China’s powerful security apparatus has intensified its persecution of Falun Gong ahead of a key Chinese Communist Party leadership change later this year. Local authorities in Guangzhou have distributed leaflets to houses, forcing residents to sign a family promise to reject Falun Gong; in Beijing similar initiatives have been organised. In Chongqing internal meetings have been held to plan the suppression and detention of Falun Gong practitioners before the CCP’s 18th National Congress, when paramount leader Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will step down to make way for other officials.
The renewed campaign is being led by the 6-10 Office, an extralegal Party organ set up by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in 1999 to lead the persecution.
Falun Gong is a meditation discipline originating in China and based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Inside sources said the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC) is directing local authorities in the renewed effort, particularly by allocating huge sums of “security maintenance” money.
Falun Gong practitioners in China have been subjected to beatings, brainwashing, and torture, and this has led to over 3,500 confirmed cases leading to death, according to human rights groups. The true death toll is thought to be far higher, according to these groups.
A Falun Gong human rights website, Faluninfo.net, says that practitioners of the meditation “are the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the world,” with hundreds of thousands detained at any one time.
A local Guangzhou resident, Mr Xiao, told Epoch Times that the card he was asked to sign reiterates the 13-year-old Party propaganda against Falun Gong. Since early June work units, schools, and community offices have been mobilised to distribute the petitions against the practice, and officials have gone door-to-door in residential areas forcing people to sign. Those who refuse are put on a blacklist and subject to follow-up investigation, he said.
The 6-10 Office in the Haidian area in Beijing organised 11 street teams to hold a meeting on suppressing “evil religions”. A Haidian resident told Epoch Times that slanderous leaflets against Falun Gong were found in residential letterboxes.
Officials in the southwestern city of Chongqing have detained Falun Gong adherents in brainwashing centres. Ms Jiang, a resident of the city, told Epoch Times that slogans saying, “Families should reject evil religions” appeared on windows in Communist Party branch offices. There was also a meeting held by officials with the PLAC and 6-10 Office on how to work against Falun Gong before October.
Recently, Falun Gong practitioners were released from brainwashing centres but they have been kept under tight surveillance and will likely be arrested again before the 18th National Congress, Jiang said. The local PLAC in Chongqing, in order to request more money from central authorities, is keeping records of detentions and their activities against Falun Gong, she said.
Jiang said that local officials have grown weary of suppressing Falun Gong practitioners, and may not comply with orders handed down by central PLAC authorities. After repeatedly coming into contact with Falun Gong practitioners who seek to explain the nature of their practice and the injustice of the persecution over the last 13 years, many security officials have come to understand that the campaign is wrong and will likely act in a passive manner toward the renewed orders, she said.
There have been signs in recent months that top leaders in the regime are seeking to distance themselves from the persecution, with reports of discussions among the top leadership about ending the persecution of Falun Gong entirely. The longtime head of the PLAC, Zhou Yongkang, because of the responsibility he bears for the persecution, has an interest in keeping it going. So long as the persecution continues, he cannot be held responsible for the crimes committed in its prosecution.