Dec. 10, 2009: Falun Gong News Bulletin

Monitoring the Falun Gong Human Rights Crisis in China

FDIC: Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Defending Falun Gong
Dec 1: “A human rights lawyer from northeast China was sentenced on November 27 to seven years in prison for taking Falun Gong practitioners as clients and presenting legal arguments that the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign against the spiritual practice is illegal under Chinese law.

Wang Yonghang, a 36-year-old lawyer from Dalian in Liaoning province… has taken on the cases of Falun Gong practitioners …. He has also published several open letters challenging the legality of the decade-long persecution against the group.

Specifically, Wang argued that Article 300 — the provision most often used to imprison Falun Gong practitioners — does not meet minimum international legal standards of clarity and specificity. Moreover, it is essentially nonsensical because simply practicing a religion or belonging to a religious group can not obstruct justice or “undermine the implementation of the law,” as Article 300 states.

Similar to China’s state secrets laws, Article 300 is so vaguely worded that it essentially leaves room for the authorities to arbitrarily imprison any Chinese person, while keeping a “rule of law” veneer. Ironically, Wang was charged under Article 300 whose legality he had questioned in his writings. A letter to Communist Party-head Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao was reportedly used as “evidence” for the charges against him. Wang does not practice Falun Gong himself.

To read more and for a timeline of Wang’s human rights rights work and imprisonment, see: /article/932/?cid=84

Amnesty International Urgent Action: Lawyer jailed for defending human rights
Dec 4: Human rights lawyer Wang Yonghang has been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in connection with his work representing Falun Gong practitioners. He has appealed. He is a prisoner of conscience.

Wang Yonghang was detained on 4 July in his home city of Dalian, in the northern province of Liaoning. The police never allowed him any contact with his lawyers, on the grounds that his case involved “state secrets.” He was tried behind closed doors at the Shahekou District People’s Court, in Dalian City, around 14-16 October: the court announced the sentence on 27 November…

As a lawyer, Wang Yonghang has represented several Falun Gong practitioners. In May 2008, he also published an article online in which he explained his views on the authorities’ persecution of Falun Gong practitioners under Article 300 of China’s Criminal Law. This is the same legislation under which he has now been convicted.

To read more:
See additional confirmation of Wang’s imprisonment by Chinese Human Rights Defenders:

Amnesty International: “Blog: My life inside a Chinese labor camp” by former prisoner of conscience Bu Dongwei
Dec 7: “I was working in Beijing for a US NGO on a project funded by US government funds when I was detained and sent to a ‘Re-education Through Labor (RTL)’ camp due to my belief in Falun Gong. On May 19, 2006, six to seven police broke into my home and searched for the book ‘Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party’. They didn’t find the book they wanted but found several Falun Gong books. They put me in the detention centre in Haidian District, Beijing….[then] I was transferred to the [Tuanhe] labor camp.

Persecution in the labor camp includes; deprivation of basic needs, brain-washing, no freedom to go to the restroom, no freedom to wash clothes, bad food and bad living conditions… Force-feeding is a torture method that labor camps often use on Falun Gong practitioners, particularly on those who have staged hunger strikes to protest their unlawful persecution.

During my first time in the camp, we were forced to pack disposable chopsticks in very unsanitary conditions. Every day we were forced to pack 6,000-7,000 pairs of chopsticks. All the chopsticks were put on the ground of the small room and people often stepped on them. Some of those chopsticks are for export. In July 2009, while I was having lunch in a cafeteria in Capitol Hill, Washington DC, I saw that the disposable chopsticks in the cafeteria were made in China. I’m not sure if these chopsticks were made in labor camps… but we made the same chopsticks.”

AFP: Chinese ex-president sought in Spanish probe: lawyer
Nov 19: A Spanish judge wants to question former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four other Chinese Communist Party officials over allegations of torture and genocide against the Falun Gong, a lawyer for the spiritual movement said Thursday.

Judge Ismael Moreno of the National Court made the decision after concluding a preliminary inquiry, Falun Gong lawyer Carlos Iglesias said. The Supreme Court in 2006 ordered Moreno to probe a complaint for genocide filed two years earlier by the Falun Gong and which had initially been rejected.

To read more:

Epoch Times: Recognition, and Ignorance, Around Spanish Court’s Genocide Indictment
Nov 30: An exiled Chinese human rights lawyer says it’s a landmark and historic case, while staffers in the Chinese foreign ministry say they’ve never heard of it…. when asked, one young lady at the Foreign Ministry was surprised, and said: “I didn’t think they’d really sue them overseas.”

At the General Office of the Ministry of Justice, an officer said that they couldn’t respond to questions about such a big issue, and that queries should be forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An officer who answered the phone at Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they’d heard of the news but then said “it’s not convenient to answer your questions” before ending the conversation.

Guo Guoting, [a] Chinese lawyer who now lives in exile in Canada, explained the significance of the case: “If the proceeding is further extended, the court can give them criminal sentences. Usually this is sentenced by an international court. A Spanish court accepting this case is setting a precedent,” he said. “If other countries also follow suit, the real criminals will have nowhere to escape.”

To read more:

Globe and Mail: Letter to the Editor: Canada and the Middle Kingdom
Dec 5: Stephen Harper is in China, a country where I was torn from my wife, tortured for practising my spiritual belief and deemed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International (Canada’s Reward – Dec. 5).

I was sentenced to more than three years for mailing letters to friends trying to debunk the regime’s demonization of Falun Gong practitioners.

For 1,280 days, I struggled to survive heavy slave labour, electric shock torture and sleep deprivation. For months, I urinated and coughed blood and had high fevers. Worst was witnessing fellow Falun Gong practitioners suffering torture. The daily screams from female cells almost brought me to a mental breakdown.

Enough is enough. How much should we try to appease a fascist regime by ignoring terrible crimes to gain trade benefits? Would we be so uninterested if those being tortured and killed were our loved ones? The Prime Minister must call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong and not be manipulated by this ruthless regime.

Lizhi He, Toronto


Washington Post Editorial: Twitter This
Dec 5: For two years Congress has appropriated funds to support groups that are developing ways to circumvent the Chinese firewall and those erected in Iran, Burma, Cuba and other repressive countries. The most prominent of the groups, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, says it has the capacity to host 1.5 million users daily. Its technology works: Shiyu Zhou, the deputy director of the consortium, testified to the U.S. Helsinki Commission last month that at the height of opposition protests on June 20, more than 1 million Iranians used the system. He said that with $30 million of additional funding, capacity could be increased to 50 million users a day, making it “prohibitively expensive for any repressive government to counter our efforts.”

A bipartisan coalition that includes Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has been trying to channel the necessary funding. A total of $20 million has been included in the past two State Department budgets, and $30 million more is pending in the Senate’s version of the 2010 budget. But State hasn’t passed the money on to the firewall-busters.