We see a middle aged lady walking in a fast pace, yet almost unnoticeable in the crowd, discreetly putting small stickers randomly on lampposts, walls and other objects in the street.
We are curious and decide to catch up on her and have a chat. When we approach her she introduces herself as Mrs. Li and she tells us that she is a follower of the, in China forbidden, movement of Falun Dafa (Falun Gong). She is happy to talk with us and we can publish the interview with photos of her under the condition that it will not be published in the Chinese language.
In 1996, Mrs. Li was suffering from cancer. A friend introduced her to the book Zhuan Falun. That’s when she started to get interested in Falun Dafa.
According to Mrs. Li, she was at the lowest end of her life at that time; she suffered from her illness and in the same period she had broken up with her boyfriend. The introduction into Falun Dafa turned around her life. “It was my destiny”, she says.
Mrs. Li started to follow Falun Dafa by reading the Zhuan Falun and meditating, in which she tried to maintain peacefulness and kindness no matter what difficulty or disappointment she was confronted with. She followed the guidelines by performing a set of exercises that is needed to better understand the concept of the philosophy.
Mrs. Li tells that she gradually recovered from cancer has never been ill again since. “I’m 59 now, do you believe that?” We agree that she does look healthy, energetic and younger than her age.
In 1999 an intense nationwide campaign was started against the Falun Dafa in China. At that time, every school was propagating how wrong and mad the Falun Dafa is and the news came with terrifying stories every day; such as a story about a mother who immolated herself together with her young daughter.
Mrs. Li said that during that time she once came to petition against the crackdown together with many other Falun Dafa followers. However, they were all taken to the police station and asked to leave their personal information. In 2001, they were sent to a special class, which they felt was more like a “brain-wash class”, for all it was about was to change their mind and make them believe that Falun Dafa is evil.
Finally, Mrs. Li felt tired of the pressure and signed a guarantee that she would never follow Falun Dafa again after which she was allowed to leave the class and go home. However, after a while she felt guilty for lying and started to exercise and meditate according to the Zhuan Falun again.
Mrs. Li tells that there were a hundred million followers of Falun Dafa in China. Though some people stopped following Falun Dafa after the campaign against them, still a significant number of followers discreetly stick to their belief.
“Few followers died during that campaign”, says Mrs. Li, “they were tortured to death”.
Falun Dafa is not a religion, according to Mrs. Li, for it doesn’t restrict people with any external rules. You don’t need to pray every day or respect the God in a specific way. As long as you are sincere, kind and patient, you are already one of them.
How come that guiding individuals to be good and keeping them healthy is considered to harm people? Mrs. Li said that Falun Dafa has never been a political belief, and they didn’t aim to fight against the government. She reckons that the government is afraid of Falun Dafa because the government is built on fake principles, malice and revenge; which is the opposite of what Falun Dafa followers believe.
According to Mrs. Li, all the terrifying news about Falun Dafa reported by the government is a made-up story. Wei Huo (“False fire”), a forbidden documentary, shows all the evidence and analyzes those “made-up” footages.
Mrs. Li also told us that Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, used to be “the most powerful guy” in China. Many people were attracted by his faith of being kind, more than members of the Communist Party in China. “Even Jiang Zemin’s (*) relatives were followers”, says Mrs. Li, ”and so were many other officials”.
(*) In the official Falun Dafa communication, former president Jiang Zemin, is held personally responsible for the crackdown on Falun Dafa followers.
She insists this is the reason why the government attempted to destroy Falun Dafa. In her words, the Chinese government first had police infiltrate into their group, trying to find something wrong, and finally made up stories to crack down on them.
Mrs. Li has been on the list of the police since the very beginning of the campaign. When she hears that we have been following her for a while before contacting her, she realizes that she did not notice that and that she has to be more careful in the future. If they catch her putting up stickers, they will put her in jail. Then she again says we should publish her story as long as it is not in Chinese and starts posing for a photo while holding up a text that reads: “FaLun DaFa is good! Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance is good!”
Despite not being able to openly exercise her believes, Mrs. Li wants to stay in China. Not only because the majority of followers are still here, but also because it’s better to practice and meditate in the most complicated environment. The more difficulties and suffering you have to deal with, the better achievement you will make.
Besides putting up stickers, Mrs. Li does her Falun Dafa exercises and studies Zhuan Falun every day. She claims that she has read it for a hundreds of times. Although “Falun Dafa” is a sensitive word online, which you will absolutely not be able to find and use on the Internet in China due to censorship, there are still articles to be found that share feelings about the experience of studying Falun Dafa. “You won’t find any words about it through the article, yet you know what it is about if you are a follower” said Mrs. Li.
Mrs. Li used to be a teacher and also a businesswoman with a little bit of success. According to her, she has always been in the forefront of new developments. Mrs. Li says that these have corrupted society into a filthy world with the lowest moral standard, where almost everyone is pursuing money. Thus, it’s important to continue promoting Falun Dafa to purify the world.
She also believes that Li Hongzhi, their master, as well as all the other followers abroad, will come back to China one day, when it has become a better place.
Mrs. Li has some friends who are also followers and has hardly any contact with anybody else. When asked about her family, she refuses to tell anything about it.