Monday, June 6, 2011

falun gong | falun dafa

As I mentioned by way of aside, our recently expanded family of six chanced upon some volunteers and practitioners of Falun Gong in the park.

Actually, there were seven of us. Less than magnificent. Enticed there by the spectacle of carnival atmosphere, our minor logistical nightmare was all but devoured by incipient rainbow of colour. A tattoo of voodoo drums. 

It is something of an annual event, the opening Mardi Gras parade. We do not always make it a date.

I plucked Milo out of his stroller and bundled him to my chest. The path was a scrum of knees and dubbined boots. I feared for his safety this close to the ground.

His stroller is not robust. I envisioned it disintegrating into so much kindling.

An older Chinese woman approached my wife. Three yellow robed devotees of Qigong were engaged in a conspicuously public sitting meditation just feet away from where we loitered.

"Hallo," the woman said to us. "Are you interested in Falun Dafa ? Chinese history ? The Buddha Showing a Thousand arms ?"

Her voice was naturally pitched for intimate conversation. There was a deal of noise in the air - Samba; a welter of Jazz - but in less than two minutes she cut through my Sunday hangover. In less than three, I concluded that I liked her.

She was born some decades before Mao's Year Zero. When the Kuomintang and the Communists were still embroiled in hostilities, quite possibly. 

When she was just six, some party officials took her mother from her and imprisoned her next to her school. She and her siblings made a daily pilgrimage to visit her and speak to her through the narrow windows of what was effectively her cell; to pass her what scraps of food they could gather. After several weeks of this, the party faithful boarded up those windows. Incarcerated and tortured her in the dark.

They kept her like this for several years. When they finally released her - this woman's young mother - she was quite broken. All light in her extinguished.

She told us this and stroked Milo's curious hand. He warmed to her immediately.

Falun Gong is the world's most popular expression of Quigong, an ancient practice flourishing only behind closed doors until recently. In 1992, Li Hongzhi brought it to the public in China. Similar in principle and visual expression to t'ai chi - yoga - by 1998, official reports estimated that between 70 - 100 million Chinese citizens had embraced the practice; a figure intolerable to the Party, not least because it eclipsed CCP membership.

I looked at those people exercising in our Glasgow park.

The practice has been outlawed in China since July, 1999. Relentless persecution since then has not altogether undermined its influence. Such a public display, however, would be unthinkable. Internationally corroborated reports attest to routine organ harvesting among those detained, in addition to wholesale torture and disappearance.

"They take both kidneys, then the heart and the skin and the corneas and the liver, and your body is then thrown into the incinerator"
- David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State.
 "More than 40,000 additional unexplained transplants have been recorded recently in China since 2001"
- Edward McMillan-Scott, European Parliament Vice-President.

We signed the petition.

We queued in front of a studious looking man bowed over a table with ink dipped brush. He translated Milo's name into Mandarin with painstaking precision. Impervious the older kids' awkward push and shove. Extraordinarily focused.

Later that same evening, I watched the first hour of a five part BBC documentary chronicling the rise of the megacity.

Shanghai featured prominently. 

Andrew Marr contends that it now boasts 7,000 billionaires. While those figures have been condemned as wildly innacurate - one report I have read claims there were 'merely' 66 documented billionaires in China in 2010 - it seems to me sadly incontrovertible that while human rights abuses persist on an epic scale, the wider political agenda appears to have been rewritten to accomodate China as economic superpower. 

Its unqualified rehabilitation as free market bedfellow.

Please give your attention to some of those very real case sudies as cited here. Reflect on the calamity in that.

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