Carrboro and Wake County officials chose to dedicate the week to the Chinese practice, which is based on the principles of truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance. Local participants have promoted the observance of the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Over 60,000 practitioners of Falun Dafa have been detained in labor camps in China without trial and 90 tortured to death since the Chinese government outlawed the practice in July 1999," said Thai Ton, a Raleigh follower.
About 40 Triangle practitioners and others gathered Sunday at the Carrboro Town Hall to celebrate the proclamations of Falun Dafa and to share its exercises and teachings with the public.
Falun Dafa (a form of Qigong, also known as Falun Gong) is a nonpolitical, nonideological movement that claims 70 million members in China and many more worldwide. Adherents practice in public parks, community centers and private homes, and all instruction and activities are free of charge or donation.
"The Chinese government is outright atheistic and materialistic," Ton said.
"It has engaged in a brutal crackdown on practitioners, even though Falun Dafa has been praised in China both for promoting good citizenship and reducing health care costs to the government by millions of dollars as practitioners become more healthy as they practice the exercises."
The practice, which followers claim promotes mind, body and spirit, has caught on in the Triangle as well.
"Around 20 to 30 people attend regular meetings and around 100 have learned the practice locally," said Jeff Chen, who is another adherent of Falun Dafa.
Chen, like many other Falun Dafa practitioners, points to the great physical and mental benefits.
"Four years ago I couldn't walk for 200 yards because I had severe Hepatitis B," he said. "I tried all the best Chinese and Western medicine and it didn't help. After doing Falun Dafa for six months I was cured."
He said the religion offered personal spiritual benefits as well.
"I used to be a bad person," he said. "I knew what I was doing was wrong but I didn't realize how bad it was because everyone around me was doing the same things. Falun Dafa saved my life and my marriage."
Min Chang, an area practitioner, said she had two friends who were facing punishment for promoting the religion. She added that at the time the two started selling the books, they had not yet been outlawed.
"We have two close friends in jail now in China," Chang said. "One was sentenced for three years and the other five (years) for selling Falun Gong books in a small bookstore.
"That's why we want more people in the world to know the truth."
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