Egregious Treatment of Women and Seniors, US Reacts to Russia
EVERY TIME I VISIT MY IN-LAWS, I never worry that I would end up in prison by the end of the day. Yet that’s what happened to Ms. Yu Jianli and all seven of her family members. By the afternoon, Ms. Yu was arrested and sentenced to seven years in Jilin Province’s ill-famed Women’s Prison. Each of her family members were also sentenced to seven or more years, and the prison is currently denying Ms. Yu any family visits.
July reports allege that the Women’s Prison is continuing its reputation with egregious torture methods to force practitioners to renounce their faith in Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Whether woman, child, elderly, or the sick, the Chinese regime stops at nothing to “zero-out” Falun Gong in mainland China. From the reports gathered in 2021 so far, harassment numbers alone are nearly twofold compared to last year. Seniors are sentenced and harassed at a great degree.
In the diplomatic space, the U.S. State Department condemned the Russian government for criminalizing Falun Gong in the Khakassia region. The decision by the Russian court of Kemerovo was a continuation of Russia’s attempts to label peaceful groups as extremist solely to justify abuses against them.
Today’s newsletter wraps up with two thought-provoking pieces: journalist Janet Levy explores how Beijing has silenced mainstream media in the States on the topic of Falun Gong, as award-winning director Leon Lee vividly illustrates the story of Yingying, a little girl orphaned by the persecution, in his stop-motion film Ragdoll.
Levi Browde, Executive Director Falun Dafa Information Center
From the reports gathered in the first half of 2021, 7,681 identified Falun Gong practitioners were arrested or harassed by CCP authorities between January and June of this year. The confirmed cases accessible to us now are only a small representation of the full narrative.
Most of the increases in harassment took place in the months of April (1,561) and May (1,447), which were almost twice that of the same months a year before. This is a result of the continuation of the “Zero-out” harassment campaign carried over from last year, as well as the intensified persecution around the “sensitive dates” of April 25 (the anniversary of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners appealing in 1999 outside the central government compound for the right to practice their faith) and May 13 (the anniversary of Falun Gong’s introduction to the public), to prevent practitioners from speaking out about the persecution.
Additionally, a total of 347 of the arrested and 425 of the harassed practitioners reported in the first half of 2021 were 65 or older. The oldest practitioner harassed was 94, exemplifying how heinous the persecution of Falun Gong truly is.
Ms. Yu Jianli, a Changchun City, Jilin Province resident in her 30s, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for upholding her faith in Falun Gong. Ms. Yu and her husband Mr. Wang Dongji (along with Mr. Wang’s parents, Ms. Yu’s mother, Ms. Yu’s brother-in-law, and his father) were arrested while visiting Mr. Wang’s parents on August 15, 2019. All seven members of the extended family were sentenced to 7 to 7.5 years in prison.
The evidence used to sentence Ms. Yu included several items she published on Minghui.org, including a solemn statement declaring her intention to resume the practice of Falun Gong after having been forced to give it up under pressure, as well as a few articles exposing the persecution against her mother.
She was transferred to Jilin Province Women’s Prison on May 25, 2021 and has been denied family visits. Division 8 of Jilin Province Women’s Prison is notorious for imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners and utilizing various torture methods to force practitioners to renounce their faith. The female chief of Division 8 is Qian Wei, and she personally instructs felons and other inmates to transform practitioners with all means possible.
On July 9, the U.S. Department of State condemned “the designation of the Khakassia regional branch of Falun Gong as ‘extremist’” in a decision where judges “criminalize the peaceful practice of their spiritual beliefs. Russian authorities harass, fine, and imprison Falun Gong practitioners for such simple acts as meditating and possessing spiritual texts.” This decision follows years of growing relations between Moscow and Beijing, especially after both regimes paradoxically won seats in the UN Human Rights Council last October.
The DOS continued to state that the court’s decision against Falun Gong “is another example of Russian authorities labeling peaceful groups as ‘extremist,’ ‘terrorist,’ or ‘undesirable’ solely to stigmatize their supporters, justify abuses against them, and restrict their peaceful religious and civic activities. The Russian government has done so against a number of groups, whose members face home raids, extended detention, excessive prison sentences, and harassment for their peaceful religious practices.”
The U.S. Department of State noted that this is just another example of the Russian practice of misusing the ‘extremist’ designation as a way to restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms: “We continue to call on Russia to respect the right of freedom of religion or belief for all, including Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious minority groups in Russia simply seeking to exercise their beliefs peacefully.”
Journalist Janet Levy writes, “The largely unreported story of Falun Gong is one of persecution, enslavement, torture, and rape orchestrated by the CCP. Since 2000, Falun Gong adherents have also been subjected to forced organ-harvesting to feed China’s multi-billion-dollar transplant industry, documented in great detail in the report Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter. But for The Epoch Times and some small media outlets, no one would have known of the horrific oppression of this harmless group, for the mainstream media have ignored it completely.
The free world has been complicit in this repression, blinded by its desire to cultivate Chinese leaders for business. So-called liberal academics and reporters — who find it easy to speak out in democracies like America, which they vow to systemically change — have succumbed to the fear of pressure from Chinese embassies, denial of visas, other travel restrictions and suspension or loss of press and academic credentials. Payments and other benefits have also been used to coopt them.
Chinese clout has extinguished negative reports of atrocities against Falun Gong. Promised a Chinese version of its newspaper, the New York Times declared Falun Gong dangerous and suppressed an article on China’s forced organ-harvesting. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other forever protesting rights groups look away. The United Nations called China’s brutal crackdown on Falun Gong “an issue of good governance” and sponsored an international conference allowing the CCP to justify itself.”
Award-winning Stop-Motion Animation | 18 min Leon Lee is an award-winning filmmaker who explores intriguing stories that help shine a light on human rights issues. His debut documentary Human Harvest, which was eight years in the making, exposed China’s illegal organ trade. It has been viewed by millions worldwide and received a coveted Peabody Award.
In this new short film, he uses stop-motion to craft a child’s world, where hope and imagination are more powerful than police batons or state-sponsored violence, where noble determination conquers all.
Ragdoll features Yingying, a little girl whose mother was killed in the persecution. Although Yingying is alone on the streets of Northern China, she has hope that an enchanted art form could reunite them.