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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Falun Gong barred from Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement won't be allowed to participate in San Francisco's Chinese New Year parade and street fair.

The state Supreme Court last week rejected the group's challenge to the parade sponsor's decision to exclude them from the annual festival.

Falun Gong members sued the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 2006 after the chamber barred them because of the group's ongoing opposition to the Chinese government.

A lawyer for the chamber says all participants with political messages are banned.

A lawyer for Falun Gong says they may take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether sponsors of events such as street fairs and parades can deny participation for political reasons.

Why is Falun Gong Banned?

by Leeshai Lemish

New Statesman: 19 August 2008 - Leeshai Lemish looks at the history and causes of the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign against Falun Gong

‘If Falun Gong is benign, why is the Chinese government afraid of it?’ After nine years of persecution this basic question remains common. I’ll try answering it here.

In the 80s, Chinese parks brimmed at dawn with some 200 million people performing slow-movement exercises known as qigong. In 1992 Master Li Hongzhi introduced Falun Gong, outwardly a qigong practise like any other. But Master Li uniquely placed emphasis not on healing or supernormal abilities, but on self-cultivation towards spiritual perfection.

Falun Gong became an almost instant hit. Master Li travelled through China introducing the practise and its principles. Word of Falun Gong spread quickly, and it could soon be found in thousands of parks. The Chinese embassy in Paris invited Master Li to teach in their auditorium, and an official study found that Falun Gong saved the country millions in health costs.

Fast-forward to July 1999 and suddenly Falun Gong is public enemy number one. Practitioners are sentenced to ‘reform through labour’ camps where they are starved, beaten, and tortured with electric batons. By 2008, there are over 3,000 documented cases of practitioners killed by state persecution. Increasingly solid evidence suggests many more have been targeted as unwilling donors of kidneys, livers, and hearts. How many more, we have no idea.

Why, then, this bizarre persecution?

Weak explanations

Facing international criticism and domestic sympathy for Falun Gong, the ruling Chinese Communist Party scrambled to rationalise its campaign. It has claimed Falun Gong is a menace to society - a superstitious, foreign-driven, tightly organised, dangerous group of meditators. State-run media tell gruesome stories of mutilation and suicide, but outsiders aren’t allowed to examine them. When investigators somehow manage to scrutinize such cases, they find stories of individuals who don’t exist and crimes committed by people who have nothing to do with Falun Gong. Human Rights Watch simply calls the official claims ‘bogus’.

Some Western academics have suggested Party leaders feared Falun Gong because it reminded them of past religions-turned-rebellions. But the broad-brush parallels ignored how bloody those groups were – the often-referenced Taiping, for example, was responsible for 20 million deaths. Falun Gong has been strictly non-violent and had no rebellious plans.

One final flawed explanation is that the April 25, 1999 gathering of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners in the political heart of Beijing startled Party leaders and triggered the oppression that followed.

But the peaceful demonstration actually came after three years of escalating state oppression already taking place. In fact, it was a direct response to practitioners being arrested and beaten in nearby Tianjin and a smear media campaign against them.

The individual leader explanation

The incident was pivotal, but for different reasons. That April day, Premier Zhu Rongji engaged members of the gathered group and listened to their grievances. Those arrested were released. Practitioners who were there told me they had felt elated about the open communication between the government and its people.

But that night, then Chairman Jiang Zemin rebuffed Zhu’s conciliatory stance. He labelled Falun Gong a threat to the Party and said it would be an international loss of face if Falun Gong were not immediately crushed. Indeed, many experts attribute the campaign to Jiang’s obsession with Falun Gong as much as any other factor.

The popularity explanation

What appears to have scared Jiang and other Party hardliners (some who are still in top posts, maintaining the campaign) was how popular and cross-social strata Falun Gong had become. In northern cities, workers practised Falun Gong together in factory yards before heading to the machines. Professors and students meditated on Tsinghua University lawns. Party leaders’ wives and senior cadres had their own little group in central Beijing.

This fear of Falun Gong’s popularity explains why its main text, Zhuan Falun, was banned from publication weeks after becoming a bestseller in 1996. And why, when a government report estimated there were more Falun Gong practitioners (70 million plus) than Party members, security agents began interrupting exercise sessions.

The predatory Party-state explanation

For decades the Party has persecuted different groups – intellectuals, artists, clergy, conservatives, reformists – through political movements. Some are targeted because they are outside Party control or have their own ideology. Falun Gong, with its spiritual teachings, sense of community, and independent network falls into that category.

Others are targeted when Party leaders manoeuvre to align power to themselves. Falun Gong appears to be a victim of that, too, as the persecution provided an excuse for strengthening state security apparatuses. It gave the Party an opportunity to oil its machinery - from Cultural Revolution-style purges to Internet surveillance systems.

As torture survivor Zhao Ming told me in Dublin, ‘the Party’s machinery of persecution was there - Jiang pushed the button’.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another Olympics Gold Medalist: Banned Chinese Sect Falun Gong

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falun-gong.jpg

Silicon Alley Insider: One of China's biggest fears going into the Olympics was that the event would give a bigger megaphone to banned groups, such as the Free Tibet movement and the Falun Gong religious sect.

China appears to have done a thorough job of suppressing overt protests -- and even restricted access to Web sites for visiting journalists -- but it appears Falun Gong has managed to use the newfound focus on China to their advantage.

The group had 13 videos among the top 100 most-viewed during the first week of the Beijing Olympics, netting 3.5 million views. And it had four videos among the top 100 the following week, netting 1 million views. That's according to TubeMogul, which tracks video views across 20 sites, including YouTube, Revver, Dailymotion and Metacafe.

It's the first time Falun Gong has any video in the top 100 since TubeMogul started keeping track in 2006, and until opening day of the Olympics Falun Gong videos had netted a mere 95,000 views. What changed? Hard to say; a PR push could have helped, as could paid promotion on some sites. It also helps that the videos make sensational claims, including this "news" report on organ stealing in Chinese labor camps.

See Also:

Falun Gong: defying the odds

by Leeshai Lemish

New Statesman: 21 Aug. 08 - Leeshai Lemish talks about Falun Gong’s resistance and the complicity of the West

If this persecution is so severe, why is it so rarely in the news and why isn’t more being done about it?

Last month, I sat down with a journalist in a Taipei pub. ‘The media have a blackout on Falun Gong’, he said. ‘You mean Chinese or Western media’? I asked. ‘Both’.

Indeed, despite notable support from several politicians, journalists and NGOs, after being persecuted for nine years Falun Gong practitioners still face an uphill battle in the West.

On the Defensive

At 3:00pm, 22 July 1999, a news anchor appeared on Chinese screens to announce that Falun Gong was banned. Protesting the ban was also banned.

