Falun Gong News Bulletin: August 31, 2011
Monitoring Falun Gong-related Developments in China and Beyond
[Editor’s note: The Falun Dafa Information Center has decided to revise the news bulletin to better serve our readers. We welcome feedback or suggestions for further improvement, which can be sent to [email protected]. Thank you.]
Quotation of the month: “The villagers hope that officials from the Jilin City government will help get Mr. Liu released.”
– Excerpt from a petition signed by dozens from Fengman village urging that their neighbor, facing imprisonment for practicing Falun Gong, be allowed to return home.
- Three years later, China’s Olympic prisoners still suffering
- After 12 years, Falun Gong’s peaceful resistance brings hope amidst repression
- Eight new Falun Gong deaths recorded in July, five died in custody?
- State-TV report on cyber attacks uses Falun Gong websites as sample targets
- Village unites to demand release of upstanding citizen facing illegal trial
- Guangdong lawyer gets two-year prison sentence for defending Falun Gong
Images smuggled from China in July-August 2011
This photo gallery features 12 photos smuggled from China in July and August 2011 and obtained by the Falun Dafa Information Center, as well as one image from Hong Kong. The photos, sent abroad at great risk to the photographers, provide a unique first-hand glimpse at both the reality of persecution faced by Falun Gong practitioners and the various tactics used by Chinese citizens to rescue victims. The images range from evidence of torture to a petition from villagers calling for the release of a local Falun Gong practitioner to a series of photos of victims and their families taken before they were detained and, in some cases, killed.
This month marks the three-year anniversary since the Olympics were held in Beijing. In 2009, Amnesty International reported that “in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, thousands [of Falun Gong practitioners] were reported to have been arrested, with hundreds imprisoned or assigned to Re-education through Labour camps.” At the time, the Falun Dafa Information Center documented over 8,000 cases of Falun Gong abductions. Many of these people are still locked away today, living in filthy conditions and under constant threat of torture. According to data collected by the Center in 2009, over 600 Falun Gong practitioners detained before the Olympics were sent after meaningless trials to prison camps for four years or longer, some for as many as 18 years. Even more tragically, over the past three years, the Center has documented numerous cases of people arrested in the Olympic sweeps who have subsequently died because of abuse in custody. The most recent such death—of Chongqing resident Ms. Zhang Zhongfen—occurred on June 14, 2011.
* FDIC, “Top 10 Things You Should Know about the Beijing Olympics and Falun Gong,” June 10, 2008
* FDIC, List of Falun Gong practitioners sent to prison camps in 2008-2009 (among them the 600-plus Olympic prisons noted above)
* For details of Ms. Zhang Zhongfen’s death, see “Nine New Falun Gong Deaths Recorded in June,” July 10, 2011
To mark the twelfth anniversary since the Chinese Communist Party launched a campaign to eradicate Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, the Falun Dafa Information Center issued a statement highlighting not only the ongoing violent suppression, but also how Falun Gong practitioners have responded with grassroots innovation and civil disobedience on a scale unprecedented in China’s history. In the face of horrific brutality, Falun Gong practitioners have neither been cowed nor resorted to violence. Rather, tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China operate an underground network of homemade leaflet and DVD distribution. Overseas Falun Gong engineers have developed effective tools for circumventing Internet censorship. Global media companies founded by Falun Gong practitioners bring uncensored news to China. Together, their efforts have broken through the CCP’s veil of misinformation and are convincing a growing number of Chinese people to stop participating in the persecution. For this reason, this 12th anniversary is not only a solemn day of remembrance for those who have been killed, maimed, and persecuted, but it is also a day of hope.
Testimony to European Parliament Highlights Illegality of Falun Gong Persecution
On July 11, the European Parliament’s Human Rights Committee held a hearing on human rights in China and particularly the situation for rights defenders. Among the experts speaking was Yiyang Xia, Senior Director of Policy and Research at the Human Rights Law Foundation. In his testimony, Xia argued that the CCP’s campaign against Falun Gong violated China’s own laws from the beginning. As a result, the CCP devised a variety of illegal and extralegal maneuvers to implement the persecution and commit rampant human rights abuses. According to Xia, these tactics are now being expanded beyond Falun Gong and include using extralegal detention facilities to jail petitioners, applying torture methods to human rights lawyers, and falsely labeling other activists as Falun Gong to facilitate lawless behavior.
