Persecution of Falun Gong

Persecution of Falun Gong

Falun Gong was introduced to the general public by Li Hongzhi(李洪志) in Changchun, China, in 1992. For the next few years, Falun Gong was the fastest growing "qigong" practice in Chinese history and, by 1999, there were between 70 and 100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China. Source of Statistical Information, [ Number of Falun Gong practitioners in China in 1999: at least 70 million, Falun Dafa Information Center] , accessed 01/01/08] Following the seven years of wide-spread popularity, on July 20, 1999, the government of the People's Republic of China began a nationwide persecution campaign against Falun Gong practitioners, except in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. [Faison, Seth (April 27, 1999) [ "In Beijing: A Roar of Silent Protesters"] "New York Times", retrieved June 10, 2006] [Kahn, Joseph (April 27, 1999) [ "Notoriety Now for Exiled Leader of Chinese Movement"] "New York Times", retrieved June 14, 2006] In late 1999, legislation was created to outlaw "heterodox religions" and retroactively applied to Falun Gong. Leung, Beatrice (2002) 'China and Falun Gong: Party and society relations in the modern era', Journal of Contemporary China, 11:33, 761 – 784] Amnesty International states that the persecution is "politically motivated" with "legislation being used retroactively to convict people on politically-driven charges, and new regulations introduced to further restrict fundamental freedoms". [ The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations" ] , The Amnesty International]

The nature of Communist Party's rule in China is seen as a central cause for the persecution. According to David Ownby, Falun Gong's popularity,David Ownby, "The Falun Gong in the New World," European Journal of East Asian Studies, Sep2003, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p 306] traditional roots,Ownby, David, "A History for Falun Gong: Popular Religion and the Chinese State Since the Ming Dynasty", Nova Religio, Vol. ,pp. 223-243] [Barend ter Haar, " [ Falun Gong - Evaluation and Further References] " ] and distinction from the marxist-atheist ideology of communism were perceived as a challenge by the Chinese government.Michael Lestz, [ Why Smash the Falun Gong?] , Religion in the News, Fall 1999, Vol. 2, No. 3, Trinity College, Massachusetts] Certain high-level Communist Party officials, reports suggest, had wanted to crackdown on the practice for some years, but lacked pretext or support--until a number of appeals and petitions to the authorities in 1999, in particular, a 10,000 person silent protest at Zhongnanhai on April 25th.Julia Ching, "The Falun Gong: Religious and Political Implications," "American Asian Review", Vol. XIX, no. 4, Winter 2001, p. 12] [ The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations"] , Amnesty International] There was no unanimous support within the government for the persecution campaign, and some consider Jiang Zemin to be personally responsible for the final decision and the ensuing "Mao-style political campaign."Tony Saich, "Governance and Politics in China," Palgrave Macmillan; 2nd Ed edition (27 Feb 2004)] Suspected motives include his personal jealousy of Li Hongzhi's popularity,Dean Peerman, [ China syndrome: the persecution of Falun Gong] , Christian Century, August 10, 2004] and a manufactured ideological struggle to help him hold to power.

The persecution is considered a major violation of human rights and International Human Rights Organizations have called upon the Chinese government to bring an end to the persecution [ China's Campaign Against Falungong] , Human Rights Watch] and release practitioners sentenced to detention for peaceful activities. [ China uses Rule of Law to Crackdown on Falun Gong] , Human Rights Watch] Reports state that every aspect of society has been used by the CCP in its persecution campaign against Falun Gong, including the media apparatus, police force, army, education system, families, and workplaces.Johnson, Ian, "Wild Grass: three portraits of change in modern china", Vintage (March 8, 2005)] An extra-constitutional body, the 6-10 Office was created to "oversee the terror campaign,"Morais, Richard C. [ "China's Fight With Falun Gong"] , "Forbes", February 9, 2006, retrieved July 7 2006] driven by a large-scale propaganda through television, newspaper, radio and internet. Leung, Beatrice (2002) 'China and Falun Gong: Party and society relations in the modern era', Journal of Contemporary China, 11:33, 761 – 784] Propaganda urged families and workplaces to actively assist in the campaign, and practitioners were subject to severe torture to have them recant.Mickey Spiegel, [ "Dangerous Meditation: China's Campaign Against Falungong"] , Human Rights Watch, 2002, accessed Sept 28, 2007] There are acute concerns over reports of torture, (23 March 2000) [ The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations"] , Amnesty International] illegal imprisonment, forced labour, and psychiatric abuses. [United Nations (February 4, 2004) [ Press Release HR/CN/1073] , retrieved September 12, 2006] Falun Gong practitioners comprise 66% of all reported torture cases in China, [ Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: MISSION TO CHINA] , Manfred Nowak, United Nations, Table 1: Victims of alleged torture, p. 13, 2006, accessed October 12 2007] and at least half of the labour camp population. [ "International Religious Freedom Report 2007"] , US Department of State, Sept 14, 2007, accessed 28th Sept 2007] Human rights organizations have also raised concerns over reports of organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners in China.Amnesty International, [!OpenDocument Falun Gong Persecution Factsheet] , ] MARKET WIRE via COMTEX, [{C933880D-6468-4622-BBE2-D60424C822D4} China's Organ Harvesting Questioned Again by UN Special Rapporteurs: FalunHR Reports] , May 8, 2008, accessed 16/6/08] In July 2006, an investigative report by Canadian ex-Secretary of State David Kilgour and Human Rights Lawyer David Matas concluded that there exists an ongoing practice of systematic organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China. [ Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China by David Matas, Esq. and Hon. David Kilgour, Esq.] ]

Falun Gong practitioners around the world continue their peaceful appeals to bring an end to the persecution. Lawsuits have been initiated by practitioners against Chinese officials alleged to be chiefly responsible for the crackdown, in particular Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan.


"See further: Founding of Falun Gong and pre-persecution"
Li Hongzhi introduced the Falun Gong to the public in May 1992. During the early years he was granted several awards, by Chinese governmental organizations to encourage him to continue teaching the practice. From 1992 to the end of 1994 he traveled to most major Chinese cities to teach at the invitation of "qigong" organizations. Li's lectures were organised by the China Qigong Science Research Society (CQSRS), an official government body which profited the most from the lecture fees.Danny Schechter, "Falun Gong's Challenge to China: Spiritual Practice or Evil Cult?", Akashic books: New York, 2001, p. 66] Li later began offering free lectures. After refusing a request to raise his tuition due to complaints from other "qigong" masters, Li withdrew from the CQSRS, stating that it only tried to make money off the qigong masters without doing any research on qigong.p. 66] According to Falun Gong related sources , shortly following this some individuals from the CQSRS began spreading rumours about Li Hongzhi to the government, attempting to get the government to curtail Falun Gong's growing popularityp. 67] David Ownby contends that opposition to Falun Gong from within the Party began in around 1994, and increased over the following years. According to Ownby, is no conclusive evidence on the motivation of the Party's initial resistance.David Ownby, "Falun Gong and Canada's Foreign Policy," "International Journal", Vol. 51, Spring 2001, pp. 181-204]

On June 17, 1996, the Chinese newspaper "Guangming Daily", one of the Chinese government's official newspapers, published an editorial article titled, "A Loud and Long Alarm Must Be Sounded Against Pseudo-Science", which criticized qigong in general and claimed Falun Gong promoted "superstition." [ A Chronicle of Major Events of Falun Dafa] ,, accessed 2007-10-12] Falun Gong related sources say that this was the beginning of a concerted, state controlled media campaign that attempted to curtail Falun Gong's popularity.Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group, [ Introduction] , accessed October 7, 2007]

Six months later, police agencies launched a nationwide "investigation" into Falun Gong at the behest of certain highly-ranked Party officials--among them Luo Gan--with the purpose of finding fault with Falun Gong. It was closed without there being any evidence of wrongdoing. Another official investigation, under the same pretext, was launched in 1998. It's official report stated that Falun Gong "only benefits, and does no harm to .. the nation."p. 28] But, shortly following this, a circular was distributed to police offices throughout the country which labeled Falun Gong as a "sect." Falun Gong materials could no longer be published through official channels, [ Falun Dafa Australia information center: Timeline] , accessed October 7, 2007] and faced confiscation. Falun Gong documents that many of the agents involved in these 'investigations' later started practicing Falun Gong.

