Falun Gong News Bulletin: November 9, 2011
Monitoring Falun Gong-related Developments in China and Beyond
“The thugs gathered around me. Those in front of me beat me in the face several times until my glasses were fallen to the ground.”
– A Falun Gong practitioner from Vietnam, recounting a November 8th attack. Practitioners in Vietnam have been facing escalating harassment as the Chinese Communist Party pressures the Vietnamese authorities to restrict Falun Gong activities.
- New In-Focus Feature: Debunking CCP Propaganda
- Five new Falun Gong deaths recorded in October
- Buddhist Temple in Sichuan Used for Brainwashing Falun Gong Practitioners
- Eyewitness testimonies from Masanjia Forced Labor Camp
- With New Satellite, Uncensored Reporting Available to Millions More Chinese
- Wikileaks cable cites Falun Gong’s voice in China despite repression
- Samples of Chinese declarations nullifying anti-Falun Gong acts committed under pressure
Photos smuggled from China in October 2011
This photo gallery features 7 photos smuggled from China in October 2011 and obtained by the Falun Dafa Information Center. The images, sent abroad via the internet at great risk to the senders, provide a unique first-hand glimpse at both the suffering of Falun Gong practitioners and the resistance to the violent campaign against them. Included among the images are photographs of persecution victims, images of a Buddhist temple converted into a brainwashing center, a public petition by villagers for a friend’s release, and photos of banners hung by Falun Gong practitioners in Northeast China.
As other human rights abusers have done before, since 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used hate propaganda as a core component of its campaign to wipe out Falun Gong. In China, the CCP has used state-controlled media to bombard citizens with what the Wall Street Journal called an “old, communist-style propaganda war.” What many in the West do not realize, however, is that the CCP’s misinformation has also spread outside China. It has seeped into the public consciousness in the West via new English versions of Chinese state-run media or sloppy journalism by independent news outlets. Three lies, in particular, form the backbone of the CCP’s propaganda against Falun Gong: 1) That Falun Gong practitioners “besieged” the central government compound in 1999; 2) That there were 1,400 alleged Falun Gong-related deaths; and 3) That in January 2001 Falun Gong practitioners self-immolated on Tiananmen Square. Each one of these claims, when scrutinized and independently investigated, is exposed as false and manipulated to incite hatred against Falun Gong practitioners. The Falun Dafa Information Center is introducing a new in-focus feature analyzing these three claims with brief explanations and references. The aim is to inform our audiences and counter the pernicious effects of the CCP’s propaganda, lest it deprive the victims of horrible crimes in China of the kind of international support that might saves their lives.
* FDIC In-Focus Feature: “Debunking CCP Propaganda”
For centuries, Chinese civilization was the source of profound religious, philosophical and moral thought. Yet, how is it today that a two-year-old toddler could be left lying in the street bleeding to death as fellow Chinese walk by without lending a hand? The answer can be found in a story relayed by Ms. Crystal Chen, a former prisoner of conscience in China who was abducted and tortured by Chinese police because she practices Falun Gong.
Ms. Chen tells the story of a young policewoman who had just begun working at a local labor camp in its division for persecuting Falun Gong while Ms. Chen was held there. One evening, Ms. Chen was bound into a painful position by her captors and left, in agony, alone in a room. At one point, she saw the young policewoman peering into the room where Ms. Chen was held, a confused look of shock and sympathy written on her face over the torture she was witnessing.
Ms. Chen was eventually freed, but the glimmer of humanity on the policewoman’s face never left her, and she made inquiries about her. Sadly, Ms. Chen learned that this policewoman had gone on to lead that division known for torturing Falun Gong practitioners. There are tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners throughout China. A wide range of people—including co-workers, fellow students, neighbors, family members, etc.—are encouraged to turn Falun Gong practitioners over to police or help coerce them into renouncing their most deeply held beliefs. Then, what kind of social relationships are being formed—or broken—among people? Was the toddler left to die by 18 cold-hearted individuals, or by a regime that has so frequently dehumanized its victims that people no longer see each other as fellow humans worthy of a compassionate hand?
