When meditation spurs revolution (Taipei Journal, Taiwan)

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Manik Mehta, Taipei Journal: Normally imperturbable New Yorkers have recently been visibly shaken by simulated scenes of religious persecution in China staged in bustling areas of New York such as Times Square and Grand Central Station.

Followers and friends of the Falun Gong movement, which professes only to teach traditional Chinese methods for improving psychic and physical wellness involving simple exercises, meditation and development of xinxing–or heart-mind nature–enacted scenes dramatizing Beijing’s brutal suppression of the movement. They replicated the torture chambers purportedly used in China to punish Falun Gong members who refuse to renounce their beliefs and practices.

Amateur actors dressed as Chinese prison guards pretended to administer electric shocks to chained female Falun Gong practitioners, with faces contorted in agony and bodies covered with torture marks. Another simulation showed a woman prisoner in chains hunched over in a cramped “birdcage.” “Eeeek!” screamed a female passerby upon seeing the birdcage and its bruised and bloodied occupant. “Don’t tell me this is really happening in China?” Similar anti-torture tableaux, in tandem with petition and letter-writing campaigns, have been staged in cities and on university campuses the world over since November. The disgust and horror of onlookers, be they in New York, Munich, Taipei or Lima was proof that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

According to data provided by the Friends of Falun Gong organization, more than 1,600 followers have been tortured to death in China, while hundreds of thousands continue to languish in jails without formal charges or legal recourse. More than 100,000 have been sent to labor camps and another 1,000 have been tortured in mental hospitals, it is claimed.

Worldwide sympathy and support for the Falun Gong can only mount if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership persists in its knee-jerk reaction to even loosely organized groups that it perceives as posing a threat to its authority. Already, virtually every democratic society in the world is highly critical of Beijing for its violation of human rights on a vast scale. It is notorious for its suppression of religious groups, its complicity in driving farmers off their land, its backsliding on its legal commitment to allow Hong Kong to function as a free and autonomous entity, or its calculated annihilation of the Tibetan people’s cultural and linguistic heritage.

China’s embassies and consulates around the world are regularly bombarded with petitions pleading respect for Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans and other abused religious, ethnic and social groups.

For its part, the U. S. Congress has expressed its strenuous objection to the Chinese government’s treatment of Falun Gong members. On July 24, 2002, by a vote of 420-0, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed resolution H.R. 188, urging the Beijing authorities to cease such persecution.

The resolution reads, “The campaign of persecution [against the] Falun Gong has been carried out by government officials at all levels, and has permeated every segment of society and every level of government in the People’s Republic of China.” An issue of particular concern to U.S. politicians is the fate of an American citizen of Chinese origin, Charles Li, who is languishing in a prison in Nanjing and, according to Falun Gong sources, being beaten and subjected to brainwashing because of his association with the organization. When he refused to attend a brainwashing session in July at the behest of prison guards, it is said, another inmate knocked Li to the ground and dragged him down a staircase.

According to Falun Gong members taking part in anti-torture street presentations, Li has gone on hunger strikes and been confined to the prison clinic. It has been reported that when a U.S. consular official traveled from Shanghai to Nanjing to pay him a visit, prison officials refused him entry.

The Beijing authorities have categorically denied that Li’s arrest was related to his personal beliefs or association with the Falun Gong. The movement’s supporters point out that they deny such a connection because, otherwise, it would be tantamount to admitting that they are engaging in religious persecution–this, despite their insistence that freedom of religion is well-protected in China.

Original article no longer available


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China’s former leader sued for genocide (Scoop)

Eleven NZ citizens and residents filed a lawsuit in the Auckland High Court today against Jiang Zemin, the former president of China.

“It’s part of the biggest human rights case in the world since WWII… In the end, we plan to bring Jiang Zemin to the International Tribunal,” says Theresa Chu, a lawyer who brought a similar case to court in Taiwan and also the director of International Advocates For Justice. “Twenty-seven lawyers from 21 countries are working to bring Jiang and his cohorts to justice across the world.”

The group’s barrister, Chris Lawrence, a former Proceedings Commissioner of the NZ Human Rights Commission, as well as a past delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, said that the case was unusual because the plaintiffs sue over events in China. “The Chinese legal system, controlled as it is by the defendants, is unable to provide my clients justice. So we are seeking to bring Jiang Zemin to justice in NZ. This case will explore the extent to which New Zealanders who have been subjected to gross human rights abuses in other countries can seek justice in our courts.”

Also named as defendants in the suit are Jiang Zemin’s primary primary accomplices in the persecution of Falun Gong: Luo Gan and Li Lanqing. Together with Jiang, they stand accused of directing a systematic campaign of genocide over the past five years.

