Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Lu Chen
While International Human Rights Day is celebrated around the world, in Beijing the day was marked by security rounding up and detaining those who dared to complain about violations of their rights.
On Wednesday—Human Rights Day—many petitioners showed up at Liangmaqiao Station, a subway station in Beijing close to many foreign embassies, in the hope of raising awareness in international society of the deteriorating human rights condition in China.
Beijing police were arrayed to meet the petitioners, with the train stations and streets near the embassies heavily guarded.
Petitioner Wang Fang from Wuhan City, Hubei Province said all the 50-some petitioners from Wuhan, including herself, were captured at Liangmaqiao Station by police, according to New York-based New Tang Dynasty (NTD) television.
“Police officers and police cars were everywhere near Liangmaqiao,” Wang said. “Every subway exit was guarded with 40 to 50 police and several police cars. All the captured petitioners were sent away in large buses to Jiujingzhuang.”
Jiujingzhuang is an extra-legal detention center in suburban Beijing that detains and makes records of the petitioners. Wang said she escaped from the bus she was on when many buses filled with petitioners were waiting in line to get into Jiujingzhuang.
Yin Xu’an, a petitioner from Hubei Province, said police strictly checked IDs at the train station exits, and frequently arrested petitioners, the NTD report stated. Yin explained that petitioners who have been detained before all have records in the police identification information system.
“They [police] check your ID as long as you look a little like a petitioner,” Yin said, “If you are a petitioner, their identification equipment will recognize it. They immediately pull you into the vehicle.”
Yin said he witnessed eight large buses fully loaded with arrested petitioners driving away from the site within 40 minutes.
Yu Nanzhe, a petitioner from Jiangsu Province, told NTD that police examined people’s bags, and once police found materials for protesting in their bags, the police forced those petitioners onto prearranged buses.
Yu saw that buses loaded with petitioners had formed a long line waiting to get into Jiujingzhuang since around 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Each of the buses had 40 to 50 petitioners, and Yu estimated thousands or even 10,000 petitioners were sent to Jiujingzhuang on Human Rights Day.
This week thousands of petitioners with grievances have come to Beijing, and protested in different places, such as Tiananmen Square, foreign embassies, the headquarters of China Central Television, among others.
On the day before Human Rights Day, over 100 Chinese petitioners put up banners in front of the Yongdingmen Square in central Beijing, urging the Chinese Communist Party to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to Sound of Hope (SOH) radio.
The demonstration was soon interrupted by police. Petitioner Li Zhiguo from Henan Province participated in the protest and told SOH that the demonstration lasted for about 20 minutes with over 100 petitioners yelling slogans and holding banners.
“Then the police came, crushing my banner and cellphone. They didn’t allow us to stay there and took our stuff away. We ran away. Some other [petitioners] were taken away by police,” Li said.
“Chinese petitioners live lives worse than the grass in Beijing,” Li said. “Our human rights are harmed. We come to Beijing and sleep on the streets. We have been chased and arrested by police here and there. … No one takes care of our disputes. … When we attempted to visit the central inspection officials to report the issues, we were blocked and beaten. We called the central inspection teams, and no one answered the phone.”
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Tags: Kilgour and Matas, Falun Gong, China, CCP, film, organ harvesting, human rights, documentary, persecution of dissidents, labor camps, Society
“Davids and Goliath,” a film about organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China, won Best Documentary at the 9th Hamilton Film Festival in Hamilton, Canada. The movie is currently available here to view for free until Nov. 27: http://tinyurl.com/nzx7fed
“It’s a movie like this that needs to get out to the public, and more people to become aware of it that it’s happening and how it’s happening. That kind of thing needs to be stopped.”— Administrative director of the Hamilton Film Festival, Nathan Fleet.
“Davids and Goliath” focuses on the investigation into organ harvesting by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour. Both were separately nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for their work on forced organ harvesting in China.
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/q5cjkzm
Tags: China, CCP, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Jiang Zemin faction sought bloody end to the Umbrella Movement
By Lu Chen
Hong Kong media are reporting that one faction of the Chinese Communist Party CCP has attempted to manipulate recent events in order to produce a Tiananmen Square-like massacre in Hong Kong. The goal of the bloodshed would be to bring down Party leader Xi Jinping, according to the reports, which corroborate previous reporting by Epoch Times.
The recently released November edition of Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine cited a Beijing source with inside knowledge of the CCP’s affairs as saying Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Dejiang wanted to turn the suppression of pro-democracy protesters by Hong Kong police on Sept. 28 into a second Tiananmen Square massacre. The Frontline article, which is not available online, was quoted by the U.S.-based, Chinese-language news website Aboluowang.