Falun Gong practitioners in China didn’t know what to do – they were meditators, not political activists. They only knew that the ‘Falun Gong expose’ on television 24-7 was full of lies, and that many of their friends had already been arrested. They thought it was a misunderstanding. Something had to be done.

So they went to designated petition offices to register their complaints. They were arrested. They went to Tiananmen Square to meditate – they were beaten and then arrested.

Naïveté was quickly replaced by a startling realisation – this was a long-prepared-for campaign ordered by the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party. They were up against the machinery of the world’s biggest authoritarian state.

Some suggested they just practice at home and wait out the campaign, but even that proved unsafe. As their friends and neighbours were tortured to death, Falun Gong turned to the public with a non-violent grassroots movement.

Far from the Western press, they still distribute leaflets and VCDs, hang banners, write letters, and post torture cases online. More daring feats include scaling trees to hide timed loudspeakers that blare about prison torture and killing as police scamper underneath looking for the source. Those caught often pay with their lives.

Out west

As persecution flared in China, out west Falun Gong had no organised voice or press office. Chinese graduate students and other practitioners drove overnight to Washington. When they got there they argued: ‘We should hold a press conference’. ‘No, we should hunger strike’!

Eventually, practitioners showed up at congressional offices wearing shorts and T-shirts. Told that was inappropriate, they returned in suits, fold lines still showing on their new button-down shirts.

One practitioner used his savings to make thousands of copies of black-and-white fact sheets. Years later those seemed too simple, so a biologist and his wife printed beautiful, glossy newsletters. But then people started snickering – ‘Falun Gong, they have so much money’.

In Taiwan, officials ask me if Falun Gong is funded by the CIA. In DC, I’m asked if Falun Gong is funded by the Taiwanese. The truth is, funding comes from very dedicated practitioners.

Those people who showed up in shorts back in 1999 now run budding media enterprises funded by advertising and the pockets of a few practitioners who can afford to donate.

They have already registered successes. The Nine Commentaries, printed by the Epoch Times, has sparked waves of resignations from the Chinese Communist Party. New Tang Dynasty Television has been at the forefront of reporting on debacles associated with the Sichuan earthquake, Tibet and other stories Chinese media won’t cover. Until recently a French satellite company beamed this content into China. Beijing pressured Eutelsat to betray the contract, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Indeed, Beijing has spared little effort. Chinese diplomats hand officials in London and Geneva magazines comparing Falun Gong to groups that gas subways and commit mass suicide. They wave carrots of ‘sister city’ relations, and sticks of cancelling business deals.

Top universities haven’t escaped either. At my alma mater, the London School of Economics, carrots are exchange programs and the Confucian Institute. As many will admit in private, the stick of being denied access to China has long kept scholars from writing boldly about Falun Gong.

Taboo

A study I published about Western press coverage found that the more Falun Gong practitioners have been killed, the less media have reported on it. Practitioners, like starving Africans, have become what Herman and Chomsky call ‘unworthy victims’.

Be it due to self-censorship policies, a bias against religion, judgments that Falun Gong is weird, compassion fatigue, or Falun Gong’s own poor marketing skills, many journalists avoid the story.

Meanwhile, media conglomerates have been falling over each other trying to get into the China market. Some media websites (like the BBC and SCMP) have been blocked after running a story on Falun Gong - one of China’s biggest taboos. So they remain mostly silent. That is why practitioners are producing their own media.

In China, many remain apathetic. But leading lawyers, activists, local officials, and countless ordinary Chinese have gradually come over to Falun Gong’s side. Yet in the West, many still speak of cultural relativism or illusions that the Olympics and free-trade will solve it all - eventually.

But those with relatives rotting in jail cannot wait. Practitioners are further motivated by belief in karma. They worry that those who are complicit, knowingly or not, are ultimately hurting themselves. They are also optimistic that no just action will go unrewarded.

Falun Gong practitioners will thus keep telling people about the persecution until it ends. We ask you to help us - through your thoughts and prayers, words and deeds, emails and links.

China coming out its way


China Post: Aug. 27 08 - Like it or not, China has come out in her own way through the Beijing Olympic Games. It scored the most gold medals (51, 15 more than the U.S. in second) and more important, kept its censorship intact on Tibet and Falun Gong issues despite international criticism.

The Beijing Games were a victory for the ruling communists, the victory of a one-party state that has removed the spontaneity and joy of the Games, and proved form can triumph over substance.

Beijing leaders used to believe in communism; now they simply believe in communist rule. Each Olympics goes a long way to characterize the host nation. Thus it was, for example, that the Barcelona Games finally expunged the image of Spain's fascist past and established the vibrancy of a relatively new democracy. The Moscow Games were definitive in reaffirming the grim reputation of the old Soviet Union. Enough has been said about Hitler's Olympics in Munich to be sure of its lingering impression on the world.

However, when the authoritarian regime in South Korea sought to use the Seoul Games to assert the supremacy of the dictatorship, it ended up signaling its demise. The Beijing leadership is sure the same won't happen in China.

Those who look to the Olympics to affirm China's position as a world power capable of staging world-class events should not be disappointed. Those who said the state should display ruthless authoritarianism have equal cause for satisfaction.

Beijing's cheerleaders rightly predicted that China had the ability to produce a spectacular and well-organized event that would linger in the memory for its magnificence.

And the critics, who were concerned over the impact on human rights and freedom of expression, also proved to be correct because China quickly abandoned pledges to allow demonstrations or permit reporters to do their job freely; nor was the great firewall surrounding the Internet in China dismantled.

But as Beijing has sentenced two frail women in their late 70s to labor camp because they insisted on applying to hold a legal protest during the Olympics, then that is an outrage to be addressed not by "silent diplomacy" but by crying it out aloud.

At a cost of US$40 billion, the Beijing Olympics represented the most expensive coming-out party in history, many doubt whether China will earn a decent return on its investment. The anticipated influx of tourists did not materialize, and despite "selling every ticket" efforts, venues were less than half full.

The total number of visitors to the city this month is virtually unchanged from the figures from the previous August. Sports fans have crowded out regular visitors during what is normally a busy tourist season, and strict security measures have scared away other potential guests. The Olympics have instilled a sense of pride in the Chinese people, over 80 percent of whom report that they believe the country "is on the right track." An astounding 93 percent of Chinese surveyed by the Pew Research Center said the Games would improve the country's image.

China won 51 gold medals, which is the highest tally for any nation since the former Soviet Union won 55 in Seoul in 1988. For the 1.3 billion Chinese, the US$40 billion Games was worth it.

UCC student fears for arrested parents

UCC student Liang Tang, whose parents have been detained by the Chinese authorities.UCC student Liang Tang, whose parents have been detained by the Chinese authorities.
Photograph: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision
BARRY ROCHE, Southern Correspondent

Irish Times: A 21-YEAR-OLD Chinese student living in Ireland has spoken of his concern for his parents after they were arrested by police in China.

