NEW YORK – Chinese security agencies have been conducting large-scale arrests of Falun Gong adherents throughout China in recent months as authorities step up efforts to “stamp out” the practice in advance of the Olympic Games, in August, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported today.
In recent weeks, the Center has been receiving regular reports from adherents and their families inside China of door-to-door searches and arrests. According to statistics compiled from these reports, there have been 1,878 arrests across 29 provinces, major cities, and autonomous regions since January 1 of this year. In Beijing alone, 156 arrests are known to have taken place.
The Center released today a list of names and details of 67 representative cases of individuals detained in Beijing since December 2007 (list). Out of this group, 16 adherents were arrested from Chaoyang District, which is set to host the beach volleyball and tennis events, and 10 from Shunyi district, the site of the Olympic rowing and kayaking venues.
“The International community had hoped that awarding the Olympics to China would spur an improvement in human rights,” said Information Center representative Mr. Erping Zhang. “But the facts on the ground tell a very different story. The Olympics seem to have given the Beijing regime a new incentive, and excuse, to hasten its abuses of citizens’ rights. The arrests make a mockery of the regime’s promise to improve its dismal record on human rights. It is now imperative that the international community speak up, leverage real pressure, and stop these deplorable actions.”
According to the reports, many of the arrests follow a common pattern, whereby officers from the local police station or Public Security Bureau (PSB) branch come to the adherent’s home or workplace, conduct a search for any Falun Gong-related materials, and take the individual into custody at the district detention center. In some cases, family members or co-workers who do not practice Falun Gong have been taken into custody as well.
The systematic nature of the arrests suggests that authorities are using a previously compiled list of local adherents – a common practice of the PSB. According to former PSB and 610 Office agent Hao Fengjun, who currently resides in Australia, authorities in the city of Tianjin, where Hao formerly worked, had a database of 30,000 Falun Gong practitioners’ names.
Rewards for Identifying Falun Gong Adherents
In many cities a reward system has been put in place offering 500-3,000 yuan (roughly USD $60-$360) for identifying Falun Gong adherents to the authorities. In Zibo city (Shandong province), for example, announcements were posted in neighborhood administration offices offering 2,000-3,000 yuan for information leading to the arrest of a Falun Gong adherent. Other offices reportedly offered 500-2,000 yuan for identifying a Falun Gong adherent seen distributing informational leaflets.
While such reward mechanisms are not new, their use in connection with the Olympics is. Websites run by the PSB and other government agencies have, for the past several years, openly posted notices calling on citizens to turn in Falun Gong adherents; rewards have ranged up to 5,000 yuan. The following PSB site for Liaoning Province is one example: link (Chinese authorities usually take down websites such as these once they have been publicized in the West. If the link does not work, please refer to an Internet archive or the archived text of this page here).
As another example, in an October 8, 2007, USA Today article, a taxi driver named Liu Chunfa was quoted as saying, “I have attended several meetings with police lecturers. They told us if we report suspicious people, like believers in Falun Gong, we could get a 2,000-yuan ($250) reward.”
The Center has received word of several detained Beijing adherents having been sentenced to “re-education through labor” camp terms without trial, and fears others are at grave risk of wrongful sentencing. Any likely sentences will extend beyond the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games, if not for years. Chinese law allows for sentences of up to three years without so much as a court hearing.
The Center is demanding the immediate release of all Falun Gong adherents, and calling upon foreign media stationed in and around Beijing to investigate these arrests.
Earlier Reports – Beijing Olympics Fueling the Persecution of Falun Gong
A Feb. 21, 2001, Reuters report revealed that the campaign against Falun Gong had escalated as China entered the final stages of bidding for the 2008 Olympics. The report cited the state-run Xinhua propaganda outlet as saying the government had given “citations” to 110 organizations and 271 individuals “for anti-Falun Gong work” and to “wipe out Falun Gong.”
A July 17, 2001, report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, meanwhile, disclosed that after Beijing landed the 2008 Olympics, China’s then Vice Premier declared that winning the Olympics was “justification for the country’s crackdown on the Falun Gong.”
In 2005, an intelligence journal, Intelligence Online, revealed that China’s deputy public security minister, Liu Jing, had been assigned the responsibility of wiping out Falun Gong before the Games. (news)
According to Amnesty International, in preparing for the Games, Former Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang issued the following order in the context of “successfully” holding the Beijing Olympic Games: “We must strike hard at hostile forces at home and abroad, such as ethnic separatists, religious extremists, violent terrorists and … the Falun Gong.” (3/12/2008 13:26)