Zhang is the chair of the Standing Committee of the CCP’s rubber stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, and holds the Party’s portfolio for Hong Kong and Macau affairs. Zhang is also a close ally of former CCP head Jiang Zemin.
According to the Beijing source, the faction loyal to Jiang Zemin believed that if a massacre in Hong Kong took place under the spotlight of the world’s media, it would spell the end of Xi Jinping’s rule.
As Epoch Times has previously reported, Jiang’s faction has sought to displace Xi since before he took office. Part of the Jiang faction’s strategy has been to create unrest in Hong Kong as a way of making trouble for Xi, as Epoch Times, relying on sources inside the Party, first reported on Dec. 3, 2012.
Again relying on sources inside the Party, Epoch Times reported in 2014 before the Occupy Central protests began that Jiang’s faction sought to incite bloodshed in Hong Kong as a way of unseating Xi.
After the Hong Kong police volleyed dozens of tear gas canisters at the protesters on the night of Sept. 28, Xi issued orders prohibiting a violent crackdown, Frontline reported.
The leaked order from Xi to the Hong Kong government says: “It’s absolutely not allowed to open fire. Wasn’t the lesson of June 4 deep enough? Whoever permits shooting steps down! Even tear gas wasn’t necessary. Let it be, if it was already done. If people are not scared away, just leave. The condition has deteriorated to this point, and it’s your job to figure out how to solve the problem. Overall, never allow bloodshed. Try to win public support. Hong Kong affairs must be negotiated with the Hong Kong people.”
Senior political commentator, column writer, and historian of the CCP Lin Baohua published an opinion article on Taiwan People News on Oct. 25 that argued that the central authorities didn’t want a bloody incident in Hong Kong.
“If Beijing didn’t stop [the violence], with [Hong Kong chief executive] Leung Chun-ying’s wolf nature, he would have long committed the slaughter.” Lin wrote.
Lin said the lack of firm action against Occupy Central reflects the division of opinions high in the CCP.
The October edition of Hong Kong’s Trend magazine gives a picture of Hong Kong that complements that provided by Frontline and Lin Baohua.
The magazine quotes some anonymous princelings—offspring of the founders of the CCP—as saying Zhang Dejiang was “as bad as a violent terrorist” and was “using Hong Kong to bring trouble to Xi.”
Xi, son of communist revolutionary and a political leader Xi Zhongxun, is considered as a representative of offsprings of China’s elites.
Many princelings consider Xi Jinping, the son of communist revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, as a representative for their group.
Trend magazine sketches some of the steps the Jiang faction took to help incite the pro-democracy protests.
Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan, an ally of Jiang Zemin, issued the White Paper on Hong Kong on June 10 that defined the concept of one country, two systems out of existence by ending any claim Hong Kong had to autonomy.
The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 that denied meaningful universal suffrage to Hong Kong was issued by Zhang Dejiang.
Trend magazine reports that the White Paper and the decision on universal suffrage were meant by Jiang’s faction to arouse anger in Hongkongers.
In response to the White Paper, more than 500,000 took part in the July 1 march for democracy. The decision on universal suffrage triggered the student strike on Sept. 22, which evolved into full-blown protests on Sept. 27.
A commentary article in the November edition of Frontline magazine criticizes Zhang for being “insane” for insisting NPC’s decision on universal suffrage was unchallengeable.
During the meeting of Zhang with Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions on Sept. 16, Zhang stated that the NPC’s decision on Hong Kong’s election in 2017 was “the supreme legal authority.”
In making this claim, the Frontline commentary pointed out that Zhang was contradicting the Basic Law of Hong Kong, which requires the Legislative Council and the chief executive to approve changes to the means for electing the chief executive.
One week after Zhang’s statement, Xi Jinping spoke in a much softer tone in a Sept. 23 meeting with top Hong Kong business people.
Without mentioning the NPC decision on universal suffrage or the White Paper, Xi said: “The basic policy that the central government takes to Hong Kong hasn’t changed and won’t change. [The central government] will firmly hold onto one country, two systems and the Basic Law, supporting Hong Kong promoting the development of democracy and maintaining prosperity and stability.”
Xi’s statements on the Hong Kong issue were “sharp warnings to Zhang,” Frontline said.
