DAFOH Statement: “China’s announcement of phasing out the harvesting of organs from prisoners is deceptive and insufficient”


“This is no time … to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

Rev. Martin L. King Jr.
(“I Have a Dream” Speech, 1963)

September 16, 2013

Recently, China has announced its intention of phasing out the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners by 2015 and the introduction of the China Organ Transplant Response System (COTRS), a computerized organ-allocation system.

Unfortunately, COTRS lacks transparency: the matching process and information about the organ donors are not open to the public or to an independent third party. With regard to the announced 2015 time frame, Chinese officials speak vaguely of ending the reliance on executed prisoners, not of the complete cessation.

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) holds that the announcement and the introduced systems are misleading and insufficient.

DAFOH states:

1. The international community considers the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners and from prisoners of conscience unethical. If killing for organs—under the guise of executing prisoners—is unethical, it remains so every day it continues. Seeking an end of this unethical practice conforms to ethical standards defined by medical organizations, such as WMA, TTS, WHO, and others.

Once it is recognized as unethical and as a crime against humanity, the harvesting of organs from prisoners needs to end immediately. It is ethically indefensible to gradually end a crime against humanity. The Chinese government announcement of “phasing out” this crime against humanity is a deceptive statement in itself. When people’s lives are at stake, then “This is no time … to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

2. In 1984, the Chinese regime issued a law to legalize organ extraction from executed prisoners. Chinese officials still called it a lie when Dr. Wang Guoqi testified about this practice before Congress in 2001. China denied the practice until 2005, when international pressure forced Chinese officials to admit the practice. Then they stated that up to 90 percent of organs originated from this source, which contributed to more than 10,000 transplants per year. Since the Chinese regime has a history of lacking in candor, it is mandatory to implement steps for scrutiny and monitoring.

In 2007, one year before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese Medical Association (CMA) pledged to the World Medical Association (WMA) to end the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners, except for relatives. Despite the pledge, China continued to perform more than 10,000 transplantations every year without an effective public organ-donation system.

Now, six years after CMA’s pledge, China does not even speak of ENDING the practice as it did in 2007, but only announces—with an indefinite time frame—to PHASE OUT the practice. We hold that the recent 2013 announcement from China is actually a step back from the pledge in 2007. Based on the above, it is incomprehensible why the international community applauds the recent announcements.

3. The official Chinese terminology is vague and ambiguous as it only announces the beginning of the phaseout without establishing a deadline when the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners will eventually come to a complete end. According to statements from Chinese officials, the time frame could be 2015, but also “indefinite.” When asked when the practice of harvesting organs from executed prisoners will end, Chinese officials describe the time frame as “indefinite.” In other announcements, Chinese officials speak of “phasing out the dependency on organs from executed prisoners,” which does not address the end of this unethical practice but only a shift in the percentage, keeping the option open to continue the practice if needed.

The official statements from China are insufficient and vague. Without international scrutiny and monitoring, the phaseout can last “indefinitely” and euphoric commendation is premature and misplaced. Instead of applauding China for its phase-out announcement, one should rather consider the innocent victims who will lose their lives every day this abusive practice continues.

4. The recent announcements state that China will introduce a computerized organ-allocation system. Yet, the computerized organ-allocation system does not guarantee that the organs entered into the computer system are ethically procured. Instead, without openness to verification, the computerized organ allocation system poses the risk of enabling a more efficient allocation of unethically procured organs. It has to be ensured beyond any doubt that the new computerized organ allocation is not a sophisticated form of “organ laundering,” using prisoners’ organs and erasing all traces of their unethical procurement.

Resolving the unethical organ harvesting from prisoners in China does not require a computerized organ-allocation system. Instead, what is required is an immediate cessation of the unethical organ harvesting and a system that provides traceable documentation of subsequent procurements.

As long as China does not officially acknowledge organ harvesting from prisoners as unethical, it remains uncertain whether this organ source will ever be abolished even after establishing a computerized organ-allocation system and a voluntary organ-donation program.

The mixing of the two pools of organs, one from executions and another from organ donations, through the announced computerized organ-allocation system will only serve to whitewash the unethical practices. It gives them a coat of legitimacy and acceptance. It is simply a way to pretend the initial crime did not occur. The mere establishing of a computerized organ-allocation system without immediate cessation of the organ harvesting from prisoners is ethically meaningless.

5. In a May 20, 2013 ABC TV interview with Huang Jiefu, former vice minister of health in China, when asked about the harvesting of organs from prisoners, he replied, “Why do you object?” This suggests that Chinese officials still do not acknowledge that organ harvesting from executed prisoners is unethical. Ethical organ donation requires free, voluntary, and informed consent, yet China evades this requirement by trivializing it as “written” consent from prisoners.

The announcements from China speak of a phaseout of organ harvesting from executed prisoners, but it is not mentioned whether military hospitals, known to be heavily involved in the unethical organ-harvesting practices, will be included. The announced developments also do not address the from China never-acknowledged organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, in particular from detained Falun Gong practitioners as the largest target group.

In 2012, David Matas said at the annual conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars in San Francisco:

“On Nov. 30, 1999, the ‘610 Office’ [in China] called more than 3,000 officials to the Great Hall of the People in the capital to discuss the campaign against Falun Gong, which was then not going well. Demonstrations were continuing to occur at Tiananmen Square. The head of the ‘610 Office,’ Li Lanqing, announced the government’s new policy on the movement: ‘Defame their reputations, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically.’

A call to destroy Falun Gong physically is a call to genocide. It is not admittedly a call to genocide through sourcing their organs. Nonetheless, when that sourcing occurs, in the context of a call for physical destruction, the two should be linked. Organ sourcing is the means. Physical destruction is the intent.”

There is virtually no dividing line between destroying physically and harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners—the latter is even profitable. Thus, without publicly admitting the use of prisoners of conscience as an organ source, there is no guarantee that this path of organ sourcing will end. A gradual phaseout of this abusive practice with an indefinite end is ethically indefensible. It might be desirable from the side of the perpetrator but it is gruesome and unacceptable from the side of the victim. It is a tragedy for both the victims and the medical profession. The following quote by Rev. Martin L. King Jr. appears as timely as it was in the 1960s:

“ … the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off, or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism … Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

6. The announced phaseout of the organ harvesting from executed prisoners was accompanied by an official announcement of a public organ-donation system. Yet, there is a traditional reluctance in the Chinese populace to donate organs, which is also acknowledged by Chinese officials. Furthermore, there is no brain-death legislation in place, which would regulate the organ procurement from the brain-dead. Thus the public organ donation system would be based on cardiac-death donations, which would reduce the effectiveness of some of the donated organs.

In September 2013, the Chinese Guang Ming Daily published an article stating that from 100 potential organ donors in China, only 5 percent of the donors’ organs can eventually be used for transplantation. Overall, the conditions in China are likely to result in a continuation of the use of organs from prisoners beyond the pledged time frame of two years.

It has to be assured beyond any doubt that prisoners of conscience, primarily detained Falun Gong practitioners, are not forcibly enrolled into such public organ-donation program under a fake identity. It has been observed that fake identity documents with a Chinese nationality were issued to foreign transplant tourists in order to bypass the transplant-tourism-prohibition law. Transparency and monitoring is required to prevent an entering of fake identities into the computerized organ-allocation system.