* For more details on the tragic incident this analysis refers to, see: “YueYue, Chinese Toddler Run Over in Street and Ignored, Dies”
Human Rights in China Biweekly Journal: Brainwashing Centers for Persecuting Falun Gong Practitioners
In its September 22, 2011 issue, the Chinese-language biweekly journal of Human Rights in China, a New York-based human rights group, published an article on the use of brainwashing centers to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. Similar to “black jails” used to house petitioners, such centers are makeshift jails, existing outside of the legal system, where practitioners are held for indefinite periods of time and subjected to a range of abuses with the aim of forcing them to renounce their faith and pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The article begins by recounting the case of Ms. Yuan Pingjun, a seamstress in her 40s, who was abducted on August 2, 2010 and sent to a brainwashing center in Hebei Province. Nine days later, her family was called and told she had died. Though her husband saw signs of torture on her body, the authorities refused to investigate her murder and instead tried to threaten and buy the family’s silence. Drawing on a range of other cases, the author then describes the network of brainwashing centers as a persecutory tactic of the CCP and the use of physical, mental, and psychiatric torture at such venues. Although the CCP has used brainwashing centers since 1999, over the past two years, their use has intensified as part of a reinvigorated campaign to forcibly convert Falun Gong practitioners.
* Human Rights in China Bi-weekly Journal (link)
* The Falun Dafa Information Center had also reported on the death of Ms. Yuan Pingjun at the time
* FDIC: “Internal Communist Party Documents Disclose New Campaign to Forcibly ‘Transform’ Millions of Falun Gong Practitioners in China”
At least four additional Falun Gong practitioners died from abuse between July and October 2011, according to reports compiled by the Falun Dafa Information Center. In addition, news emerged of a man who had died in prison in 2008, after being paralyzed from torture. All five victims were over the age of 50 and included a former Communist Party official, a retired physician, and a CEO of a foreign joint venture company. These cases bring to 57 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 is surely higher. A more detailed account of each case, and photo of the victim where available, is provided at the corresponding link.
- Ms. Zhang Jinghua, 65, was a retired physician from Shandong province. On October 7, 2011, two men overheard her talking about Falun Gong at a market and began chasing her. They pursued her to the fourth floor of a building from which she then mysteriously fell. She died several hours later to the shock of her family.
- Ms. Wang Chunxiang, 55, from Liaoning was abducted in October 2006 after a plainclothes police officer followed and then found Falun Gong related materials and a printer in her home. Soon after, she was sentenced in a sham trial to eight years in a prison camp. Over the next five years, her health deteriorated badly due to torture and neglect. On September 25, 2011, prison authorities alerted her family that she had died.
- Mr. Tong Dingqing, 50s, was a former CCP official from Hunan. He was abducted in 2005 and sent to a forced labor camp, then released on medical parole when in critical condition due to beatings and injections of unknown drugs. Due to harassment, his health deteriorated. He lived the last two years of his life bedridden and paralyzed and died in September 2011.
- Mr. Dai Zongqiu, 53, from Shandong was detained in April 2007 and sentenced to a forced labor camp. Severe physical abuse made him seriously ill and the camp released him on medical parole. Within a few months, police came to arrest him again, forcing him to flee his home. Living on the run for nearly three years, illness overcame Mr. Dai and he passed away in July 2011.
- Mr. Yang Guang, 56, a CEO of a foreign joint venture company from Changchun, Jilin Province died on August 25, 2008 at the age of 56. Torture had paralyzed him four years prior to his death and his wife had been forced to divorce him. He was serving a 15-year prison sentence that was dealt during a show trial.
DETENTION, TORTURE, & OTHER ABUSES
Sections of a Buddhist temple outside the town of Pengzhou in Sichuan province have been converted into a makeshift detention center for brainwashing local residents who practice Falun Gong, according to sources inside China. At least 14 Falun Gong practitioners have been held at the facility since June 2010, with many reporting abuse and torture. Sansheng temple (???) dates back to the Song Dynasty and is registered under the Sichuan provincial government’s Religious Affairs Bureau. It is located 30 miles from the provincial capital Chengdu in a remote area of Fenglechang in Guihua Town, under the jurisdiction of Pengzhou city. Photos sent from China show the site having a small pagoda (photo) , while online descriptions on official websites flaunt scenic surroundings. Since mid-2010, the 610 Office and Domestic Security Division of the Public Security Bureau of Pengzhou have taken advantage of the temple’s geographic isolation to convert it into a brainwashing center for Falun Gong. One detailed case reported to the Falun Dafa Information Center relays the ordeal of a 48-year-old farmer, Ms. Qing Guangrong, who was abducted from her home by local party officials and 610 Office agents on March 29, 2011. She was taken to the temple, where she was held in isolation and suffered several rounds of beatings. She was only released almost four months later on July 23, 2011.
