NEW YORK -- Western media reports over the last several days have largely characterised the Communist Party's decision to close the widely-scorned Re-education Through Labour (RTL) system as progress in the area of human rights. However, a new campaign, which aims to brainwash millions of Falun Gong practitioners across China – through psychological and physical torture – demonstrates Beijing's mechanisms of suppression remain as functional and utilised as ever.
"It is common for the Chinese Communist Party to make an apparent change on the surface to help bolster its image, while behind the scenes, it's business as usual," said Levi Browde, executive director of the Falun Dafa Information Centre." We are seeing Falun Gong practitioners being sent to either prison (after show trials) or to 'legal reeducation centres,' otherwise known as 'brainwashing centres,' which are even more opaque and arbitrary than the labour camp system. The torture and abuse people face in these centres can be just as horrific as a labour camp."
"Announcing the closure of labour camps is just a change to the facade. Genuine improvement in human rights for Falun Gong practitioners and others across China remains unrealised."
One day after the labour camp closures were announced by Beijing, Epoch Times newspaper published a collection of 56 circulars from official agencies across China, revealing that a renewed, nationwide campaign to eliminate Falun Gong is underway. “Carrying out the ‘2013 to 2015 Final Battle on Education and Transformation’ is the scientific decision made by the Party Central based on the current struggle,” indicates one official website. "Convert all the unconverted Falun Gong adherents by the end of 2015 and continue the propaganda criticising Falun Gong," indicates another.
The use of brainwashing centres is expanding across the country, just as some labour camps are closing or changing functions. For example, statistics by Minghui.org, a Falun Gong website that catalogues grassroots reports of abuse, indicates that the number of confirmed brainwashing cases in a single Hebei Province city has grown from 50 to over 350 in the first ten months of 2013.
Such trends put Falun Gong practitioners and other detainees at greater risk because brainwashing faciltities are even less legally codified than the RTL system. Having no official existence, brainwashing centres are known to have been arbitrarily set up in facilities as varied as schools, apartments, or even old Buddhist temples.
The Falun Dafa Information Centre calls on human rights groups to investigate the renewed, three-year campaign against Falun Gong practitioners. The Centre also encourages journalists stationed in China to investigate this campaign, and include these facts in relevant reports about China's human rights. Especially when Beijing makes an announcement of this nature, it does a disservice to readers when they are left unaware of how the Chinese regime continues an onslaught of persecution, even while closing the doors of some labour camps.