7. In October 2011, The Lancet published the letter “Time for a boycott of Chinese science and medicine pertaining to organ transplantation.” The letter called for a “boycott on accepting papers at meetings, publishing papers in journals, and cooperating on research related to transplantation unless it can be verified that the organ source is not an executed prisoner.”

While we appreciate the strict call for ethical standards in publications from China, we are missing the same strict call when it comes to defending our own ethical standards. As much as the co-authors were courageous to publish the aforementioned letter in The Lancet due to ethical concerns, we should be even more motivated to call openly for an immediate end of the unethical organ harvesting itself.

Refusing to publish papers, which include data from executed prisoners, is a necessary but insufficient response to the abuses in China. We have an absolute imperative to also object vociferously to the harvesting itself. Living in a society that allows freedom of expression, we are not prohibited from openly calling for an immediate end of the unethical organ harvesting in China. In fact, as medical doctors and medical organizations, it is our ethical responsibility and obligation to call for an immediate end of this unethical practice.

In 2006, China Daily reported the number of transplants in China as high as 20,000, with 90 percent of the organs coming from executed prisoners. Attention and pressure by the international community in the past few years have contributed to the recent developments and indicate that we need to continue our efforts to call for an immediate end of the organ-harvesting abuse.

Once the practice is recognized as unethical, there is no excuse to continue it. The unethical organ harvesting from prisoners could be resolved at once if the international community combines its efforts and opposes the practice with one voice. There is no law that prohibits us from calling upon China to refrain from unethical organ harvesting immediately—it only requires the willingness to do so.

Otherwise, we might need to ask ourselves if China were successful in using a computerized organ-allocation system and the announcement of a phaseout like a Trojan horse to undermine and dilute our ethical standards.

We call upon the international community to join us in calling upon China to immediately and unconditionally end the unethical harvesting of organs from executed prisoners and all prisoners of conscience.


Why Falun Gong Practitioners Appealed to Higher Authorities on April 25, 1999

This article was first published in May 2010.

(Minghui.org) Appealing to the government is a citizen’s constitutional right. On April 25, 1999, about 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to appeal at the State Council on Fuyou Street in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) media then fabricated a lie that Falun Gong had organized an attack on Zhongnanhai. As a result, many people were fooled by the CCP and said that if practitioners hadn’t organized such an “attack”, there wouldn’t be a persecution.

The April 25 appeal isn’t the real reason why the CCP began its persecution of Falun Gong. The CCP had been trying unsuccessfully for several years to find an excuse to ban the practice. Using the April 25 incident as reason for the persecution was intentionally planned by Luo Gan and his gang.

Before April 25, 1999

The cultivation environment for Falun Gong began to deteriorate in 1996. It began with the Guangming Daily publishing an article that slandered Falun Gong. Then, the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department prohibited the publication of any Falun Gong books and audio-visual materials. In early 1997, Luo Gan ordered the Public Security Bureau to search for any evidence to use against Falun Gong. In May of 1998, Luo Gan’s relative, He Zuoxiu, who works at Beijing Television Station, appeared on “Beijing Express” to slander Falun Gong. By July 1998, the Public Security Bureau issued Public Administration No. 555 with the title, “On Notice to Investigate Falun Gong”. On April 11, 1999, He Zuoxiu published another article in a magazine sponsored by the Education College in Tianjin City to attack Falun Gong. By April 23, Tianjin police officers had arrested over 40 practitioners who went to the Education College to clarify the facts about Falun Gong.

Why did practitioners appeal on April 25, 1999?

I am a practitioner in Beijing and participated in the April 25 appeal. I vividly remember what happened. On April 24, 1999, I went to group study and a fellow practitioner told me about Tianjin police officers physically assaulting practitioners who went to clarify the facts about Dafa at the Education College. Many practitioners were hurt and 45 were arrested. When other practitioners went to ask the city government to the release the detained practitioners, they were told that they couldn’t release them because the Public Security Bureau was involved. The police said that the practitioners should go to Beijing to appeal to higher authorities.

For many of us, we thought it would be a good opportunity to clarify the facts to the government to clear up any misunderstanding. Our local coordinator said it was up to each of us to decide what to do and how to do it. We weren’t going to coordinate or organize an approach. Shortly after 5:00 a.m. the next day, I was at the bus station along with everyone from our group study. Everyone made their own decision to go to Beijing based on Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Cultivating Dafa is about improving oneself and one’s mind. We do not believe in rituals, record keeping, or being an organization. Everyone freely comes or goes, and knows what to do based on the Fa. If there was an effort to organize people to appeal in Beijing, there would have been more than ten thousand practitioners. In the Beijing area alone, there are thousands of practitioners in every district. A large district would already have about ten thousand practitioners.

On April 25, 1999, we arrived at Fuyou Street shortly after 6:00 a.m. A short distance from the bus station, police officers were waiting to direct practitioners to an area outside a door on the west side of Zhongnanhai. Many practitioners were already there and the number continued to increase. Everyone stood there quietly because we didn’t want to cause any inconvenience to the public living in that district. We kept the sidewalks and entrances to lanes open. Lunch boxes were kept in large plastic bags. Some practitioners were studying the Fa while standing, while elderly practitioners sat on the ground in the back row. I quietly stood in the front row. With practitioners following Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, the environment was purified wherever we were.

At around 5:00 p.m., the local people came to tell us, “[They told us to] go home now. We were told to lock our doors and stay home. No matter what happens outside don’t go out.” Since the June 4, 1989 massacre, the public knew what might happen and many of them came to advise us to go home. We weren’t moved and waited until the appeal was over. After returning home, the message from the local police department was that if practitioners had stayed after 9:00 p.m., they might have used force.

Practitioners’ display of compassion and forbearance created a harmonized field during the appeal. Their actions were respected and praised by the international community.

Recalling “April 25”

April 29, 2012 | By a Falun Gong practitioner from Beijing

This article was first published in April 2008.

(Minghui.org) Nine years ago, on April 25, 1999, in order to appeal for justice for Falun Gong and its practitioners and to ask for an open cultivation environment, around 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to peacefully report and clarify the facts to the government in good faith, and requested the government to stop the unfair treatment of practitioners by those who had ulterior motives. This led to the “April 25” incident.

I was a participant and a witness of the “April 25” incident. Although many practitioners have already reported about this incident objectively and truthfully, I still would like to write down my own experience and tell what I saw and heard at that time, and post it on Clearwisdom.net.

The Cause of the “April 25” incident

On April 24, 1999, reliable news from Tianjin said that the Public Security Bureau in Tianjin City unlawfully arrested many Falun Gong practitioners under the direction of higher authorities. Earlier, He Zuoxiu published an article entitled “I do not agree with adolescents practicing qigong” in the magazine Science and Technology for Youth in Tianjin. The article used base and shameless means to attack Falun Gong with fabricated stories, slander and false accusations and to vilify Falun Gong and its founder. The magazine is a nationwide publication for primary and high school students. Due to the coercive subscription imposed by administrations at various levels, the magazine has a large distribution. He Zuoxiu’s article was very misleading and had a very adverse impact upon the great number of readers who did not know the facts, and it was especially poisonous to the minds of young people. At the same time, it had brought some very negative effects to Falun Gong. Seeing the adverse situation, many practitioners became very concerned.

