photo credits: Wikimedia Commons
Chinese religious leader and dissidentwd:Q366373
country of citizenship: People's Republic of China
language of expression: Chinese
occupation: religious leader
Li Hongzhi (Chinese: 李洪志; pinyin: Lǐ Hóngzhì, born 1952 or 1951) is a Chinese religious leader. He is the founder and leader of Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, a United States-based new religious movement. Li began his public teachings of Falun Gong on 13 May 1992 in Changchun, and subsequently gave lectures and taught Falun Gong exercises across China.
In 1995 Li began teaching Falun Gong abroad, and in 1998 he settled as a permanent resident in the United States. Li's Falun Gong movement gained significant popularity in the 1990s, including in government and qigong circles, but was suppressed by the Chinese government in 1999. According to Freedom House, "Today, Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong live under constant threat of abduction and torture. The name of the practice, its founder Mr. Li Hongzhi, and a wide assortment of homonyms are among the most censored terms on the Chinese internet. Any mention in state-run media or by Chinese diplomats is inevitably couched in demonizing labels."Li has been also associated with performance arts group Shen Yun ("Divine Rhythm"), and the media organizations The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty Television, which operate as extensions of Falun Gong. They have promoted Falun Gong's philosophical beliefs and unfounded conspiracy theories. Li has stated that he believes extraterrestrial aliens from other dimensions walk the Earth and are responsible for introducing technology, war, and immorality. Li says that he is a being who has come to help humankind from the destruction it could face as the result of rampant evil. When asked if he was a human being, Li replied "You can think of me as a human being."
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