The Falun Dafa Information Center recently received a first-person account by Ms. Wan Xiaohui, a 56-year-old from Dalian, in which she recounts harrowing episodes from a year spent at the Masanjia Forced Labor camp in Liaoning province after she was detained in March 2010. The camp is widely known for its notorious use of torture as an “example” labor camp. Among the episodes Ms. Wan cites are being stripped upon arrival, having boiling water poured on her neck, and being forced to listen to anti-Falun Gong propaganda while tied in excruciatingly painful positions. Her experiences and several of the perpetrators named match closely those recounted by Ms. Zhang Lianying, another Falun Gong practitioner held at Masanjia from 2008 to 2010, but who was able to flee to the United States after her release in November 2010. Zhang’s husband, Niu Jinping, was one of two practitioners who secretly met in 2006 with European Parliament Vice President Edward McMillan Scott during a visit he made to Beijing.
Urgent Appeal: Elderly Shanghai Expo detainee denied medical parole despite deteriorating health
In advance of the World Expo in Shanghai, Hong Kong resident Ms. Li Yaohua (???), 65, and her daughter Ms. Zhang Yibo were abducted from home by 610 Office agents on June 4, 2009 for practicing Falun Gong. After being held in custody for 10 months, they were sentenced in a sham trial to 3.5 years and 1.5 years in prison, respectively. Since her detention, Li’s health has deteriorated dramatically. An illness in her spine, which causes it to curve and press on her nerves, had disappeared after she began practicing Falun Gong in 1996. However, it has now recurred, causing her severe pain, nausea, and difficulty standing. Her family members, including her son who teaches dentistry at the University of California in Los Angeles, have repeatedly appealed to the procuratorate and Songjiang Women’s Prison for her release. Although she meets the criteria for medical parole, the authorities refuse to release her. Personnel from the Shanghai Prison Administration and the Justice Bureau replied to a written request for her parole by phone, apparently to avoid leaving evidence of their illegal behavior. The Falun Dafa Information Center urges the international community to pressure the Chinese authorities to immediately release Li, and should she desire, permit her to return to Hong Kong. The Falun Dafa Information Center reported on Li’s detention and sentencing as part of a broader sweep of local Falun Gong practitioners in advance of the World Expo in Shanghai.
MEDIA & INTERNET FREEDOM
On October 19, New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) announced that it had begun broadcasting to China via a new Koreasat satellite, adding to its beaming news to Chinese viewers via a Taiwanese company’s satellite. The new channel, with its use of Ku-band frequencies instead of C-band, enables people in China and across Asia to view NTDTV programming via a smaller, more widely available dish. NTDTV is an independent, non-profit station, founded in 2001 by a small group of Falun Gong practitioners with the mission of providing uncensored news to people in China and Chinese speakers around the world. Its shows cover issues censored by state-run media, such as public health scandals, environmental pollution, and human rights abuses like the persecution of Falun Gong. Other programming includes talk shows to which viewers from China call in to express their opinions and grievances, as well as competitions aimed at reviving traditional Chinese culture. On June 16, 2008, NTDTV’s Ku-band signal carrier Eutelsat abruptly terminated its broadcasts over Asia under the guise of a technical difficulty, but apparently in an effort to curry favor with the Chinese Communist Party. After its signal went off the air, NTDTV received thousands of messages from viewers in China expressing their disappointment at no longer being able to watch its programs.
* NTDTV Press Release, October 22, 2011: “NTD Resumes Ku-band Satellite Broadcast to Asia”
Chinese Communist Party television airs in Washington DC—in English
On October 1, China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese Communist Party’s leading propaganda mouthpiece, began broadcasting in English in the areas of Washington DC and Northern Virginia. The broadcasts include two channels—CCTV News and CCTV Documentary—that run 24 hours a day on Verizon and Comcast. Media expert He Qinglian told The Epoch Times that this is part of the CCP’s strategy for improving its image in the West by “subtly and imperceptibly changing people’s views of China so that they’re the same as those of…the Chinese government.” This might include, for example, convincing Americans to believe that “the government’s control of media is necessary.” CCTV describes itself as “an important mouthpiece of the Party,” and is administratively, a deputy ministry of the national government. In this role, the station has a long history of fabricating news and promoting propaganda favorable to the CCP and its political campaigns, while covering up events that might taint the party’s image. In the context of the campaign against Falun Gong, it has been a key vehicle for defaming and demonizing practitioners. In the days after the Party’s decision to suppress Falun Gong, the channel aired marathon sessions of fabricated news stories contributing to an atmosphere of hatred—and ultimately violence—against practitioners. Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of CCTV’s new presence in Washington DC is that it has apparently been successful hiring a contingent of Western faces to host its programs and staff its bureau, thereby lending credibility to its message.