I would like to point out that He Zuoxiu’s article had a deep political background and purpose. He is known to be an academician from the Chinese Science Academy, and is engaged in science research. However, his academic level is very inferior. He used to engage in political affairs in the Chinese Energy Research Institute (currently known as Chinese Research Institute of Nuclear Energy), and he is the brother-in-law of Luo Gan, the then Minister of Public Security of the Communist regime. Luo Gan is the very political opportunist who had long harbored a desire to suppress Falun Gong. Because Falun Gong is very righteous, Luo Gan could not find anything he could use as an excuse to defame Falun Gong no matter how hard he tried. He tried every means, by hook or by crook, to provoke incidents, and He Zuoxiu acted as his willing accomplice. The Ministry of Public Security had issued many internal documents, assigned people and planted them as agents among Falun Gong practitioners, in an attempt to investigate Falun Gong, check out how many people were practicing, the number of practice sites, who were the “organizers,” if Falun Gong charged fees, how they contacted each other, what materials they used, and more. In their documents, it was made very clear that they would ban the practice first, then collect evidence to support the ban. The National Security Section (formerly called the Political Security Section) of the local Public Security Bureau where I live contacted me many times, and the local police also asked me for a list of names of Falun Gong practitioners (I never gave it to them). Many incidents took place around the country in which the police harassed people at practice sites, dispersed practitioners, seized tape recorders, or used high-pressure hoses to hose down practitioners. Several newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations openly distorted the image of the Falun Gong practice. He Zuoxiu alone made false accusations in his speeches on numerous occasions. He rushed around to inflame and agitate people, trying to stir up incidents. Many practitioners went to talk to him and told him the facts, but he would not listen and went from bad to worse in slandering Falun Gong. He was a political club in Luo Gan’s hand to attack and suppress Falun Gong.

When He’s article was published, many practitioners in Tianjin, feeling responsible to society and Dafa, started to call or write to the magazine to clarify the facts. Some also went there in person to request that the magazine correct their false report. Because there were so many people calling, the phone became really busy and many calls could not get through, so more and more people decided to go to the office in person. During the whole process, the authorities of the magazine never gave people a clear answer nor did they take an equivocal position. They kept going back on their own words. As the magazine’s office was located in a school where other work units shared the same space, when there were many people gathering there, it would inevitably have an impact on other work units (it was said that several thousand people went to appeal at the time). Being anxious about any possible incident, the school called the Bureau of Public Security in Tianjin to send personnel to intervene. As a result, on April 24, 1999, an incident took place in which the police came to disperse people. They used clubs, high-pressure water guns and handcuffs to hit practitioners and they arrested more than forty practitioners. This incident directly caused a large number of practitioners to gather together, and many went to appeal at the Tianjin Municipality. As the incident expanded, departments concerned started to shift blame onto each other. In the end, the Bureau of Public Security and the Tianjin Municipality told Falun Gong practitioners, “We cannot take responsibility for this matter. Go to Beijing, the Ministry of Public Security already knows about this.” This is what triggered the “April 25” incident.

The Group of Falun Gong Practitioners Is A Pure Land

I arrived at the south end of Fuyou Street in Beijing around 8:00 a.m. on April 25. There was a desk in the northwest corner of the footpath, where two or three policemen were sitting around and chatting with one another. Clearly, they had been assigned to be on duty there. A few practitioners and I walked along the footpath on the east side of the street towards the north, hoping to go to the west entrance of the State Council to directly report the incident to the reception office and to ask for the release of our fellow practitioners who had been unlawfully arrested. We would also request that such incidents never happen again and that Falun Gong practitioners be given an open and non-threatening environment in which to practice. We wanted to tell the state leaders how beautiful our lives had become through practicing Falun Gong. At the same time, we wanted to warn the government to guard against a small number of people with ulterior motives who aimed to use Falun Gong for their own political gains. We were thinking about how to explain this to the government as we walked along. When we were about three or four hundred meters from the west entrance of the State Council, a young lady walked out from a group of people standing on the west side of the street. She crossed the street and walked toward us. She asked us with a smile, “May I know if you are fellow practitioners who have come to appeal?” I did not say anything for fear that she would stop us. One practitioner who came with us told her, “We are from xx district, we are here to appeal.” The young lady said, “If that is the case, then please join us in the group.” I said, “We will go to the reception office of the State Council to report the situation. We did not come to stand in a group.” The young lady said, “I understand how you feel. Now that we are here, we are one body. We have all come for the same purpose. We have the same Master and cultivate the same Fa. We need to consider Dafa and the image as one body, and must not let bad people take advantage of any loophole.” I immediately said, “Yes, you are right.” Then we followed her and joined the appealing group of practitioners.

The number of practitioners increased rapidly. When we joined in, there were already three rows, stretching to four or five hundred meters long. Soon afterwards, another row was added and the gathering became wider and longer. Later, even the side lanes were crowded with people sitting by either side. Many were elderly people. At that point, some people suggested that we let the young people stand in the front four rows so that the elderly practitioners could sit down in the back. It was a very touching scene to see practitioners showing such respect to each other. From time to time, there would be a reminder passed along from the front rows: Please keep quiet and try not to move about too much. One young man was holding a poster board with characters: Quiet. Do not move about. He walked quietly back and forth in the gathering.

After lunch time, there was much litter that needed to be taken away. A few older practitioners bought some big black bags and walked around to collect litter and put it in the rubbish bins on the roadside. However, most practitioners put their litter in their own bags. People picked up every piece of litter where they were, even the cigarette butts thrown down by the police. When passersby saw this, they said with admiration: “Falun Gong is truly a field of pure land.”

The Police Officers Wanted to Read the Book Zhuan Falun

As the number of practitioners increased, the number of policemen and their cars also increased, and all the major intersections in Beijing set up check points. By around 11:00 a.m., buses driving past Zhongnanhai (the central government compound) and Fuyou Street were canceled, and road entrances all had check points to question people who came to appeal. There was a police van parked near where I was, and five or six policemen were standing around. In the beginning, they looked rather tense and kept staring at practitioners. Later, they became more relaxed and started chatting and joking with us. At around 2:00 p.m., one of them, a relatively tall and overweight officer walked towards me. He stopped when he was about one and a half meter away and asked, “You are the group leader, aren’t you?” I said, “We don’t have any leaders. We are all Falun Gong practitioners.” He then asked, ” What is Falun Gong? Did you come here to practice Falun Gong?” I told him, “Falun Gong is a cultivation practice of the Buddha School. It can help people get rid of illnesses and become healthy. Most importantly it teaches people to be good people. We did not come here to practice Falun Gong, but to report to the appeal office of the State Council about the incident in Tianjin where the Bureau of Public Security beat and arrested people.” He was surprised and asked, “Tianjin dared to beat and arrest people?” I said, “Yes, they did. The matter has to be handled by the State Council.” He then asked, “You don’t have any leaders, how come you act as one? Do you have any books? Let me take a look.” I said, “It’s a pity I didn’t bring mine. Let me see if someone else has one.” He said, “Thank you.” As I was talking, a few people behind me said they had the book. I took a copy of “Zhuan Falun” from a female practitioner and presented it to the policeman with both hands. He also received the book with both hands and quickly browsed through it. He then said to two other policemen, “You two keep an eye on them. I’ll go and take a look at the book in the van.” The policemen looked at each other and smiled, and then they all went into the van.