* Full testimony, Yiyang Xia, July 11, 2011
DEATHS FROM TORTURE
At least eight additional Falun Gong practitioners died from abuse in custody between May and July 2011, according to reports compiled by the Falun Dafa Information Center. Five of the victims died in custody and several were killed within days or weeks of being abducted, highlighting the severe danger facing all Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Among the victims were a housewife who died from vicious beatings inflicted when she tried to ask police to release her husband and a 48-year-old model teacher abducted in advance of the Olympics and sent to Harbin Women’s Prison. These cases bring to 43 the total number of deaths known to have occurred since January. The following is a list of the known victims, though given the difficulty of obtaining information, the actual death toll may be higher. A more detailed account of each case is provided at the corresponding link.
* Mr. Ou Jiafa, 60s, from Hunan, died in May 2011?
* Mr. Wang Xuezhu, 41, from Jilin, died in custody on May 22, 2011?
* Mr. Jiao Lingyun, 49, from Heilongjiang, died in custody on July 8, 2011?
* Ms. Qu Yuxiang, 68, from Guizhou, died on July 10, 2011
?* Ms. Tan Cuiying, 57, from Hunan, died from beatings on July 18, 2011
?* Ms. Li Yaru, 48, from Heilongjiang, died in custody on July 20, 2011
?* Mr. Liu Renge, 56, from Jilin, died in custody on July 22, 2011?
* Mr. Li Xiwang, from Tianjin, died in custody on July 29, 2011
TORTURE, DETENTIONS, AND OTHER ABUSES
Falun Gong crackdown ahead of international Shenzhen sporting event
Official websites and first-hand accounts from China indicate that in advance of the Shenzhen Universiade, an international collegiate sporting event held from August 12 to 22, 2011, Chinese authorities and security agents carried out various measures against Shenzhen residents practicing Falun Gong. Directives from the Guangdong Ministry of Education, at the apparent urging of CCP officials, dated May 2011 called for a variety of actions to be taken to prevent any discussion of Falun Gong during the events, including: conducting investigations into any Falun Gong activities on campus, enhancing anti-Falun Gong propaganda, and “by providing financial support to student organizations activities” ensuring no Falun Gong-related discussions take place. Meanwhile, the Falun Dafa Information Center has received reports of arrests of practitioners in Shenzhen. In one incident from July 21, Shenzhen police abducted five people suspected of practicing Falun Gong. When the aunt of one of them, Mr. Liu Xiaoguang, traveled from Heilongjiang to visit him, detention center staff denied her access and said he was facing a minimum of three years imprisonment for his practice. The CCP has repeatedly taken advantage of international sporting events to intensify the persecution of local practitioners. This occurred in advance of the Olympics in 2008, the Winter Universiade in Harbin in 2009, and the Asia Games in Guangzhou in 2010.
* “Provincial Department of Education Large Sporting Event Public Security Work Measures,” May 31, 2011 (See screenshot)
* FDIC, “Escalated Persecution During 10th Anniversary Year”
Case update: Sexual assault victim harassed after release from labor camp
In November 2010, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported on the case of Ms. Hu Miaomiao, a 25-year-old kindergarden teacher, who was severely sexually abused at Hebei Labor Camp in June 2010. The center recently learned that on July 11, 2011, Ms. Hu’s father was called to pick Ms. Hu up from the labor camp, after her detention was arbitrarily extended by 15 days. Agents from the local 6-10 Office, a Communist Party security force tasked with repressing Falun Gong, reportedly attempted to take Ms. Hu directly from the camp to Yubaodun Brainwashing Center in Zhangjiakou. It is not uncommon for Falun Gong practitioners who have not renounced their beliefs following “re-education” efforts in labor camps to be transferred to such centers for further torture and attempts at forced conversion. Following resistance from Ms. Hu’s father and brother, however, she was spared and allowed to return home. The following day, the family received a visit from Qian Jinli, the head of the county level 6-10 Office.
* FDIC Urgent Appeal: “25-year-old Woman Unable to Walk from Sexual Abuse in Hebei Labor Camp,” November 14, 2010
* For photos of Ms. Hu prior to her detention, see photo gallery
Eyewitness account from Heilongjiang Women’s Prison
Ms. Wei Jun, a Falun Gong practitioner from Daqing City in Heilongjiang Province, has been detained four times since the persecution began in 1999 and held for long periods twice. Most recently, she was abducted towards the tail end of the Beijing Olympics in August 2008 and was subsequently sentenced after a meaningless trial to five years in a prison camp. She is currently being held at Heilongjiang Women’s Prison. Below is a link to Ms. Wei’s narration of several episodes of persecution she has experienced since 1999. Of particular note in her account are the details she provides of those perpetrating abuses against her, including the names of judges and prison wardens. According to sources inside China who smuggled out her testimony, she was paralyzed due to torture for a period of time and at present, still suffers from numbness in her lower back and has difficulty walking.
