We had invited democracy activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, religious leaders, journalists, trade unionists, ”unofficial” church members, members of the "underground" Catholic Church—and, of course, leading representatives of the Falun Gong.
Minister He rejected my invitation out of hand, responding:
In the view of the Chinese Communist Party, all the practitioners of Falun Gong are criminals.
But it was not always so. In the beginning, the government actually encouraged Falun Gong, seeing no threat in its peaceful assemblies of exercising and meditating grannies.
The rapid growth of the movement over the nineties alarmed the government, however, and it withdrew its support. In response, 10,000 followers of Falun Gong peacefully gathered outside of the main government compound in Beijing in April 1999 asking for official recognition.
Instead, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party launched a campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong. Government propaganda denounced the practice as an “evil cult.” Hundreds of thousands of practitioners were arrested and detained in “re-education through labor” camps and prisons. There, like Professor Zhang, they were tortured and abused in an effort to force them to recant.
Communist officials like Minister He may consider Falun Gong to be “criminals,” but history will decide who the real criminals are: The members of the Falun Gong, or the leaders of the Party-State that ordered the brutal suppression of this peaceful Buddhist group.
As for Professor Zhang, he simply says:
Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.