls and inside police detention centres. Campaigners say that more than 2,600 people have died in police custody. More than 44,000 cases of severe abuse or torture have been recorded. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Falun Gong practitioners have been sent to forced labour camps together with many thousands of Christian and Buddhists. Source: FGN/ICN

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