The arrest comes as authorities reportedly cracked down on the Falun Gong group in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Tang Liang, a second-year finance student at University College Cork (UCC), was on a visit home to Zheng Zhou city in Henan province when his mother, Aiqin Wang (45), and his father, Yu Lin Tang (46), were arrested by police on June 16th last.

He said his mother was seen by police at a bus stop with a DVD “with commentaries about the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]”, and both she and his father were arrested.

“They took both of them to the police station and they held my mother there, and then took my father to my home. I was there at the time and they searched everywhere and busted things up and took everything about Falun Gong – DVDs, books. I haven’t seen my parents since.”

Falun Gong is a spiritual practice involving sets of meditation techniques. However, the Chinese government regards it as a dangerous cult and thousands of its practitioners have been jailed since 1999.

Falun Gong leaders said earlier this week that more than 8,000 of its followers had been detained in recent months, as China tried to prevent any embarrassing disruption to the Olympics.

Liang, who came to Ireland in 2006, returned to Cork at the end of June but has been in regular contact with his uncles and aunts, who have been trying to find out how his father and mother are being treated.

He knows his mother is being held in prison in Zheng Zhou and is facing trial on charges relating to the distribution of the DVD critical of the CCP, while his father was held at the same prison but has since been moved to a detention centre.

“They are in different situations – my father was just driving a car so there so there’s not enough evidence to prove he is really involved. The public prosecutor said there was not enough evidence and he went up to the police station to set him free.

“But the police . . . didn’t want to set my father free because they were on a sort of a mission that the communists gave them during the Olympic period – to catch more people just to shut people up during the Olympic Games.

“They sent him to a brainwash study group to tell you how bad Falun Gong are – this group was later sent to . . . a suburb of Zheng Zhou to avoid foreign journalists in China for the Olympics.

“According to one of my uncles, they said they wouldn’t set him free until after the Olympic Game[s] is over and even after that he might face the labour camps,” said Liang, who is himself a Falun Gong practitioner.

Liang is most concerned about his mother, as she suffers from high blood pressure, and, from information from her lawyer, she is being held in even tighter security. Liang says he fears that she may tortured.

“Her lawyer says she will be held in prison for at least three years and maybe 10 years. Three years is the best she can hope for, and for this you need to back down and say you are wrong, but my mother won’t do that because she’s a strong believer.”

The Irish Times was unable to obtain a comment from the Chinese embassy on the issue, despite repeated efforts.

© 2008 The Irish Times

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two More Falun Gong Killed by Olympic Cleanup

Not far from sailing competition, Falun Gong practitioners tortured to death

NEW YORK (FDI) – In Shandong province, home to the 2008 Olympics sailing competition, two Falun Gong practitioners were tortured to death before the Games. Mr. Zhong Zhenfu (钟振福) from Pingdu city died July 20, and Ms. Liu Xiumei (刘秀梅) of Zhucheng city died July 27, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony, according to reports received by the Falun Dafa Information Center.

Ms. Liu Xiumei (刘秀梅)

Ms. Liu Xiumei (刘秀梅)

Ms. Liu Xiumei - According to sources in Shandong province’s Zhucheng city, local police escalated the persecution of Falun Gong adherents in the months before the Olympics. State-supervised neighborhood watch groups have been forced to closely monitor Falun Gong practitioners. Local officials must submit daily reports about each practitioner under surveillance and search after any practitioners who have disappeared.

Over 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested in roundups during the months leading up to the Olympics (article).

In July 10, police station chief Ding Bofeng searched Ms. Liu Xiumei’s home in Guanzhuandian village without providing any legal documents, sources say. Ms. Liu was detained and held in the Zhucheng City Detention Center.

When Liu’s family went to the Zhucheng City Police Department to inquire about her situation, they were told she was fine and would be released in a few days. But, on July 27, Liu’s husband received notification that his wife had died in detention - only 17 days after her arrest.

Liu’s body is being stored in the Zhucheng City Funeral Home. Details surrounding her death have not yet been confirmed.

Mr. Zhong Zhenfu, 58 - At approximately 6:00 p.m. on May 4, 2008, policemen and officers from Pingdu city’s 6-10 Office (about 6-10 Office) began searching Falun Gong practitioners’ houses. Police believed these were hideouts where practitioners were producing leaflets and VCDs about human rights abuses. They confiscated books, printers, satellite dishes and other electronic equipment.

Illustration of

Illustration of "Iron Chair"

Without warrant, the officers arrested three practitioners - Ms. Xu Aifang, Mr. Wang Yunchong and Mr. Zhong Zhenfu. That night, the practitioners’ arms and legs were strapped to “iron chairs” and they were interrogated.

Sources inside China say that after three days the practitioners were taken to the Pingdu City Detention Center, where guards shackled Mr. Zhong and beat his head with metal wires. He was then detained in a metal cage. When the guards tried to force him to curse at the founder of Falun Gong Mr. Zhong refused. He was then beaten for an hour with metal wires. When the guards finally stopped, Mr. Zhong was injured to the point that he was unable to stand.

Sources reported that the guards then sent Mr. Zhong to a hospital, where a doctor said his injuries were very severe. To avoid assuming any responsibility for his critical condition, detention center officials released him on medical parole. During the month-plus period that Mr. Zhong was in the hospital, he had to pay for his own medical expenses, totaling over 10,000 yuan ($1,500 US).

Unable to recover from the torture, Mr. Zhong died on July 20, 2008, exactly nine years after the persecution of Falun Gong began.

Mr. Zhong Zhenfu’s background: Mr. Zhong and his wife, Zhong Shuhua (56), lived in Zhongjia village, Changle town, Pingdu city in Shandong province. They began practicing Falun Gong in 1997. But after 1999, when the Chinese Communist Party began a nationwide campaign of persecution targeting Falun Gong practitioners, the couple was repeatedly arrested. Without ever showing a warrant, police searched their home over 50 times and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of possessions. In 2004, when Mrs. Zhong was sentenced to three years in a labor camp, Mr. Zhong fled his home to avoid further arrest.

“We call upon the international community, while they are in China for the Olympics, to use every resource available to investigate the facts for themselves,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Ms. Gail Rachlin. “This persecution must end.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT THE FALUN DAFA INFORMATION CENTER

Admission of Organ Harvesting is 'Undeniable,' Say Investigators

By Ben Bendig
Epoch Times Staff
Aug 23, 2008
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Related articles: World > International

Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour and David Matas, a human rights lawyer, on August 22, 2008, released a new letter, describing new evidence about continued murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China for their organs.
Organ Harvesting in China

New evidence of the Chinese regime’s practice of harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners has come to light through the admission of a Chinese doctor.

