Falun Gong focus of talk at Pitkin County Library

Aspen Times writer

Falun Gong, banned in China after multitudes took up the practice of refining the body and mind through exercise and meditation, will be the focus of a free talk on Monday at the Pitkin County Library.

Avon resident Leejun Ivie, a native of China and naturalized American citizen, will offer an introduction to the principles of Falun Gong and discuss the Chinese government’s ongoing persecution of its practitioners. She will relate her experiences during a recent visit to her homeland, where she was detained and interrogated by agents who tried to intimidate her into giving up the practice.

China’s Communist government banned the practice of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, in 1999 when it grasped the growing popularity of the practice, which combines yogalike exercises with meditation to cultivate physical health and moral character.

“It helped me become a better person,” said Ivie, who took up Falun Gong after seeing its effects on her mother during a 1996 visit to China.

“I saw a very dramatic change in her, physically and mentally,” she said.

Falun Gong, introduced in 1992 by founder Li Hongzhi, is now practiced by an estimated 40 million people worldwide, according to the Web site

It is neither political nor religious in nature, according to Ivie, but the spooked Chinese government labeled the practice an evil cult and cracked down on its practitioners, sentencing more than 10,000 people to labor camps, according to an article in Time Asia.

When Ivie visited China in January, she said authorities tried to force her to renounce Falun Gung and alternately threatened to keep her in China and deport her immediately, she said.

“I think the core message I want to convey is that freedom of belief and freedom of consciousness is our constitutional right,” she said.

Ivie’s talk is scheduled for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.