Part IV: The persecution of Falun Gong

01-04-2006 What is Falun Gong?

Solemnity and heroism on Tiananmen Square

Throughout the persecution, Tiananmen Square in Beijing has been a focal point. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Falun Gong practitioners have come to the vast square from all over China and the world to stage petitions, unfurl banners declaring the innocence of Falun Gong, demonstrate the Falun Gong exercises, and simply proclaim: "Falun Gong is wonderful!" For this simple and peaceful expression of opinion, they have suffered tremendously. Almost all were beaten by police or hired thugs, who felt no inhibition in the presence of thousands of tourists on the Square; some were beaten to unconsciousness, while some were beaten to death on the spot; children and the elderly were assaulted with full force; pregnant women were kicked in their abdomens. The attacks were usually so violent and forceful that the victims were silenced in less than a minute. Yet, for just that brief moment, practitioners kept coming and coming, despite the consequences. This seemed puzzling to foreign journalists: Could it be worthwhile? What was this all about?

On September 29th, 1999, practitioners demonstrated the Falun Gong exercises at Tiananmen Square as a peaceful appeal to the general public. Policemen rushed over to force practitioners into the police van

For Chinese, Tiananmen Square, the "Heavenly Peace Gate" Square, is sacred. The modern history of China is considered to have begun with a student-led patriotic demonstration on Tiananmen Square back in 1919. Several other demonstrations with historical impact, including the 1976 and 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations, also took place on the Square. Tiananmen Square is therefore regarded as a sanctified ground for patriotism, sacrifice, and the last resort to appeal to public conscience.

The sudden descent of terror threw the lives of Falun Gong practitioners into a tailspin, but could not take away their internal conviction and commitment to being good people. After the initial shock, and trusting that the government would halt the persecution if they could clear up the officials' misunderstanding about Falun Gong, practitioners all over China started to converge at the State Council Bureau of Appeal to hand in their petitions, explaining how Falun Gong is beneficial and can only make positive contributions to society. The kind-hearted practitioners soon discovered that the State Council Bureau of Appeal had been turned into a detention centre: the "State Council Bureau of Appeal" sign was taken down, and those who asked for directions were tricked into waiting police vans and escorted to detention centres, with no chance to submit their petitions.


A policeman grabs one practitioner's unfurled banner, as other Falun Gong practitioners unfurl their banners nearby

As more and more practitioners came, the authorities issued a ban on coming to the State Council Bureau of Appeal to petition for Falun Gong and ordered local governments to enforce the ban. This was another unconstitutional order and a shocking step back to the Cultural Revolution. The State Council Bureau of Appeal was set up after the Cultural Revolution as a way to help resolve those "frame-up, sham, and unjust cases" and for the wronged to address their grievances. There were literally millions of such cases at that time, and establishments at different levels tried to cover up and escape responsibility. In response to the outcry from the whole society, the State Council Bureau of Appeal was established to receive complaints directly from the victims, circumventing layers and layers of obstacles. Referred to as "heaven's ears" by Chinese citizens, this mechanism played a key role in settling the social discontent that resulted from the Cultural Revolution, and the right to address grievances to the State Council Bureau of Appeal was subsequently written into China's Constitution. The brazen stripping of this constitutional right, and the appalling beatings of practitioners caught travelling to Beijing by different levels of authorities, unmistakably signalled to the practitioners that the government was not at all interested in what they had to say. The practitioners were left with no choice but the last resort of appealing to public conscience - and where more symbolic than on Tiananmen Square?

The first known demonstration by Falun Gong practitioners was on September 29th, 1999. The night before, a group of practitioners from different parts of China gathered at Tsinghua University, calmly took pictures, wrote down what they were going to do, emailed their plans to people they knew overseas, and the next morning, they went!

