WeChat Detainees on the Rise + A Western Perspective on Falun Gong
Thursday, October 15, 2020
WITH EACH NEW GENERATION OF TECHNOLOGY, SHADOWS OF ORWELL’S 1984 LOOM EVER LARGER OVER OUR LIVES. And nowhere is this spectre more menacing than in Communist China where state-run, high-tech surveillance and censorship now rule the day.
In this newsletter we highlight the ubiquitous WeChat app, and how people who practice Falun Gong in China are winding up in detention centers, some awaiting trial, solely based on what they shared over WeChat.
Also in this newsletter, Bitter Winter calls out ‘strategic complicity’ on forced organ harvesting atrocities in China, and the enormous profits gained amid the killing.
And for those who still find themselves pondering the question “what is Falun Gong?” we share with you a short video produced by North American volunteers offering a Western perspective on the traditional Buddhist-based spiritual practice.
Levi Browde, Executive Director
Falun Dafa Information Center
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is known to have constructed the most robust internet and mass-surveillance system in the world. The Communist regime deploys this system to suppress freedom of expression and religion, including to target Falun Gong practitioners. Recently, numerous cases have emerged of Falun Gong practitioners being detained and prosecuted because of these technologies.
Over the last two years, Falun Gong practitioners have been identified, forced into hiding, sentenced, and jailed after police found they had shared information about Falun Gong. Such persecution would not be possible without WeChat’s cooperation with Chinese police or the use of facial recognition-enabled cameras in public places.
“What exactly is Falun Gong?” remains the most asked question when discussing the human rights abuses faced by those who practice Falun Gong in China. Aiming to provide a brief, yet tangible answer to this question, a small team of volunteers from North America created a short video introducting Falun Gong and the benefits people say they’ve experienced from its five gentle qigong exercises and three principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance — increased energy, improved relationships, spiritual growth, and more. This short video is available on FalunInfo.TV.
“For the CCP, removing and selling organs from prisoners of conscience is a huge business. Democratic countries should stop looking the other way.”
So begins researcher Mal Mitchell’s eloquent and eye-opening exploration for Bitter Winter of what we know about forced organ harvesting by the Chinese regime after more than 10 years of research and a thorough study from an independent tribunal in London that declared the CCP guilty of the atrocity. Mitchell explains organ harvesting as “state-sanctioned mass murder, torture, and money-making” off of the body parts of unwilling “prisoners of conscience, Falun Gong practitioners in particular” that continues to this day.
Mitchell argues that the reason governments and wealthy private sector interests have not confronted the Chinese regime over organ harvesting thus far is the “keenness to continue and expand trade with China.” International public outcry, he posits, may be the victims’ next best hope of relief.
A brother and sister were publicly beaten by police for trying to save their mother from unlawful detention using peaceful banners that called for her release. The brother suffered a mental breakdown and now the mother has died. Ms. Zhu Yan passed away on August 15, 2020. She was 57.
During the incident, the police chief grabbed the sister Yue by the hair, repeatedly yanking her so violently that chunks of her hair were pulled out and her clothes ripped. Then the officer threw her to the ground and stomped her lower back.
Crying on the ground, 18-year-old Yue, with her hand shaking, slowly reached up to take the hand of a nearby officer, and said, “Uncle, don’t you have any conscience? Or a wife and children? If your wife was tortured like our mother, wouldn’t your kids want her back?”
Mike Pompeo spoke before two gatherings of religious leaders in the past month, encouraging them to more fearlessly champion religious freedom around the world, singling out China’s atrocities.
Speaking at the Holy See in Rome, Italy, the Secretary said, “Nowhere is religious freedom under assault more than it is inside of China today. That’s because, as with all communist regimes, the Chinese Communist Party deems itself the ultimate moral authority. The Chinese Communist Party has battered every religious community in China: Protestant house churches, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and more.
Pompeo used examples from history of faith leaders who risked their lives to stand up for the marginalized faithful, calling them “remarkable examples of Christian action for freedom, justice, and human dignity [that] shame those who are trying to drive faith from the public square.” “… But even more importantly, they should inspire us today, and especially those of you who hold spiritual authority of any faith, to lead in our own time.”
A few days later, Pompeo spoke in Florida at a gathering about “Respecting Life in America’s Foreign Policy.”
“Indeed,” he remarked following a comment about how reporters don’t like to talk about China’s antagonism of religious believers, right now “the peaceful Falun Gong movement [is] banned, its practitioners frequently jailed.”
Leaders must “speak up fearlessly for religious freedom,” he added. “It’s our duty; it’s the right thing to do.”
From ancient roots extending back thousands of years, to a house-hold name in China during the Qigong boom in the 1990s, to the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world, this is the complete story of Falun Gong…