An audio recording of the doctor admitting to having taken part in harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners, together with a state-endorsed documentary in which the same doctor acknowledges taking part in the conversation, is “an undeniable, inculpatory admission of the harvesting of Falun Gong practitioner prisoners for profit,” say David Matas, a human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state (Asia Pacific), in a letter released yesterday.

Matas and Kilgour had their investigators call Chinese hospitals inquiring about organ transplants, specifically if they could get organs from Falun Gong practitioners, the rationale being that Falun Gong practitioners are healthy, owing to their practice.

In one case, Dr. Lu Guoping at Minzu Hospital of Guangxi Autonomous Region said that his hospital used to have organs from Falun Gong practitioners, but didn’t any longer. Here is a portion of the transcript:

"Caller: ...what you used before, were they from detention centers or prisons?

"Lu Guoping: From prisons.

"C: Oh, prisons. And it was from healthy Falun Gong practitioners, the healthy Falun Gong right?

"LG: Right, right, right. We would choose the good ones, because we will assure the quality of our operations.

"C: That means you choose the organs yourselves?

"LG: Right, right, right."

He later referred the caller to a hospital in Guangzhou, saying that this hospital would have Falun Gong organs.

Where the new evidence comes to bear is that in a documentary released by Phoenix TV, Lu Guoping admits to having received the call, and also to referring the caller to a Guangzhou hospital.

However, he denies what he said, stating in the interview, “I told her [the caller] I was not involved in the surgical operations and had no idea where the organs come from. I told her I could not answer her questions. She then asked me whether these organs come from prisons. I replied no to her in clear-cut terms.”

When shown a transcript of the interview on the video, Dr. Lu claims that it is a distorted version of the conversation. However, the documentary makes no mention of an audio recording, and no explanation for how the recording could have his voice saying some things that he admits, and other things he denies saying. Matas and Kilgour, in their report of the new evidence, make the point that the documentary suggests an altered transcript, but because there is no mention in the documentary of the recording, the recording itself is not being disputed.

Matas and Kilgour sum up the evidence: “So here we have on our recording an admission from a doctor that he and his colleagues used to go to a prison to select Falun Gong practitioners for their organs. He does not just say that someone else did this. He says that he and his colleagues used to do this themselves. Moreover, we have a further admission that the voice we have on our recording is the voice of the very person our recording says he is.”

One particularly damning aspect of the documentary is that it is available through Chinese consulates and embassies.

“[C]onsequently,” Kilgour and Matas state in their letter, concerning the documentary, “it has the sanction of the Government of China. The admission is, accordingly, one which is sanctioned and approved by the Government of China and can not credibly be denied by the Government.”

Kilgour and Matas have been investigating claims of Falun Gong organ harvesting since 2006. Some of evidence includes 40,000 transplants that have taken place in China with donors unaccounted for, since the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999. Additionally, waiting times for organs in China are on the order of weeks, while in Western countries, the wait can be months or years.

Matas and Kilgour's letter, along with links to the Phoenix TV video (with English subtitles), Chinese and English-language copies of the transcript of the conversation with Dr. Lu, and the audio recording of Dr. Lu, are available at: http://organharvestinvestigation.net/Dr.Lu-Voice-Recording/

The published reports and other information can be found at www.organharvestinvestigation.net.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Open Letter to Foreign Journalists in China: CIPFG

MWC: A list of 51 labor camps provided- reporters urged to investigate

View the list of 51 labor camps

The Beijing Olympic Games are on and more than twenty thousand journalists from around the world are reporting on the games. At the same time, these journalists have an opportunity to depict the true face of the Chinese regime, a regime that continues to torture and kill its own people under the guise of denials and glitter.

The Chinese Communist regime relentlessly uses its power to cover up its true image. A small but telling example is the lip sync event at the opening ceremony, flawlessly innocent on the outside, but treacherously deceitful on the inside.

Prior to the opening ceremony, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) published a guide called Torture Outside the Olympic Village: A Guide to China’s Labor Camps, which showcased seven labor camps located near Olympic venues said to imprison thousands of Falun Gong practitioners. After the Guide was published, sources reported that the communist regime secretly relocated many of the steadfast practitioners-those who refuse to rnounce their faith in Falun Gong- to camps in other provinces.

For nine years the Falun Gong spiritual group has suffered tremendously at the hands of the communist dictatorship. Documented reports detail how Falun Gong practitioners have been dehumanized, raped, tortured, and killed. Several reports provide evidence supporting claims of a vast organ harvesting scheme targting practitioners, run by the Chinese military in collusion with the courts. The United Nations Special Rapporteurs twice requested that the Chinese government fully explain unusually short wait times to receive an organ, compared with waiting times in Western countries, and the over 41,500 organ transplants that were not attributed to donors. Apart from categorical denials the regime offered no explanation.

The key questions that remain are: Why does the communist regime continue to refuse independent investigations into the claims of abuse if they are innocent? Why does the communist regime continue to deny reporters an opportunity to investigate alleged Falun Gong crimes if Falun Gong practitioners are guilty?

If reporters neglect to investigate the tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who are currently being persecuted, the future will show that the Beijing Olympics will be among the darkest in Olympic history.

Out of the nearly 300 concentration-camp-like labor camps in China, we are announcing 51 here. These Chinese gulags have locked up hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners over the course of 9 years, including those who were seized in mass arrests in the name of “a peaceful Olympics,” months before the Games began.

All international media are urged to investigate the labor camps and the dire circumstances endured by Falun Gong practitioners. However, if you are given a tour by Chinese officials, be aware that the tour, like almost everything else related to these Games, will be fake. When you are guided through a comfortable and beautiful labor camp, and when you are told by healthy-looking inmates that they are thankful for the opportunities to be ‘reborn’ in these camps, please remember the little girl’s lip sync, and a regime that will stop at nothing to make sure you are shown the image it wants you to see.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Being a Falun Gong practitioner

Being a Falun Gong practitioner

  • Posted by Leeshai Lemish
  • 18 August 2008

New Statesman: Often in the news but rarely understood, Falun Gong is regularly associated with Chinese human rights issues. Leeshai Lemish gives his understanding of what Falun Gong practitioners actually believe

I would have laughed if ten years ago you told me that my search for a meditation practice would land me on Beijing’s blacklist.

At that time I was an athlete with more determination than talent. My fascination with the mental side of sports and venture into alternative treatments for a back injury lead me to visualisation techniques, yoga, and tai chi. My quest then turned to Buddhist practices - a Vipassana retreat here, sessions at a Zen centre there.

Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, was among the disciplines I experimented with but initially put aside. While I appreciated Falun Gong’s holistic system for mind and body, friendly and outgoing practitioners, and always free teachings, I also found the emphasis on discarding all attachments too demanding; some attachments I still wanted to keep. I’ll get back to this later, I thought, after I’ve had my fun.