On May 11, 1998, He Zuoxiu, a physicist from the Chinese Academy of Science, an atheist-marxist and "crusader" against supernatural and "unscientific thinking," [ Who's afraid of Falun Gong] International Religious Freedom Report, Vol. 3, issue 1, International Coalition for Religious Freedom, April 2001] denounced Falun Gong in an interview on Beijing Television. Some analysts point out that He Zuoxiu is the brother-in-law of Luo Gan, one of the chief taskmasters of the persecution, and that he had quickly "become a national hero" for opposing Falun Gong. [ "Spiritual Practice or Evil Cult"?: Comprehending Falun Gong in the Context of China's Religious Policy] , Zhonghu Yan, Center for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, December 13, 2001] . In response to the program in which Falun Gong was criticized and called "feudalistic superstition", the station received letters of protest from Falun Gong practitioners, and some 2000 conducted peaceful protests in front of its offices.Ian Johnson, [ "A Blind Eye:China's Rigid Policies On Religion Helped Falun Dafa for Years"] , Page A1, The Wall Street Journal, 13 December 2000] Danny Schechter, "Falun Gong's Challenge to China: Spiritual practice or Evil Cult?", Akashic Books: New York, 2001, p. 68-69] Under pressure from the Central Government to end the protest at the station "at any cost", and the reporter was dismissed and a favorable report telecast a few days later. [Craig S. Smith, Revered by Millions, a Potent Mystic Rattles China's Communist Leaders, Page 1, Wall Street Journal, April 26, 1999 [ c/o third party link] ] .Considering the negative report as inaccurate and a violation of the government's "Three No's Policy" (“no beating, no argument, no reporting”) on qi gong, Falun Gong practitioners assembled in front of the magazine editorial office in Tianjin for an apology. According to Maria Hsia Chang's research, this resulted in about a hundred CCP party, government and military retirees, who were adherents of Falun Gong, petitioning Jiang unsuccessfully to legalize it. [ REPORT INTO ALLEGATIONS OF ORGAN HARVESTING OF FALUN GONG PRACTITIONERS IN CHINA] , David Kilgour and David Matas]

On April 11, 1999, He Zuoxiu published an article in Tianjin College of Education’s "Youth Reader" magazine, entitled "I Do Not Agree with Youth Practicing Qigong," disparaging Falun Gong and qigong in general. Practitioners considered the article an "inaccurate, even slanderous attack, unfairly maligning the practice."Danny Schechter, "Falun Gong's Challenge to China: Spiritual practice or Evil Cult?", Akashic Books: New York, 2001, p. 68-69] Noah Porter suggests that He's critiques may have been an intentional provocation aimed at Falun Gong practitioners.Noah Porter (Masters thesis for the University of South Florida), " [ Falun Gong in the United States: An Ethnographic Study] ", 2003, p 98] However, the publication refused a right of reply to He's claims in this case, practitioners went to Tianjin College of Education and related governmental agencies to hold appeals from April 18 to April 24.p 99] Though the appeals were peaceful, riot police were dispatched,p 69] practitioners beaten and 45 individuals arrested.Reid, Graham (Apr 29-May 5, 2006) [ "Nothing left to lose"] , "New Zealand Listener", retrieved July 6, 2006] p 85]

According to Schechter, practitioners were 'shocked' at the unfair treatment and complained to local authorities, who told them that the imprisoned practitioners would only be released with central government approval and asked them to go to Beijing if they wanted to petition. [ Persecution, Timeline.] Falun Dafa Information Centre] Sinologist Benjamin Penny says "the response of Falun Gong was to seek redress from the leadership of the country by going to them and, albeit very quietly and politely, making it clear that they would not be treated so shabbily." [Benjamin Penny, [ The Past, Present, and Future of Falun Gong] , 2001, accessed 17/6/08] Some analysts state that perception of the magazine article being in violation of the government's "Three No's Policy" towards qigong, could have also been a factor that motivated protests at the magazines editorial office in Tianjin.

The Zhongnanhai Incident

Amnesty International states that, the persecution appears 'to have been triggered by a large-scale demonstration in Beijing on 25 April 1999, when an estimated 10,000 practitioners and sympathizers from various places in China stood quietly from dawn until late into the night outside the Zhongnanhai, the compound of the Communist Party leadership in Beijing.' The demonstration was in protest of the ill-treatment and detainment of practitioners by police over the previous months, especially the incident in Tainjin. Amnesty states the demonstrators' purpose "was to demand official status for Falun Gong and to request dialogue with the government." The practitioners stayed in silence for 12 hours, reading and meditating. Kilgour and Matas note that "The participants included intellectuals, government officials and party members. The protest was silent; there were no posters and not a single political slogan or defiant thought was voiced." Falun Gong related sources say that a few practitioners, representing Falun Gong, presented three requests to the authorities: Release of practitioners who were arrested in Tianjin, Permission for Falun Gong books to be published and to give practitioners a loose and relaxed environment. [ Behind the April 25 Incident] , Falun Dafa Information Center] Premier Zhu Rongji met with representatives and the crowd dispersed after the arrested practitioners were released.Jay Nordlinger, [ Crackdown Time :Why Beijing fears the Falun Gong] , National Review, Vol. 51 Issue 18, p. 26, Sept 27, 1999 ] .

The Chinese Communist Party later declared the gathering on April 25 to be "the most serious political incident" since the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. According to some analysts, the government was alarmed after the gathering of April 25 at the possibility of such a large number of people to amass so close to the seat of power.Francesco Sisci, [ FALUNGONG Part 1: From sport to suicide] Asia Times, January 27, 2001] Amnesty states that the apparent ability of the group to mobilize large numbers of people for a public demonstration was a major cause of concern to the Chinese government. According to some estimates, there were more than 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing at this time, and it was reported that the scale of practitioners' protest pointed to the Communist Party losing its tight control on the people while it tinkered with political and economic reforms.

According to analysts, the onset of the persecution campaign against Falun Gong, shortly following the April 25 incident, may be directly related to political suspicions, and a generalized intolerance on the part of the Communist state to any group which shows dissent.They point out that Falun Gong's large body of supporters, increasing popularity across the world, and concepts in Falun Gong's teachings, directly related to Buddhas, heavens, virtue, re-birth, karma and other ideas diametrical to Communism, fit the profile of a challenge to the Party. In response, the Government embarked on a Stalinist/Maoist drive to "neutralize" the perceived threat. The Globe and Mail wrote that Beijing's 'hysterical reaction' to a harmless religious movement exposes two unpleasant things about the regime: that "it is still by instinct a totalitarian regime, incapable of tolerating any competing loyalty... every group, from [the] chess club to army command, must come under the control of the Party, and any group that does not is a threat" and secondly that the Party suffers insecurity over its rule, and since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 "leaders have lived in mortal fear of the Chinese people. Only a deeply fearful regime would go into such a panic over a bunch of middle-aged people doing strange exercises in the park." [The Globe and Mail, Beijing v. falun gong, Metro A14, 01/26/2001]

A World Journal article contends that the Zhongnanhai demonstrations might have been organized in part by the government to "trump up charges against Falun Gong which it had observed and monitored for years through its infiltrators." [World Journal, American edition, June 20, 1999] Luo Gan had allegedly wanted the practice banned since 1996 but lacked the legal basis. Credited as the chief Communist organizer of the Zhongnanhai gathering, Luo is alleged to have had the police direct them there in order to create an incident that could later be held against Falun Gong.American Asian Review, Vol. XIX, no. 4, Winter 2001, p. 12] The practitioners are said by Schechter to have wanted to make a peaceful appeal at the citizens' appeal office, located at Fuyou street, near Zhongnanhai.p. 28]

Onset of the Persecution

Jiang Zemin's role

Julia Ching from the University of Toronto suggested that the Zhongnanhai incident led to "fear, animosity and suppression". Jiang Zemin had allegedly received a letter from the former director of the 301 Military Hospital, "a doctor with considerable standing among the political elite," endorsing Falun Gong and advising high-level cadres to start practicing it. Jiang also found out that Li's book, "Zhuan Falun", had been published by People's Liberation Navy, and that possibly seven hundred thousand Communist Party members were practitioners. "Jiang accepts the threat of Falun Gong as an ideological one: spiritual beliefs against militant atheism and historical materialism. He wishes to purge the government and the military of such beliefs".

Robert Thurman, Buddhism scholar at Columbia University, said the regime was frightened by Falun Gong and "went nuts, revealing its weakness and self-doubt for all the world to see." The Washington Post reported sources saying that not all of the standing committee of the Politburo shared Jiang's view that Falun Gong should be eradicated. Through a Mao-style purge of Falun Gong, Jiang forced senior cadres "to pledge allegiance to his line", thus boosting his authority to enable him to dictate events at the pivotal 16th Communist Party congress, a Communist Party veteran later told CNN's Willy Lam. "As with campaigns dating from the 1960s, the standard ritual of ideological sessions held in party units, factories, and colleges the past few years is that participants make public declarations of support for the Beijing line—and for the top leader."