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Tags: Falun Gong, China, CCP, human rights, persecution of dissidents, labor camps, Society
By Carol Wickenkamp
Electric shock weapons, dart guns, stun shields, thumb cuffs, restraint chairs, and spiked batons are just some of the specialty weapons designed to inflict pain being exported by Chinese companies closely aligned with, or owned by the state, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
Some of the equipment discussed in the report, such as ordinary handcuffs and restraints, a limited number of controlled stun weapons, and certain blunt striking instruments, all have legitimate law enforcement purposes, the report says.
But many of the weapons are “intrinsically cruel, inhuman and degrading, and therefore should be prohibited” from manufacture in the first place, the report says.
There are currently no comprehensive international covenants governing the manufacture and export of police weapons, and part of Amnesty’s advocacy work following the report will be to begin establishing such a mechanism—with China perhaps serving as a negative example.
Read more: China Markets Tools of Torture
Tags: China, CCP, human rights, Gao Zhisheng, human rights lawyers, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Matthew Robertson
Once dubbed the “conscience of China,” Gao Zhisheng spoke out powerfully for the persecuted and dispossessed. Now, after five years of abuse, the voice that challenged injustice is, for the moment at least, almost silenced.
Since Gao, a celebrated Chinese human rights lawyer, was released from custody last week, news about his condition has trickled out through his wife, Geng He, who lives in California with their two children.
Geng He has only been able to have a few brief conversations with her husband, but she has spoken extensively to her sister, who is with Gao in Urumqi. Chinese security officials live in their home and monitor them, while others are stationed outside.
Geng He described her conversations with Gao both on Twitter and in discussions with a family friend, Sherry Zhang, who visits and spends time with the family in the Bay Area, where they live. Geng He has declined interviews with the media, but publishes updates about Gao’s condition on Twitter.
A note from Aug. 12 is chilling in its depiction of Gao’s degraded faculties: “When I was speaking with Gao the phone cut off, so I called him back and asked: ‘What were we talking about?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I asked: ‘How did the call get cut off?’ Gao said: ‘I don’t know.’ I said: ‘Look, do you understand what I’m saying or not? Can you not hear, or do you not understand?’”
At that point the phone passed to Geng He’s sister, who said: “He’s been locked in a dark cell by himself for five years, fed a steamed bun and a bowl of cabbage every day. You have to patiently help him learn to speak again,” according to Geng He’s account on Twitter.
Tianyu, Gao Zhisheng’s young son, was disappointed and confused after attempting to speak with his father on the telephone. He had been practicing Chinese in order to speak with his dad, but after getting off the phone simply said: “Dad can’t speak Chinese!” according to Sherry Zhang, who visited the family.
“He can barely talk—and only in very short sentences—most of the time he is unintelligible,” Zhang said in an email viewed by the Epoch Times. “Gao’s son was incredibly excited to speak to him on the phone, and was completely shocked that he barely understood his father, that his voice was monotone, and that he was only giving 2 or 3 word answers to questions and wasn’t initiating any of the discussion,” the email continued.
“Gao has been utterly destroyed,” said a recent statement from Freedom Now, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., which has followed Gao’s case for several years. “Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him. He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. … He has lost many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was also repeatedly physically tortured.”
Jared Genser, president of Freedom Now and a pro bono attorney for the Gao family, said in a telephone interview, “We hope the U.S. impresses on China the need to allow him to leave for medical treatment in the U.S. Without that help and support, Gao’s future physical and mental health is very much in question.”
Genser continued: “The only thing worse than Gao being killed was for him to be horrifically mentally and physically tortured. He’s a shell of his former self, and it’s devastating for Geng He and her family. She just wants to take care of him, and that’s what we’re hoping will happen. But the Chinese government doesn’t make anything easy there.”
Additional reporting by Ma Youzhi
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Tags: Kilgour and Matas, Falun Gong, China, CCP, organ harvesting, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Larry Getlen
Enver Tohti was a surgeon in a hospital in Xinjiang, in the northwestern part of China, when, in June 1995, he was instructed by his superior to prepare for an adventure — surgery in the field.
In the morning, when the doctor and his team arrived at their destination, he realized they were at “the Western Mountain Execution Grounds, which specialized in killing political dissidents.”
“When you hear a gunshot, drive around the hill,” he was told.
He asked why they were there.
“You don’t want to know.”
After the shot rang out, he drove where he was told, and saw “10, maybe 20, bodies lying at the base of the hill.” The police led him to one in particular, a man of “about 30 dressed in navy blue overalls,” and told him that this is the man Tohti would be operating on.
“‘Why are we operating?’ Tohti protested. ‘Come on. This man is dead.’ ”
But Tohti felt a faint pulse, stiffened and corrected himself. “No. He’s not dead.”