A mundane incident brought me back to Falun Dafa. One evening I was arguing heatedly with my father. I suggested we take a break. Sitting on the floor, I tried coaching myself into a better state of mind: ‘Ok, what should I do? Well, this Falun Dafa book here says we should act with truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. I might be acting truthfully, but I’m not being very tolerant or compassionate. I’ll try keeping these principles in mind’. I returned to the kitchen and within a minute we were hugging. Soon after, I went online and found the local Falun Dafa volunteer.

Daily Cultivation

Not long before, I applied for ordination at a remote Buddhist temple. Instead, with Falun Dafa I found a way to bring a monk’s sacred commitment to spiritual perfection to daily life in the secular world.

This balancing act is both challenging and rewarding. All the things we are deeply attached to – what we desire and what upsets us – are right before us. From nude advertisements to obnoxious colleagues – daily tests pop up to see whether we can sever the strings of attachments and emotions that tug at our hearts. While maintaining a job and raising a family, we seek to abandon selfishness and orient our hearts toward a greater good. We try to embrace hardships that come along as opportunities for spiritual growth.

Normally (as before persecution began in China), there are only two obvious differences between the lives of Falun Gong practitioners and others.

First, we perform four exercises, which resemble tai chi, and a meditation. When I manage to get up in the morning to exercise I feel lighter, energized, and more clearheaded.

As in Chinese medicine, we believe the body’s energy can be refined and transformed in ways that cannot be seen. Like heat, however, the effect is often palpable.

Second, we regularly study the teachings of Master Li Hongzhi, Falun Dafa’s founder. We might read a chapter during lunch break or listen to a talk on our iPods on the Tube. Sometimes, we’ll meet to exchange understandings of the teachings and how we apply them to our daily lives, taking joy in enlightening to new spiritual insights.

Path of Return

As I understand them, these teachings remind us to ‘look inside’ and find our own shortcomings instead of blaming others. They also remind us of life’s transience, cause and effect relationships, and our ultimate goal of enlightenment.

Cosmologically, I would say we believe we humans have descended to the world from much purer realms. We can return to these heavens, the true homes of our souls, by elevating our moral characters through a process we call ‘self-cultivation’ (xiu-lian). We do this by striving to follow the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance (zhen-shan-ren). We hold these to be the underlying characteristics of the universe from which we have deviated out of selfishness.

Like Buddhists, we see suffering as basic to the human experience, a result of karma from previous wrongdoings in this life or before. We have no ordinances against taking medicine, nor are we discouraged from helping those in need. But we believe more permanent relief comes through spiritual elevation via self-cultivation.

Admittedly, the media have had some fun with us. Falun Gong teachings have a traditional Chinese flavour, including conservative views of issues like pre-marital sex or homosexuality no different from many Buddhist and Taoist practices. Unfortunately, lost in such parodies is that we don’t judge others by requirements for practitioners or preach our values. Meanwhile, we welcome anyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, social status, religious background, or disability.

As for aliens - another issue media have drooled over – yes, like NASA’s ex-astronaut, we believe they exist, but could go months without thinking about them until some journalist claims it’s what our belief system is about. Rather, self-cultivation is really what lies at the core of being a Falun Gong practitioner.

Since most know Falun Gong through its human rights activism (discussed in upcoming entries), it’s easy to forget that this activism is something we’ve been begrudgingly forced into by persecution. At heart, we would much rather spend our Saturday mornings in the park, meditating quietly under a tree.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Falun Gong prisoners targeted for organs in China: report

Jennifer Macey, The World Today program, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Austrlia, Tuesday, 12 August , 2008-

ELEANOR HALL: China’s human rights record is again under scrutiny, this time at an International Transplantation Congress in Sydney. A Canadian human rights lawyer says he has new evidence of forced organ removals from prisoners and Falun Gong practitioners in China.

David Matas says Chinese hospitals perform 10,000 organ transplant operations each year and that many of the recipients are foreigners. As Jennifer Macey reports, he’s now calling on the Australian Government to do more to stop the practice.

JENNIFER MACEY: China performs an estimated 10,000 organ transplant operations each year more than any other country in the world except for the United States. But China has no formalised system of organ donations and human rights groups say the short waiting times and availability of organs in China raises serious questions about their source.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch first reported 10 years ago that the majority of these organs come from prisoners. Now Canadian Human Rights Lawyer David Matas says among the prison population, it’s now members of Falun Gong who are being increasingly targeted.

DAVID MATAS: China’s source of organs for transplants is almost entirely from prisoners according to the Deputy Minister of Health it’s 95 per cent, according to other statistics it’s 96 per cent. So it’s almost entirely forced organ harvesting. And there’s two sources - it’s prisoners sentenced to death and Falun Gong practitioners.

JENNIFER MACEY: Mr Matas says hospitals and prisons have arrangements to split the profits made through organ transplant operations, often to foreign patients. He says the prisoners are killed after their organs are removed.

DAVID MATAS: Basically they wait until there’s an order from the hospital, they will blood test the person, and then they inject the person with potassium, and then they put them into a van and the actual organ extraction is in the van, where the prisoner is killed through the organ extraction and then the body is cremated.

JENNIFER MACEY: Last year David Mr Matas and Canadian former secretary of state David Kilgour released a report investigating allegations of organ harvesting of Falun Gong members in China. Mr Matas concedes it’s difficult to find proof of this practise as China won’t release official statistics on executions or organ transplants

But he says he has new audio tapes of Chinese doctors admitting they have Falun Gong organs for sale.

DAVID MATAS: We had callers calling in to China pretending to be relatives of patients who needed organs and asking the hospital that they were calling for organs of Falun Gong practitioners on the basis that Falun Gong’s an exercise regime that practitioners are healthy and their organs are healthy. And we got admissions on tape throughout China and we’ve got the transcripts in our report and we’ve got phone records and we got the tapes from pick up to hang down.

JENNIFER MACEY: Dr Yuan Hong worked as a heart surgeon for ten years at a medical university hospital in north eastern China. He says it was an open secret at his hospital that prisoners organs were used in transplant operations for patients who had travelled from Japan.

YUAN HONG (translated): I start to notice these issues because one of the nurse wearing the army dress and then I also find an anaesthetist also wear the same clothes. So I ask him “why do you have to wear these clothes?” and then he told me, “we have to go to the place where people do executions, so we needed to transplant a kidney there.”

JENNIFER MACEY: So you knew of Japanese people who were coming to your hospital for organ transplants?

YUAN HONG (translated): Because foreigner came to our hospital to be treated. It’s a hot topic, so everybody knows.

JENNIFER MACEY: Jennifer Zeng is a member of Falun Gong who was offered asylum in Australia several years ago. In China she spent a year in a labour camp near Beijing. She says at the camp her blood was taken for tests and she underwent several health checks.

JENNIFER MACEY: Only Falun Gong practitioners were tested and get this physical check up. A lot of Falun Gong practitioners thought that Falun Gong got some special treatment, because they saw a physical check up after you were there for long years, it’s good for your health.