On the Square, they chose to display the second set of Falun Gong exercises. This was probably the longest demonstration practitioners were able to stage; according to one participant, time seemed to freeze at that moment. Completely unprepared, the police took a while to react; and unprepared for how to react, the police showed their true face, kicking, beating, wrestling, and eventually manhandling all of the peaceful practitioners. We do not have a complete name list of these practitioners, and we do not know their whereabouts; however, their heroism and that solemn moment are imprinted in history forever.

The public demonstrations on Tiananmen Square were disastrous for Jiang Zemin. From August to October 1999, Jiang travelled abroad frequently. Among other things on his agenda, he tried to sway world opinion with his version of "handling the Falun Gong issue" and entice other governments' cooperation with his persecution through giving away business interests and territory claims. Feeling confident, and contrary to his later rejection of international criticism as "interfering with internal policy", he personally passed out booklets that smeared Falun Gong to leaders of other governments, and offered interviews on the subject of Falun Gong to the international media, thus inviting international attention to the Falun Gong issue and to his ability to handle crises.

The continuous demonstrations by Falun Gong practitioners not only deflated Jiang's claim of having solved 98% of "the Falun Gong problem", but also unmasked his fairy tale of "education and affection" in "solving" the "problem". People, including international reporters, started to wonder: if the police can be this violent in broad daylight, what will they not do behind the closed doors of jails, detention centres, and labour camps?

The practitioners' sacrifices, however, were tremendous. Not only were those on the Square brutalised, but those suspected of having the "inclination" to travel to Beijing were rounded up by local authorities and coerced into signing the so-called "double pledges": pledge to renounce Falun Gong and pledge not to appeal for Falun Gong. Those who refused to comply were tortured, some to death.

Two policemen kick and drag one practitioner who is appealing on Tiananmen Square, while a plainclothes officer grasps the practitioner's yellow banner

However, Falun Gong practitioners continued to stage petition after petition on Tiananmen Square. In October, an enraged Jiang ordered the Chinese national legislature to pass a law to legitimise a tougher persecution. The Washington Post noted in an article on November 2nd, 1999, that "When [China's Communist leaders] found themselves without the laws they needed to vigorously persecute a peaceful meditation society, the Party simply ordered up some new laws. Now these will be applied – retroactively, of course ... By these standards, Stalin was a scrupulous observer of civil rights."

At the same time, Jiang ordered all levels of government to stop practitioners from going to Tiananmen Square, and those officials who failed to do so would be demoted. Precious resources were diverted to set up checkpoints at airports, train and bus stations, public highways, and even hotels to intercept Falun Gong practitioners. To pass the checkpoints, travellers were required to curse Falun Gong, or to spit on or step on Falun Gong books, and anyone who refused would be detained.

To further diminish practitioners' ability to travel to Beijing, Jiang issued an order to "destroy their reputation, bankrupt them financially, and exterminate them physically". The cruelty of this order was amplified by the greed of local officials, who took the opportunity to loot or seize practitioners' homes, personal property, and businesses, and to extort large amounts of ransom from the families of those they arrested. The oppression by local tyrants sometimes had the effect of compelling practitioners to go to Beijing, because they could not safely remain at home and had nothing left but grievances to address.

Plainclothes police seizing Falun Gong practitioners at Tiananmen Square during their peaceful appeal

With no money, no help, no map, and no compass, many practitioners started to walk or bike to Beijing. Scaling mountains, crossing the wilderness, sleeping under trees, begging for food, and avoiding checkpoints, they went to Beijing step by step and one by one. Along the way, they were intercepted by ferocious policemen, by misinformed locals, and by patrol teams recruited to hunt them. But they were also helped by kind-hearted people, by those who were willing to listen to their side of the story, and by those who looked in their eyes and found not bitterness but peace. After their few seconds on Tiananmen Square, they refused to give out their names and addresses to the interrogating police, or they would be escorted back and it would be months before they could walk to Beijing again.

It is important to note that these appeals all happened spontaneously. From its past despotic experiences, the Chinese government thought it could paralyse the Falun Gong "organisation" by arresting all the important "leaders". What the government could never understand is that Falun Gong genuinely has no organisation. While practitioners may know each other, their decisions and actions are completely from their own hearts, their own initiatives, and their own determination to speak the truth.

