Ten Things to Know about China as Hu Jintao Arrives in the United States
NEW YORK—On the eve of Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s arrival in the United States for a state visit, the Falun Dafa Information Center urges the media, human rights groups, the American public, and especially, U.S. officials meeting with the delegation, to keep the following ten facts about China at the forefront of their minds.
- The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a widespread, systematic campaign against tens of millions of innocent people.
- The Chinese Communist Party’s campaign involves a deliberate top-down strategy to use extraordinary levels of violence.
- Falun Gong practitioners are the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world, numbering in the hundreds of thousands at any given time.
- Every three days, a new case of a Falun Gong practitioner dying from abuse in police custody is reported.
- The victims of these atrocities are people from every walk of life in Chinese society.
- Falun Gong practitioners are not the only victims; all Chinese people are affected.
- The Communist Party has gone to great efforts to cover up and deflect attention from these crimes.
- A large-scale, grassroots Samizdat-like effort is informing Chinese people about persecution occurring in their neighborhoods, towns and cities.
- International public pressure does protect people in China.
- Communist Party officials have sought to expand the persecution of Falun Gong beyond China, including to the United States.
“We hope those reading this list will seriously consider its implications. We urge them to take the steps that, in accordance with their own judgment and conscience, will most effectively mitigate the ongoing atrocities committed against Falun Gong practitioners in China,” said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson, Erping Zhang.
“This is not only for the sake of the practitioners and their families, but also for those forced to perpetrate these horrors. Moreover, it is imperative we do not sit idly by in the face of what Congressional members have referred to as ‘one of the most unjust and cruel persecutions of our times.’” (Congressional letter)
1. The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a widespread, systematic campaign against tens of millions of innocent people. Since 1999, over 70 million Falun Gong practitioners in China have been at constant risk of detention, torture, and death because of their religious identity. Today, the lawlessness and brutality of the Party’s treatment of citizens who practiced Falun Gong remains staggering. In its effort to make every Falun Gong practitioner in China renounce his or her faith, the Communist Party is making full use of the panoply of resources at its disposal: judicial, extralegal, media, and perhaps most importantly, economic. A three-year reinvigorated forced conversion campaign launched in 2010 alone is costing billions of dollars (news).
2. The Chinese Communist Party’s campaign involves a deliberate top-down strategy to use extraordinary levels of violence. Large-scale abductions, detention in concentration camps, extreme torture, rape, psychiatric abuse, and extrajudicial killings are routine. In addition to eyewitness accounts by victims themselves, a wealth of third-party, independent documentation—and even Chinese official admissions—convey this reality (summary of U.N., Amnesty and other third-party reports). Yet, police officers, prison camp guards, and others who injure, maim, or even kill a Falun Gong practitioner face no prospects of punishment. On the contrary, monetary and other incentives are used to encourage violence against practitioners in order to meet “transformation” quotas. Trainings are conducted across labor camps and brainwashing centers on the most effective ways to “break” Falun Gong practitioners. Meanwhile, lawyers who seek to represent practitioners face harassment, disbarment, torture, and “disappearance.”
3. Falun Gong practitioners are the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world, numbering in the hundreds of thousands at any given time. A 2009 study published by the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders found that, “Falun Gong practitioners make up one of the largest groups of detainees in [labor] camps.” Researcher Ethan Gutmann estimates, based on dozens of interviews with former detainees, that Falun Gong practitioners comprise 15 to 20 percent of those held in labor camps, prison camps, and long-term detention facilities. Drawing on credible reports of the overall population in these camps being between three and five million, Gutmann estimates that 450,000 to one million Falun Gong adherents are in detention at any given time. By comparison, Reporters without Borders cites 30 journalists and 77 “netizens” imprisoned in China. The highest estimates for Tibetans and Uyghurs held in custody do not rise above 10,000.