So they ask the police, ‘how about we pay for the physical check’ and the police clearly said no, it’s only for Falun Gong. So other prisoners even protested against it, they say, they are not treated fairly because they obviously didn’t know the purpose.

JENNIFER MACEY: Human rights lawyer David Matas says there’s a lot more the Australian Government could do to help stamp out the practice.

DAVID MATAS: The Government’s could introduce extra-territorial legislation so that transplant tourism can become a crime, the way now child sex tourism is a crime,.

ELEANOR HALL: Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas ending that report by Jennifer Macey.

- Original: Falun Gong prisoners targeted for organs: report

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beijing 2008 or Orwell 1984?

The high price of wilful blindness
By Danial W.K. Rafuse, The Suburban


As the eyes of the world focus on China, I thought I would take this opportunity to recount my experience with one remarkable Chinese woman. While my practice generally centres on commercial quarrels, I make it a point to devote a certain amount of time assisting asylum seekers who are persecuted in their own countries to obtain their status in Canada. It was in this capacity that I had the opportunity to meet Yao Lian, a woman who had suffered multiple injustices because of her religious beliefs. This is her story.

Last summer, I received at my offices Mr. Ma Jian, and Mrs. Yao Lian, both from China. They were both articulate and well spoken. In fact, the gentleman spoke nearly perfect Parisian French and was an executive for the large French oil pump company PCM. He asked me to help his friend Yao Lian apply for refugee status in Canada as she had suffered considerably because of her belief in the practice of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong is a spiritual movement with many adherents in China. Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, was founded in Li Hongzhi in 1992. It has five sets of meditation exercises and seeks to develop practitioners’ hearts and character according to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party views this organization as dissident and a threat to the established order. To the party, Falun Gong is a competitive threat to the doctrine of the all-encompassing state.

Some of the documented acts of oppression against the practitioners are nearly unspeakable. David Kilgour, former Canadian secretary of state for the Asia Pacific region, published a report that appeared to confirm allegations that the Chinese government was harvesting organs from imprisoned practitioners of Falun Gong.

Mrs. Lian took up the practice of Falun Gong in order to deal with personal health issues. She was working for the Chinese Academy of Sciences and her employer apparently informed the government that she was a practitioner.

Her life descended into a series of Kafkaesque scenes where she was required to attend, on two occasions, a detention camp aimed at brainwashing her to no longer be an adherent of the Falun Gong movement. She eventually lost her position and the apartment granted to her by the Chinese Academy of Sciences due to her refusal to disavow her commitment to her spiritual beliefs.

About a month after I met Mrs. Lian, she informed me that Ma Jian, the man who attended at my offices originally, was actually her husband. Afraid of the Chinese Communist Party informers in Canada, they decided not to tell me that at the time. More importantly, I was told that on Feb. 28, 2007 Ma Jian was arbitrarily arrested at the PCM office in Beijing. He was detained by the police without informing his family or his employer of his whereabouts. He apparently spent three weeks in a brainwashing centre and was then transferred to the East-Beijing Detention Center.

On April 19, 2007, Ma Jian’s family member in China received the official condemnation by phone call — a verdict of 2.5 years in a labour camp for having Falun Gong-related documents at home.

By March 2007, the French political class had begun to manifest their discontent with Mr. Jian’s detention. Both Jacques Pelissard, president of the conference of French Mayors, and Segolene Royal, Socialist party candidate for the French presidency, wrote letters supporting the release of Mr. Ma Jian.

The Canadian government, on the basis of this information, granted accelerated asylum to Yao Lian. While this granted some measure of security to her, she took no comfort as her husband was incarcerated and remains incarcerated to this day.

Canadians and the Canadian government have a moral obligation to demonstrate their refusal to tolerate the oppression of individuals based on their religious, ethnic, or political views. The past has taught us too often the high price of wilful blindness.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chinese Authorities Secretly Moving Falun Gong Adherents Out of Beijing

Beijing-area detention facilities being stocked with “transformed” individuals ready to denounce Falun Gong in front of foreign media

NEW YORK – The Falun Dafa Information Center has learned that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities have moved genuine Falun Gong adherents out of Beijing-area prisons and labor camps, replacing them with individuals who claim to have renounced Falun Gong. The Center believes the move is meant to mislead foreign media, mirroring similar tactics used in the past.

On July 30th, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) published Torture Outside the Olympic Village: A Guide to China's Labor Camps (report), a detailed guide to detention facilities located within miles of Olympic venues. On August 3, the Center released a related report, A Journalist's Walking Guide to the Persecution of Falun Gong in Beijing (report).

According to Center sources in China, immediately after the publication of these reports, the Chinese authorities began moving Falun Gong adherents out of Beijing. These sources say many adherents were moved to Shanxi Forced Labor Camp and Shanxi Women's Forced Labor Camp, while some were sent to Inner Mongolia.

These sources also indicate the authorities are putting individuals who claim to have "renounced" Falun Gong into Beijing detention centers and prisons where they are typically treated very well and made available to foreign media who are investigating abuses against Falun Gong.

"They’re moving victims of torture and other abuses out of Beijing, and replacing them with individuals who parrot the CCP’s stance on Falun Gong," says Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang. "Think about it…they are preparing ‘show tours’ to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. We trust journalists in Beijing won’t be taken in by these tactics."

"Show tours" of this nature have been employed before by CCP authorities to thwart investigations of abuse against Falun Gong, and were previously forewarned by Center sources.

On April 26, 2001, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported that Masanjia Labor Camp in Liaoning Province was among a few facilities being readied to receive foreign and Chinese media to 'interview' selected Falun Gong practitioners.

Almost a month later reporters were invited to the Masanjia Labor Camp to witness freshly painted walls, prisoners decked out in new jump suits complete with their names written on the back in Chinese and English (it was not clear why prisoners needed their names written in English inside a Chinese labor camp), enjoying an apparently clean and healthy environment – all in stark contrast with the horrific abuses reported by dozens of individuals who had previously been held and tortured at Masanjia.

The Center urges media workers in Beijing to be cognizant of this tactic, and recommends the following steps to avoid being misled by the CCP:

  1. Coordinate several groups of journalists to go to different camps at the same time, making it more difficult for the CCP to orchestrate a "show tour."
  2. Interview individuals recently released from labor camps in China, but currently residing overseas, including ones who witnessed similar foreign visits and measures taken by authorities prior to them. The Falun Dafa Information Center can provide the contact information for these individuals, as well as for family members of those currently being detained at Beijing camps and prisons.
  3. Refer to third party reports about conditions experienced by Falun Gong adherents in custody, available on the Center’s website: U.S. State Department 2007 report, Amnesty International reports, reports by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs (reports), and the writings of Chinese attorney Gao Zhisheng (writings).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Vancouver protesters denounce China's human rights record

The scene at the Art Gallery
News1130 photo

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Nearly 40 anti-Chinese government protestors took to the Vancouver Art Gallery steps Wednesday afternoon.