Jiang's campaign has been criticized as a Maoist-style approach. Lam reports a mid-level official saying that "The leadership is obsessed with the Falun Gong and have put its eradication as a top priority this year.", [ Endgame for the Falun Gong?] , August 21, 2001] Tony Saich agrees that the campaign was used by Jiang to serve as a loyalty test to his individual leadership. [Tony Saich, "Governance and Politics in China," Palgrave Macmillan; 2nd Ed edition (27 Feb 2004)] The size and reach of Jiang's anti-Falun Gong campaign surpassed that of many previous mass-movements.Willy Wo-Lap Lam, [ China’s sect suppression carries a high price] ,, February 9, 2001]

On June 10, 1999 the Party established an extra-constitutional body charged with overseeing the persecution campaign, referred to as the "6-10 Office". Agents were sent to every province, city, county, university, government department and state-owned business in China. In the Kilgour-Matas report, a Party official is quoted saying that in 1999, more than 3,000 officials of the 6-10 Office united at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to discuss the campaign,David Kilgour & David Matas, [, "Bloody Harvest: Revised report into allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China"] , accessed 26th of September] where Li Lanqing. the then head of the 6-10 Office, is said to have verbally announced the Party's policy on Falun Gong, "defaming their reputations, bankrupting them financially and destroying them physically".

By July 20, 1999, the persecution campaign had begun. Under orders from the Public Security Bureau, churches, temples, mosques, newspapers, media, courts and police were all quickly mobilized to follow the Party line to "crush" Falun Gong, “no measures too excessive.” Falun Gong was “condemned” in the media, with books shredded and videotapes bulldozed for TV cameras. Within days a “wave of arrests” swept across China. The arrest of other Falun Gong practitioners across the country began, police broke into the homes of hundreds and took them to prison during the middle of the night. By the end of 1999, practitioners were dying in custody, ibid., Ian Johnson, "Wildgrass" (2005) p 283] and by February 2000, 5,000 were detained across China.

On July 22, 1999 the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs officialy issued a statement of ban against Falun Gong. Charges imposed against Falun Gong ranged from "organizing illegal gatherings" to "threatening political stability". On the same day,Human Rights Watch in New York issued a statement that "strongly condemned the Chinese government's nationwide ban on the practice of Falun Gong" and urged the release of practitioners "arbitrarily detained in a nationwide sweep aimed at suppressing the group." Human Rights Watch called on the international community to protest the ban, and urged Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to intervene with Chinese officials at the highest levels. [ U.N. asked to intervene to protect Falun Gong's Rights] , Human Rights Watch, New York]

Amnesty International states that despite the persecution, many Falun Gong practitioners continued to hold exercise sessions in public, usually as a form of silent protest against the persecution and imprisonment of practitioners. Some of these silent protests were held outside important seats of government or in places with political significance such as Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Amnesty points out that these were attended by large numbers of people, including significant numbers of elderly people and women, and that they have been entirely peaceful. [ The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations] , The Amnesty International] . The government declared these sessions to be "illegal assemblies" and the practitioners were put under detention or sent to forced labor. Amnesty states that among the thousands detained were ordinary workers, farmers, teachers and academics, university students, publishers, accountants, police officers , engineers, people from a variety of other professions and government officials According to some sources over 35,000 Falun Gong practitioners had been arrested in Beijing alone. [Ian Johnson, [ Defiant Falun Dafa Members Converge on Tiananmen] , 25 April 2000, The Wall Street JournalPage A21] . Falun Dafa Information center documents details of over 3000 confirmed cases of deaths of Falun Gong practitioners from torture in police custody. [Minghui/Clearwisdom, [ Death list] , Falun Gong, retrieved February 5 2007] Falun Gong related Human Rights organizations state that realistic estimates of deaths could be above 30,000. [ [ Persecution: Killings] , The Falun Dafa Information Center ]

Mechanics of the persecution campaign

According to Human Rights reports, a variety of techniques have been employed by the Chinese government in its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. These include physical and psychiatric abuses against practitioners ; "re-education" through forced labor where detained practitioners are forced to renounce the practice; and a widespread media campaign to turn public opinion against Falun Gong. Every aspect of society was used by the CCP in its persecution campaign against Falun Gong, including the media apparatus, police force, army, education system, families, and workplaces.Johnson, Ian, "Wild Grass: three portraits of change in modern china", Vintage (March 8, 2005)] An extra-constitutional body, the 6-10 Office was created to "oversee the terror campaign," driven by a large-scale propaganda through television, newspaper, radio and internet. Leung, Beatrice (2002) 'China and Falun Gong: Party and society relations in the modern era', Journal of Contemporary China, 11:33, 761 – 784] Propaganda urged families and workplaces to actively assist in the campaign, and practitioners were subject to severe torture to have them recant.Mickey Spiegel, [ "Dangerous Meditation: China's Campaign Against Falungong"] , Human Rights Watch, 2002, accessed Sept 28, 2007] Kilgour and Matas state that the "6-10 office" was established in every province, city, county, university, government department and government-owned business to spearhead the crackdown.Local governments everywhere were given unlimited authority to implement Beijing's orders in 1999 and afterwards.

"Immeasurable capital and police resources are being poured into this campaign for no reason, turning society in chaos, all just to suppress Falun Gong practitioners—people who peacefully do their practice in order to cultivate their hearts and minds, and improve their health. What is being done to them is an absolute crime and a violation of basic human rights. There is no excuse for you not to take immediate action to change the situation." -- Prominent Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng in an open letter to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. [Gao Zhisheng, A China More Just, Broad Press USA, 2007]
Human Rights organizations also point to retroactive use of legislation to legitimatize the persecution campaign.. The campaign's first emphasis on rule by law was when a statute legislation was passed outlawing "heterodox religions" and then retroactively applied to Falun Gong thus legitimising the persecution of Falun Gong and many other spiritual groups. Beatrice Leung states that Falun Gong had "obtained legal status as one of China's many qigong groups", since it had been registered with the China Qigong Science Research Society in 1992; its literature had been approved by the Ministry of Culture and its books were printed through a state-license. She suggests that this retroactive application of law, which saw the press which printed Falun Gong's books punished and bookshop-owners arrested for acts which were not illegal at that time, "defies normal concepts of legality". Amnesty states the official directives and legal documents issued for the purge "undermine rights set out in the Chinese constitution as well as international standards." Leung, Beatrice (2002) 'China and Falun Gong: Party and society relations in the modern era', Journal of Contemporary China, 11:33, 761 – 784] Kilgour and Matas point out that only "later in 1999 did the National People's Congress pass new laws targeting Falun Gong retroactively and purporting to legalize a long list of illegal acts" against practitioners.

Analysts opine that officials grew impatient with the constant flow of protesters into Beijing, and decided that “drastic measures were needed.” Johnson describes the framework set up by Beijing that led to killings. ibid., Ian Johnson, "Wildgrass" (2005) p 283] This was a cascading responsibility system to push the responsibility for meeting central orders down onto those enforcing them: central authorities would hold local officials personally responsible for stemming the flow of protesters. A typical “study session” of police and government officials was held in Weifang; the central government's directive to limit protesters was read aloud, no questions were asked as to how it was to be achieved —“success was all that mattered.” ibid., Ian Johnson, "Wildgrass" (2005) p 285]

The Party has used a variety of extra-legal mechanisms to stamp out public practice and protest. Some work units would summarily fire people identified as practitioners. Job loss often meant lost housing, schooling, pensions, and a report to the police. If brought to the attention of police or Party officials, even doing the Falun Gong exercises at home proved dangerous. Local officials would detain active practitioners and those unwilling to recant, and were expected to "make certain" that families and employers keep them isolated. .

Media propaganda

Propaganda from state controlled media has plays a central role in the persecution campaign. Kilgour and Matas report that incitement to hatred against Falun Gong by state controlled media is most acute in China. The incitement to hatred is aimed at justifying the state's policy of persecution; recruiting participants for the persecution, and forestalling any opposition. They state that this incitement to hatred, though not specific enough to indicate the form that persecution takes, "promotes any and all violations of the worst sort."