Premier Zhu Rongji Received Practitioners

As more and more practitioners joined in, by 11:00 a.m., about 150 meters south of the west entrance to Zhongnanhai, countless people had gathered around. It was said that the crowd stretched from the south entrance of Fuyou Street to as far as the fly-over at Fuxinmen and to the north of Dahongluochang.

While we were waiting, I remember a few groups of representatives were called into the reception office of the State Council. Once, when a representative came out, he said, “We need practitioners who specialize in law. Those inside do not have much legal knowledge. We need to have law professional practitioners.” Another time, a representative came out and said, “We do not have practitioners from the Research Association among us inside. Leaders of the State Council require that we must have responsible people among the representatives.” He said if anyone knew Wang Zhiwen or the head of the general practice site, please call them to come straight away; otherwise the State Council would not receive us.

At around two or three o’clock, applause burst out among practitioners near the west entrance. I turned and looked, and saw a big group of people coming out from the west entrance and crossing over to the east side of the street. Regular police officers and armed policemen were standing outside. I heard people say that Premier Zhu Rongji had come out to meet the practitioners. Zhu Rongji went to greet and shake hands with practitioners, then he went back in. (I think the process lasted 1-3 minutes.)

Later, one practitioner asked, “Is Li Xiaomei here?” (Li was a Beijing practitioner. Later she was brainwashed in prison and did many bad things to help the evil. I hope she will soon become clear-headed again.) The reason they looked for Li Xiaomei was because representatives from the Tianjin Bureau of Public Security denied that they had beaten and arrested people. When the State Council leaders asked them if they had arrested people, they denied it. Practitioners wanted Li Xiaomei to give evidence to expose their lies. (Li Xiaomei had gone to appeal in Tianjin and was beaten and arrested.) Practitioner representative Li Chang said to the representatives from the Tianjin Bureau of Public Security, “In front of the leaders of the State Council, I should make a responsible statement. You say you did not arrest any practitioners, I say you did. There were practitioners from Beijing among those you arrested. We can call them to be witnesses.” The representatives from Tianjin were speechless.

A Miraculous Scene That Deeply Touched Our Hearts

Although there were many of us, the scene was very quiet and peaceful. A little after four o’clock in the afternoon, people around me suddenly started to clap their hands. Some shouted quietly, “Look, quickly, there are Falun everywhere! There are Falun on the leaves, on the wall!” Just then, rosy clouds floated softly in the sky, countless Falun were flying in the air, and at the far end of the clouds, sat our great benevolent Master’s Fashen, in a red robe. He looked immensely compassionate and dignified. The whole group was aroused and excited. The spectacular scene was beyond description. This sacred scene lasted for about half an hour. Not only practitioners witnessed it, an elderly lady and her grandson living nearby saw it too. They shouted excitedly, “It’s so beautiful, so very beautiful!” When we went to fetch drinking water from the tap in their yard, she refused to take any more money from us.

Luo Gan Sets Up the Trap; Jiang Zemin enraged

I would like to make it very clear here that although the number of practitioners continuously increased, all of us kept good order. We wanted to be responsible to Dafa, and to society and establish a good image of Dafa and practitioners to the people and the government, and at the same time, to guard against any bad people who wanted to make trouble and frame Falun Gong. Indeed, there were agents who mixed in among practitioners and tried to cause trouble and disturbances. About 50 meters from where I was, I saw a young man in the morning, who did not behave like a practitioner at all. He talked nonsense and encouraged people to go home. Later he took out a lighter and lit a cigarette [Falun Gong practitioners do not smoke]. His actions revealed his true identity, and he was driven out of the group. Although we identified some individual agents, we failed to recognize the political trap that was set up by the CCP.

This is what happened on that day: in the morning, as more and more people joined in, the police on duty at the south entrance of Fuyou Street asked the crowd to extend to the west on the north side of the road and did not allow people to come near the side of Zhongnanhai with the red wall. But later on, there appeared policemen who told the crowd to move eastwards along the red wall of Zhongnanhai. Looking back, their purpose was very clear. It was a trap set up by the Public Security Bureau to deliberately lead the crowd to surround Zhongnanhai. Later, the CCP indeed fabricated malicious lies in their propaganda media and documents about Falun Gong “surrounding Zhongnanhai.”

At around five o’clock in the afternoon on April 25, Jiang Zemin secretly inspected the crowd in a bullet-proof car and he saw with his own eyes that among the appealing crowd there were army officers and police offers in uniform. He was enraged by that sight. Later, he shouted during a central committee meeting: “Falun Gong’s contingent stood in such neat lines and had such good discipline, better even than our army troops. It would be good if our army troops and police forces could line up that neatly. There were even officers ranking higher than commanding officers in the crowd. You must check them out and strictly deal with them.” (This is what the Party Secretary in my work unit told me in person when he called me in for a talk.)

Practitioners Went Home, the Street Was Clean, People Praised Practitioners for Their Exemplary Behavior

At around three or four o’clock in the afternoon on April 25, a flyer was circulated among practitioners. It was a united notice from the central government, the State Council and the Public Security Bureau in Beijing. The general content of the notice included: Reinstate the three “no” policies towards qigong; the opinions of the appealers are clear; the gathering should be dismissed as soon as possible. As for the yet-to-be-reported incidents in various places where Falun Gong practitioners were harassed, people can send representatives to report them to the central government level by level. People from other cities or provinces may go back and report the incidents to the appeal offices in their own province. In Beijing, each county and district can send their representatives to report directly to the reception office of the appeal office of the State Council, and the director of the appeal office will receive them.

Practitioners remained calm and quiet after seeing the notice, and yet nobody left the scene because we knew that practitioners arrested in Tianjin were yet to be released. We would not leave until the issue of the arrested practitioners was resolved, and we even planned to stay overnight.

At around nine o’clock in the evening, a practitioner representative came out from the west entrance of Zhongnanhai and encouraged practitioners to leave and told us that all the practitioners arrested in Tianjin were released. Because practitioners did not know each other, and we did not know the name of the representative who was telling us this, it was not easy to move practitioners in the beginning. Questioned by practitioners, Li Chang announced loudly, “Please believe what I said. My name is Li Chang. I take full responsibility for what I’m saying. Tomorrow morning, at eight o’clock, each district and county in Beijing may send two representatives to gather at the appeals office in Yongdingmen, so that we can continue to report to the central government. Practitioners from other provinces and cities, please go back to your own province and city and report incidents to the local appeals office. Now please leave here.” As soon as practitioners heard what he said, they started to leave. The whole process was very quiet and peaceful. After practitioners left, the whole street was very clean, without any litter left behind.