Torture and killing

For more than fifty years, the Chinese communist regime has had its way of destroying people's wills and crushing non-conforming groups through terror and deceit; it has never failed with any previous persecution. The continuing appeals by Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square, and the insistence on the right to practise by millions upon millions around the nation, made it clear that Falun Gong practitioners would not yield to the persecution. Embarrassed and enraged, Jiang instructed through the 6-10 Office system that: "No measure is too excessive against Falun Gong", ordering the use of extreme torture. As the persecution continued to meet practitioners' peaceful resistance, Jiang's personal crusade became a personal vendetta.

Since July 20th, 1999, from information that has leaked through the tight control of the Chinese government, we know that millions of people have suffered arbitrary incarceration, almost all under inhumane conditions; hundreds of thousands, including pregnant women, the elderly, and young children, have been put into labour camps; thousands have been detained and severely tortured with nerve-damaging drugs in mental hospitals. Thousands have died in custody, while countless others are still unaccounted for. The scope and severity of the atrocities are difficult to fathom.

Two policemen from the Longshan Forced Labour Camp used three electric batons to shock Ms.Gao Rongrong's face for seven hours. This picture of Ms Gao's burnt face was taken ten days later

The worst atrocities are usually those of genocide. Genocidal killings are done to physically eliminate a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, and so they generally result in a large number of deaths.

The persecution of Falun Gong by Jiang Zemin and his 6-10 Office system uses a different kind, arguably a worse kind, of killing: the killing of people's minds. Its goal is not to physically kill a large number of people, although the death toll is of no concern to the murderers. The purpose is to force a victim to choose between a physical death and a mental demise – the giving up of his will, his fundamental values, and his conscience.

Torturing to the brink of death, therefore, is a necessary ingredient of this kind of killing. The Chinese police have openly told Falun Gong practitioners: "We will make you beg for life while dying, and beg for death while living!" The only way out? To lie and say that Falun Gong has done harm to them and to society, to say Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance is evil, and to thank and applaud the government for saving them from Falun Gong. Tell lies to live, or tell the truth and die.

Due to the Chinese government's blockage of information, we do not know how many practitioners have been tortured to death in police custody. From the reports describing over 1,300 deaths of practitioners in the hands of the police, we see an almost unimaginable picture of tragedy: some died from their bodies being ripped apart by slowly pulling the limbs; some died after being locked in "water cages" and immersed in filthy water for months; some died from prolonged electric baton shocks on or in their genitals; some were frozen to death; some were burned alive. In extreme cases, an eight-month-old infant was killed with his mother, a 75-year-old grandmother was murdered, and a disabled man with a hunched back was killed when police forcefully "flattened out" his torso.

Ms Wang Xia was just skin and bones as the result of the relentless torture. At the time of this picture, she weighed only about 45 pounds and lapsed in and out of consciousness

In addition to external injuries, the police also inflict internal pain through horrific force-feeding. These torturous force-feedings are not at all meant to nourish, but to cause excruciating internal pain. Policemen, guards, or convicts who are ordered to do so will jam a firm plastic tube into the victim's nose and force it down to the stomach; sometimes it enters the lungs instead. The tube is often pulled out and re-inserted several times, causing internal bleeding. Boiling water, urine, faeces, hot pepper oil, concentrated vinegar, mustard paste, and other irritating liquids are then poured through the tube. Of the known cases of killings of Falun Gong practitioners, this is by far the number one cause of death.

The mass killings of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese authorities have been reported by many journalists and human rights organisations. For example, in a Wall Street Journal report on December 26th, 2000, Mr Ian Johnson (who won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his series of reports on the persecution of Falun Gong) wrote:

"WEIFANG, China – Rising out of the North China Plain ... this is an unremarkable Chinese city in every respect but one: local police regularly torture residents to death. Since the beginning of the year, when police killed a 58-year-old retiree, at least 10 more Weifang residents have died in police custody. Weifang, which has less than 1% of the national population, accounts for 15% of those deaths."