Elizabeth J. Perry describes media reports inundating the evening news at the early stages of the crackdown: "For weeks... each night, pictures were broadcast of huge piles of Falun Gong materials that had been... confiscated in police raids on bookstores and publishing houses," including the People’s Liberation Army Press. "Some were disposed of in gigantic bonfires, others were recycled..." Media reports would focus on the testimonies of relatives of Falun Gong "victims", who would talk about the "terrible tragedies" that had befallen their loved ones; former practitioners would confess being "hoodwinked by Li Hongzhi and... expressing regret at their gullibility"; "happy pictures of those who had kicked the Falun Gong habit" and were now pursuing other pass-times were broadcast; physical education instructors suggested "healthy alternatives" to Falun Gong practice, including badminton, ballroom dancing, bowling. Perry writes that the basic pattern of the offensive was similar to "the anti-rightist campaign of the 1950s [and] the anti-spiritual pollution campaigns of the 1980s." [Elizabeth J. Perry, Critical Asian Studies 33:2 (2001), p. 173]

Falun Gong was branded by state media as part of an "anti-China international movement," according to CNN's Willy Lam. In a throw-back to the Cultural Revolution, the Party organised rallies in the streets and stop-work meetings in remote western provinces by irrelevant government agencies such as the weather bureau to denounce the practice. Xinhua published editorials on PLA officers declaring Falun Gong "an effort by hostile Western forces to subvert China," and vowing to do their utmost to defend the central leadership and "maintain national security and social stability."

Circulars were issued to women's and youth organisations encouraging support for the crackdown. Both the Youth League and the All-China Women's Federation trumpeted the "greater use of science education" to combat "feudalistic superstition." Xinhua would report speeches of Youth League officials: "This reminds us of the importance and urgency of strengthening our political and ideological work among the younger generation, educating them with Marxist materialism and atheism, and making greater efforts to popularize scientific knowledge".People's Daily Online, [ China Bans Falun Gong: Major Mass Organizations Support Falun Gong Ban] , July 25, 1999, accessed October 12, 2007] The Women's Federation stated the need to "arm our sisters with scientific knowledge and help improve their capability to recognize and resist feudal superstition" After having "earnestly studied" Jiang's speeches on Falun Gong, the PLA also recognised that "Only Marxism can save China and only the Chinese Communist Party can lead us to accomplish the great cause of reinvigorating the Chinese nation." [People's Daily Online, [ China Bans Falun Gong: PLA, Armed Police Support Government Ban on Falun Gong] , July 25, 1999, accessed October 12, 2007]

The campaign entered educational institutions, with anti-Falun Gong propaganda incorporated into high-school and primary school textbooks.WOIPFG, [ Chinese Ministry of Education Participating in the Persecution of Falun Gong: Investigative Report] , 2004, accessed October 12, 2007] WOIPFG claimed that students who practiced Falun Gong were barred from schools and universities and from sitting exams; a policy of "guilt by association" was adopted, such that direct family members of known practitioners were also denied entry; schoolchildren were taught anti-Falun Gong poems;Hugo Restall [ What if Falun Dafa Is a ‘Cult’?] , The Asian Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2001] anti-Falun Gong petitions were organised on a mass scale; university professors, lecturers and students who refused to renounce Falun Gong were expelled and faced consequences such as arrest, forced labour, rape, and torture, sometimes resulting in death; students were forced to watch videos or attend seminars attacking Falun Gong; defaming banners and posters were placed around schools and universities, reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution;WOIPFG, [ Systematic persecution in China's Schools] , accessed October 12 2007] viewing Falun Gong websites could result in arrest; examinations contained questions with anti-Falun Gong contents--incorrect answers would result in reportedly violent repercussions.

According to "The Washington Post", neighborhood officials compelled the elderly, people with disabilities, and the ill to attend the classes denouncing Falun Gong; universities sent staff to find students who had dropped out or been expelled for practicing Falun Gong and brought them back for the brainwashing sessions. John Pomfret and Philip P. Pan, “Torture Is Breaking Falun Gong, China Systematically Eradicating Group”, Washington Post Foreign Service, Sunday, August 5, 2001; Page A01]

The "Post" reported the story of a Beijing university student, Alex Hsu, who was kidnapped on his way to a computer lab. It was reported that they drove him to a hotel near a labour camp, where 20 other practitioners were detained, including students, teachers, university staff and retired professors. At the hotel three former practitioners still detained at the camp tried to persuade him to abandon Falun Gong for 12 hours a day. The "Post" reports Hsu saying "It was mental torture... The pressure just kept growing ... And the threat was always there. You could see these people all had suffered, and you knew what would happen to you if you didn't give in too." The "Post" reported that practitioners are forced to remain in the classes until they renounce their beliefs, in writing, and then on videotape. They report Hsu saying, "It was very painful. They forced us to lie. We knew Falun Gong is good, but they forced us to say it was evil." Hsu wept after giving in, and later dropped out of school and went into hiding. “Those who refuse to submit in the classes are sent to the labor camps, where members face a more systematic regime of violence than in the past, according to practitioners and government sources. On average, the government adviser said, most people abandon Falun Gong after 10 to 12 days of classes, but some resist for as long as 20.”

Anne-Marie Brady of the University of Cantebury gives Falun Gong as an example of the CCP's use of new technologies as propaganda tools. "If you do a web search in China using Chinese Google on Falun Gong, all that you'll get is all the government sites." She says that relevant western companies doing business in China need to participate in this censoring system. [Antony Funnell, [ The Media Report: Three perspectives on China] , Radio National Australia, accessed 2/6/08] According to James Mulvenon of the Rand Corporation, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security uses cyber-warfare to attack Falun Gong websites in the United States, [Eric Lichtblau, [ CIA Warns of Chinese Plans for Cyber-Attacks on U.S.] , LA Times, April 25, 2002] Australia, Canada and England. He also concurs that the CCP blocks access to internet resources about the topic in China. [Associated Press, [,1283,54789,00.html "China Dissidents Thwarted on Net"] , accessed September 19, 2007]

In July 2001, as part of House Concurrent Resolution 188, the U.S. House of Representatives denounced the "notorious" '6-10' offices which oversees the persecution through "organized brainwashing, torture and murder", and stated that propaganda from state-controlled media "inundated the public in an attempt to breed hatred and discrimination." The Resolution was passed by a 420:0 vote, calling on China to "cease its persecution and harassment of Falun Gong practitioners in the United States; to release from detention all Falun Gong practitioners and put an end to the practices of torture and other cruel, inhumane treatment against them and to abide by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" [ U.S. Congress (July 24 2002) [ "H.CON.RES.188 for the 107th Congress (2nd Session)"] , "Library of Congress", retrieved July 31 2006]

Intimidation of foreign correspondents

Amnesty documents intimidation and harassment of foreign correspondents reporting on the crackdown on Falun Gong. Many foreign journalists attending a news conference organized covertly in Beijing on 28 October,1999 by Falun Gong practitioners were accused by the Chinese authorities of "illegal reporting". Later on, journalists from a number of news organizations, including Reuters, the New York Times and the Associated Press, were questioned at length by police, obliged to sign a "confession of wrongdoing" and had their work and residence papers temporarily confiscated. Several of the reporters were put under police surveillance. Foreign correspondents also complain that television satellite transmissions had been interfered with while being routed through China Central Television. Amnesty states that "a number of people have received prison sentences or long terms of administrative detention for speaking out about the repression or giving information over the Internet. Others have been punished for communicating with the foreign press or for organising press conferences."

The 2002 Reporters Sans frontiers' report on China states that "Since Falungong was banned in July 1999, Chinese authorities have harassed foreign journalists investigating this issue. Photographers and cameramen working with foreign media are prevented from working on and around Tiananmen Square where hundreds of Falungong followers have demonstrated in recent years. Reporters without Borders estimates that at least 50 representatives of the international press have been arrested since July 1999, and some of them were beaten by police. Finally, several Falungong followers have been imprisoned for talking with foreign journalists." Zhang Xueling, whose name was cited in a series of articles by Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal's correspondent in Beijing, was arrested on 24 April 2001. Johnson had reported Zhang Xueling, a Falun Gong practitioner's account of her mother, who was also a practitioner, being tortured to death by the police. She was sentenced to a few weeks and later to three years in a labour camp. Ian Johnson, states that after he received the Pulitzer Prize for his articles about Falungong, "the Chinese police would have made my life in Beijing impossible." [ [ China annual report 2002] , Reporters Without Borders]

On November 10, 1999, the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of China sent a letter of protest to the Chinese Foreign Ministry about official "intimidation and harassment" of Foreign correspondents in relation to news reporting of the official persecution of Falun Gong. The letter said that "members [of FCC] have been followed, detained, interrogated and threatened" Amnesty notes that "several of the reporters were put under police surveillance". Foreign correspondents also complained that television satellite transmissions had been interfered with while being routed through China Central Television.

Use of the 'cult' label as a tool of repression

:"See also: Academic views on Falun Gong

Falun Gong related sources state that the 'cult' label was first used against Falun Gong by the CCP three months after the onset of the persecution campaign. They point out that "it was not arrived at by scholars of religion, nor sociologists, or psychologists. Nor was it the consensus of the government." [ [ The Falun Dafa Information Centre] ] . A November 9, 1999, report by the Washington Post states, “It was Mr. Jiang who ordered that Falun Gong be branded a ‘cult,’ and then demanded that a law be passed banning cults.”