* The Epoch Times, Oct. 11, 2011: “China Central Television Broadcasts Propaganda Adapted to DC Audience”
The trial of two Falun Gong practitioners in Vietnam that has been postponed twice under international pressure is now scheduled to take place on Thursday (November 10), the Falun Dafa Informaton Center recently learned. The pair are charged with broadcasting uncensored news programs via radio into China and have been in custody for 17 months, apparently because of pressure from the Chinese Communist Party on the Vietnamese authorities. This is the third attempt to sentence Mr. Vu Duc Trung, a 31-year-old CEO of a high-tech company, and his 36-year-old brother-in-law Mr. Le Van Thanh. Meanwhile, approximately 50 Falun Gong practitioners were beaten and taken into custody on Tuesday (November 8) as they held a peaceful sit-in outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam to protest the above trial. The practitioners are currently being held in a detention center in Dong Anh, according to sources in Vietnam. Amnesty International issued a press release on Nov. 9 condemning the arrests and challenging Vietnam’s suppression of local Falun Gong practitioners. The Falun Dafa Information Center is calling upon the international community to condemn these acts of violence and suppression. The Center also calls upon Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all Falun Gong practitioners being held and to no longer bow to pressure from the Chinese regime.
* FDIC, Nov. 7, 2011: “Urgent Appeal Update: Vietnam to Try Falun Gong Radio Broadcasters Thursday“
* FDIC, Nov. 8, 2011: “50 Falun Gong Practitioners Beaten, Arrested during Peaceful Demonstration in Vietnam“
* Reporters without Borders: “Two citizen journalists facing jail sentences for operating pirate radio.”
* Freedom House: “Bowing to Chinese Pressure, Vietnam Places Falun Gong Radio Broadcasters on Trial”
A wikileaks cable dated August 17, 2009 from the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan province shortly after the 10-year anniversary of the Communist Party’s crackdown on Falun Gong cites that “although suppressed, the Falun Gong still makes its voice heard.” The cable notes examples such as consular officials encountering renminbi notes with Falun Gong-related messages. It also mentions the consulate regularly receiving Chinese-language faxes and phone calls regarding Falun Gong and the Tuidang movement, indicating that similar messages were sent to ordinary Chinese. The cable also cites that “many” Chinese use Freegate, a software for circumventing internet censorship developed by Falun Gong practitioners. The cable notes that “In January, a local government official in an ethnic Miao county in Guizhou Province told ConGenOff [Consul General Officials] that part of his job was to collect reports of currency with Falungong messages on it, and that Falun Gong members regularly called the local government to argue with officials.” In fact, such observations touch only the tip of the iceberg of the diverse methods Falun Gong practitioners inside and outside China have been using to inform Chinese people of what Falun Gong is and how brutally practitioners are treated. The ultimate aim of such efforts is to stop the persecution and encourage both officials and ordinary citizens not to commit crimes they would later regret. As evident from the sample declarations below, they are increasingly bearing fruit.
Photos from China show pro-Falun Gong banners hung in Northeast China
On October 12, 2011, the Falun Dafa Information Center received a series of photos taken in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province showing various posters and banners carrying messages about Falun Gong that appeared in public. The messages include concise ones like “Falun Dafa is Great” and “The world needs Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance,” a reference to Falun Gong’s core tenets and an effort to affirm the importance of such values in the face of the CCP’s efforts to discredit them. Other posters address more specific points of CCP propaganda, such as “The 2001 Self-Immolation in Tiananmen Square was orchestrated by the CCP to frame Falun Gong.”
* For a sample photo, see this week’s photo gallery.
Over the past twelve years, hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens have posted declarations to the overseas Minghui.org website retracting actions they had taken that in some measure contributed to the persecution against Falun Gong. Some of the declarations are from practitioners, typically expressing the wish to recant a denunciation of their faith that they made under torture. Many others are posted by citizens who do not practice Falun Gong but who wish to apologize for past participation in anti-Falun Gong activities and voice gratitude towards adherents and founder Mr. Li Hongzhi for their kindness, courage, and patience in awakening the goodness in the hearts of the Chinese people or helping their loved ones. At the link below are a small sample of recent declarations received by Minghui.org in September and October 2011. The declarations by practitioners bring to 465,676 the total number of such statements the website has received since 1999.
* For several translated declarations from September-October 2011, see here.
