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2 isle Falun Gong members joining meditation rallies


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POSTED: Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two followers of the Falun Gong spiritual sect on Oahu will join thousands of supporters in the Million Minutes of Meditation rallies in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

The Falun Gong rallies are being held on Capitol Hill and the National Mall to protest the Chinese government's brutal treatment of fellow believers in China since July 20, 1999, said Hong Jiang, a professor of China's geography and faculty adviser for the Falun Gong Club at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The public is being encouraged to donate any number of minutes they meditate or pray (in any faith) to support Falun Gong followers in a show of solidarity, she said. Each meditator can log his or her minutes at the group's Web site, http://www.MillionMinutesOfMeditation.org.

“;Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a meditation and spiritual self-improvement discipline based on principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance,”; said Jiang, an American citizen. “;(It) is the largest group persecuted in China,”; with followers numbering in the tens of millions, she added.

She said her aunt in China was among 8,000 arrested on the eve of the Beijing Olympics, and she was recently sentenced to seven years in prison.

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John White, a building engineer and president of the Falun Dafa Association of Hawaii, estimated there are 20 to 50 followers of the faith in Hawaii, but “;not all of them come out. Everyone has a fear that the Chinese government's arm is so strong that even if you're here, they'll threaten your family in China.”;

“;The government is afraid of losing control of the people. Anything that's done in large masses, they are afraid of, they frown against that. ... It's a shame this kind of persecution is still happening, where people are brutally beat up or killed for their causes,”; White said.

“;I'm looking forward to the rally,”; he said, adding, “;It's a historic time to bring an end to the persecution, and it is important for me to be part of it.

Jiang said they are attending rallies today on Capitol Hill, attended by members of Congress and representatives of human rights and religious freedom organizations; and Sunday, with supporters dedicating minutes of meditation on the National Mall.