Chinas State-Run Airwaves: The New Tiananmen Square
Falun Gong Brings Appeal Directly to the People Over Cable Television Networks
NEW YORK, May 9th, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) – For the fifth time in the past three months, the broadcast signal from a large cable television network in a major Chinese city was recently overridden – this time for up to 75 minutes – broadcasting programs exposing the human rights violations carried out under Jiang Zemin’s orders, and presenting positive views about Falun Gong.
On the evening of April 21, 2002, videos documenting the truth about Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong were broadcast in a residential area of Harbin City, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, in China’s industrial northeast. Similar unexpected programming was the primetime feature in areas of another major city in Heilongjiang Province the day before.
Preliminary reports from Heilongjiang Province say that Luo Gan (appointed by Jiang Zemin to oversee the state-ordered extermination of Falun Gong) has already visited Harbin City and given local authorities the order to arrest 6,000 practitioners by the end of June. Jailed convicts are reportedly being turned loose on the street to free up prison space for the anticipated internment of Falun Gong practitioners. Sources also report that pressure from Beijing is so intense that police have been encouraged to drop all other investigations and focus on Falun Gong alone.
Harbin City residents have been “advised” to turn off their televisions in the event of any “interruptions” in the cable signal.
These broadcasts are the latest avenue used by Chinese citizens in their rapidly evolving efforts to expose the lies of Jiang Zemin’s anti-Falun Gong propaganda as well as reveal the regime’s persecution of those who practice or are sympathetic to the spiritual practice.
Beyond Tiananmen Square
Since Jiang Zemin banned Falun Gong nearly three years ago, Chinese citizens have made peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, most carrying banners that read “Falun Gong is good” or “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance,” the principles espoused by the spiritual practice. During the first few months, these appeals were widely covered by foreign media in Beijing. By mid-2000, however, day-to-day media coverage dwindled, with interest rekindled only on special holidays or more recently, during demonstrations by foreigners.
Still, despite the fact that those arrested on the square are often beaten, sent to labor camps or even tortured to death—186 people are known to have been killed by police after being arrested while making a peaceful appeal on Tiananmen Square—the public appeals by Chinese citizens have continued until this day. As one souvenir vendor on Tiananmen Square told AFP on April 25, 2002, “Falun Gong…they come here to protest every day.”
As the media spotlight on Tiananmen Square has dimmed, however, appeals beyond Tiananmen Square have grown and evolved throughout the country, evidently aiming to give people more in-depth information about the nature of Falun Gong, the persecution unleashed by Jiang Zemin and the efforts of practitioners and supporters abroad to bring an end to the persecution. In virtually every major city in China, people hand out flyers or hang up posters providing detailed information about the persecution.
Such efforts, however, like those of the people who appeal on Tiananmen Square, continue to be met with extreme violence by the state. Numerous deaths verified by the Falun Dafa Information Center over the last three years occurred after people were taken into custody while distributing such flyers on the streets of their local towns. For example, on December 8, 2001, Mr. He Xingzong, 55, a resident of Macheng City, Hubei Province, left his home to post flyers exposing human rights abuses against Falun Gong practitioners. Police assaulted and killed him on the roadside.
On January 20, 2002, Ms. Wu Jingxia, a 29-year-old Falun Gong practitioner from Fangzi District, Weifang City, was tortured to death in police custody after being arrested on January 6, 2002, for distributing fliers that exposed the human rights abuses against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Falun Gong Taps into China’s State-Run Television Networks
More recently, the appeals by practitioners of Falun Gong have taken to the airwaves.
In China, virtually all media is controlled by the government. Thus, for the past nearly three years television, radio and newspapers have been flooded with anti-Falun Gong propaganda seeking to bend popular opinion against those who practice.
On February 16th, 2002, however, practitioners of Falun Gong tapped into the broadcast signal of a television network and broadcast Falun Gong programs in Anshan City, Liaoning province.
For many Chinese, it was the first opportunity to see how people in over 50 countries around the world are practicing Falun Gong. The programs also revealed that the practice had received over 600 supportive proclamations and awards in North America alone, and how the persecution in China has been condemned by most of the world’s most powerful nations. This came as a shock to many who had been led to believe by the state-run propaganda that Falun Gong was just a small group within China.
On March 5th, 2002, another broadcast in the northeast city of Changchun occurred covering eight channels of the largest cable network in the region, followed by a third a few days later. According to sources in China, the first Changchun broadcast lasted 40 to 50 minutes and again featured coverage of the popularity and worldwide support for Falun Gong, evidence of the brutality and the scope of the persecution, as well as footage debunking Chinese government propaganda contrived to turn public opinion against it.
In the aftermath of the Changchun broadcast, 5,000 practitioners were rounded up and arrested in an unprecedented escalation of Jiang’s efforts to “exterminate” Falun Gong. Police were issued “shoot on sight” orders and Jiang himself declared to “kill [them] without leniency.”
On April 25, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy based in Hong Kong reported that it has so far independently confirmed over 2,000 arrests in Changchun and the nearby vicinity in connection with the March cable television broadcast there. More than 150 practitioners of Falun Gong in Changchun have been sent to “re-education through labor” camps, the Center said. Changchun’s women’s labor camp alone has admitted 80 women over the last six weeks, the center confirmed.
The Methods Evolve, the Message Remains the Same
“Jiang’s persecution of Falun Gong completely relies on deceptions and lies. All the peaceful efforts of people who practice or support Falun Gong, whether it is handing out flyers or broadcasting television programs, have the same purpose – to reveal the truth of the persecution so as to put those atrocities to an end,” said Dr. Shiyu Zhou, a Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson. Dr. Zhou continued, “But the situation is extremely difficult in China. The state controls all media and uses the media to advance its persecution agenda, so people have continued to be creative to find effective, peaceful ways of letting the people inside China and around the world know the truth of what’s happening in China.”
The spotlight of the world’s media has, indeed, dimmed on Tiananmen Square, and many have used this as the measure by which to judge the extent to which Chinese people have weakened or remained firm in appealing for their right to practice Falun Gong. The truth, however, is that the appeals are now much more broadly based. While the media blockade and brutal repression of cameramen and Falun Gong practitioners alike limits the coverage of the daily appeals on Tiananmen Square, the even larger untold story of peaceful, non-violent appeals unfolds throughout China. No longer appealing just in Beijing, practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong clarify the truth about the persecution on thousands of local street corners, sign-posts, highway overpasses and increasingly, on the millions of televisions throughout China.
Coercion Can’t Change People’s Hearts
Dr. Zhou concluded: “Sooner or later those who carry out this persecution will realize that coercion can’t change people’s hearts. The appeal for Falun Gong in China is stronger than ever because Falun Gong is something that has touched people’s lives. You can’t stamp that out. You can’t crush the essence of the human spirit: Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance.”
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance.” It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices in China, such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.
With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China’s President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999, fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiang’s regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.
The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of over 407 deaths since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600. Over 100,000 have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps without trial.