NEW YORK (FDI) – Over the last four years, China watchers have proposed a variety of socio-political reasons for why the Chinese regime moved to crush Falun Gong – a benign exercise and meditation practice with ancient Chinese roots (about).The answer, however, is perhaps more simple – and disturbing – than most have guessed.When the nation-wide persecution campaign against Falun Gong in China began in July 1999, many believed the campaign to be another mass movement orchestrated and backed by the Communist Party leadership as a whole.Over the last four years, however, much information has been brought to light that demonstrates how then-Communist Party head, Jiang Zemin, not only formulated the policy of “eradicating” Falun Gong himself, but actually went against the decision of the entire Politburo Standing Committee – who were advocating for Falun Gong at the time – to enact the persecutory campaign against Falun Gong.“For the past four years, the full capacity of the Chinese regime has been mobilized against Falun Gong,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman, Dr. Shiyu Zhou. “But it was the will and direction of one man that set it in motion – Jiang Zemin.” (special report)“Jiang was jealous of Falun Gong founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, because of Falun Gong’s popularity among the people,” Dr. Zhou explains. “He was also jealous of Premier Zhu Rongji’s enlightened handling of the April 25th appeal. It all comes down to Jiang’s jealousy. It may sound petty at first, but looking at the persecution that has been brought down upon Falun Gong in China…clearly extreme jealousy in the heart of a man holding that much power in the Chinese Communist regime is very, very dangerous.”Falun Gong Once Widely Supported By All Levels of Government in ChinaBefore the persecution began, Falun Gong was well known in China. From its introduction to the public in May, 1992 to the beginning of the persecution in July 1999 the number of practitioners grew to over 100 million. Many attributed the explosive growth of the traditional practice to its effectiveness in maintaining a healthy body while also uplifting one’s mental and spiritual well-being. Especially in 1998 and 1999, one could see Falun Gong practitioners everywhere among the people who did morning exercises in all the major cities of China. Because people needed to go to work, many did the exercises outdoors before dawn. In a strictly controlled society such as China it would have been impossible for such a large mass organization and social phenomenon to exist, let alone thrive, for 7 years, without support and recognition from all levels of government.At the time, not only were the masses learning Falun Gong, but also seven of the Central Political Bureau members all read Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong. Many of their relatives and friends were also practicing Falun Gong. Many high-ranking officials in the Communist Party, government and military either attended Mr. Li Hongzhi's lectures, or became Falun Gong practitioners through other means and benefited greatly from their practice.Government Advocated for Falun Gong Despite Opposition from One OfficialAt the beginning of 1997, Luo Gan (member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee) used his power to order the police in Mainland China to conduct a secret investigation of Falun Gong across the country, with the intention to ban the practice. The investigation reports from the police, however, were: "No problems found" or "No problems yet found."In July 1998, through the Chinese Ministry of Public Security Bureau #1 (a.k.a. Political Security Bureau), Luo Gan issued Public Authority # 555 "Notification about conducting investigation of Falun Gong." This document first named Falun Gong as a "cult," then asked the police departments across the country to systematically plant agents to investigate and collect evidence. Later, the investigation from the secret agents concluded that no evidence of crimes could be found related to Falun Gong.Facing the illegal investigation and the hostility from Luo Gan, at the end of 1998, 135 well-known figures among the Falun Gong practitioners in society stood up and jointly submitted a letter to the then-Chairman Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji. The chief editor of the letter was a famous law professor at Beijing University. The letter stated that the above-mentioned "notification" from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security Bureau #1 violated the Chinese Constitution and was against the Law.Premier Zhu Rongji quickly responded to the letter, saying that the Public Security Bureau should not harass Falun Gong practitioners, but should concentrate on social security issues. Zhu’s response also mentioned that Falun Gong had helped to save large amounts of medical costs for the country.The response from Premier Zhu, however, was withheld by Luo Gan, and never forwarded to Falun Gong practitioners. It was not until April 25, 1999, when Falun Gong practitioners appealed to the State Council Appeals Bureau and spoke with Premier Zhu in person that Premier Zhu learned his response had been withheld by someone. It was also not until that time that Falun Gong practitioners first learned there had been such a positive response from Premier Zhu.April 25th: A Peaceful Appeal, Handled Openly and Decisively by Chinese Officials, Becomes Jiang Zemin’s Excuse for PersecutionThe appeal of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners to the State Council shocked the media inside and outside of China. After the persecution began in July of the same year, many people thought the appeal on April 25 was the direct cause. In fact, this is a misunderstanding, partly due to the defamation campaign from Jiang's followers, and partly due to people's general understanding that the Chinese government had always been strict and severe in matters of ideology administration. In fact, on April 25, the appeal from over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners was resolved successfully by the State Council leader. Furthermore, the openness and decisiveness demonstrated by the government official was widely praised.In Mainland China, appeal bureaus are set up by the government to listen to the people. All levels of the Party and administrative departments have appeal offices. For example, the appeal bureau for the State Council is located on Fuyou Street, which is right next to Zhongnanhai – the central government’s compound in Beijing.On April 25, 1999, upon hearing the news that the police in Tianjin had arrested and beaten Falun Gong practitioners, over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners came to the appeal bureau for the State Council from different areas, hoping to directly appeal to the officials in the central government.On that day, then-Premier Zhu Rongji came out of the Zhongnanhai