The group held a press conference outside the Auckland High Court this morning followed by what they called “The Great Wall of Courage.” The hundred-plus collection of Falun Gong practitioners lined up along eight blocks of Queen St. holding banners and handing out flyers in an effort to raise the public’s awareness of their plight.

Falun Gong describes itself as an ancient Chinese meditation practice, in which practitioners adhere to the principles of “ Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance” in their daily lives. The practice grew exponentially during the 1990’s at a grass roots level, and a Chinese government survey in 1999 estimated between 70-100 million people practiced it.

A government policy of harassment began as early as 1996, and culminated in a full out persecution in July 1999. Since then human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, in addition to the UN, and the US State department, have documented serious human rights abuses, including systematic torture, rape, killing, brainwashing, and mental institutionalization of hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners.

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64 Falun Gong Torture Deaths in China in 3 Months (Scoop, New Zealand)

Labor camps routinely release practitioners on the brink of death to avoid responsibility; most die days after release.

Between November 2003 and January 2004, reliable sources in China reported details on 64 Falun Gong practitioners who died from severe torture suffered in Chinese detention centers and labor camps.

Deaths from torture and abuse were reported in 17 provinces throughout China, from Heilongjiang to Guangxi; from Sichuan to Beijing.

Torture techniques reported include severe beatings, electric shocks, force-feeding torture, and injections of nerve-damaging drugs. Among the reported deceased was a 70-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man.

According to witnesses and those familiar with the cases, all but one of the deaths was the result of severe beatings or torture. In one case, a woman from Yitong County, Jilin Province reportedly “fell” from a tall building while in police custody.

Released, Only to Die at Home

In 23 of the cases, the victims died of their injuries shortly after being released from custody. Falun Gong practitioners thought to be near death are often released by Chinese authorities hoping to avoid responsibility for the deaths. In many cases, the victims die within days or even hours of their release.

According to knowledgeable sources in China, each forced labor camp operates with a “death quota:” That is, the number of Falun Gong practitioners that are allowed to die in the forced labor camp as camp authorities take them through the violent “transformation” process to force them to renounce Falun Gong. Additionally, each forced labor camp is rewarded for making a Falun Gong practitioner renounce his or her belief in Falun Gong. Consequently, labor camp officials often aim to avoid forfeiting one of their death quota numbers for a dying Falun Gong practitioner without first obtaining their bonus reward from making him or her renounce Falun Gong.

These sources say a practitioner can only be considered to have fully renounced Falun Gong when he or she has written multiple statements denouncing the practice as well as assisted in persecuting fellow Falun Gong practitioners.

Northeast China Remains Deadliest

China’s northeastern provinces remain the deadliest overall. Of the 884 total number of verified deaths (reports / sources), Heilongjiang Province accounts for 15% with neighboring Liaoning and Jilin Provinces each accounting for approximately 11% of the total.

Shandong Province, situated southeast of Beijing, also accounts for approximately 11% of all deaths.

The name list of those whose deaths were reported in the last three months are: Xie Wenping, Gao Shiping, Li Shuli, Wang Ruxing, Meng Xiao, Zhao Guo’an, Li Aiping, Tang Meijun, Li Xuelian, Wang Defeng, Yan Hai, Ma Lizhi, Guo Jifang, Zhao Yanxia, Shen Lizhi, Bai Hong, Gu Chunaying, Chen Guijun, Liao Minghui, Yu Guizhen, Song Ruiyi, Ye Wenying, Liu Chengjun, Li Xiaoyuan, Wu Yuan, Wang Congbu, Yu Chunhai, Yang Shulan, Deng Huiqun, Song Youchun, Yuan Xiangfan, Zuo Guoqing, Wu Simin, He Guozhong, Zhang Congmin, Li Xindi, Li Liang, Pan Siyuan, Li Li, Xuan Deqiong, Zhang Dabi, Xiao Peifeng, Li Deshan, Chen Changfa, Li Chouren, Ma Guilin, Lu Guifang, Li Jun, Guo Sulan, Wang Jiguo, Song Yonghua, Xuan Honggui, Zhang Xiaodong, Tian Junrong, Sun Yanqin, Li Yutong, Li Ruqing, Lu Bingshen, Zhou Liangzhu, Lu Xiufang, Lu Xingguo, Zheng Libo, Zhou Caixia.

Background Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance.” Practiced in over 50 countries world-wide, Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture. With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China’s Communist leader Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999 (report). Since that time, Jiang’s regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it. The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of 884 deaths (reports / sources) since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. In October 2001, however, Government officials inside China reported that the actual death toll was well over 1,600. Expert sources now estimate that figure to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps, typically without trial.

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