In July 1999, security members kidnapped and imprisoned thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who they thought were leaders. The Ministry of Civil Affairs deemed the Falun Dafa Research Society to be illegal just two days later, stating it was not registered correctly. On the same day the Ministry of Public Security stated that noone could practice Falun Gung in public, possess any of its literature or symbols and must not protest against the ban.
A campaign then began essentially to eradicate the group entirely through a variety of methods. These included negative propaganda, threats, imprisonment and even death. Falun Gong was described as a ‘heterodox religion’, which was now against the law, and anyone practicing it would be sent to prison.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were sent to prison and were tortured and abused, often having to do forced labour in order to ‘reform’ them by the Chinese government. The US department of State believes that possibly half the people in the labour camps to ‘reeducate’ Chinese citizens were Falun Gong members. People that were detained in the camp report that the biggest population of people in the camp was Falun Gong practitioners. It is also stated that they would be given the longest sentences and receive the worst treatment. Amnesty International reported that in 2013 a third and even up to 100% in some labour reeducation camps were Falun Gong practitioners.