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Were human organs stolen in 20-year conflict between Beijing and Falun Gong?

Falun Gong followers Dou Zhenxiang and Wang Hongjun during their trial at the Fushun Intermediate People's Court in Beijing, 29 April 2001. They were sentenced to 13 years in prison. STR / XINHUA / AFP

Twenty years ago today, Falun Gong, a meditation movement, organised a major demonstration in the Chinese capital. More than 10,000 adherents surrounded the centre of government in Beijing. The protest lead to persecution and an on-going propaganda war involving claims of human organ harvesting.

“It came to me as a total surprise, in 1999 when the government decided to prosecute these people,” says Zhang Erping, volunteer spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center in New York, speaking to RFI.

“Because the government was promoting it, and suddenly they reversed the policy. So a lot of us tried to stop the prosecution.”

What is Falun Gong?