Up close with the Falun Gong community + A New Freedom House Report
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
PERSPECTIVE. IT CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING. In this edition of our newsletter, we have included a short video providing a closer look into the advocacy work, motivations, and the larger impact of exposing the Chinese Communist Party. Perhaps, it can also offer a perspective, more broadly, on meeting the challenges of our day.
We also feature a new report from Freedom House documenting how the CCP not only censors the Internet, but also uses it to actively pursue and imprison dissidents.
In the Wall Street Journal opinion page, a Canadian business owner recounts an alarming story of how his business was targeted as soon as he signed on to produce a documentary on the plight of Falun Gong.
And finally, we provide the latest updates inside China, where Falun Gong practitioners continue to be detained and imprisoned, and where home ransacking and robbery at the hands of police remain common.
Levi Browde, Executive Director
Falun Dafa Information Center
For the last 20 years you might have heard journalists talking about them on the TV and radio. Maybe you’ve seen them holding rallies and peace protests around the world. Who are these people? What motivates them? And how might their struggle to expose the Chinese Communist Party have far reaching implications for all of us?
In October, Freedom House published its annual Freedom on the Net report, including a detailed chapter on the state of internet censorship and surveillance in China. Among other restrictions, it noted the suppression faced by Falun Gong practitioners in China.
“Many Falun Gong practitioners have been jailed in recent years for posting messages about the spiritual group or human rights abuses on social media, accessing banned websites, and possessing or sharing prohibited VPN technology, a trend that reportedly intensified during the pandemic…
Others have gone into hiding to avoid arrest, including a Falun Gong practitioner from Hunan who was sought by police after putting up posters in April 2020 with a QR code that enabled others to access blocked websites with information about the pandemic.”
When the owner of a game company made a documentary about the plight of Falun Gong in China, his business contract with China’s Tencent was abruptly cancelled.
“Amid our game’s launch on WeGame, a Tencent representative asked if our company was involved in something “not aligned with the government direction.” She said the officials had told Tencent to cut ties with our company. I recorded the phone conversation. We had done nothing to breach our contract, but Tencent immediately pulled our game and made it unavailable to the WeGame platform’s 200 million users.
Next, my wife’s family contacts on WeChat were approached by their local Chinese public-security bureaus. They were told that authorities “knew what we were up to” overseas, a veiled threat.”
In September 2020, at least 356 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested and 608 harassed for their faith, bringing the year-to-date arrest and harassment cases to 4,746 and 5,264, respectively (211 of the 356 arrested in September remain in custody at the time of writing). Out of the total 964 arrested or harassed, 164 practitioners had their homes ransacked. Thirty-four practitioners arrested and 29 harassed were over the age of 65, with the oldest being 90. Sixteen practitioners had a total of 364,000 yuan confiscated by the police, ranging from 20 yuan to 150,000 yuan each, with an average of 22,750 yuan per person.
A Hebei school teacher was arrested and later sentenced to prison after a thief, who stole from her, reported her for having Falun Gong materials. Her husband was later arrested and daughter fired for seeking justice for her.
According to Minghui.org, Zhu Surong, a 45-year-old elementary school teacher in Baoding City, Hebei Province, was sentenced to three years and ten months with a 50,000-yuan fine on September 24, 2020, for her faith in Falun Gong.
From ancient roots extending back thousands of years, to a house-hold name in China during the Qigong boom in the 1990s, to the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world, this is the complete story of Falun Gong…