A sole man catches the attention of traffic and passers-by as he sits in meditation on a busy roadside in the centre of London. A few minutes later he rouses himself and begins moving his arms slowly. He stands up with eyes closed and knees bent, immersed in total concentration.
Richard Tan is performing Falun Gong, a meditation exercise, in front of the Chinese embassy on Portland Street in London. He will spend a day here, daring officials over the practice which has been banned by China. His eye-catching practice is accompanied with soft music punctuated with the sound of an echoing gong.
Every day a new member of the organisation will take Richard’s place to practice Falun Gong on Portland Street. It is a dare that Richard and his colleagues have been practicing every day since 2002.
The Falun Gong enthusiasts are cheeky enough to make a spectacle in front of the embassy every day. Richard tells India Narrative that Falun Gong practitioners come here [in front of the embassy] to “tell the Chinese that you cannot do organ harvesting”.
— Rahul Kumar (@rahulkumarindia) August 30, 2023
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, was banned by the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the late nineties. The subsequent crackdown on Falun Gong members was such that many members were arrested and thousands had to flee. The members allege that China began by torturing the members, putting them into forced labour, and sending them to reform centres.
Richard says that the persecution of Falun Gong has a long history.
“The CPC has an organ transplanting industry… It has been harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners. This is inhuman and is against the law of the world”, says Richard.
His brightly-coloured blue and yellow stall on the pavement also grabs the attention of passersby. It screams in big and bold letters: “Stop persecuting Falun Gong”. On the other side the board has text messages proclaiming – “Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance” in numerous languages including Mandarin, English, Hindi and Russian.
Richard says that in 1999, the chief of the Communist party Jiang Zemin banned Falun Gong. “But because it is a self healing and healthy practice our members did not stop it. They continued with the practice which made Jiang angry. He sent many practitioners to jail… When there were too many people in the jail, the party decided to kill them and use their organs in the transplant industry…” says Richard, adding that the communist party realised that it could make money through organ harvesting.
Richard who is a proud member of the Falun Gong society says that “the practice has been derived from the QiGong practice from ancient China. When you practice this you benefit in three ways – your physical body is healthy because of self-healing. Self-healing gets rid of your sickness and illness. Our master wants us to be good people who can benefit the whole society, so this practice also helps us spiritually”.
He says that the world has been asking the Communist party to stop the evil practice of organ harvesting but yet it continues.” We have a voice but because it is not in the mainstream media therefore it is weak. We come here to demonstrate to them that what we are practicing is good”, says Richard.