Since Mr Johnson's report, at least twenty-one additional Falun Gong practitioners have died at the hands of the Weifang police.

It is important to note that the killings carried out in Jiang's persecution against Falun Gong aim only to demolish the minds and consciences of the victims, but they also result in the moral destruction of the torturers. Deceived by the hate propaganda, driven by government instruction, encouraged by promises of impunity, and enticed by financial rewards, police carry out torture and killing completely devoid of humanity, as some openly yelled at Falun Gong practitioners, "We are reincarnated little devils from hell, and we'll beat you into hell as well."

It is a killing of conscience, indeed.


Horrific as the tortures and killings are, the most sinister aspect of the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong is the so-called "transformation": The brainwashing of practitioners so that they go against their own wills to publicly renounce and condemn Falun Gong. Human language cannot express the evilness of "transformation". For victims of the persecution, the most painful memories are invariably of "being transformed".

Mr Zhao Ming

Mr Zhao Ming, who suffered twenty-two months of torture in six different detention centres and a labour camp, wrote, "After being given electric shocks for over half an hour, a thought came to my mind, 'That's it. I don't want to bear it anymore. I can disclose their crimes after I get out.' Because of this thought, I gave in … Many fellow practitioners asked me what pained me the most in the forced labour camp. This is it. The wounds from the physical torture can heal as time passes by, but the mental pain from this persecution can haunt a person for his entire life."

Through international pressure, Zhao Ming was freed and allowed to continue his studies at Trinity College in Ireland. He recalled, "I stepped out of the labour camp without any happiness, hope, or relief, because my spirit had been murdered."

Another Falun Gong practitioner wrote about her haunting experience: "On October 10th, 2000, I had reached my limit of enduring the torture, and was forced to write the pledge to never again practise Falun Gong. The hurt is beyond description. At that moment I felt that my whole life, all the essence of my being – everything – had vanished from me, and all I had left was an empty shell. I mumbled incessantly: 'I am transformed, I am transformed, I am…' Two years have passed, but I still have not completely walked away from the shadow and shame of being forced to betray my beliefs and barter away my own principles. From my own personal experience, I can attest to how those who are forced to 'transform' have been tortured beyond the limits of what any person can bear."

The "transformation" process embodies and distills all of the sinister nature of the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong. To force Falun Gong practitioners to give in, the police spare no trickery or coercion. They bring in practitioners' families to beg them to give in and "go home"; they torture practitioners in front of others until the others submit; they even plead with practitioners that they be "sympathetic" to the officers' "hard work." To soften a practitioner's resolve, one police officer will inflict savage beatings and another will act sympathetic. Once the "tender" approach fails, the police do not hesitate to resort to torture. They even use nerve-damaging drugs to subdue practitioners and then press their fingerprints onto prepared "pledge letters".

Many "transformed" practitioners have suffered further humiliation from being forced to read their "pledge letters" to brainwashing classes or on publicly broadcast radio or television programmes. To show that they are "sincere" in their "transformation", some practitioners have been forced to assist the police in coercing their fellow practitioners to "transform": to use their own experiences of "being saved by the government" to persuade other practitioners to curse others as they have been cursed before, and to use on others the torture devices that they have been subjected to. In this way, they "show in action" that they have "completely broken away from Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance".

One can only guess at the guilt, shame, and self-loathing that "transformed" practitioners have endured. What helps them to recover, in the end, is Falun Gong. Mr Chen Gang's experience is typical: "When I was in desperation, it was again Falun Gong that lifted me up. No matter how much I felt like a damaged lonely boat striking out in the storm, I felt that I still had a pure and harmonious space inside my heart, the perfect harmony and serenity that I had experienced, and the pure land of Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance. Gradually, I found my self-confidence and my direction, and recovered my serenity and caring state."