LIVING FALUN GONG
Changing fortunes for a Korean entrepreneur in Taiwan
Chen Keren is a Korean entrepreneur who moved to Taiwan to set up a business nine years ago. After already experiencing troubles because of the 1997 Korean financial crisis, he discovered upon arriving in Taiwan that the branch of his business there was in bad debt. “I felt like I was in a living hell,” he recalls. Just as the company was beginning to recover, Chen was suddenly betrayed by an important shareholder. At that time, he had been practicing Falun Gong for five months. He started managing his business and treating others in accordance with Falun Gong’s teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, encouraging employees to be honest and kind with each other, while forgiving the businessman who cheated him. Though he wasn’t pursuing such a result, that was when his fortune began to change.
Australian state parliament debates Confucius Classroom program
On October 13, 2011, the Australian New South Wales (NSW) State Parliament held the first known government debate on the issue of Confucius Classrooms. Jamie Parker, a member of parliament from the Greens, had tabled 10,000 signatures by local residents in September calling for a halt to the program. The program, currently in seven public schools, is sponsored by the NSW Ministry of Education, but is funded by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. This has raised concerns that Chinese Communist Party propaganda and censorship—particularly on topics like Falun Gong, Taiwan, Tibet, or Tiananmen Square—will insinuate itself into classroom discussions. Feeding concerns was research by Queensland University of Technology’s Falk Hartig who found that around the world Confucius Institutes would not address issues to which the Chinese government is known to be sensitive. Other reports have pointed to discriminatory vetting of teachers in China prior to their acceptance to be instructors in Confucian Classrooms, with specific directives requiring teachers not to have practiced Falun Gong. “It is clear that the teachers have been politically vetted and will be deeply prejudiced toward Beijing’s orthodoxy on many sensitive issues,” said Parker. “It is natural for students learning languages to ask questions about culture, tradition and history in China. I am greatly concerned that they will not receive the impartial responses that our curriculum highlights.” Liberal member Geoff Lee is expected to submit another 12,000 signatures in November, which will spark a second debate, based on parliamentary rules.
* The Epoch Times, Oct. 13, 2011: “State Government in Australia Debates Confucius Institute”
* The Inner West Courier, Oct. 13, 2011: “Greens want to axe Chinese cultural classes”
* The Epoch Times, Aug. 23, 2011: “At US Universities, Confucius Institutes Import Discrimination ”
Flushing woman arrested for assaulting Falun Gong supporter
On October 11, police arrested a woman in Flushing for assaulting a Chinese lawyer who came to the rescue of a Falun Gong practitioner being attacked. Ms. Li Huahong, 49, was handcuffed and taken away by police for the attack on Mr. Cheng Changhe that occurred in late August. This was the fourth time that Li has been arrested since 2008, when she began distributing hate propaganda about Falun Gong in Flushing as part of a Chinese Communist Party-backed association she heads. The incident relevant to the latest arrest occurred on August 26, 2011. Li was assaulting and humiliating a Japanese woman who practices Falun Gong when Mr. Cheng stepped in to stop her. He then became Li’s target, who grabbed his shirt and then clawed at his face, while associates of hers joined in the harassment.
* For more information on her arrest, see The Epoch Times, Oct. 13, 2011: “Flushing Woman Arrested for Assault and Harassment“
* For a fact sheet about the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance organization Li heads and its efforts to incite hatred against Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing, see here.
Chinese Consular staff in Germany and U.S. deny passport renewal for practicing Falun Gong
In two recent cases, Chinese consular staff in Germany and the U.S. told Falun Gong practitioners that they would not be allowed to renew their PRC passport unless they signed a statement guaranteeing not to participate in Falun Gong-related activities. On March 14, 2011, Yang Sizhao applied to the Chinese consulate in Munich to renew his passport, which was supposed to take 15 days at most. After almost four months, Yang had not received the renewal. Instead, on July 4, a woman from the consulate called and told him that only if he wrote a statement guaranteeing not to participate in Falun Gong activities in Germany would the consulate renew his passport. He refused, and called the consulate again in early October, but was told the same thing. Meanwhile, in an op-ed published in Virginia on September 18, 2011, Mr. Xudong Joshua Li, a medical researcher, recounted a similar experience: “My Chinese passport expired 2009 and I tried to renew it at the Chinese Embassy. As a ‘prerequisite,’ however, the Chinese official asked me to condemn Falun Gong and submit a statement to repent for practicing it.” Li refused and instead, in August 2011, became a U.S. citizen.
* The Daily Progress, Sept. 18, 2011: “U.S. should make stand in support of Falun Gong”
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 from the Buddhist School, 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)