Julia Ching opines that calling Falun Gong an "cult" after the crackdown had already begun made previous illegal arrests and imprisonments constitutional. She states that "cult" was defined by an atheist government "on political premises, not by any religious authority" , and that the pronouncement was made without defining what a good cult, or a good religion would be.p. 9]

Human Rights Organization and scholars have strongly criticized CCP's use of the term to justify the persecution campaign. David Ownby, Director of the Centre of East Asian studies at the University of Montreal and a specialist in modern Chinese history and prominent Falun Gong scholar states that Falun Gong is "by no means a cult." [David Kilgour, notes for address At a conference of the International Society for Human Rights, Konigstein (near Frankfurt), Germany, 30 March 2007] Former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas, authors of investigative reports on organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China, profess that the 'cult' label "is a manufactured tool of repression, but not its cause." They state that the "cult" label was used to incite hatred and dehumanize practitioners and served to create a pretext for the government's policy of persecution.

A 2001 Amnesty report states that "the word 'cult' has been frequently used in English to translate the label recently put by the Chinese government on the Falun Gong and other similar groups. However, this translation is misleading. The expression used in China for this purpose, "xiejiao zuzhi", refers to a large variety of groups and has a far broader meaning than "cult". "Xiejiao zuzhi" is the expression used in Chinese legislation, official statements and by the state media to refer to a wide range of sectarian and millenarian groups, or unorthodox religious or spiritual organizations, and other groups which do not meet official approval."

"Re-education" through forced labor

According to the Ministry of Public Security, "reform through compulsory education" is an administrative measure imposed on those guilty of committing minor offences, but who are not legally considered criminals. In late 2000, the Party began to use this method of punishment widely against Falun Gong practitioners in the hope of permanently "transforming recidivists," who would often be immediately sentenced to reeducation for up to three years. Terms could be arbitrarily extended by police. Practitioners may have ambiguous charges levied against them, such as "disrupting social order," "endangering national security," or "subverting the socialist system."Robert Bejesky, “Falun Gong & reeducation through labour”, "Columbia Journal of Asian Law", 17:2, Spring 2004, pp. 147-189] Up to 99% of long term Falun Gong detainees are processed administratively through this system, and do not enter the formal criminal justice system.p. 178] Outside access is not given to the camps and there are acute concerns over reproted violations of Human Rights. Prisoners are forced to do heavy work in mines, brick factories, and agriculture. Physical torture, beatings, interrogations, inadequate food rations, and other human rights abuses take place. A figure from 2004 sets the number of Falun Gong deaths in these institutions at 700.p. 179]

There are estimates of at least 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners having been officially sentenced to reeducation from the beginning of the crackdown, and that at least half of the 250,000 total recorded inmates in China's reeducation camps are Falun Gong practitioners. Upon completion of their reeducation sentences, practitioners are sometimes then incarcerated in "legal education centers," another form of punishment set up by provincial authorities to "transform the minds" of practitioners." While Beijing officials initially portrayed the process as "benign," a harder line was later adopted; "teams of education assistants and workers, leading cadres, and people from all walks of life" were drafted into the campaign. In early 2001 quotas were given for how many practitioners needed to be "transformed." Official records do not mention the methods employed to achieve this, though Falun Gong and third party accounts indicate that the mental and physical abuses could be "extraordinarily severe."

Reports of torture

David Ownby notes that the Chinese authorities have harassed and detained "tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands" of practitioners in China. Ownby notes that the authorities have extended the harassment to family members and friends of practitioners.David Ownby, Falun Gong and the Future of China, 2008] Falun Gong sources, accepted as accurate by human rights agencies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented over 3000 confirmed cases of deaths from torture in police custody. Reports of torture documented by the sources exceed 50,000. Human rights organisations including Amnesty International and HRW as well as other NGOs monitoring the treatment of Falun Gong by the Chinese government have also published reports on the torture and mistreatment of practitioners. Since 2000, the Special Rapporteur to the United Nations reported 314 cases of torture, representing more than 1,160 individuals, to the Government of China. According to the UN Special Rapporteur, Falun Gong comprise 66% of all such reported torture cases, 8% occurring within "Ankangs". The US State Department cites estimates that practitioners may account for half of the labour camp population. Amnesty International notes that the practitioners in detention are at a "high risk of torture or ill-treatment." [ Amnesty International 2006 Annual Reports] ]

In its "United Nations Reports on China’s Persecution of Falun Gong" (2004)",Citation | title = The United Nations Reports on China’s Persecution of Falun Gong (2004)| publisher = The Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group | url = | year = 2004 Note: The document is compiled and published by the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group (FLGHRWG), who also wrote the introduction and appendix on torture methods. It contains excerpts from the 2004 annual reports of the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Special Rapporteurs referring specifically to acts committed against Falun Gong practitioners.] Falun Gong reports numerous cases of extreme psychological and physical torture, accompanied by testimonies and details of identities of the victims, resulting in impaired mental, sensory, physiological and speech faculties, mental trauma, paralysis, or death. Over 100 forms of torture are purported to be used, including shocks, stress positions, branding, force-feeding, sexual abuse, with multiple variations on each type. [cite web | title = Norway: Practitioners hold an Anti-Torture Exhibition and Receive Positive Media Coverage (Photos)| publisher = Falun Dafa | url =|date=2004-08-04 | accessdate = 2007-02-12] The main purpose of the torture is ostensibly to have Falun Gong practitioners renounce or denounce the practice and the founder, Li Hongzhi. Kilgour and Matas also accused China of torturing prisoners to obtain their consent to have their organs removed for transplant. [CBC News (July 6, 2006) [ "China harvesting Falun Gong organs, report alleges"] , "CBC News", retrieved July 6, 2006] The Special Rapporteur refers to the torture scenarios as "harrowing" and writes that "The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts... defy description." [Asma Jahangir, [$FILE/G0317260.doc "Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions"] , Report of the Special Rapporteur, United Nations, 2003, accessed October 15, 2007]

John Pomfret and Philip P. Pan wrote in the Washington Post that the Party gained the upper hand on its protracted battle against Falun Gong by expanding its “use of torture and high-pressure indoctrination.” They report that, according to sources, in 2001, after a year and a half of difficulty in suppressing the practice, “the government for the first time this year sanctioned the systematic use of violence against the group, established a network of brainwashing classes and embarked on a painstaking effort to weed out followers neighborhood by neighborhood and workplace by workplace.” They repeat the reports of practitioners being beaten, shocked with electric truncheons, and being “forced to undergo unbearable physical pressure, such as squatting on the floor for days at a time... Many adherents are also sent to intensive classes where the teachings of Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi are picked apart by former believers, sometimes friends who have already been tortured into submission.”

They cite three main ingredients, according to a party apparatchick: violence, a high-pressure propaganda campaign, and brainwashing classes. "Each aspect of the campaign is critical," the "Post" reports their source saying, "Pure violence doesn't work. Just studying doesn't work either. And none of it would be working if the propaganda hadn't started to change the way the general public thinks. You need all three. That's what they've figured out."

They write that some local governments had tried brainwashing classes before, but only in January of 2001 did the “secret 610 office, an interagency task force leading the charge against Falun Gong, order all neighborhood committees, state institutions and companies to start.” Pomfret and Pan write that no practitioner was to be spared, and that according to their source the most active are sent directly to labour camps, “where they are first 'broken' by beatings and other torture.”

The "Post" reported the story of James Ouyang, who was arrested for the second time protesting in Tiananmen Square. After he was arrested, “police methodically reduced him to an 'obedient thing' over 10 days of torture ... Ouyang was stripped and interrogated for five hours. 'If I responded incorrectly, that is if I didn't say, 'Yes,' they shocked me with the electric truncheon,' he said.” After he was put in a labor camp in west Beijing, the "Post" reported, “the guards ordered him to stand facing a wall. If he moved, they shocked him. If he fell down from fatigue, they shocked him ... By the sixth day, Ouyang said, he couldn't see straight from staring at plaster three inches from his face. His knees buckled, prompting more shocks and beatings.” Eventually he gave in to the guards demands, and denounced Falun Gong shouting into the wall, “Officers continued to shock him about the body and he soiled himself regularly. Finally, on the 10th day, Ouyang's repudiation of the group was deemed sufficiently sincere. He was taken before a group of Falun Gong inmates and rejected the group one more time as a video camera rolled.” They report that he left jail and then entered brainwashing classes, “Twenty days later after debating Falun Gong for 16 hours a day, he 'graduated.'”

