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Why doesn’t Falun Gong feature in the news more often?

If the rights abuses are so widespread and severe, why doesn’t Falun Gong feature in the news more often?

As governments engaging in massive human rights violations often do, the Chinese Communist Party has gone to great lengths to hide the atrocities it is committing from journalists, scholars, human rights organizations, and other independent researchers who might document and publicize the persecution of Falun Gong. Much of the abuses take place behind closed doors, in detention centers, labor camps, and as Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng recorded – mountainside torture chambers.

Chinese who try to investigate the abuses risk losing their careers, their freedom, and possibly their lives. Gao was “disappeared” by the Chinese authorities in February 2009 and has not been heard from since. Groups like Amnesty International are simply not allowed into China. Foreign journalists based in the country stand to lose work permits and have been physically assaulted for trying to report on Falun Gong. Some media outlets they work for risk having their publication removed from stands or their websites blocked at a time of increasing competition to gain a foothold in the Chinese market. Moreover, Falun Gong adherents who have acted as informants to foreign media have been detained, imprisoned, or worse. [For a more detailed analysis of foreign media reporting on Falun Gong, see this recent academic study.

Together, such obstacles have created a situation where months—or even years—might go by without a major news story on Falun Gong breaking. But as the accounts posted daily on Falun Gong websites and several independent investigations that have been carried out testify—that doesn’t mean that the surveillance, arrests, and torture that are daily realities for millions of peaceful believers in China have stopped.