Tomorrow is kids day in China so a group of us are headed north to Shifang to play drums and be funny guys for the kids in the refugee camps. I already have a song called “Stank Feet” all thought out.

Today I read a notice issued by the police to the citizens of Shifang, Mianzhu and the surrounding area. In the notice they put the blame for rumors about floods, disease and bandits squarely on the shoulders of the Falun Gong. Although this is not funny, I had to laugh. I mean, the Falun Gong? I guess its just the timeless tradition of rolling out the usual suspects. The Falun Gong is so discredited that it has become a joke for most Chinese.

Every now and then a big character poster will appear at a school exhorting the populace to “throw down the fake Party” a play on one of the Party’s labels for Falun Gong, the fake qi gong. Kids laugh when they see it.

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Sascha Matuszak

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  1. I copy here the introduction to the wikipedia entry on “Persecution of Falun Gong”:

    On July 20, 1999, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) banned Falun Gong and began a nationwide crackdown, except in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. This followed seven years of widespread popularity and rapid growth of the practice within mainland China[1][2] On April 25 1999, the 10,000-practitioner gathering at Zhongnanhai triggered the ban.[3] Officially, the authorities banned Falun Gong for “jeopardising social stability” and “engag[ing] in illegal activities.”[4] In late 1999 legislation was created to outlaw “heterodox religions,” and applied to Falun Gong retroactively.[5]

    Every aspect of society was mobilized against Falun Gong, including the media apparatus, police force, army, education system, families, and workplaces.[6] An extra-constitutional body, the 6-10 Office was created to “oversee the terror campaign,”[7] driven by large-scale propaganda through television, newspaper, radio and internet.[5] Families and workplaces were urged to actively assist in the campaign, and practitioners were subject to severe coercion to have them recant.[8] There are acute concerns over reports of torture,[9] illegal imprisonment, forced labour, and psychiatric abuses.[10] Falun Gong practitioners comprise 66% of all reported torture cases in China,[11] and at least half of the labour camp population.[12] In July 2006, Canadian parliamentarians David Matas and David Kilgour presented their investigative report of systematic organ harvesting from living practitioners.

    Certain high-level Party officials had wanted to crackdown on the practice for some years,[3] but lacked sufficient pretext and support–until a number of appeals and petitions to the authorities in 1999, in particular, the 10,000 person gathering at Zhongnanhai on April 25.[3] The nature of Communist Party rule is seen as a cause for the crackdown; Falun Gong’s popularity,[13] traditional roots,[14][15] and ideological distinction from communism was seen as a challenge.[16] Though support was not unanimous, Jiang Zemin is considered to be personally responsible for the final decision and ensuing “Mao-style political campaign.”[17][18] Suspected motives include personal jealousy towards Li Hongzhi,[19] anger, and ideological struggle.[3]

    Protests in Beijing were frequent for the first few years following the 1999 edict, though were later largely eradicated.[6] Practitioners’ presence in mainland China has become more low-profile, as they opt for other methods of informing the populace about the persecution, such as through overnight letterbox drops of CD-ROMs; they have also occasionally hacked into state television to broadcast their material. Falun Gong practitioners are globally active in appealing to the governments, media, and people of their respective countries about the situation in China. Lawsuits have been initiated by practitioners against Chinese officials alleged to be chiefly responsible for the crackdown, in particular Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan.

    and later in the “Torture” section:

    In its “United Nations Reports on China’s Persecution of Falun Gong” (2004),[71] Falun Gong alleges numerous cases of extreme torture, accompanied by testimonies, sometimes resulting in impaired mental, sensory, physiological and speech faculties, mental trauma, paralysis, or death. Over 100 forms of torture are purported used, including shocks, stress positions, branding, force-feeding, sexual abuse, with multiple variations on each type.[72] 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.[73] The Special Rapporteur refers to the torture scenarios as “harrowing” and writes that “The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts… defy description.”[74]

    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.”[59] 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 squating 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.”[59]

    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.”[59]

    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.”[59] 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.”[59]

    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.”[59] 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.”[59] 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.”[59] 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.’”

    and later in the “psychiatric abuse” section:

    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.[81] 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.[80]

    Lu and Galli claimed 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.[80]

    The Washington Post repeated the reports of psychiatric abuses: “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.”[82]

    The persecution of these people for their peaceful beliefs is extremely horrific.

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