Coercion cannot change one's heart. Since the persecution began, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have published "solemn declarations" on the Minghui website, a site created by overseas Falun Gong practitioners. These solemn declarations are practitioners' avowals that whatever they succumbed to saying or doing against Falun Gong under duress and deception is null and void, and that they will resolutely continue to practise Falun Gong.

A staged self-immolation and the deception of world opinion

One of many picture clips that the Chinese Central Television Station (CCTV) had to explain after its initial publication. A policeman dangling a fire-extinguishing blanket with one hand stands calmly next to an "immolator", as if posing for a perfect shot. The plastic bottle remains, unaffected by the heat, on the "immolator's" legs. CCTV later explained that the 7-UP bottle was placed there afterwards as an example of the container of petrol used in the "immolation". Note also the snow clumps on which the "immolator" sits. Their survival from the heat was not explained

At the same time as the violent persecution, Jiang's regime also launched a far-reaching campaign of disinformation to justify its persecution and to escape world condemnation. State-run media flooded the printing presses and airwaves with fabrications about Mr Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong. As with all lies, the propaganda fails miserably in the details. For example, the Chinese government made up claims that the practice of Falun Gong caused 1,400 people to die or to become insane. This number, even if assumed to be true, divided by 100 million practitioners, would be many orders of magnitude below the national average. In another example, the Chinese government claimed that Mr Li Hongzhi had falsified his date of birth, and even produced a "hospital record" to prove that his mother was treated with oxytocin in 1952, before his birth. Oxytocin, however, was not to be identified until 1953.

In early 2001, the authorities attempted an outrageous stunt: a staged self-immolation of five people on Tiananmen Square. No less devious than Nero's shift of blame for the Great Fire of Rome to Christians, the state-run media alleged that the immolators were Falun Gong practitioners and incited hatred in society towards Falun Gong. This staged self-immolation, however, has been analysed by neutral reporters and by careful observers of the same videotape that was published by the Chinese government:

  • An investigative story published by The Washington Post reported that no one had ever seen Ms Liu Chunling, one of the "immolators", practise Falun Gong..
  • Police were mysteriously patrolling Tiananmen Square with dozens of pieces of firefighting equipment that day.
  • Liu Siying, the 12-year-old girl "immolator", was purported to have had a tracheotomy, but spoke and sang clearly to the interviewing camera, a medical impossibility.
  • Ms Hao Huijun, another "immolator", was reported to have graduated from Henan Music College in 1974. That college's own website reveals that it did not admit students between 1962 and 1984.
  • Mr Wang Jindong was shown to have been badly burned; hair burns and plastic melts extremely rapidly; however, his hair and the plastic 7-UP bottle that he had "used to dowse gasoline" remained miraculously intact.

These holes prompted International Education Development, a UN NGO, to issue the following statement during the 2001 session of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: "The regime points to a supposed self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001, as proof that Falun Gong is an 'evil cult.' However, we have obtained a video of that incident that in our view proves that this event was staged by the government." (For an analysis of the CCTV footage of the staged immolations, please visit: .

The Chinese government's global coercion of conscience

In addition to deceit, the Chinese government has also repeatedly made threats of economic sanctions against countries, states, cities, and businesses that dare to criticise its persecution of Falun Gong. This creates a fear, a fear of being left out of some economic gain, a fear of speaking for conscience. With this tactic, the Chinese government has induced several major Western news media corporations to apply self-censorship in reporting China's human rights violations, forced cities in a number of countries to rescind their moral support for the victims, and even coerced some democratic governments to stifle the voices of Falun Gong practitioners. In France, Germany, Iceland, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, and a few other countries, there have been cases in which local police forces were pressured into arbitrary and wrongful detention of Falun Gong practitioners who were merely exercising their rights of peaceful demonstration.

Hong Kong police violently arrest practitioners peacefully appealing outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong on March 14th, 2002.