MEDIA AND INTERNET FREEDOM
In a bizarre incident, Chinese state-run television appears to have inadvertently admitted that Falun Gong websites are a key target for military cyber attacks. On July 16, 2011, China Central Television-7 (CCTV-7), which typically focuses on military, science, and technology programs, aired a feature report on cyberwarfare, titled “The Internet Storm is Coming.” In one section of the program, after an explanation of the characteristics of “Trojan horse” malware, the video appears to show a sample effort to conduct a cyber attack, choosing a target from a list of websites, all of which are Falun Gong-related. At one point, the screen shows someone choosing a Falun Gong-related site (whose IP address was traced to the University of Alabama), then clicking a button labeled “Attack.” The software displayed appears to be custom-made, listed in the video as coming from the Electronic Engineering Institute of the People’s Liberation Army. Since 1999, Falun Gong-related websites and listservs outside China have repeatedly suffered sophisticated cyber attacks believed to have been launched by the Chinese regime.
* YouTube clip from CCTV program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_Wu1HlZbBk&feature=youtu.be&t=36s
* The Epoch Times, August 21, 2011
* The Washington Post, August 25, 2011
* The World Affairs Journal, May/June 2010
Trial moves ahead for Indonesia radio manager who aired Falun Gong content
The trial of Indonesian radio station manager Gatot Machali on charges of “broadcasting without authorization” moved ahead in recent weeks. Machali is the manager of Radio Era Baru, a local affiliate of Sound of Hope radio, a network founded by Falun Gong practitioners using their personal resources. After seeing overseas Chinese media repeat Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda, their aim was to provide uncensored news, including on human rights abuses, and cultural programming to Chinese-speaking communities. Radio Era Baru has been under pressure from the Indonesian authorities since 2007, when the Chinese embassy wrote to the government urging that the station’s broadcasts be curbed. In July, following international pressure, the prosecutor reduced the requested punishment from six years to six months and a fine of 50 million rupiah ($5,800). International press freedom groups have criticized the case, particularly because it has proceeded even after the station won a high court decision in May affirming its right to broadcast. Observers have raised concerns that Machali’s conviction could set a dangerous precedent for the CCP’s ability to suppress free speech beyond its borders.
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
On July 13, 2011, Zhuhai District Court in Guangzhou sentenced attorney Mr. Zhu Yubiao to two years in prison for defending Falun Gong practitioners. According to Zhu’s mother and lawyer, the Chinese authorities took various measures to undermine his ability to have a fair trial, including scheduling it for a day when his lawyer Mr. Liu Zhengqing could not attend and only permitting his mother to sit in on the hearing. Zhu’s mother told New Tang Dynasty television: “When I spoke with the procuratorate, they told me to ask my son to write a guarantee [to stop defending Falun Gong practitioners] and then he’d be allowed to go home. This means the judicial system … also believes what Zhu Yubiao has done does not constitute any crime.” Zhu was abducted from his home on August 18, 2010 and authorities seized some Falun Gong-related books and CD-ROMs. Zhu was the first lawyer in Guangdong to defend Falun Gong practitioners. He has had his license to practice law revoked and was sent to a labor camp for 18 months in 2007. He has a young son, wife, and elderly parents whose financial situation has become difficult since his arrest. Radio Free Asia and CHRLCG also reported on Zhu’s sentencing.
* Radio Free Asia, July 21, 2011
* New Tang Dynasty TV, July 29, 2011
* Chinese Human Rights Lawyer’s Concern Group, August 8 , 2011
On June 17, 2011, dozens of villagers signed a petition to the government of Jilin city urging the release of a fellow villager who had been detained for practicing Falun Gong. On March 4, 2011, police abducted 59-year-old Mr. Liu Zhichen, from Fengman village in Jilin city and took him to the city’s No. 3 Detention Center. When his neighbors learned that the Fengman District Court had planned to hold a “trial” on wrongful charges for Liu, they united to co-sign a petition to the authorities in protest. The letter praises Liu for his contribution to the community, notes his selfless help during a flood in 2010, and points out how his health and standard of morality improved after taking up Falun Gong. “It is well-known that he [Liu] is a good person. He has been helping his fellow villagers all of these years,” reads the letter. “The villagers hope that officials from the Jilin City government will help get Mr. Liu released.” Despite their efforts, the court held a trial for Liu on July 22, at which the prosecutor asked that he be given a seven-year prison sentence. No news has yet emerged of the judge’s ruling. To view a full translation of the letter and a scanned image of the original, see the link below.
