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Falun Gong practitioners march to raise awareness

Falun Gong practitioners march to raise awareness

By Andy Mannix, The Minnesota Daily
September 24, 2007

Falun Gong practitioners and supporters from around the country marched through the East Bank Friday afternoon to raise community awareness of alleged organ harvesting by the Chinese government.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that was outlawed by the Chinese government in 1999.

Translating to "practice of the wheel of law," Falun Gong is a discipline of meditation and physical exercise that combines elements of Daoism and Buddhism.

According to a detailed report written by international human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour, the Chinese government has been targeting Falun Gong practitioners for execution and involuntary organ removal.

Wattana Bo, a postal worker from Washington, D.C., came to Minneapolis to attend the march.

The purpose of the demonstration was to bring the issue to people's attention, Bo said.

"What's going on there is so bad and wrong," University student marcher Benjamen Grinberg said.

Falun Gong practitioners and supporters marched Friday afternoon through the East Bank
Falun Gong practitioners and supporters marched Friday afternoon through the East Bank. “The Chinese Communist Party tries to control everything,” one marcher said.

Photo: Stephen Maturen
"We hope to spark people's conscious a bit."

The march began at the Carlson School of Management shortly after 3 p.m. and ended at the Alumni Center.

Marchers boasted signs and handed out brochures that spoke out against Communist China and illustrated the amount of money that China was allegedly getting for selling organs.

Cheng Wan, a former University student and Falun Gong practitioner, was among the marchers.

Wan said the persecution of Falun Gong in China has prevented him from returning to his home in Shashi, China.

"The Chinese Communist Party tries to control everything," Wan said. "Even your mind."

Kirk Allison, a program director at the University, spoke at a rally following the march.

Allison said he is not a practitioner of Falun Gong but recognizes the organ harvest as a "fundamental human rights issue."

Chinese officials deny the allegations of an organ harvest, saying there is no physical evidence to support Falun Gong and labeling them a "dangerous cult."

In 2006, the U.S. State Department released a statement following an investigation of a site allegedly used for organ harvesting stating it had found no incriminating evidence.

Marchers held a Falun Gong conference Friday evening in Minneapolis after the rally. Falun Gong advocates would not disclose the location of the conference due to past instances where people have tried to "sabotage" them.

"Every time we try to plan an event, people try to stop it," marcher Nick Malec, a journalism senior and practitioner of Falun Gong, said.

Malec said the march was not driven by political objectives beyond eliminating the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

"We are being persecuted by the Communist Chinese Party," Malec said. "We are trying to raise awareness to that kind of evil."

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