Vice President of the European Parliament Meets Rescued Falun Gong Practitioners in US Capital (Photo)

(Minghui.org) When Vice President of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott attended a hearing on human rights in China in Washington, DC, on March 4, 2013, he met with Falun Gong practitioners Ms. Zhang Lianying and her family. Very active over the past few years in the effort to rescue this family, he was excited to see them in DC and made the comment that the persecution in China “would not last much longer.”

Mr. McMillan-Scott and Ms. Zhang Lianying and her family

Mr. McMillan-Scott and Ms. Zhang Lianying and her family


Mr. McMillan-Scott Helped to Rescue Them from China

Mr. McMillan-Scott first heard about Ms. Zhang when he met her husband, Mr. Niu Jinping, and another practitioner, Mr. Cao Dong, seven years ago in Beijing. After learning of the horrific persecution of Falun Gong in China, he began to dedicate himself to rescuing Ms. Zhang. In 2011, Ms. Zhang and Mr. Niu were finally able to flee to the U.S. The Beijing police arrested Mr. Cao for the sixth time on June 8, 2012, and sentenced him to two and half years of forced labor.

Ms. Zhang was an official with the Guangda Group Ltd and a chartered CPA. She made a good living and was afforded all the privileges of a modern, professional Chinese. In 1997 she and her husband started to practice Falun Gong. They gained good health and a deep sense of inner peace. When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a full-scale persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, everything changed.

On May 21, 2006, Mr. Niu had the opportunity to meet with Mr. McMillan-Scott, who was visiting China. He told how his wife, Ms. Zhang, had been tortured. Mr. McMillan-Scott made the details of Ms. Zhang’s situation known to the world, and Mr. Niu was put under surveillance.

Ms. Zhang was released from Beijing Women’s Forced Labor Camp on December 13, 2007, and wrote a letter to Mr. McMillan-Scott and the Human Rights Commission of the European Parliament. In her long letter, she listed over 50 methods of torture used on her. Mr. McMillan-Scott put it on the Parliament website, which is available to the international community.

Exposing the CCP’s Relentless Persecution

Ms. Zhang and her husband were sentenced to two and half years of forced labor on May 13, 2008, because of the approaching Beijing Olympics. Mr. Niu was taken to Tuanhe Force Labor Camp in Beijing. He was beaten until his teeth loosened. In July, Ms. Zhang was secretly transferred from Beijing Women’s Forced Labor Camp to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province.

Ms. Zhang protested with a hunger strike. A female guard pried her mouth open with a spoon and handcuffed her. The guard many times hung her up in the air by attaching the handcuff to a high metal bar high.

Once she was hung up for three days straight and had to crawl out of the room because her arms and legs were injured and numb from the torture.

She was also shocked with electric batons, forced to stand for long periods of time, and struck with wooden bats numerous times.

Ms. Zhang refused to follow the prison rules, sign her “evaluation,” or wear a name tag. She also refused to eat. As a result, she was severely beaten. Her hands no longer functioned normally as a result. In 2009, she was transferred to a special section for worse torture.

Mr. McMillan-Scott learned about her situation and again told the world how she was suffering.

Tortured Almost to Death

Ms. Zhang said that when she was arrested and taken to a forced labor camp, her child was a year and a half. The camp played the sound of a child crying around the clock at high volume. She was locked in a narrow, solitary cell. “If I did not practice Falun Gong, I would have lost my mind,” she said.

Ms. Zhang recalled that, in the camp, she was repeatedly deprived of air until she passed out. She said she was not afraid of death; the constant struggle for life was worse than that. Instigated by the guards, the prisoners held her down and covered her mouth and nose with a damp cloth many times. They only removed it when she was suffocating.

When she gasped for breath, they immediately covered her mouth and nose again. This was repeated over and over until she lost control of her bowels. Many of the practitioners who are in the camp now are still being tortured this way.

Mr. McMillan-Scott asked Ms. Zhang about her health. He told her about how, when her husband told him about the torture she endured, he was in shock. McMillan-Scott visited over 40 countries, and, wherever he went, he mentioned their names.

He also said that, to this day, he still worries that his effort to expose the persecution of Ms. Zhang was what caused them to suffer worse torture in China. He also worries that his attention to Mr. Cao Dong’s case will cause him to be more relentlessly persecuted.

The Beijing police arrested Mr. Cao for the sixth time on June 8, 2012. Mr. Cao graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University and met Mr. McMillan-Scott six years ago. He told McMillan-Scott about the persecution that he, his wife, and many Falun Gong practitioners were enduring. Two hours later, Domestic Security officers arrested Mr. Cao and put him in prison for five years. His wife, Ms. Yang Xiaojing, died on October 1, 2009, as a result of long term imprisonment, harassment, and being destitute during the persecution.

Ms. Zhang told the Vice President of the European Parliament, “If it wasn’t for your help, my family would not be here today. When I was in the forced labor camps in Beijing and Masanjia, I was many times forced to have blood tests and health exams. Without your rescue effort, perhaps my organs would have been removed by now.”

Mr. McMillan-Scott said that he believed the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong wouldn’t last much longer.


China’s Judges: Criminals and Illiterate of the Law

February 06, 2013 | By Wei Ni

(Minghui.org) At over 70 years old, Ms. Wu Congmei of Huili County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to three years in prison by Judge Qiu Yun, Judicial President of the No. 1 Criminal Court, and his associates in the Huili County Court. From the time Ms. Wu, a Falun Gong practitioner, was taken to the Huili Detention Center in May 2012, the process she went through reveals how the County Court and Domestic Security police openly violated the law. Ms. Wu’s attorney had to educate the County Court on “legal literacy.” In the end, he concluded: “The Huili County Court is in the dark!”

Judge Qiu and his associates should act as professionals, objective, and knowledgeable of the law. Otherwise, they should not be licensed to practice law. Two months after Ms. Wu’s arrest, her attorney issued a plea of innocence based on a fact: “Practicing Falun Gong is legal; distributing Falun Gong material is legal.” During the trial, Judge Qiu and his judicial representatives acted as though they were illiterate of the law.

Attorney Deprived of Legal Rights

When Ms. Wu’s attorney went to the Huili County Court to review his client’s case, Judge Qiu told him, “The deputy president forbids you to read the files.” Ms. Wu’s attorney immediately pointed out the seriousness of such an unlawful infraction, and he sued the Huili County Court through the Huili Procuratoratefor depriving him of his legal rights as an attorney.

On November 16, the day before the trial, Ms. Wu’s attorney visited the court to again request access to his client’s case materials, but once again his request was denied.

Family Members Deprived of Right to Observe Trial

On November 17, 2012, Ms. Wu was taken by two policewomen to the courthouse. She could not walk on her own due to the torture she had been subjected to in detention. “Falun Dafa is good! Truth-Compassion-Tolerance is good!” she declared, despite the pain. The court did not issue a pass to Ms. Wu’s husband to allow him to observe the trial. All attendees in the court had been designated by judicial representatives.

Tried Illegally without Evidence

After Procuratorate prosecutor Wang Fangyun finished reading the indictment, the court refused to provide any evidence incriminating Ms. Wu. Her attorney demanded that the court reveal the original pieces of evidence; however, the court declined. The attorney pointed it out that such an act was in serious violation of the law. The court’s claims proved baseless, and in the end, the court still refused to provide any original evidence outside of a few photos and fallacious signatures.

