Falun Gong still alive at Iowa State

Manni Balignasay

Falun Gong, a form of meditation and exercise that has sparked several protests and deaths in China, has made its way to the ISU campus.

Falun Gong has made international headlines lately due to the persecution of people who practice it in China. According to news sources, 57 people who practice Falun Gong have been killed by members of the Chinese police force.

The practice was banned in China on July 22, 1999, since the Chinese government considered it a threat to their power, said Margaret Jiang, graduate student in food science and human nutrition.

“It is a practice that includes five sets of simple and gentle exercises that help improve health, relieve stress and balance the well-being of their body and mind,” Jiang said. “The Chinese communist government is atheist and the Falun Gong belief practice is so different from their ideology that they consider it a threat to their political power.”

Falun Gong practitioners from around the United States met during the U.N. Peace Summit on Sept. 4 though Sept. 8 in New York City. Jiang, one of the seven members of Falun Gong at Iowa State, attended the event.

“Week-long activities were held to make more people aware of the practice and the wrongdoing by the Chinese government,” she said. “About 50 women led a parade held in New York City during the week. They wore white robes and held pictures of the people who were killed in China.”

Jiang’s sister, Julia Jiang, research associate in food science and human nutrition, also practices Falun Gong. “I’ve [written] letters to Iowa senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley calling for their help,” Julia Jiang said. “Both have responded expressing their concern of human rights.”

While the Chinese government may say Falun Gong causes mental disorders and leads people to kill, Margaret Jiang said it is false information used to ban the practice.

“All the charges are out of the air. Practitioners of Falun Gong have no political interest,” she said. “They just want to be a good person in all circumstances.”

Despite the support of the United States government and the local practitioners, a few students still oppose the Falun Gong practice. Zhuo Chen, graduate student in economics, said he has different feelings toward Falun Gong.

“[The Falun Gong] creator claimed that he is a great master and he will protect people from bad health if they follow him enthusiastically,” he said. “[He said] if they look up to any medical help, their exercises done before would be ineffective.”

Chen also said the practitioners are very aggressive, sometimes blackmailing people who speak against them.