Alongside the most brutal forms of violence, such as torture and organ harvesting, a quiet, systemic form of violence being perpetrated against Falun Gong practitioners on a large scale is destitution or internal displacement. Although the number of Falun Gong adherents forced into homelessness and living as fugitives is currently unknown, countless testimonies, and reports of tens of thousands of adherents missing in mainland China suggest destitution is pervasive.
Fired and extorted
Falun Gong practitioners are expelled from universities and dormitories, fired from their workplaces, and denied opportunities for re-employment because of their beliefs or open resistance to persecution (read more on persecution at work and university). This situation, moreover, has persisted until today. Without any remaining financial means, those who can no longer rely on the support of family and friends are being driven into homelessness.
In addition, Falun Gong practitioners are forced into bankruptcy. Their relatives are also systematically subjected to robbery and extortion. The Chinese police, the 6-10 Office, and local officials have all been known to pillage the houses of adherents after arresting them. In other cases, police force family members to pay large extortion fees to secure the release of their relatives and spare them from torture.
In addition to the 6-10 Office and local police forces, the Chinese Communist Party also employs a system of neighbourhood and street committees to spy on Falun Gong practitioners. Much like the system employed in East Germany, this PRC version of neighbourhood watch employs retirees who spend their days spying and reporting on their neighbours. They don't report suspicious criminal activities, but do report on their neighbours meditating and those who are informing others about the persecution through hanging posters and distributing leaflets. With such a system in place, Falun Gong practitioners aren't safe anywhere and are forced to roam like vagabonds from place to place.
They go underground or become homeless fugitives in order to avoid further persecution. After being repeatedly jailed and tortured, they leave their homes and work because these locations are known to the government.
Homeless to save family from being persecuted
Falun Gong practitioners face frequent, sometimes daily visits from local officials and police. These unwanted visitors try to find the whereabouts of other Falun Gong practitioners. In addition, they try to ensure that the Falun Gong practitioner is maintaining the “correct view”. In order to ease their family members’ suffering from police pressure, practitioners have often left home.
Some Falun Gong practitioners have been able to escape to Southeast Asia or other countries and find asylum thanks to their host nations. A much larger number, however, have become internally displaced or, as Chinese put it, gone into exile in their own country to escape persecution.
In addition to requiring their identification for renting an apartment or receiving a salary, Chinese citizens may be required to present their ID to police on a whim at any moment. Falun Gong adherents are at great risk of being recognised as such, and in some cases their names are already on a public wanted list for the "crime" of distributing leaflets about the persecution. As a result, they are unable to establish a new life or feel secure anywhere in China.