Ten years ago, Falun Gong gained sudden international attention when 10,000 followers staged a silent protest around Zhongnanhai, the central government compound in Beijing, and authorities banned the spiritual group from practicing in China. AP has an update on the movement a decade later:
Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of a protest by an estimated 10,000 practitioners who stood silently around the Communist Party leadership compound in Beijing, alerting the government to the group’s strength and wide appeal.
The April 25, 1999, demonstration was intended to show how Falun Gong believers had learned compassion, forbearance and tolerance, said practitioner Bu Dongwei in a telephone interview from the United States, where he fled six months ago.
[…] Followers say the crackdown has cost the lives of 3,200 practitioners, including 104 last year.
The government says some Falun Gong followers have died in detention because of hunger strikes or refusing medical help. It denies any have been intentionally killed.
U.S.-based spokesman Levi Browde said since 1999 the group has recorded more than 87,000 cases of torture and estimates that anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million practitioners have been detained for various lengths of time.