“It is legal that Wu Congmei practices Falun Gong,” Ms. Wu’s attorney stated. “Distributing Falun Gong truth-clarification materials is also legal.” He also pointed out that it was completely groundless to prosecute Ms. Wu according to Article 300 of the Criminal Law, “Actions of Using Cult Organizations to Sabotage the Nation’s Laws and Regulations.”

In the end, Ms. Wu’s attorney also stated, “If you sentence someone you know to be innocent, it is in violation of the law and also a smear on one’s conscience.” He thus requested that the court release Ms. Wu.

Ms. Wu also firmly requested her immediate release.

Forging Witness Signatures

Domestic Security officers provided signatures from Ms. Wu’s son and daughter-in-law, claiming that they were required to sign off on a list of confiscated personal property after Ms. Wu’s home was ransacked. Ms. Wu’s son and daughter-in-law were not home when the police took Ms. Wu away; however, the police used such signatures as decrees of “witness.” The court thus improperly used Ms. Wu’s son and daughter-in-law as “important witnesses.”

Not Providing a Verdict to Attorney and Family

On December 21, 2012, when Ms. Wu’s husband visited Judge Qiu to request his wife’s release, Qiu said, “I have already sentenced her to three years.” Mr. Wu’s husband replied, “The attorney said that my wife is innocent. Practicing Falun Gong is legal. How could you sentence her to prison?” Qiu replied glibly, “Well, you can sue me.” In the end, neither Ms. Wu’s attorney nor her family ever received an official “verdict.”

Manipulating the Timing

The illegal trial of Ms. Wu at the Huili County Court took place on November 17, 2012, and the sentencing took place on December 7. The verdict was given to Ms. Wu on December 20, 14 days after the deadline.

Ms. Wu appealed her case on December 21. However, up until January 8, Ms. Wu’s second Beijing attorney had been denied access to the case materials by the Liangshan Intermediate Court. The attorney was told that the courts had not received any materials from Huili County.

The attorney went to Huili on January 9 to address this mishandling of materials with Judge Qiu. Qiu claimed that the case materials had already been transferred to the Liangshan Intermediate Court. In front of Qiu, the attorney immediately called the chief judge of the Criminal Court of the Liangshan Intermediate Court to ask for clarification. He then handed the phone to Qiu, whereupon Qiu changed his story. He told the higher-level court official that the materials must still be in transit. It is only 185 kilometers (115 miles) between Huili County and Xichang City (capitol of Liangshan Prefecture). It is unlikely that the materials would be in transit for over 10 days without having arrived yet. Ms. Wu’s family members were extremely angry at this obvious lie.

The attorney offered evidence that the Huili County Court caused unnecessary delay, as they illegally detained Ms. Wu for three-and-a-half months, issued Ms. Wu’s verdict 14 days after the deadline, and intentionally kept Ms. Wu’s case materials from the intermediate court. The attorney also pointed out that Procuratorate prosecutor Wang Fangyun failed in his duty to monitor the actions of the court.

A staff member at the Huili County Procuratorate later became familiar with these details. His signature of July 27, 2012, essentially indicted Ms. Wu, and he was shocked and disturbed after the lawyer made him aware of some important legal breaches. The staff member said that he had not been involved in this case, and that his signature must have been forged on the indictment documents.

Ms. Wu’s attorney filed a complaint to the Liangshan Intermediate Court regarding Judge Qiu Yun of the Huili County Court, Wang Fangyun of the Huili County Procuratorate, and others involved in the case. The attorney requested that the Liangshan Intermediate Court correct the wrongful sentence administered by the Huili County Court.

Unfortunately, this type of incident in which legal professionals gratuitously violate the law is not only commonplace in Huili County, but throughout all of China today.

Brainwashing Center in Bei’an City, Heilongjiang Province, Disintegrated by Strong Righteous Thoughts (Photo)

Dear readers,

This article talks about the actions taken by practitioners to counteract the persecution at Bei’an City Brainwashing Center. And how they managed to disintegrate the Brainwashing Center. Many sent righteous thoughts towards the brainwashing center, and many others took initiatives to call the brainwashing center and clarify the facts. Such courage and bravery in modern day society is inspiring.

Kind regards,
JT. Behindlies09 editor.

January 27, 2013 | By a Minghui correspondent from Heilongjiang Province, China

(Minghui.org) Bei’an City Brainwashing Center in Heilongjiang Province has been disintegrated due to the strong righteous thoughts of practitioners. The center was originally called Yichun City Brainwashing Center. In early November 2012, it was relocated from Yichun City to Tongbei Town of Bei’an City. It was set up at the Xiangrui Resort in Tongbei Town.


Brainwashing center located at the Xiangrui Resort in Tongbei Town, Bei’an City, Heilongjiang Province. Practitioners were incarcerated on the second floor of the resort.

Gu Songhai from the Heilongjiang 610 Office was the head of the brainwashing center. Over the past few years, he became infamous for trying to gain promotions through actively participating in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

After the brainwashing center was relocated to Bei’an City, Gu Songhai continued to lead his team to brazenly persecute Falun Gong practitioners. He also instigated local residents to kidnap five practitioners living in Tongbei Town and illegally detained them at the facility. In addition, he detained dozens of practitioners from the nearby Ha’erbin and Daqing areas.

Practitioners in Bei’an City took the initiative to form small groups to send forth righteous thoughts in rotating shifts around the clock. They targeted their righteous thoughts to eliminate the evil elements behind this brainwashing center. Within a week, about 70 to 80 practitioners joined this effort.

Some practitioners took photos of the brainwashing center and distributed them to each of the practitioners participating in the daily shifts to send forth righteous thoughts. By looking at the photos, practitioners could better imagine their righteous thoughts being in close proximity to the center.

At the same time, Minghui.org posted an article, “Evil Is Hiding in the Resort,” to increase public awareness. After the article was published, the brainwashing center was exposed and brought to the attention of many people. Practitioners in other provinces and neighbouring cities made truth-clarifying phone calls and sent informational DVDs to the brainwashing center, which helped the personnel there to learn the facts about Falun Gong.

All of a sudden, Xiangrui Resort was receiving endless phone calls, and the evil was shocked. Gu Songhai himself received many phone calls in which practitioners tried to explain to him the facts about Falun Gong. After a certain point, whenever he picked up the phone, he dared not speak and quickly hung up.

Liu Guocheng, deputy town chief who was in charge of persecuting Falun Gong practitioners in Tongbei Town, was similarly shocked by these phone calls. As the phone calls came in, one after another, Liu Guocheng’s voice became weaker, and he became more and more fearful.

Immediately after the article exposing the brainwashing center was published on Minghui.org, local practitioners forwarded it to 3,000 citizens, local businesses and government officials in Tongbei Town. This shocked the evil the most. All of a sudden, the crimes of the personnel involved in the persecution were exposed to the entire area. Within the next two days, news of the brainwashing center was exposed to another 3,000 people in business and government entities in Bei’an City. It seemed like everyone had heard the news and was talking about it and spreading the information.

