NEW YORK – Human rights lawyers and defiant citizens alike are increasingly taking a public, unprecedented stand against the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong in China. Just a few years ago, such acts were unheard of.
Why are so many risking so much, and what does this mean for the trajectory of China?
“These unprecedented acts indicate two things,” says Erping Zhang, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Centre. “One, the Chinese people now widely see through government propaganda, including the hateful campaign against Falun Gong. Secondly, they are so fed up with the Communist Party regime that they are willing to risk their own well-being to stand up for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners, even though they do not practise themselves.”
Last month four prominent lawyers from northeastern China were badly beaten for representing Falun Gong practitioners illegally detained (news). Since 2010 the number of petitions signed by Chinese citizens (often using their real names) to protest the abduction of local Falun Gong practitioners continue to swell, (report), with some signees facing severe persecution themselves, ranging from harassment and loss of employment to imprisonment and torture.
This increased defiance of suppression arises amidst an ongoing persecution that remains a dangerous reality for tens of millions. Torture is still rampant, and deadly, as in the case of Yang Chunling (news), who died in early April after seven years of prison abuse. Abductions without charge, even for siblings of Canadian citizens attempting to visit loved ones in detention centres, like Ms Chen Yinghua (news), occur regularly. And, despite attention from government bodies like the US Congress and European Parliament (news), there is no indication that the gruesome practice of killing Falun Gong practitioners in order to extract and sell their organs for organ transplant surgeries has changed (report).
The Falun Dafa Information Centre calls upon Western media in China to give the heroic acts of these lawyers and countless citizens the coverage it deserves. Those who stand up to tyranny and at great risk to themselves must have their stories told.
April 25th appeal still widely misunderstood
On the 15th anniversary of the event that thrust Falun Gong into the international spotlight – the gathering of more than 10,000 practitioners near the central government’s residential compound on April 25th, 1999 – the facts of what actually took place on that fateful day, and the forces at work behind the scenes remain widely misunderstood.
Most Western media depicted the April 25th gathering of practitioners as a provocative act that precipitated the persecution that started three months later.
In fact, a plan to consolidate power by suppressing Falun Gong was at least three years in the works, and the April 25th appeal was one of the final attempts to stave it off (report). By 1999, the Chinese regime had already banned Falun Gong books, published defamatory reports, and harassment of practitioners had included “spying”, confiscation of property for “evidence”, and most alarmingly, beatings and arrests.
As the persecution enters its fifteenth year, and with an increasingly defiant public taking a stand, it becomes ever more important to tell this story with accuracy and an informed perspective.