In an article about Asia published in the June edition of the French magazine “La Revue d'Etudes”, there was a false description of Falun Gong. A French couple who practise Falun Gong sent a letter to the magazine to let them know the truth. The magazine published the practitioners’ letter in its September edition, and also carried a story about a Falun Gong practitioner who was persecuted in China.
The Persecution Against Falun Gong: The Second Cultural Revolution in China
By Alexis & Sandra Genin
A reader conveyed his opinions about a special article we published in the June edition this year about Southern and Eastern Asia.
Ever since 1999, Falun Gong has been subjected to suppression by the Chinese authorities. Back then, Falun Gong’s popularity among the general public in China made it unacceptable to certain political leaders, who considered Falun Gong a direct threat to the Chinese Communist Party. Since it was banned on July 20th 1999, Falun Gong has been brutally persecuted for five years. However, Falun Gong established a paradigm of peaceful resistance for the Chinese people in the face of brutal suppression. Neither arrest nor torture has changed Falun Gong.
Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) is one of the numerous conventional Qigong practices in China. It became popular in the early 1990’s. In the beginning, the Chinese Government supported Falun Gong because it has outstanding effects on curing illness and reinstating morality.
Because it took off so quickly, Falun Gong became an unprecedented phenomenon. In 1998, the Chinese Government estimated that there were eighty million people practising Falun Gong. This number partly explained why it suffered from persecution later on. In 1999, China’s president, Jiang Zemin banned Falun Gong in the name of “disturbing public order”. The accusation was changed in the later stages and Falun Gong was named an “evil cult”. In the end, Falun Gong was framed as China’s enemy because of “connections with foreign powers”.
In China, the persecution against Falun Gong and the Cultural Revolution are very similar. The suppression policy was carried through to all cities. China’s citizens were encouraged to expose Falun Gong practitioners. Regular propaganda on TV was used to instigate public hatred against Falun Gong practitioners, who were slandered as criminals who would commit all kinds of crimes. The purpose was to mislead the Chinese people so that they would attack and eradicate the so-called “internal enemy”.
The imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners were brainwashed. The brainwashing stations were established in every district of China’s major cities and counties. Some people might be missing for several months, during which time neither their colleagues nor their families knew where they were. Those practitioners who refused to give up their belief even under the pressure of poisonous drugs and physical torture were sent to labour camps or prisons. The reward or punishment of Chinese officials is directly linked to how successfully they “convert” Falun Gong practitioners, while the conversion is usually unscrupulous.
Death is treated as suicide
Under Jiang’s order, torture has become a systematic tool to break Falun Gong practitioners’ wills, in an attempt to destroy them mentally. Jiang’s order is “defame them, cut them off financially and wipe them out physically”. The torture can be of various forms, including beating, electrical shocks, torturing by devices that can fracture limbs or damage teeth, forced water infusion into the mouth, freezing, imprisonment in a dark room alone without any light for months, or being locked up in a tiny cell, inside which practitioners can neither stand straight nor lie down.
Thousands of people have died because of torture. Among them, more than eight hundred people’s names have been identified. According to the statistics of the Chinese authorities, more than seventy-three thousand Falun Gong practitioners were imprisoned in labour camps. However, experts familiar with China believe that this number should be five times higher.
In the past five years, Falun Gong practitioners stayed steadfast and peaceful in the face of the persecution. In China, they continued to clarify the truth about the persecution and their cultivation to the Chinese people via pamphlets, phone calls, or even TV broadcasts. Outside China, they publicised the situations of torture and persecution on the Internet.
This is the first time in modern Chinese history that a dictator failed to destroy a group even though he has resorted to all means of violence. Falun Gong practitioners resist the persecution, and hold fast to their belief in “Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance”.
Qigong is a cultural heritage from thousands of years of China’s history. It teaches the philosophical principles of the Dao School, Buddha School and Confucianism. The common characteristics of the conventional ways are virtue and benevolence (in Asia, body and mind are considered to be one unit.) The reason why Falun Gong can attract so many people in China is that it enables the Chinese people to inherit this traditional culture, and provides a path leading towards wisdom and cultivation. However, Falun Gong is not a religion. Throughout Falun Gong’s spread, it continues to be free of charge and there is no need to register.
Extracts from a Testimony, January 2004
….However, our mental suffering is even more intolerable than the physical pains. We kept being worried every day. We had no idea what would happen on that day. When an imprisoned practitioner was brought away by the police, we would be worried about him/her because we wondered if he/she would come back. We wouldn’t know if he/she had come back until the roll call every night before we were allowed to sleep. Even so, it was always possible that somebody had disappeared after we woke up the next morning, and no traces were left behind. Fellow practitioners encouraged one another when we met in the morning. Even though it could be as simple as an eye expression or a smile, it was an enormous encouragement. Under such mental pressure, many people’s hair turned white. For example, I have to dye my hair now.
“Zhang Siying does not want any money. He insists on practising Falun Gong. Doesn’t that mean he is abnormal?” said Wang Tianyi, the Economy & Trade Commissioner of Chuan-Hui District (the government official in charge of enterprise management) who also took the lead in persecuting Falun Gong. On the next day, Wang Tianyi summoned several people and kidnapped Zhang Siying to a psychiatric hospital at Zhoukou City for continuous persecution. Several days later, Zhang’s elderly mother tried all she could to locate the psychiatric hospital, and visit Zhang. Zhang told his mother, “They tied me up with ropes, and administered an injection to me. Right after the injection, I lost consciousness.” Zhang’s mother found the doctor, and asked what the injection was for since her son was not ill at all. The doctor replied, “The injection is to clear his mind.”
The torture they applied on Yu is called “Emergency Braking”. The prisoner was asked to stand about half a metre away from and face the wall, and bend down at a 90-degree angle. When he was kicked abruptly from behind, his head would bang against the wall. Yu was tortured in this way many times. A deep, bloody fissure developed on his head. He suffered from serious cerebral concussion. Under such terrifying repeated torture, Zhang became extremely weak. To evade the responsibility of causing severe injury on Yu’s mind and body, the director of the detention centre, Qu Xiufeng, told others, “Yu is a good person, and we treat him well. It is too bad that he becomes insane after practising Falun Gong— he knocks his head on the heater.”
At the Lihe 18th Female Forced Labour “Re-education” Camp of Zhengzhou city
The restraining clothes are made of coarse material. Once the clothes are put on Falun Gong practitioners, the clothes are tightened up on the back. The sleeve has a leather belt and is about twenty five centimetres longer than the practitioners’ arms. The guards force Falun Gong practitioners to wear the restraining clothes, twist their arms behind their backs and tie them up with their hands crossed. Subsequently, they raised practitioners’ arms to the height of the shoulders and hung them up at the wrists with their legs bundled. At the same time, they blocked practitioners’ mouths by stuffing cloth in to them; they put earphones in place and then played tapes that slandered Falun Gong. According to a testimony, those practitioners who were tortured like this would have broken arms and dislocated ankles, shoulders, wrists and elbows as a result. Some practitioners who were tortured for an extended period of time had broken spines. Their lives were always at critical risk. On May the 22nd 2003, a female Falun Gong practitioner in her forties was tortured in this way for a whole day. When she was taken down from the hung position her body was cold. To cover up the crime, the police ordered two prisoners (one a drug addict and the other a criminal), Yan Ping and Fu Jinyu, to take her body to the hospital next door for injections. They claimed the Falun Gong practitioner died because of various diseases and cremated her body right away.
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