One of the speakers there claims the Olympics are a cover up for China's human rights abuses.

"Let me make one point very clear. We are not here because we hate Chinese people. As a matter of fact, we love Chinese people. I want that to be clear."

One of the protestors says the Chinese government has arrested thousands of Falun Gong members to use them as unwilling human organ donors. A handful of the protestors at the Art Gallery marched to the Chinese Consulate on Granville St. later in the afternoon.

Olympic Preview Special News Bulletin


Monitoring the Falun Gong Human Rights Crisis in China


Behind the Olympic Spectacle: A Journalist's Walking Guide to the Persecution of Falun Gong in Beijing

Report details locations in and around Beijing where Falun Gong adherents were detained, tortured or killed

Among the thousands of reporters, athletes, and spectators arriving this week for the Beijing Olympics, most have likely heard of Falun Gong and the Communist Party’s often brutal campaign to crush it. But what few realize is the extent to which the violence meted out against these peaceful religious believers has in some cases taken place within walking distance of Olympic venues, hotels, and prominent landmarks.

To assist journalists covering the 2008 Olympic Games, the Falun Dafa Information Center released today a report providing detailed leads on 16 Chinese citizens detained or killed recently in Beijing and surrounding provinces for practicing Falun Gong.

To read more: http://faluninfo.net/topic/150/

Beijing Reporters, Tear Down This Firewall (and How To)

The Falun Dafa Information Center Offers Tools for Breaking through the CCP's Internet Filters and Securing your Data while Covering the Beijing Olympics


With the International Olympic Committee having admitted prior consent to the Chinese authorities to block access for foreign reporters to certain websites (article), the Falun Dafa Information Center, in cooperation with Internet freedom activists, hereby offers journalists in Beijing a resource to gain free access to information during their stay in China.

The tools available on the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) website http://www.internetfreedom.org allow anonymous, secure access to public websites normally accessible outside of the CCP's filters.

To read more: http://faluninfo.net/article/753/?cid=84


CIPFG: Torture Outside the Olympic Village: A Guide to China's Labor Camps

The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) presents a guide to labor camps and detention facilities just a stone's throw from Olympic venues.

As Olympic Games spectators and reporters travel to China, they will witness the world’s top athletes compete–but they will not witness the hundreds of thousands languishing in labor camps nearby, many detained for exercising the same fundamental rights we take for granted every day. Where are these Chinese gulags? Who is detained there? And what goes on inside?

To read more: http://www.humanrightstorch.org/news/guide-to-olympic-village-labor-camps/


Screws Tighten on Persecuted

Mary-Anne Toy, Sydney Morning Herald, in Beijing

Helen, a university graduate who speaks English and another European language fluently, lives in poverty in a rundown apartment block in a Chinese city we cannot identify to protect her.

The flats on either side of her are occupied by the mistresses of Chinese businessmen.

Helen, not her real name, also lives a secret life - one that is far more dangerous and less acceptable to China's Communist leaders than being or keeping a mistress.

She believes in Falun Gong, a quasi-Buddhist spiritual movement preaching "truth, forbearance and compassion" and teaches qi gong - ancient Chinese breathing exercises - to improve health and allegedly even cure illnesses and injuries.

To read more: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/screws-tighten-on-persecuted-sect/2008/07/25/1216492734168.html


Chinese Officials Cover Up Abuses against Falun Gong in Reneging on Promises of Internet Freedom for Journalists

IOC's decision to cut deal with Beijing on Internet censorship "irresponsible at best, complicit at worst"


Journalists in Beijing covering the Olympic Games have found their Internet access restricted according to several major media reports, including those from the BBC and USA Today.

At a Tuesday news conference, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, admitted Falun Gong sites would remain blocked, while Sun Weide, the spokesperson for the Beijing Olympic Committee (BOCOG) attacked Falun Gong by stating that the traditional Chinese discipline "is an evil, fake religion which has been banned by the Chinese government."

The Center is also calling upon the IOC to reconsider the deal it reportedly struck with the BOCOG allowing Internet restrictions. In so far as these restrictions further Beijing’s agenda to cover up human rights abuses, to let them stand is irresponsible at best, complicit at worst.

To read more: http://faluninfo.net/article/752/?cid=84


46-Year Old Woman Dies from Torture in Shandong Province

Site of the Olympics Sailing Competition in Qingdao

The Falun Dafa Information Center has learned that a 46-year old woman who had been illegally arrested and tortured continuously for 21 days, died from her wounds and was cremated on June 21, 2008.

Xiao Sumin was the 3,163rd adherent known to have died as a result of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, though it is expected that the actual number is many times higher. Ms. Xiao was from Pingdu city in Shandong province; approximately 80 km north of Qingdao, site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics sailing competition. The province is also notable for having the fourth highest death rate throughout China for Falun Gong practitioners tortured by security personnel for their spiritual beliefs.

To read more: http://faluninfo.net/article/751/?cid=84

Support the Rally for Rights in China

Suburban: Editorial —


If the Olympics are just games, then it belies what the Olympic movement itself says. It believes it is propagating universal values. But if those values are hijacked by tyrants, then what do we have left? The message that brute force is everything and can bend all to its will? That this alone constitutes “winning”? That there is nothing worth standing up for?

Sport does not take place in a vacuum. It is part of our everyday fabric. It is informed by events around us and is often used as a tool of propaganda. That is reality. The images we see on our screens and in our newspapers have very real overt and subliminal effects. Our reactions to those images, what we teach young people to value, have very real repercussions around the world.

That is why we are very gratified that the Ottawa rally for rights in China that we reported on last week is picking up steam. We want to encourage all of you to participate tomorrow, August 7th.

Buses are leaving Montreal from three locations tomorrow morning. At 8 a.m. they will be at Longueuil Metro. At 8:30 the buses will be waiting at Berri-UQAM. At 9 they will make their last stop at Snowdon Metro before proceeding to Ottawa.

Transportation has been organized and funded by the Canada-Tibet Committee and the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal. We urge all those who can go to call Dermod Travis, executive director of the Canada-Tibet Committee at 514-487-0665 and reserve your seat.

What has taken shape is a two-stage protest. At 11 a.m. Mount Royal MP and former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has called a press conference on Parliament Hill in the Charles Lynch Room of the Centre Bloc. Cotler will present an 11-point plan for holding China accountable to international human rights standards. He will be accompanied by former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific David Kilgour, international human rights campaigner Nazanin Afshin-Jam and The Suburban’s editor Beryl Wajsman in his capacity as President of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal. After the conference they will proceed to meet the main body of demonstrators at the Chinese Embassy on St. Patrick Street. The rally will take place across the street from the main door of the embassy. Nazanin Afshin-Jam will be the spokesperson at the rally.