Renminbi with printed Falun Gong messages spotted
On July 22, 2011, the Financial Times (FT) reported finding a renminbi banknote with messages related to Falun Gong adeptly printed onto it, including “Falun Dafa’s … spirit has spread across the world, cultivate truthfulness, compassion and forbearance and your morality will be raised to a higher level,” and “the Chinese Communist Party is destined to be destroyed by heaven, the lives of those who resign from the Communist Party will be quickly saved! Free hotline in America for those who wish to quit the Party: 001-514-342-1023.” Calling the number, the reporter reached a Falun Gong practitioner in Montreal manning the phone lines for Chinese calling to “Tuidang” or withdraw from the Party. Tuidang is an emerging non-violent movement in China that encourages Chinese citizens to renounce their ties to the CCP and related youth organizations, as a means of distancing themselves from the brutality of CCP rule. Tens of millions of people have published such renunciations on overseas websites, often using aliases to avoid reprisals. News of Tuidang has spread through word-of-mouth, homemade underground leaflets, the internet via circumvention tools, and notices on renminbi similar to the one discovered by the FT.
LIVING FALUN GONG
A Falun Dafa practitioner in Canada’s change in outlook
In 1997 Jane’s husband had an accident, which led them to start practicing Falun Dafa in order to aid his physical recovery. From then on, they not only became healthier, but were also inspired by the spiritual teachings of the practice, prompting a change to their outlook on life. In this account, relayed by her acquaintance, Jane recalls changing her perspective on travel reimbursements at work and disciplining her son. When she first took up the practice, Jane’s mother worked for a foreign company that would reimburse her for daily taxi fares accrued for any transportation related to her job. Since she lived close to her job, she did not need to go to the company by taxi. “Before practicing cultivation, I often gave my own taxi invoices to my mother to submit for the reimbursement money,” Jane recalls. After embarking on the path of spiritual cultivation, Jane felt that it was wrong to do this because it does not meet the criterion of following truthfulness for Falun Gong practitioners. She stopped giving her mother her own taxi invoices for reimbursement.
International solidarity on anniversary of crackdown
July 20, 2011 marked the 12th anniversary since the Chinese Communist Party launched its violent campaign against Falun Gong. Practitioners and their supporters around the world held rallies, candle light vigils, and other events to remember those who have died since 1999 and to call for an end to the persecution. Among the tokens of solidarity were letters from European Parliament members, press releases from human rights groups, and statements made by U.S. congressional members at a rally in Washington DC, such as:
- “I stand in support for the Falun Gong followers’ struggle to survive and fight for their basic human rights and I admire the courage of all those who, since 1999, have complained, sued, demonstrated and spoken out against the repression, despite the terrible repercussions of these actions on their lives.” – Letter from Ana Gomes, European Parliament Member from Portugal.
- “Over the past twelve years, Falun Gong practitioners and their families have suffered greatly at the hands of the Communist Party… Freedom House calls on the Communist Party to abolish the 6-10 Office and immediately release all Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.” – Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Freedom House’s senior program manager for international religious freedom was quoted in a press release.
- “To be taken seriously as a participant in the twenty-first century global economy, China must take the rights of their citizens seriously. Egregious injustices, such as those suffered by the Falun Gong practitioners …, are unacceptable in a civilized world and must end today.” – U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), addressing a conference on international religious freedom.
Since 1999, the Chinese Communist Party has carried out a widespread, brutal campaign of persecution to eradicate Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual and qigong practice, whose adherents in China still number in the tens of millions. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese who practice Falun Gong remain in captivity, rendering them the single largest group of prisoners of conscience in China (article). The United Nations, Amnesty International, Chinese human rights lawyers, and Western media have documented Falun Gong torture and deaths at the hands of Chinese officials (reports). In its annual report released in early 2011, Amnesty International stated that Falun Gong practitioners who refused to renounce their beliefs “are typically tortured until they co-operate; many die in detention or shortly after release.” The Communist Party’s campaign and its implementation are in violation of Chinese law and, contrary to common reporting, Falun Gong was not banned as an “evil cult.” (analysis)