The Chinese agencies, however, do not stop at blackmail. Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Anders had the following to say about being physically assaulted by Chinese diplomats in February 2000:

"I wore [a T-shirt that talked about Falun Gong] out to a function that was being hosted by the People's Republic's embassy here, in this building [Parliament]. I stood at the back of the room, and then all of a sudden I had four or five men surround me and start to harass me, and point fingers, and jostle me physically, saying that I had to leave, that I wasn't welcome, go home, you know, cowboy, you don't know what you're doing… and what crossed my mind immediately was four or five people that comprise a gang on behalf of the People's Republic of China think they can get away with doing that to me as a Member of Parliament, on Canadian soil, in my place of work, in the House of Commons  – can you imagine what they're doing to people back home in their own country? It was absolutely over the top! And then when a media reporter came over with his camera, they started to grab his camera, they tried to force it down to the ground, they told him to go away … They were issuing orders to a member of the free press here in Canada … It was absolutely outrageous. And it just proved what Falun Dafa is up against ... We're at a very critical moment. If we don't take a stand now, history will look back at us and sigh."

Similar incidents of intimidation and assault have also happened in the United States, Iceland, Germany, Australia, Russia, Romania, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and many more. Simply put, the Chinese regime has exported its persecution to the world as a global campaign of evil against conscience.

Murder attempt on Falun Gong practitioners in South Africa

On June 28th, 2004, at around 8:30 p.m., five Falun Gong practitioners were driving from Johannesburg International Airport to Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, when a white car came up from behind and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle. The practitioners tried to change their speed to dodge the attack, but the assassins kept speed with them and continued to shoot. The practitioners' car and driver were hit and forced off the road; the injured driver managed to stop the car in a field. The gunmen stopped and watched for a few seconds, then fled the scene.

Top picture: Mr David Liang's feet after the shooting in Africa.
Bottom picture: Mr Liang, in a wheelchair, tells his story at a press conference in Sydney, Australia.

This shooting was by no means a simple homicide attempt. The victims were among the group of nine Falun Gong practitioners from Australia who were there to file a lawsuit – charging China's Vice President, Zeng Qinghong, and the Minister of Commerce, Bo Xilai, who were visiting South Africa from June 27th to June 29th – with torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Even before they left Australia, one of them had received two threatening phone calls. When they arrived in Johannesburg International Airport, they noticed a suspicious-looking man following and watching them. In addition, Mr David Liang, the driver who was shot, was wearing a Falun Gong jacket. The South African police noted that the shooting site was not a high-crime area. The gunmen obviously did not want to rob the practitioners. These factors point towards a political motive for this shooting.

A hasty statement on June 30th by China's embassy in South Africa only adds to the suspicion. As the representative of Chinese nationals in South Africa, the embassy showed no sympathy towards Mr Liang, who suffered gunshot wounds in both feet and bone fractures in the right foot. On the contrary, the embassy claimed that the incident was a Falun Gong conspiracy, and warned the international media not to make any "irresponsible report about the incident".

This shooting was by no means an isolated attack on Falun Gong practitioners. To stifle overseas Falun Gong practitioners' efforts to reveal the brutality in China, agents of the Chinese government have resorted to violence and hate crimes to intimidate Falun Gong practitioners. In the USA alone, there have been multiple incidents of physical assault against Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese nationals with close ties to the Chinese consulates in Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City. In response to these blatant infringements of civil rights, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 304) on October 4th, 2004, calling on China to immediately stop persecuting Falun Gong inside and outside China.

The struggle between the truth and lies

On March 5th, 2002, at around 8 p.m., eight channels of the local cable TV system in the city of Changchun simultaneously broadcast documentary films showing the spread of Falun Gong around the world, the Chinese government's violent persecution against Falun Gong, and the staged self-immolation on Tiananmen Square. The broadcast lasted more than fifty minutes. The shockwave spread quickly and far beyond Changchun; by the next day, people in other regions had begun to whisper to each other: "The self-immolation is a hoax!"