Cotler said that “what we are witnessing today in China is a persistent and pervasive assault on human rights — a betrayal of the Olympic Charter and China’s pledge to respect it — and, most important, a betrayal of the rights and hopes of its own citizens — and those of the international community.”

The organizers have brought together an impressive array of speakers. Aside from Cotler and those attending with him at the press conference, other speakers will include MP Scott Reid, Sam Samdup from the Canada-Tibet Committee, Canadian Friends of Burma’s Kevin Mcleod, Lucy Zhou and Pamela Mclennan speaking on behalf of persecuted Falun Gong, Reporters Sans Frontiers’ Katherine Borlongan, and Francis Yel from the South Sudan-Canada Association.

It is important to bear memory and witness at this time. To stand up and say that it is not just about bread and circuses. For when people ask in the future “Where were you when?” you can answer that you stood with conscience and courage.

If the time, talent and treasure we as a society spend on sports cannot be infused with the broader, nobler strivings of the human endeavour, are we any better than the crowds in the Roman coliseum of old waiting for the next victim to be fed to the lions? Simply by the amount of time it takes in our lives, sports matter in that they reflect our sense of self and morality. The best part of us as a people believe in co-operation as much as competition. Value compassion more than contempt.

Sport is not a moral resort area where we can afford not to take a stand.

2008-08-06 11:09:58

Monday, August 04, 2008

Consortium Offers China-Based Reporters Software to Break Through Internet Blockade

Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) Offers China-Based Reporters Software to Break Through Internet Blockade

HRTR - Washington, DC, August 2, 2008 — The Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) announced today that their anti-censorship software tools are ready to help journalists and tourists during the Olympics, to circumvent China’s Internet blockade. The software, which is available free of charge, can be downloaded onto a hard drive or USB drive to safely and effectively overcome the Internet censorship in China.

In the run-up to Olympics, Beijing tightened control over media and Internet. Overseas web sites that have keywords on Beijing’s blacklist are blocked and cannot be visited from China without any “anti-censorship” tools. The decision to block access to these websites is in contravention to Beijing’s earlier promises to grant unrestricted Internet access to foreign reporters during the Games, and will seriously impede reporters’ ability to do their work in Beijing. Although web restrictions were relaxed to some degree on Friday, it is unclear how long these conditions will last.

In order to overcome these Internet restrictions and gain free access to the Internet in China, the GIFC recommends that journalists and tourists download the free software packages by its partners. All Internet traffic through the tools is encrypted and can successfully bypass the Internet blockades in repressive nations around the world.

GIFC partner organizations have been developing and maintaining anti-censorship tools of all shapes and flavors since 2000. Some of the tools, such as “UltraSurf,” “FreeGate,” “Garden,” “GPass” and “FirePhoenix,” are very popular among web surfers in China who are eager to explore the world behind the Great Firewall. About one million users worldwide are using these GIFC tools on a regular basis.

The software tools can be downloaded at http://www.internetfreedom.org .

“You can try the tools here first to get acquainted with the interface. Then you can circumvent the censorship and continue to visit any web site when you are in China,” said Tao Wang, Director of Operations. He stressed, “We will continue to roll out new releases quickly during the Olympics. So please make sure you always come to our official web sites for latest updates and stay connected.”

About The Global Internet Freedom Consortium

Formed in 2006, the Consortium is an alliance of organizations that develop and deploy anti-censorship technologies for Internet users residing in oppressive regimes. The Consortium partners have contributed significantly to the advancement of information freedom in China. The anti-censorship technologies which the Consortium members developed have enabled Internet users in China, Iran, Vietnam, Burma, etc. to securely visit websites blocked by the regimes, such as those of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. For more information, visit: http://www.internetfreedom.org

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http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story /08-02-2008/0004860451&EDATE=

Journalist's Guide Features Map, Profiles of Beijing's Oppressed Falun Gong Adherents

By Mimi Li
Epoch Times Staff
Aug 4, 2008
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The Journalist
The Journalist's Walking Guide to the Persecution of Falun Gong in Beijing includes a map of Beijing, with markers of Olympic sites along with locations that are known to have jailed or tortured Falun Gong practitioners. (Falun Dafa Information Center)
NEW YORK-When the Beijing Olympics officially kick off, the spotlight will be on athletes around the world competing for Gold. But away from the spotlight, as swimmers swim at the Water Cube and runners sprint at the Bird's Nest, Falun Gong practitioners are jailed, tortured, or languishing away in labor camps minutes away.

On Sunday, the Falun Dafa Information Center released a Journalist's Walking Guide to the Persecution of Falun Gong in Beijing, documenting the fates of several Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing and around China near Olympic sites. In the pre-Olympic frenzy, the Communist Part of China detained more than 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners, about 500 of whom are from Beijing. In a constant struggle to silent dissidents, The Communist Party's crackdown has resulted in not only mass arrests but also the sentencing without trial of Falun Gong practitioners to “re-education without labor” camps and violent torture deaths. And yet almost no media have reported on the abuses.

The Journalist's Walking Guide intends to change that, urging journalists in Beijing reporting on the Olympics to break through the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly on state-run media and information blockade. The Guide features information about Falun Gong practitioners such as Xu Na, an artist from Beijing who was arrested in January. Others with profiles in the Guide, such as Gu Jianmin from Shanghai, have already been tortured to death.

The Guide also includes maps of Beijing and all of China with pinpoints markers of various Olympic sites juxtaposed with locations that are known that have jailed and/or tortured Falun Gong practitioners.

Levi Browde, the Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center, stressed the significance of the Guide in a statement.

“For each profile, we have included whatever concrete details are available which might assist those seeking to verify the circumstances surround these individual cases,” said Browde. “It is our hope that this guide will assist journalists arriving in Beijing to shed light on what has happened to Falun Gong adherents in China in recent months and over the past nine years.”

The Guide also includes a map of all of China, with cases pinpointed.
The Guide also includes a map of all of China, with cases pinpointed. (Falun Dafa Information Center)
But should journalists follow the guide with the intent of exposing the Communist Party's violent abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, they are guaranteed to face hurdles and obstacles, as the Community Party has taken special care to suppress information flow. Beijing Olympic officials have laid down strict censorship orders, declaring that journalists are not allowed to interview locals without permission and will have certain websites the Communist Party deems “sensitive,” such as those about Falun Gong, blocked.

Even though the Chinese regime has specifically targeted Falun Gong, the persecution against the spiritual movement is really a persecution against all Chinese, said Browne.

“For the individual accounts of Falun Gong practitioners relayed in this volume reflect not only the tragic human costs of a religious minority being brutally suppressed, but rather, the very real dangers any Chinese citizen might face at the hands of the Party-state,” he said.
Last Updated
Aug 4, 2008