You might think human rights in China would be the furthest thing from the minds of young people growing up in a small community in Central Ontario. But for my twin brother, Jason, and I, the persecution of Falun Gong really hits home.
Presently 28 years of age, Jason currently works as a civil engineer at the University of Toronto and I, after attending Brock University where I study Child and Youth Studies, am now busy raising three children of my own. Just like so many twins, Jason grew up as best friends, spending most of our time together and sharing similar interests. We had the same peers throughout both elementary and high school and we enjoyed a common desire from a young age to try our best to be good people, and to live healthy and enriching lives.
To that end, in September 1998, we went to a health show in our hometown of Barrie, Ontario. We came across a very interesting booth there. About a half a dozen people, both Chinese and Caucasian, were practicing tranquil meditation exercises with some beautiful Chinese music in the background. We were both immediately attracted to this, bypassing many other booths just to make sure that we would be able to look closely at this one. Upon our arrival at the booth, we were greeted by the beaming smile of a very healthy looking gentleman. He had a peaceful manner and was obviously quite happy to patiently explain to us what we were observing. He told us that this was a very special “cultivation system” from ancient Chinese culture. The practice, of course, was Falun Dafa.
Neither Jason nor I knew exactly why, but from that moment on, we were sure that we had finally found what we had been looking for. Our newfound friends taught us how to practice the gentle and graceful exercises for ourselves every week at a local park.
We both very quickly experienced many benefits from the practice, both physical and mental. In the past, for instance, I had suffered from frequent severe abdominal pains. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was the matter with me. I was put on a special diet that cut out all acidic fruits and vegetables, as well as wheat products. I was also a practicing vegetarian at the time, which didn’t leave me with a very large food selection. In fact, I ended up eating pretty much the same thing everyday. Now that I practice Falun Dafa, however, I’ve discovered that I can eat anything I want. Even better, I feel much healthier than I did before.
Jason also had some health problems. In the tenth grade he missed over 50 days of school due to illness. The doctors couldn’t tell what exactly was wrong with him, either. They had him using various inhalers and medication. Since learning Falun Dafa, Jason hasn’t needed to visit a doctor in over nine years now. His immune system has become stronger so he is no longer bothered by ailments.
Seeing the beneficial changes in our health and an improvement in our behavior, such as willingness to help with chores without being asked, our mother also became interested in trying Falun Dafa for herself. She, too, has now adopted the practice. As a result, her body is much stronger and she no longer needs routine bi-weekly chiropractor visits like she used to.
Upon learning about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, Jason and I were both shocked. We knew how good Falun Dafa was from our own experiences and couldn’t understand why people in China were being treated so unfairly. We started to spend our spare time writing letters, making presentations and visiting government officials. Jason started meeting with the media in order to express the urgency of the persecution in China to as many people as possible and I organized an SOS walk to four universities to help students learn about the situation.
We both knew that the people that were affected the most by this vicious persecution were the people in China themselves. All of the media in China are state-run, so no Falun Gong practitioners in China could voice their side of the story, leaving the Chinese public with nothing to base their knowledge on except for the state-run media’s propaganda. My brother had the wish to reveal to the Chinese people the lies that the authorities had created in order to incite hatred toward Falun Gong. Therefore, in February 2002, my brother traveled to China and held a press conference to expose the true situation of Falun Gong its persecution by the Chinese regime.
The following month I too built up enough courage to make the trip across the ocean. I understood that this persecution affected everyone in China, even the people that didn’t practice, because there is pressure put on them to persecute the people that do. Falun Gong is like a pearl in ancient Chinese culture. I had to try to reach these people to tell them the truth. Along with two other American Falun Gong practitioners, we went to China to hand out information on Falun Gon to the people directly. Most were shocked.
Going to China, we both gained first-hand experiences of the situation there. The police detained us and quickly deported us, yet we are well aware that if we were Chinese, we may have been tortured or even murdered for our peaceful, non-violent appeals for justice for Falun Gong. The situation in China is critical. We feel now, more than ever, we must do more to help to bring an end to this persecution.
Together, my brother and I will do everything we can to stand up for truth.