4. Every three days, a new case of a Falun Gong practitioner dying from abuse in police custody is reported. In total, since 1999, over 3,400 cases have been documented of Falun Gong practitioners who have died as a result of various forms of persecution. Though already reflecting large-scale abuses, these documented cases are only the tip of the iceberg, given the difficulty passing information on Falun Gong out of China. Moreover, these figures do not include cases of Falun Gong practitioners killed so that their organs could be used for transplants. Since 2006, a range of credible evidence and investigations have pointed to the existence, and likely continuation, of such forcible organ removal, but its full scale remains unknown. In either case, none of those killed committed any “crime” or engaged in any violent act. Rather, they sought only to peacefully pursue the spiritual path of their choice. (report)
5. The victims of these atrocities are people from every walk of life in Chinese society. A 25-year-old kindergarden teacher sexually abused in a Hebei labor camp (news); a former member of the National People’s Congress and model worker killed within five weeks of being abducted from her home in Hunan (news); an elderly couple in Inner Mongolia imprisoned, the husband denied adequate medical treatment (Amnesty International Urgent Action); a retired steelworker photographed with an emaciated chest and bloated stomach after being released from a prison camp (news); a high school student harassed by police after writing on an overseas website about how Falun Gong dramatically enabled him to recover from a life-threatening disease (news)
6. Falun Gong practitioners are not the only victims; all Chinese people are affected. The suppression of Falun Gong has been directed by the Communist Party and its security forces, but it has been executed with the help and acquiescence of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. Police officers who entered their profession in order to protect the people have been forced to imprison elderly women for meditating in parks. Labor camp guards are threatened with the loss of jobs if they don’t partake in the torture of Falun Gong detainees. All Chinese citizens have been told by their country’s leaders to hate Falun Gong, to feel contempt for its teachings of truth, compassion, and tolerance, and to stay silent when faced with injustice. The Communist Party’s rewarding of torture and betrayal while punishing integrity and kindness has contributed to a broader degradation of the moral fabric of Chinese society noted by many observers, one that manifests in problems like rampant corruption, domestic violence, tainted food, plagiarism in academia, and environmental pollution.
7. The Communist Party has gone to great efforts to cover up and deflect attention from these crimes. Central to the campaign has been a massive propaganda offensive, both domestically and internationally, to demonize Falun Gong and spread misinformation about the discipline, its founder, and those who practice it. Meanwhile, censorship of Chinese media, harassment of foreign correspondents, and punishment of their informants, have rendered media reporting on Falun Gong almost non-existent. The threat or implementation of visa restrictions to academics, human rights groups, or other researchers who would seek to investigate the abuses taking place limit another avenue of potential exposure. The results have been devastating, and the human cost very real. (Misunderstanding Falun Gong and the Human Cost of Getting It Wrong)
8. A large-scale, grassroots Samizdat-like effort is informing Chinese people about persecution occurring in their neighborhoods, towns and cities. At great risk to themselves, millions of adherents inside China engage in daily grassroots actions to resist the persecution of their faith, raise awareness of the brutality suffered by practitioners, and awaken the kindness in the hearts of their fellow citizens lest they participate in such violence. A vast network of underground print shops—reported to number 200,000—continues to function. At these sites, many of which are located in someone’s home and consist of a computer and printer, practitioners access overseas Falun Gong or other websites to download information for producing leaflets and video CDs about the practice and the rights abuses suffered by practitioners. In a micro-level “name and shame” tactic, practitioners also disseminate details about perpetrators of torture within their local communities. Such efforts increasingly yield tangible results. Embarrassed over the exposure of their crimes, in recent years, some perpetrators have ceased mistreating practitioners or do so with significantly reduced zeal. Villagers have protested to the local authorities to release detained practitioners. Remarkably, 13,153 non-practitioners published statements on the overseas Minghui website in 2009, expressing their remorse for past participation in anti-Falun Gong activities and voicing gratitude towards Falun Gong adherents and founder Mr. Li Hongzhi for their kindness, courage, and patience in awakening the goodness in the hearts of the Chinese people (Falun Gong’s Peaceful Resistance)
9. International public pressure does protect people in China. The personal testimonies of former prisoners who have been the subject of international appeals repeatedly indicate that such efforts can improve people’s conditions, protect them from torture, and sometimes lead to early release. Bu Dongwei, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, attributes less torture during his second detention when compared to his first one to the fact that people around the world were writing letters to the labor camp on his behalf (Amnesty International video featuring Bu Dongwei). Perhaps the strongest indication of the potency of public censure of human rights abuses in China is the lengths Chinese leaders will go to push for alternative avenues for discussing violations, including via private dialogues. When addressing crimes on the scale of the persecution against Falun Gong, the need to effectively curb such atrocities dwarfs any concern over “offending” the perpetrators.
10. Communist Party officials have sought to expand the persecution of Falun Gong beyond China, including to the United States. Over the past ten years, scores of physical assaults, verbal attacks and death threats against Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese government-linked individuals have been recorded in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. Chinese businesses and prominent figures in overseas communities routinely come under direct or indirect pressure from the CCP to take action against Falun Gong practitioners. In October 2003, the U.S. Congress passed House Concurrent Resolution 304 expressing concern over Communist Party harassment of Falun Gong practitioners and their supporters on U.S. soil. (news) More recently, in August 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice condemned and punished a New York restaurant that had discriminated against patrons wearing Falun Gong-related shirts, refusing to serve them. (news)