Amnesty International states that while "it is unknown how many Falun Gong practitioners are being executed by the Chinese authorities, ...various sources indicate China may be executing between 10,000-15,000 people a year." [Amnesty International Fact Sheet on Persecution of Falun Gong, [ Falun Gong Persecution Fact Sheet, Amnesty International] ] Human Rights Watch commented that most of the information available to it are from either official Chinese government or Falun Gong sources, stating that "There is no sure way of checking the information from either source, making it impossible to fully assess competing claims about the numbers of judicial sentences, reeducation through labor terms, deaths in custody, and so on. "

Chinaview, an independent website focused on human rights abuses in China, reveals that the Gaoyang Forced Labour Camp was the first to begin force-feeding Falun Gong practitioners with human urine and excrement in the summer of 2003, and that “…the Chinese government awarded them for this innovation, and sent labour camp staff from around the country to learn this procedure.” [cite web | title = Torture Methods 05 / Force-Feeding| publisher = Chinaview | url =| accessdate = 2007-03-08]

Amnesty International's "Falun Gong Persecution Factsheet" lists sexual abuse among the forms of torture Falun Gong practitioners are subject to. [cite web | title = FALUN GONG PERSECUTION FACTSHEET| publisher = Amnesty International | url =!OpenDocument | accessdate = 2007-03-08] Gao Zhisheng, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer, in his third open letter to the Beijing leadership stated his shock of the "unbelievable brutality, ...the immoral acts ...of 6-10 Office staff and the police. Almost every woman's genitals and breasts or every man's genitals have been sexually assaulted during the persecution in a most vulgar fashion. Almost all who have been persecuted, be they male or female, were first stripped naked before any torture." [cite web | title = Gao Zhisheng's third open letter to Chinese leaders | publisher = Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China | url = | accessdate = 2007-03-08] Women have become targets of brutal forms of sexual torture. Association for Asian Research reports that victims in the Dalian Labor Camp were tied up in a spread-eagle position as torturers repeatedly thrust foreign objects (toilet and shoe brushes, and long rods) into their vaginas. [ [ China genocide suit on U.S. Supreme Court steps Victims of Atrocities Urge Court to Uphold “Inalienable Rights”] , Association for Asian Research, March 29, 2005]

Reports of organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners in China

In March 2006, Falun Gong affiliated media "The Epoch Times" published a number of articles alleging that the Chinese government and its agencies, including the People's Liberation Army, were conducting widespread and systematic organ harvesting of living Falun Gong practitioners. [ Worse Than Any Nightmare—Journalist Quits China to Expose Concentration Camp Horrors and Bird Flu Coverup] , Epoch Times, March 10, 2006] It was alleged that practitioners detained in forced labour camps, hospital basements, or prisons, were being blood and urine tested, their information stored on computer databases, and then matched with organ recipients.The Epoch Times, Special Category: " [,111,,1.html Organ Harvesting in China's Labor Camps] ", accessed 13/6/08] When an organ was required, it alleged, they were injected with potassium to stop the heart, their organs removed and later sold, and their bodies incinerated.

The first series of allegations were based on apparent eye-witness testimony of two individuals, and directed specifically at the Sujiatun Thrombosis Hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province.Ji Da, [ New Witness Confirms Existence of Chinese Concentration Camp, Says Organs Removed from Live Victims] , Epoch Times, March 17, 2006] The story received some deal of media attention. Within one month, some third party investigators, including representatives of the US Department of State, said that there was insufficient evidence to support this specific allegation.Congressional Research Service report,, page CRS-7, paragraph 3]

A few months after the Sujiatun incident, in July 2006, former Canadian Secretary of State, David Kilgour, and Human Rights Lawyer David Matas, published a report of their investigation into the reports of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Their report titled [ "Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China"] concluded that large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners are victims of systematic organ harvesting, whilst still alive, throughout China and that the practice is still ongoing. [ BLOODY HARVEST] Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China, by David Matas, Esq. and Hon. David Kilgour, Esq. 31 January 2007] Kilgour and Matas state that several pieces of evidence contained in their reports are publicly verifiable.

Investigative reports from Sky News and BBC added corroborative evidence to the findings of the Kilgour-Matas report. [Sky News, [,,30200-waghorn_p10864,00.html Suspicions Raised Over Organ Donors] , accessed 1/12/07] The Christian Science Monitor says the report’s evidence is circumstantial but persuasive. [The Monitor's View (August 3, 2006) [ "Organ harvesting and China's openness"] , "The Christian Science Monitor", retrieved August 6, 2006] The Chinese Embassy in Canada dismissed the Kilgour-Matas report soon after its release as "rumors and totally groundless," stating that China abided by World Health Organization principles. Amnesty International considers this statement "to be at odds with the facts in view of the widely documented practice of the buying and selling of organs of death penalty prisoners in China."Amnesty International, [!OpenDocument Falun Gong Persecution Factsheet] , ] On August 2006, a Congressional Research Service report said that some of the report’s key allegations appeared to be inconsistent with the findings of other investigations. [CRS Report for Congress (August 11, 2006) [ "China and Falun Gong"] , "Congressional Research Service", retrieved November 12, 2007] The authors stand by their conclusion. U.N. special rapporteur Manfred Nowak, in December 2007 said "The chain of evidence they [Kilgour and Matas] are documenting shows a coherent picture that causes concern." [ [ An Interview with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Organ Harvesting in China] ]

The Kilgour-Matas reports have had an international impact with governments and medical societies raising concerns and causing changes in international transplant policies.

The Tiananmen Square "self-immolation" incident

On the eve of the Chinese New Year, January 23, 2001, five people apparently attempted to set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square. Seven days later, footage was broadcast nationally in the People's Republic by the state controlled China Central Television (CCTV) which claimed the immolators were practitioners. Initially, western news organizations disseminated the story as given by Xinhua, without the possibility of verifying it independently, given the tight state censorship. Falun Gong in New York emphatically denied that these people could have been practitioners, pointing out that the teachings explicitly forbid suicide and killing. [ "The Issue of Killing"] from Zhuan Falun, Falun Dafa] On the very same day of the incident, Falun Gong in New York issued a press statement stating that the incident was "yet another attempt by the PRC regime to defame the practice of Falun Gong" and called for the "PRC regime to allow the world media and international human rights groups to investigate this case to clarify the facts." [ ] from The Falun Dafa Information Center, New York] Danny Schechter notes that CCP's claims are "unsubstantiated by outside parties"

Falun Gong [ [ False Fire. An analysis on the 2001 Tiananmen incident] ] , Human Rights Activists [ Incitement to hatred, Considerations specific to Falun Gong.] Bloody Harvest: Kilgour Matas Report on Allegation of Organ Harvesting from Falun Gong Practitioners in China, 14 August 2001] and third-party commentators have pointed out discrepancies in the government's version of events, and assert that the incident was staged in order to turn public opinion against the practice [ Press release] Statement by United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, 53rd session, 14 August 2001] and build public support for its persecution.Judith Sunderland. From the Household to the Factory: China's campaign against Falungong. Human Rights Watch, 2002. ISBN 1564322696] [ [ "Beyond The Red Wall"] - The Persecution of Falun Gong, CBC Documentary]

In August, 2001, Human Rights Organization, IED ( International Educational Department), stated in its report at the United Nations that they discovered the incident "in fact, had been staged" and requested that the international community and the UN Subcommission urgently address the situation. [ Press release] Statement by United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, 53rd session, 14 August 2001] According to analysts, the Government's media war against Falun Gong capitalized on the incident. A six-month campaign that followed attempted to potray Falun Gong as an "evil cult"Matthew Gornet, [,8599,165163,00.html The Breaking Point] , Time, June 25, 2001] through repeated broadcasts of images of scene.John Pomfret and Philip Pan, Washington Post, 5 Aug 2001 at A1, [ "Torture is Breaking Falun Gong, China Systematically Eradicating Group"] , October 2004, retrieved July 8, 2006] The campaign is thought to be the government's first effort to gain public support for the crackdown of Falun Gong, and is "reminiscent of communist political movements -- from the 1950-53 Korean War to the radical Cultural Revolution in the 1960s."citeweb|url =|title = Tiananmen tense after fiery protests|author = Staff and wire reports|publisher=CNN|date=24 January 2001|accessdate = 2007-02-09] Smith, Chrandra D. (March 11 2003) [ "Chinese Persecution of Falun Gong"] , "Rutgers J. of L. & Relig. New Dev.66", retrieved July 14 2006]

Falun Gong related sources pointed out several apparent discrepancies in the chinese government's version of the incidents in a video titled "False Fire" [ [ False Fire. An analysis on the 2001 Tiananmen incident] ] . Western media correspondents were denied access to the purported victims. A CNN official confirms that one of his teams was arrested that day near Tiananmen Square and that police confiscated their videotapes. [ The China annual report, 2002 from Reporters sans frontières] ] Danny Schechter notes that CNN videotapes of the incident are confiscated, never aired... China's charges are unsubstantiated by outside parties."