government compound and talked to the Falun Gong practitioners. According to witnesses, Premier Zhu asked why the practitioners had come, saying “Didn't I already issue comments on your practice?” The Falun Gong practitioners responded that they never received Premier Zhu’s correspondence. They proceeded to explain that Police in Tianjin had beaten and illegally arrested over 30 Falun Gong practitioners. “We were told this could not be resolved locally, and that we should appeal to the central government,” the practitioners told Premier Zhu.After listening to the report of the situation, Premier Zhu issued an order to release the arrested practitioners that same day. After confirming that the practitioners would be released, the Falun Gong practitioners then quietly dispersed.The three requests the Falun Gong practitioners made at the time were:1) Immediately release the arrested Falun Gong practitioners2) Falun Gong should have the legal right to practice3) Allow legal publication of Falun Gong books.Premier Zhu asked Falun Gong practitioners to continue discussions with officials at the State Council Appeal Bureau and police security bureau, etc. regarding the latter two requests. Hence after the practitioners left on April 25, on the 26th and 27th, as a representative for the Falun Gong practitioners, Mr. Li Chang, a member of the former Chinese Falun Gong Research Society went back to the appeal bureau to continue friendly discussions with relevant officials.However, faced with the obvious facts of Premier Zhu Rongji's enlightened handling of the Tianjin Incident, Falun Gong practitioners' large-scale appeal on April 25, and the practitioners' sincere support of Falun Gong, China’s Communist leader – Jiang Zemin – formulated his own plan to “eradicate” the practice.Overriding Government Leaders, Jiang Initiates First StepsOn the evening of April 25, Jiang wrote a letter to every committee member of the Politburo, calling for an emergency meeting regarding this incident. During the meeting, Jiang openly reprimanded and cursed Premier Zhu Rongji calling him: “Muddle-headed! Muddle-headed!” He brazenly repudiated the Premier's progressive decision that was in the process of being implemented, and forced the government to accept his personal view to “eradicate” Falun Gong – a policy viewed by his peers as irrational, unnecessary and one that violated China's own Constitution.Jiang was the head of the Communist Party, the government and he also controlled the military. Thus, in the face of Jiang's intimidation, all high-ranking officials of the Chinese government became afraid and gradually grew silent on the Falun Gong issue.Seeing this, Jiang and Luo Gan proceeded with Jiang’s policy. On June 10th, Jiang established the “610 Office” (about) to oversee the persecution of Falun Gong, and appointed Luo Gan as its head.Soon they began to make use of all meetings and public occasions to force everyone to express their attitudes and pledge their allegiance to the initiative. Between April 25 and July 20, 1999, Chinese government sources say the situation was very chaotic as Jiang’s followers attempted to find incriminating details that they could use to justify the persecution and silence people's objections.From this perspective, during the process in which Jiang was forcibly carrying out his personal will, the Chinese government was manipulated and intimidated, and later, it too became a victim of this persecution. When local policemen abused Falun Gong practitioners, practitioners would question them to find out why the authorities were acting with such brutality. The answers given by the Policemen were typically the same: "You can go to (reason with) Jiang Zemin. It is Jiang that asks (us) to do this."On July 20, 1999, Jiang ordered the Central Civil Affairs Department, which is responsible for the registration of groups and organizations, to issue a notice banning Falun Gong, a non-governmental group that had voluntarily withdrawn its registration in 1996.It should be noted that according to China's constitution and International Human Rights Convention, even if a spiritual group is not registered, their beliefs are still legitimate and legal because freedom of belief is a fundamental human right. Thus, the persecution of Falun Gong was initiated by the former Communist Party leader who bullied and manipulated Party officials at all levels to follow his lead.Momentum, Jiang's Position and Personal Fear Keeps Persecution Going in ChinaSince Jiang officially left office in March, 2003, no one in the newly appointed central leadership has been willing to take responsibility for the crimes that have unfolded from the persecution of Falun Gong. As the social problem is so huge and the number of people affected so large, there hasn't been anyone who has the nerve to stand up and put a halt to it. Consequently, the grave conflicts that have been harming China's social stability and severely damaging China's economic development remain unresolved. In short, the persecution continues because its momentum has become simply too difficult to check.Jiang’s continued control of the military also holds critics of the persecution at bay.Finally, Jiang's personal fear continues to drive the persecution. Jiang knows very well, just as the general public does, that he himself has to take the responsibility for the crimes perpetrated in this persecution. If the persecution campaign is negated, he personally has to face being brought to justice for those crimes.A class-action lawsuit charging Jiang with genocide and crimes against humanity was filed in October in U.S. District court. (news) A similar lawsuit against Jiang has been prepared in Switzerland. Lawyers in at least three other countries say they are preparing lawsuits of their own against Jiang.It is noteworthy that since March 2003 when Jiang stepped down from his head-of-state position, no one but Jiang and Luo Gan has continued to brazenly push forward the campaign against Falun Gong. Furthermore, unconfirmed sources say Luo Gan recently died from SARS, leaving Jiang alone to propel the persecution of Falun Gong.ConclusionIn this persecution that Jiang single-handedly started and sustained to his utmost, those who have suffered from direct persecution and mental anguish are not limited to the more than 100 million Falun Gong practitioners and their families. People all over China and around the world have been wronged through being deceived by the propaganda concocted to rationalize the suppression. Many of those deceived were then used as instruments of the persecution itself.In short, for his own personal and political reasons, Jiang has entrenched the Chinese people and the Chinese nation in a war against itself. Yet, when the dust settles and the smoke clears, the extent to which the moral, spiritual, and economic well-being of China – and the world – has been damaged by this persecution will become clear.