In the face of strong public pressure, the personnel of the brainwashing center became frightened, and even Gu Songhai found it hard to press on. They had no choice but to release the incarcerated practitioners. Afterward, the personnel employed to carry out the persecution were disbanded.

In this way, the brainwashing center was effectively disintegrated within a month due to practitioners’ strong righteous thoughts.

The Fires This Time: Immolation Or Deception In Beijing?

Danny Schechter     2/22/01 8:50

What could be more dramatic? People are setting themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing. CNN is there. The police just happen to have fire extinguishers on hand, and the victims are rushed to a hospital after their agonies are thoroughly photographed for state television. While the government-controlled media uncharacteristically releases the story at once, it takes a week of production before video footage is aired.

Soon, horrific images are rocketed around the world, seeming to confirm China’s charges that an evil cult is ordering brainwashed members to commit suicide. Citing this new “evidence,” the government insists that what it has been saying all along about those “fanatical” Falun Gongers is true, and these people must be banned as a threat to themselves and the nation. On February 16 another suicide is attributed to Falun Gong. Alongside a charred body an uncharred note is found allegedly claiming the victim did it to support Li Hongzhi’s spiritual practice.

The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Johnson, one of the most insightful journalists following this story, had his suspicions aroused by the speed with which this story was covered, observing that the state media “reported [the victim’s] death with unusual alacrity, implying that either the death took place earlier than reported or the usually cautious media had top-level approval to rush out electronic reports and a televised dispatch. The 7 p.m. local evening news, for example, had a filmed report from Mr. Tan’s hometown of Changde, a small city in Hunan province. Most reports for the evening news are vetted by noon, so the daily broadcast rarely carries reports from the same day, let alone an event that happened at noon and involved satellite feeds from relatively remote parts of the country.”

For news readers and media consumers, perception often trumps unclear realities. In a world where dramatic images overshadow complex issues, Falun Gong stands convicted of crazed cult behavior. Case closed!

Score a big one for Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s crusade to “crush” and discredit a growing spiritual movement that continues to resist a state-ordered ban despite the detention of an estimated 50,000 practitioners and over a hundred dead in police custody. Already, on the strength of this one incident, The Financial Times proclaimed a “winner,” as in, “Beijing Wins Propaganda War Against Falun Gong.” Note the headline. It doesn’t refer merely to one skirmish in a protracted media war that has gone on for 19 months, but to the war itself.

Many other respected news organizations disseminated the same story the same way even though they were unable to verify it independently, instead using accounts from Communist Party-controlled state media, especially the Xinua news agency. Now, as new questions are raised and doubts expressed, it may turn out that the world media have been misled into becoming an uncritical transmission belt for Beijing’s bullying.

Firing Line

The first incident happened on January 23, days after Jiang intensified his official, nationwide, anti-cult media campaign. CNN was in the Square and reported on the suicides but its tapes were confiscated, so we never saw them. Seven days later, China’s official TV shocked the nation with footage of five people engulfed in flames, pictures said to be from nearby surveillance cameras. Now a tragically disfigured victim of the incident, 12-year-old Liu Siying, says that her own mother told her to set herself on fire to reach the “heavenly golden kingdom” in some accounts, or “nirvana” in others. She has become a sympathetic symbol, even a poster child for alleged abuses by the “evil cult.” Her image is everywhere; her tragedy has outraged all China. (In this respect she is the Elian Gonzalez of China!) Yet only approved media outlets there have been permitted access to her. Western reporters have been barred from direct contact.

Was she a Falun Gong practitioner? That seems doubtful, after The Washington Post’s Phillip Pan traced her to her home in Kaifeng (a town that experienced an even more tragic disco fire recently, killing hundreds and scarring many others). Pan discovered that the young girl’s mother, who died in the Tiananmen fire, was not known locally as a practitioner, but was depressed, mentally unstable and accused of beating her daughter and mother.

Significantly, one of the CNN producers on the scene, just 50 feet away, says she did not even see a child there. The government says doctors performed a tracheotomy on the victim, but a pediatric surgeon said that, if that were true, the child wouldn’t be speaking right away.

Falun Gong spokespeople have been quoted as denying that they ordered, orchestrated and participated in this incident. But in their statement, which has not been carried in full anywhere, they go further and indict the Western press: “It is troubling to us that the party line from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] mouthpieces, Xinhua News Agency and CCTV, is being given so much airtime and so much credibility by the foreign press. Xinhua and other state-run media outlets are generally never considered credible sources, as even they openly admit that their function is to disseminate propaganda for the Chinese regime. In fact, Xinhua is the Party line.

“There is so much that remains unclear and unknown about the circumstances surrounding the incident. And no one knows what occurred in the week after the actual event and before the Chinese media outlets finally released their fully engineered news articles and television programs. We must remember that the Chinese regime is so tightly controlling every aspect of this case that none of Xinhua’s claims have been corroborated by independent sources.”

And why would Falun Gong deny its role in the incident if it was a protest? The Longhai Foundation, which monitors Chinese prisons, had similar questions in the National Review: “Was this event staged or allowed to happen by China’s government in order to discredit the Falun Gong? It is hardly a farfetched hypothesis. China’s government has promised to extinguish all problems connected with the Falun Gong in advance of the 80th anniversary of Chinese Communism, which Beijing plans on celebrating this July. … Justin Yu, a journalist for World Journal, the Chinese-language daily, reflected on the confusion faced by many Chinese over what to believe. The PRC’s propaganda coup against the Falun Gong relies upon people’s understanding of events in recent Asian history, such as the 73-year-old Buddhist monk in Saigon whose self-immolation was a form of protest to fulfill his beliefs, [like] Koreans cutting off their fingers and the Japanese ritual of hari-kari. But this situation is not clear. Who do we believe — the Communists? They have lied to us so many times, another lie for them is nothing.”

I asked Beatrice Turpin who covered Falun Gong in China for Associated Press TV and wrote about her experiences for MediaChannel what her suspicion was. She responded from her home in Thailand: “There was a big brouhaha with Falun Gong protests and footage of police beating practitioners last Chinese New Year and it would certainly fit in with typical China strategy to stage an event this year and make the show their own.”

Grounds for Skepticism

Falun Gong practitioners initially told me their suspicions were aroused for three reasons:

1) the people in the Square, said to be long-time practitioners, didn’t do the Falun Gong exercises correctly;
2) authorities did not show any pictures or Falun Gong signs or books (which prohibit suicide) that protesters usually bring with them into the Square; and
3) a school one of the victims was said to have graduated from was in fact closed at the time. They also say that there is no concept of “nirvana” in their beliefs.
These are perhaps small details, but they may be telling.

In a press release, Falun Gong pointed to other inconsistencies: “Xinhua News Agency claims that within a minute of the man setting himself ablaze, police had dashed over to him with four fire extinguishers and quickly put out the flames. A European journalist based in Beijing, however, told us: “I have never seen policemen patrolling on Tiananmen Square carrying fire extinguishers. How come they all showed up today? The location of the incident is at least 20 minutes roundtrip from the nearest building — the People’s Great Hall. If they were to have dashed over there to get the equipment, it would have been too late.” Is it even possible that the police could have responded with not one but four fire extinguishers within the space of a minute if they didn’t have prior knowledge that this was going to occur?