Mr Liu Chengjun was tortured to death at age 32 for breaking into the Chinese regime's cable television system to broadcast a programme revealing the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong

The broadcast was the first-ever showing of dissenting messages from any persecuted group in state-controlled media in the entire history of communist China. The magnanimous act is not only another demonstration of Falun Gong practitioners' courage, but also represents their deepening understanding of the nature of the persecution and their benevolence towards the general public, who are under the control of the lies of Jiang's regime.

At the beginning of the persecution, the trusting Falun Gong practitioners believed that the persecution must have been the result of the leadership being misinformed and misled by a few who hated Falun Gong, so they came to Beijing in large numbers or wrote to the government to plead their case. At the same time, they peacefully endured the ill-treatment from the police, and calmly told them "We don't hate you for not understanding us," and "If our sufferance can deflate some of your hatred toward Falun Gong, I am willing." Their forbearance has moved even the most iron-hearted police.

Because there are so many Falun Gong practitioners, and because they are so self-disciplined and so peaceful, it was difficult for their neighbours, colleagues, families, and friends to turn against them. The staged self-immolation, however, had the nation deceived. As reported by a Washington Post article on August 5th, 2001, "The self-immolation of five purported [practitioners] in Tiananmen Square on Jan. 23 was a turning point. A 12-year-old girl and her mother died, and the party made the incident the centerpiece of its campaign to discredit Falun Gong. By repeatedly broadcasting images of the girl's burning body and interviews with the others saying they believed self-immolation would lead them to paradise, the government convinced many Chinese that Falun Gong was an 'evil cult.'"

A Falun Gong banner hung on a utility tower in a small village in Northeast China. To hang the banner, a 62-year-old woman spent two-and-half hours climbing the tower in the cold

Many misinformed people began to assist in the government's persecution, or even directly participate in the abuse and beatings. Policemen were even more affected. Consumed by the hate propaganda, some intensified their torture and killing of Falun Gong practitioners, claiming, "We will kill you and set your body on fire as self-immolation!"

There is no question that these are criminal acts, and it is easy to hate back. However, to Falun Gong practitioners, their violators are also victims of the Chinese government's persecution, and they should be given the opportunity to awaken. With great benevolence, Falun Gong practitioners take great risks to tell the facts to their torturers, to their misinformed work colleagues, and to the general public, so as to wake them up from a persecution that is completely based on lies. They mass-mail letters to police stations, they distribute flyers in supermarkets, they post DVDs into letterboxes, they publish articles on the Internet, etc.. In the Chinese language, this is called "clarifying the truth".

Their truth clarification is powerful. There are numerous stories of policemen changing their attitude towards practitioners, cellmates incarcerated with practitioners learning Falun Gong, strangers protecting practitioners, and prejudiced family members helping to clarify the truth. There are even people in charge of 6-10 Offices who have become Falun Gong practitioners.

To let the Chinese people learn the truth about Falun Gong and the persecution, practitioners have put up flyers in many public places. This photo shows people reading the Falun Gong flyers

To Jiang Zemin, the truth is disastrous. Upon learning of the Changchun broadcast of Falun Gong programmes, he issued a strict order that if a similar broadcast happened again, all city officials would be fired. He also instructed the Changchun police department that all Falun Gong practitioners involved in the broadcast must be "killed without pardon". Later, Jiang instructed the 6-10 Offices that any Falun Gong practitioner spotted distributing Falun Gong material must be "shot on sight".

For their benevolent spreading of the truth, Falun Gong practitioners have sacrificed enormously. In the month following the Changchun broadcast, over 5,000 practitioners were arrested in the city, and at least a dozen died during "interrogation". When the police arrested Mr Liu Chengjun, the organiser of the broadcast, they fired two shots into his leg even after he was handcuffed and shackled. Mr Liu died on the night of Christmas 2003, after enduring over one year of extreme torture.

However, truth is invincible. After the Changchun broadcast, many similar broadcasts followed in other cities. Every hour, in every corner in China, numerous Falun Gong practitioners are preparing and distributing truth clarification materials. They may not have comparable literary grace, but they are the living Justin Martyr, Origen of Alexandria, and Ignatius of Antioch.



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