In a CBC documentary Clive Ansley, Chair of CIPFG and China Country Monitor for Lawyers Rights’ Watch Canada states "You've got Falun Gong people this country.. oppressed over and over again, they are not allowed to speak, they are not allowed to assert any of their rights as citizens and the level of frustration must be terribly high... I can understand people doing that.. that does not mean.. the movement is evil. But, ironically, we ultimately found out that it was a fraud anyway. It wasn't real, the people involved weren't Falun Gong members, it was completely staged by the government." [ [ "Beyond The Red Wall"] - The Persecution of Falun Gong, CBC Documentary]

Reports of psychiatric torture

Soon after the onset of the persecution, Falun Gong and human rights observers began reporting widespread psychiatric abuse of mentally-healthy practitioners. Falun Gong says that thousands have been forcefully detained in mental hospitals and subject to psychiatric abuses such as injection of sedatives or anti-psychotic drugs, torture by electrocution, force-feeding, beatings and starvation. [Citation | title = Falun Gong Practitioners Tortured in Mental Hospitals Throughout China | publisher = Falun Dafa Information Center | url = | year = | accessed = 10th March 2007] Schechter states that as the persecution progressed, the "authorities came up with a new tactic, throwing those arrested into mental hospitals." Abuse of political dissidents in China is well documented by international Human Rights organizations. Human Rights Watch has documented 3,000 cases of psychiatric punishment of political dissidents since the early 1980s. [Joseph Kahn, [ Sane Chinese Put in Asylum, Doctors Find] , March 17, 2006] In 2002, Human Rights Watch and the Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry issued a report which alleged that Chinese dissidents, independent labour organisers, whistle-blowers and individuals who complain about official misconduct have been labelled "political maniacs" and locked up in mental hospitals simply for opposing the government. [John Gittings, [,7369,773633,00.html China 'sending dissidents to mental hospitals] , "The Guardian", August 13, 2002]

Danny Schechter notes that "use of psychiatric institutions to imprison Falun Gong practitioners is becoming an international issue." The American Psyhiatric Association, at its May 2000 meeting in Chicago, discussed this concern. The Committee on Misuse and Abuse in Psychiatry unanimously passed a resolution asking that the American Psychiatric leadership request the World Psychiatric Association to investigate this problem. Schechter notes that the body's intervention had helped prevent a similar practice in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

Political abuse of psychiatry

A 2001 report by Amnesty International states that "Several cases have been reported in which Falun Gong practitioners, alone or in groups, were taken by police to mental hospitals where they were detained for periods varying from a few days to several weeks, and often forced to take drugs against their will.

Robin J. Munro was the first clinician to draw worldwide attention to the abuses of forensic psychiatry in China in general, and of Falun Gong practitioners in particular.Sunny Y. Lu, MD, PhD, and Viviana B. Galli, MD, “Psychiatric Abuse of Falun Gong Practitioners in China”, "J Am Acad Psychiatry Law", 30:126–30, 2002] Munro says that large-scale psychiatric abuses are the most distinctive aspect of the government’s protracted campaign to "crush the Falun Gong."

Sunny Y. Lu and Viviana B. Galli credit Jiang Zemin with reversing the declining trend of using mental hospitals as places of government-directed torture in China, as part of a comprehensive and brutal campaign to eradicate Falun Gong. They draw comparison with political abuse of psychiatry by the Soviet Union aimed at dissidents and nonconformists, but point out that Falun Gong practitioners were "neither political nor nonconformists."

Lu and Galli assert that the authorities began forcing sane Falun Gong practitioners into psychiatric facilities not long after the crackdown began. In cases where hospitals expressed reluctance to admit mentally healthy persons, the government would apply pressure through police. Without formal legal procedures for commitment, local police officers and members of the 6-10 Office arbitrarily commit Falun Gong practitioners to psychiatric institutions, with lengths of detention ranging from days to years. Lu and Galli state that “the perversion of mental health facilities for the purpose of the torture of Falun Gong practitioners is widespread”; the targets are from all tiers of society, including physicians, nurses, judges, military personnel, police officers and school teachers.Their crimes were practising Falun Gong, passing out flyers against the persecution, appealing and petitioning to the government, and refusing to renounce the practice. Diagnoses may include obsessive-compulsive disorder, “mental problems induced by superstition” and also the newly coined the “evil cult-induced mental disorder” (邪教所致精神障碍) --which Munro describes as a “politically opportunistic... hyperdiagnosis", and a throwback to the model found in Soviet forensic psychiatry.”p .105]

Munro writes that detained practitioners are tortured and subject to electroconvulsive therapy, painful forms of electrical acupuncture treatment, prolonged deprivation of light, food and water, and restricted access to toilet facilities in order to force "confessions" or "renunciations" as a condition of release. Fines of several thousand yuan may follow.p. 107] Lu and Galli write that dosages of medication up to five or six times the usual level are administered through nasogastric tubes as a form of torture or punishment, and that physical torture is common, including binding tightly with ropes in very painful positions. Effects of this treatment, including drug or chemical toxicity, are loss of memory, migraines, extreme weakness, protrusion of the tongue, rigidity, loss of consciousness, vomiting, nausea and seizures.p. 128]

Lu and Galli say that the Chinese government uses extreme measures to prevent investigation of the alleged abuses: threats, bribes, summary cremation of victims' bodies, arbitrary detention of potential whistleblowers, censorship of the internet, restricted access for western media and humanitarian organisations, and detention, harassment, deportation of journalist or revoking their licenses etc.p. 128]

The "Washington Post" also the reported in the issue: "The old Soviet Union pioneered the misuse of psychiatry against political dissidents; China has followed suit..." The Post recounts the story of 32-year-old computer engineer Su Gang as "dramatic". Su had been repeatedly detained by the security department of his workplace for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. Following a protest trip to the capital, on May 23, 2000 his employer, a state-run petrochemical company, authorized the police to "drag him off to a mental hospital." According to his father, doctors injected Mr. Su twice a day with an unknown substance. "When Mr. Su emerged a week later, he could not eat or move his limbs normally. On June 10, the previously healthy young man died of heart failure." [Washington Post Editorial," [ Bad Medicine in China] ", 6/23/00]

Reports state that practitioners are are involuntarily admitted because they practice Falun Gong exercises, for passing out flyers, refusing to sign a pledge to renounce Falun Gong, writing petition letters, appealing to the government etc. Others are admitted because detention sentences have expired or the detainees have not been successfully “transformed” in the brainwashing classes. Some have been told that they were admitted because they had a so-called “political problem”—that is, because they appealed to the government to lift the ban of Falun Gong. [ Psychiatric Abuse of Falun Gong Practitioners in China] ]

Amnesty reports of a case where, Yang Yong, a spokesman for a police station in Beijing, confirmed to a foreign journalist that around 50 Falun Gong had been incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital near Beijing. Yang Yong reportedly said that his police force was responsible for Falun Gong practitioners, the majority of them women, held at the Zhoukoudian psychiatric hospital. He told the journalist that the practitioners "are not patients, they are there to be re-educated... most of them are Falun Gong 'extremists' who have been to Beijing to protest at least 10 times".

Response to the reports

Lu and Galli state that since September 1999, the police have forced mentally healthy Falun Gong practitioners into psychiatric facilities. They point out that such a commitment requires no formal legal procedure. Members of the 6-10 Office — an extraconstitutional body created for the sole purpose of terrorizing Falun Gong—the local police, or even the security forces of local factories can arbitrarily commit Falun Gong practitioners. Human rights groups now estimate that there are 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners being held against their will in mental hospitals. The actual number is very likely many times higher. The lengths of these detentions range from a few days to 1.5 years.

According to Lu and Galli, documented cases include "physicians, nurses, an associate professor, a judge, a computer engineer, military personnel, police officers, teachers, and others. They are known to have functioned at high professional levels in society before incarceration."

