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Falun Gong group raises controversy, student concern

2016-09-22 Source:Kaiwind Author:Anna Whitelaw

September 18, 2016 9:37 pm · By Anna Whitelaw

Boston University’s Falun Dafa Club originated from College of Engineering post-graduate student Taiyao Wang’s desire to bring light to the number of Falun Gong followers that were “tortured to death in jail and in labor camps” by the Chinese government.

The practice of Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice, gained more than 70 million followers in the late 1990s until it was prosecuted by the Chinese government and banned in China, Wang wrote in an email.

“The persecution is a severe human rights violation in which practitioners of this peaceful, righteous cultivation practice are subjugated to torture and even worse consequences in China,” Wang wrote. “By raising awareness, many more people will understand this horrible crime and slowly work to bring change to the situation on a larger scale.”

The newly formed Falun Dafa Club at BU hosted its introduction seminar Wednesday with approximately 10 attendees. Currently the club is not officially recognized by BU’s Student Activities Office because they do not have enough members, Wang wrote. But he said he hopes future seminars will help the club pick up popularity.

“Falun Dafa Club will enrich the spiritual and cultural life on campus,” Wang wrote. “Our club will introduce the five meditative exercises of Falun Dafa … [that] will be a great stress relief from all the daily work a college student undergoes.”

This is not the first time a Falun Gong group has appeared at BU — a groups of students and alumni started Falun Going Practice and Information Club in 2001, when they used to meditate near the Charles River, The Daily Free Press reported on Nov. 14, 2001.

That group eventually faded away, Wang said.

Several Chinese students, however, said they are not happy with Falun Gong’s new formation at BU, and urged the administration to put a stop to the controversial organization.

Xueqing Li, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she was appalled when she first saw Falun Gong flyers in the College of Arts and Sciences building. She said this practice is dangerous and has no place on BU’s campus.

“This is a little bit more than a religion issue,” Li said. “Ten years ago, when I was a child [in China], there were a lot of people [who] would go to burn [themselves] in crowds after practicing Falun Gong. It’s actually harmful to society.

Li said she does not understand why Wang would want to start a Falun Gong club, but she said students who have no previous knowledge on Falun Gong should not try it.

“It’s not really a good idea to let someone who doesn’t know about Falun Gong to learn it,” she said. “What [BU Falun Dafa Club] will do is try[ing] to get people to believe that it’s good for them — people believe in it after listening to that propagation. I’m definitely against [Falun Gong].”

Shelly Hu, a CAS graduate student and member of BU Falun Dafa Club, said she was introduced to the practice years ago, and she was shocked and saddened when she learned about the history behind it.

“I had the chance to meet fellow members of the club recently,” Hu said. “It would be great to help introduce such [a] great practice to others who might be interested in participating.”

Hu said the history of Falun Gong in China should not deter people in the BU community from getting involved in the club.

“It’s a great meditative practice for really anyone to take up to relax from daily stress,” Hu said. “And its history should be uncovered to those who don’t know so that they’re not being misled [by Chinese government].”

Sophia Lipp, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said BU shouldn’t take away students’ rights to practice a certain religion, but the university is still liable for the safety of students should the practice become dangerous.

“It would be BU’s job to monitor and ensure that [Falun Gong] wouldn’t be affecting other religious groups or students negatively,” Lipp said. “It’s also important to recognize that [BU Falun Dafa Club] are not necessarily going to be associated with the radical side of Falun Gong.”

Source From: http://dailyfreepress.com/2016/09/18/falun-gong-group-raises-controversy-student-concern/