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A death too far in Falun Gong's history
( 2003-07-04 16:09) (China Daily)

The appalling truth of the mysterious death of 16 beggars and rubbish collectors in Cangnan, East China's Zhejiang Province was finally uncovered by the tenacious digging by more than 500 police officers in the past week.

The accused serial killer turned out to be a Falun Gong practitioner who allegedly poisoned the victims in order to boost his own "efficacy."

Believing beggars and rubbish collectors "belong to the highest echelons" of humanity, Chen Fuzhao, confessed to killing the 16 and fatally poisoning another person between May 25 and June 26 with ratsbane. His motive, to "upgrade the efficacy" of his "Falun Gong cultivation."

As the once prominent cult fades from the public eye, the cruelty of the Cangnan killings reminds us of the damaging potential of its pernicious vestige.

As one of those who happened to witness Falun Gong's besieging of the Zhongnanhai, China's political headquarters, on April 25, 1999, I had no particular animosity against the average Falun Gong practitioner in the very beginning. Instead, eager to make sense of their outlandish lexicons, I read through the earliest works of their enshrined Master Li Hongzhi, which in itself required the utmost perseverance to complete.

The well-touted and quoted tome among the secretive Falun Gong communities was, in my secular eyes, but a juxtaposition of Buddhist sutras, rituals of rural superstition, qi gong, and undisguised self-glorification. It was more like megalomaniac sleep-talking than the inspired and sacred teachings of a saint, as Master Li is often portrayed.

The real-life stories of Falun Gong practitioners convinced us that most of them were ordinary decent people who were driven to the cult by life's frustrations.

Master Li's bragging of being able to elevate them to a "higher world," free of secular life's misfortunes, could not but be farcical for us common folk. But it somehow became spiritual candy and balm for some fellows who feel abandoned in real life.

In spite of the government-led crusade against Falun Gong, many of us had not seen the true perniciousness of the cult until people started to be killed.

When their unsolicited messages landed in our mailboxes, we did no more than simply block them, possibly even feeling sorry for denying them. When they jammed public television channels with their signals, not all of us took it seriously, thinking it was no more than a desperate stunt to get their voice across. Everyone fears loneliness. Everyone needs listeners.

When they immolated themselves into their coveted "higher world," some of us tended to accept their choice while lamenting the tragic deaths.

Even those instances where they killed their family members, we reserved some sympathy for them, thinking at least in their ludicrous fantasy they were trying to "elevate" their beloved ones to happiness.

But the homicides in Cangnan showed that Falun Gong's preaching can result in more than suicide. If the self-elevation of Falun Gong practitioners has to be conditional on the killing of innocent others, it constitutes a heinous threat to public security.

And that brooks no tolerance.

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