Lu and Galli state that the Chinese government uses extreme measures to block any investigations by Western media and that many foreign journalists who have attempted to investigate these matters (or, in some cases, merely cover Falun Gong) in the past year have been detained, harassed, and had their licenses revoked and in some cases have even been deported from China. China has also blocked attempts at investigation by international organizations such as Amnesty International and has not responded to the World Psychiatry Association’s request to send international experts to investigate psychiatric abuse in China. Munro brings attention to the 'coincidence' between the very sizeable increase in Falun Gong admissions to mental hospitals, and the onset of the government's persecution campaign. Robin J. Munro, "Judicial Psychiatry in China and its Political Abuses", "Colombia Journal of Asian Law", Columbia University, Volume 14, Number 1, Fall 2000, p 114]

In 2002, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) scheduled an investigation with the involvement of the Chinese Society of Psychiatrists' (CSP) to examine alleged abuses of Falun Gong practitioners who were sent to Chinese psychiatric hospitals and clinics as punishment. In April, several days before it was to start, the investigation was postponed indefinitely, at the Chinese government's insistence.Ken Hausman, [ Chinese Psychiatrists Agree on Psychiatry Abuse Charges'] , Psychiatric News, WPA, August 6, 2004]

Dr. Abraham Halpern, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at New York Medical College and former president of The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, states "The allegations of psychiatric abuse in China involve mistreatment, torture, and fraudulent diagnoses in the case of large numbers of political dissidents and Falun Gong practitioners and should not be dismissed as mere `failures in accurate diagnosis.'" Schechter notes Halpern, who was also a former civil rights activist who worked with Martin Luther King Jr, as stating "the [Chinese] government needs to hospitalize, wrongfully, non-mentally ill dissidents because this will help them in their efforts to paint the Falun Gong practitioners as not being against the government policy, but as being mentally ill. So even if they were to hospitalize a small number, word would soon spread that Falun Gong pratitioners are crazy." Halpern has also called on his colleagues worldwide to speak out on the issue.. Halpern also notes that "Deliberate hospitalization, wrongful hospitalization, is only part of the problem. They then make it very difficult for practitioners to get out of the hospital by demanding that their families pay exorbitant amounts of money for their 'treatment' in the hospital. So there's no question that this type of conduct, government-sanctioned, is a serious violation of human rights. And we'd like to stop it early rather than wait until large number of dissidents are placed in hospitals,as occurred in case of Soviet Union."

Munro maintains that the few cases of psychiatric torture of Falun Gong practitioners he mentions are typical of the “several hundred such accounts that have so far been compiled and published by the Falun Gong,” and that " [i] ndependent investigations by foreign journalists… have confirmed the Falun Gong’s version of events in the cases that have been examined."p. 270] He responds to Lee and Kleinman's doubts by saying that they, in their own published work, relied on the very same documentation, drawn from facts, commentary, and decades of survey material written and compiled by Chinese psychiatrists and law-enforcement officers published in China’s officially authorized professional literature on psychiatry and the law. He opines that since they do not make any substantive rebuttal of his evidence, they must have no answer to it.Robin Munro, [ On the Psychiatric Abuse of Falun Gong and Other Dissenters in China: A Reply to Stone, Hickling, Kleinman, and Lee] , "The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law", 2002, 30:2, pp. 266–274]

Munro contends that decades-long political abuse of psychiatry by the Party, directly preceding the section on Falun Gong, transfers the burden of proof "squarely back onto the Chinese authorities."p. 270]

International response

Human Rights organizations including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have raised acute concerns over reports of torture and ill-treatment of practitioners in China and have also urged the UN and international governments to intervene to bring an end to the persecution [ China's Campaign Against Falungong] , Human Rights Watch] [ The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations"] . The Amnesty International] David Ownby notes that human rights organizations "have unanimously condemned China's brutal campaign against the Falungong, and many governments around the world, including Canada's, have expressed their concern."

Governments around the world, including United States and Canada have called upon the Chinese government to bring a complete end to the persecution. The United States Congress has passed five resolutions - [ House Concurrent Resolution 304] , [ House Resolution 530] , [ House Concurrent Resolution 188] , [ House Concurrent Resolution 218] and [ House Concurrent Resolution 217] - expressing the sense of Congress that oppression by the Government of the People's Republic of China of Falun Gong in the United States and in China should be ceased. [ [ US Congress Resolutions expressing the sense of COngress that Persecution of Falun Gong must be ceased] ] . The first of which, Concurrent Resolution 217, was passed in November, 1999. [ House Concurrent Resolution 217]

Con. Resolution 188, passed unanimously (420-0) by the US Congress states: "Falun Gong is a peaceful and nonviolent form of personal belief and practice with millions of adherents in the People's Republic of China and elsewhere; Whereas the Government of the People's Republic of China has forbidden Falun Gong practitioners to practice their beliefs, and has systematically attempted to eradicate the practice and those who follow it....this policy violates the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights... propaganda from state-controlled media in the People's Republic of China has inundated the public in an attempt to breed hatred and discrimination;... official measures have been taken to conceal all atrocities, such as the immediate cremation of victims, the blocking of autopsies, and the false labeling of deaths as from suicide or natural causes'... several United States citizens and permanent resident aliens have been subjected to arbitrary detention, imprisoned, and tortured."

Response from Falun Gong

"See also: Falun Gong outside the People's Republic of China"Li Hongzhi, in response to accusations made against Falun Gong by the Chinese government, stated on July 22, 1999:cquote|"Falun Gong is simply a popular qigong activity. It does not have any particular organization, let alone any political objectives. We have never been involved in any anti-government activities. I am a cultivator myself, and I have never been destined to be involved in political power. I am just teaching people how to practice cultivation. If one wants to practice qigong well, he/she must be a person of high moral standards...

"We are not against the government now, nor will we be in the future. Other people may treat us badly, but we do not treat others badly, nor do we treat people as enemies.

"We are calling for all governments, international organizations, and people of goodwill worldwide to extend their support and assistance to us in order to resolve the present crisis that is taking place in China." Li Hongzhi, [ A Brief Statement of Mine] , July 22 1999, accessed 31/12/07]

Falun Gong practitioners and supporters have set up human rights organizations to report torture and ill-treatment of practitioners in mainland china. [ [ Website] ] [ [Falun Dafa Information Center Website] ]

After the persecution in 1999, practitioners began holding frequent protests, rallies, and appeals outside mainland China.

Some Falun Gong support groups and Human Rights activists outside of China responded to the crackdown by publishing "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party", and initiating a world-wide "Three Renunciations" Campaign. Since it began on Dec 3, 2004, reportedly, over 40 million members of the Communist Party of China and its subordinate organizations (the Communist Youth League and the Young Pioneers of China)have publicly denounced the CCP as of Aug 04, 2008.

The video "False Fire: Self-Immolation or Deception?", was successfully broadcast on Chinese television in a Changchun hacking incident. The video was first posted on the Minghui Net in March 2001 and distributed widely on cassettes; it has been one of the most accessed pieces on the Falun Gong human-rights related websites.Yuezhi Zhao, "Falun Gong, Identity, and the Struggle over Meaning Inside and Outside China", in Contesting Media Power, 2004] [ [ Details on How Liu Chengjun, Who Tapped Into the Changchun Cable Television, Was Tortured to Death in Jilin Prison] ,, January 20, 2004] [ [ Details on How Liu Chengjun, Who Tapped Into the Changchun Cable Television, Was Tortured to Death in Jilin Prison] ,, January 20, 2004] Liu Chengjun, named as the instigator of the television hacking incident, was sentenced to 19 years in prison. He was reportedly tortured to death after 21 months in Jilin Prison, and his body cremated without autopsy. [ [ Falun Gong hacker 'died in jail'] , BBC News, 30 December, 2003]

Legal action

Falun Gong practitioners in the United States have filed several civil complaints in U.S. federal courts against PRC leaders for violations of the Torture Victim Protection Act, the Alien Tort Claims Act, and other crimes against humanity. Law suits have also been filed for violation of the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act of 1999. Chinese officials alleged to have taken part in human rights abuses against practitioners have become targets of legal action, particularly when they step upon foreign soil. Since 2001, there have been more than 70 legal cases launched by Falun Gong practitioners and sympathisers against those considered responsible for the persecution campaign in the Chinese government. [ [ Legal Actions in Chronological Order] , Justice for Falun Gong, Retrieved 2007-08-16] According to "International Advocates for Justice", Falun Gong has filed the largest number of human rights lawsuits in the 21st century and the charges are among the most severe international crimes defined by international criminal laws. [ [ Website of FLGJustice.] Described by Ownby as an "excellent window" into legal activities initiated by Falun Gong.]
* [ An Overview of Legal Cases Filed by Falun Gong Practitioners Around the World]


External links

* [ World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong]
* [ Poisonous Deceit ISBN 0-9731181-0-5 © 2002, Deep Six Publishing]
* [ Articles on the Falun Gong] , Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson, 2001, Wall Street Journal

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