“In terms of response time, another foreign journalist in Beijing expressed shock that Xinhua was able to release the first report on the incident almost immediately and in English, no less. Every Chinese citizen knows that every report from Xinhua usually has to first go through several rounds of approval by higher-ups and is generally ‘old news’ by the time it is published. Moreover, state-run media have never released any photos or video of Falun Gong protests in the course of 18 months of persecution to the foreign press, so why now and with so little hesitation? And why only in English and not in Chinese?”

The issue was raised with me again and again during a recent four-city tour speaking about my new book on the Falun Gong. Some people told me Falun Gong must be crazy if it does crazy things. When I challenged the assumption that we in fact know all the details, eyes glazed over. Perhaps that’s because once people hear “facts” that seem to confirm their own assumptions, they don’t want to hear more, even if the original “facts” may be wrong or misleading.

Hot images sear themselves into the brain; retractions and clarifications rarely do. In the newly published Tiananmen Papers, on how the Communist Party handled the student protests in 1989, journalist Orville Schell, dean of the Journalism School at Berkeley, discusses the many forgeries and falsehoods the Chinese government and others have concocted and circulated over the years. Disinformation and misinformation are the trade craft of intelligence agencies in many countries, especially China. It is not surprising that Beijing is denouncing these new documents as fake. Clearly, their publication is embarrassing to the secretive rulers of China, especially President Jiang Zemin, whose hard-line role in those events has been revived in the official persecution of Falun Gong.

Where Are The Skeptics?

Why did the deeply ingrained, institutionalized skepticism of our own media crumble so quickly in the face of what smells like a stage-managed incident that’s being blatantly exploited for political reasons? Why would so many American news outlets be so gullible? Is it because the whiff of spirituality and mysticism in a culture few of us understand makes some of us uncomfortable in our journalistic practice?

In my investigation into Falun Gong, I document a disturbing pattern of U.S. media outlets echoing China’s charges, including the frequent use of pejorative words like “cult” and “sect” and even “mishmash.” In some respects the media in our own country also reflect a one-dimensional, stereotyped perspective, downplaying and denigrating a force that doesn’t fit into simple left-right political categories and which they may have trouble relating to because of its Asian character and roots in a mix of a Buddhist cultivation practice, Taoism and traditional qigong. Falun Gong is too often treated like the classic “other,” too weird to be taken seriously or show sympathy toward. (Incidentally, I am not a Falun Gong practitioner, but our company has produced videos for Falun Gong, which gave me access and information I used to write and produce a film and a book on the subject.”)

At one of my bookstore appearances in Chicago, someone compared Falun Gong and the current situation in China to David Koresh’s Branch Davidians and the 51-day siege in 1993 by federal law enforcement officers in Waco, ostensibly to seize guns and protect children from abuse, a comparison China has invoked to make the case that it’s only doing what the U.S. government did in combating its own dangerous cult. Someone jumped up to challenge the analogy, arguing that Koresh and company were violent and Falun Gong is not. He was right: There is no direct comparison, except in terms of the response to what happened. Only the hard right-wing in the United States criticized the government’s brutal military intervention, which reminded me of the words of that American lieutenant in Vietnam: “We destroyed the village in order to save it.”

The lack of empathy people felt for the families under Koresh’s mad control led to many rationalizing or not speaking out against the bloody and illegal suppression that occurred in Waco. Once people are dehumanized in our eyes, we may lose compassion for them and turn the other way when their rights are violated, especially if we dislike their politics and consider them unsympathetic victims. If you want to know the details of where dehumanization leads in China, check out Amnesty International’s recent report on the pervasive use of torture, which is often directed at nonviolent Falun Gong practitioners. Beijing, natch, calls that a forgery too.

On February 17, more than a thousand Falun Gong practitioners protested nonviolently in Los Angeles against the persecution going on in China. Few media outlets showed up at their press conference, even though this is a story making headlines worldwide. (I couldn’t find any story about it the next day in The Los Angeles Times, although their book review carried a discussion of what happened in Tiananmen Square in l989.) Media indifference fans public indifference. China’s media are doing what you would expect, but how to explain the attitude of the Western media, which has covered the story so episodically?

In light of the prominent media play this “mass suicide” story received, it is not too late to thoroughly investigate not only what happened but whether and why we were all taken in.

— Danny Schechter, executive editor of MediaChannel.org, is the author of “”Falun Gong’s Challenge to China: Spiritual Practice or ‘Evil Cult’ “(Akashic Books, 2000); he also directed a documentary of the same name. Parts of this column were originally submitted as an Op-Ed piece at the request of The Washington Post, which did not print it.



Watch Falun Gong’s “deconstruction” of Chinese state TV coverage of the self-immolations.
(Requires RealPlayer & a broadband connection)

Self-Immolation Hoax on Tiananmen Square

The Staged “Self Immolation” on Tiananmen Square – A Massive Propaganda Stunt Contrived to Demonize Falun Gong in the Minds of China’s People

Background: By the end of 2000 — a year and a half after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the suppression of Falun Gong — the campaign had failed to garner support among many of the CCP’s rank and file. Then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin had toured southern provinces earlier in 2000 hoping to shore up more support for the campaign among local leaders. Meanwhile, public support for the campaign more broadly had waned. On January 23, 2001, five individuals allegedly set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The entire scene was caught on camera from multiple angles. Beginning just hours after the event, state-controlled media was flooded with reports that the self-immolators were Falun Gong practitioners. These reports included grisly footage of the victims, portraying Falun Gong teachings as directly responsible for the tragedy.

The Problem:In the weeks following the event, a wealth of evidence uncovered (including a Washington Post article finding that two of the self-immolators never practiced Falun Gong) indicates the entire incident was staged. Yet, while people inside China had no access to this information, the Chinese state-run media continued a blitz campaign to portray the “self-immolators” as Falun Gong practitioners. People across China changed from respecting and sympathizing with Falun Gong to becoming infuriated with and attacking the practice. Hate crimes targeting Falun Gong practitioners increased and the CCP escalated its persecution with increased arrests, torture, killing, and forced organ harvesting.

Why It Matters: With 70-100 million practicing Falun Gong in China, by 1999 the traditional discipline was largely a household name and a respected one at that. The staged “self-immolation,” however, changed all that, and to this day remains the single most influential factor in garnering disgust or hatred toward Falun Gong among the Chinese people. The resulting apathy or hostility toward Falun Gong in China has greatly facilitated the regime’s attempt to eradicate the practice, and is a primary cause for the tens of thousands of reports of abuse and torture.


False Fire (Video)

Click on image to watch the video.
This is the authoritative documentary on the suspicious points of the staged “self-immolation” incident. It won an honorary award at the 51st Columbia International Film Festival for its analytical approach and exposure of the tragic event.

Washington Post: Reporter Finds Holes in China’s Tiananmen Immolation Story

MediaChannel: The Fires This Time:Immolation Or Deception In Beijing


Analysis: 54 Facts That Reveal How the “Self-Immolation” on Tiananmen Square Was Actually Staged for Propaganda Purposes