“Operate, then. Remove the liver and kidneys. Now! Quick! Be quick!’ ”
A stunned Tohti did as he was told, trying to pretend this was normal procedure. He “glanced questioningly at the chief surgeon. ‘No anesthesia,’ said the chief surgeon. ‘No life support.’ ” The anesthesiologist “just stood there, arms folded. ‘He’s already unconscious,’ the man reasoned.”
The anesthesiologist was wrong.
“As Enver’s scalpel went in, the man’s chest heaved spasmodically and then curled back again.” After Tohti removed the organs and stitched him up — “not internally,” as there was “no point to that anymore” — he noticed that blood was still pulsing. He was sure the man was still alive.”
Enemies of the state
Reports of organ harvesting in China are nothing new, as the government has admitted that the organs of death-row prisoners have been used for transplants, and BBC investigations have found that “British women apply the collagen of executed prisoners to their faces every night.”
But according to longtime China analyst and human-rights investigator Ethan Gutmann in his disturbing new book, “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to its Dissident Problem” (Prometheus Books), the realities of the practice are far more awful.
Organs coming out of China — which sometimes wind up in American bodies — are taken not just from the worst Chinese criminals, as China claims, but also from prisoners of conscience, especially practitioners of the banned and derided practice Falun Gong, who never committed, or were even accused of, capital crimes.
Making this far worse, though, are the revelations that authorities aren’t waiting for death to claim their bounty. In an effort to increase the chances of successful transplant, Gutmann writes, the organs are often taken from prisoners while they are still alive.
Gutmann estimates that to date, more than 64,000 Falun Gong practitioners have suffered this fate, with more being added to the count every day.
Tags: Falun Gong, China, CCP, human rights, Gao Zhisheng, human rights lawyers, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Matthew Robertson
After close to five and a half years in detention, some of it in mountain torture chambers, anonymous apartment buildings cut off from his family, and most recently in a remote prison, one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, Gao Zhisheng, has been released.
The news trickled out on Twitter soon after his brother, Gao Zhiyi, collected him from the Shaya Prison in Xinjiang Province on Aug. 7. Both the men appear to be accompanied by security agents who continue to surveil and limit their movements.
When a reporter with Voice of America attempted to speak to Gao Zhisheng on the phone, he only had the chance to say a few words before his sister said “someone’s coming,” and quickly took the telephone away from him.
After years of mistreatment in prison, Gao Zhisheng’s lower teeth are loose and his upper teeth hurt to eat food, his family said. Gao Zhiyi will first accompany his brother to a dentist to repair the teeth.
Gao’s wife and two children live in California and have not seen their husband and father since they hastily fled China in January 2009.
“I spoke to my husband for the first time in four years. While the conversation was brief, I could tell that he wasn’t the same. I am deeply concerned that he has been seriously tortured in custody,” said Geng He, his wife, according to Freedom Now, a human rights advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. She held a press conference for local media in the Bay Area, California, in the morning and took interviews throughout the afternoon.
Veneer of Due Process
Gao is being released after completing a three-year prison term that was widely seen to be imposed arbitrarily.
The sentence was the authorities’ first attempt to add a veneer of due process to its punishment of Gao, which they had carried out in secret and with extreme brutality since 2006, following advocacy on what the Chinese regime has regarded as the most sensitive issue.
In 2004, Gao began representing Falun Gong practitioners, and then in 2004 and 2005 he published three open letters to the Communist Party’s leadership demanding an end to the persecution of Falun Gong. In late 2005 Gao published an open letter withdrawing from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The prison sentence was widely seen as no more than a continuation of the same, long-running violent farce. It earned this reputation because it was couched as a punishment for the crime he had originally been charged with in 2006, “inciting subversion of state power.”
He was originally given a three-year prison sentence that was suspended for two years, meaning he did not actually go to prison in 2006. Even though he was not held in prison, from 2006 onwards he was primarily in the captivity of the authorities. When the time for the suspension of the sentence was set to expire in 2011, security authorities hastily threw him in jail, claiming Gao had violated the terms of his parole.
In his periods in and out of detention in China, accounts by Gao describe in detail terrible torture and physical and psychological abuse. One noted letter, written in 2007, titled “Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia,” says that he was tortured for 50 days, including with an electric batons, cigarettes held to his eyes, and toothpicks inserted into his genitals.
‘Not yet free’
The news of Gao’s release has met with both wariness and relief by observers. His family lives abroad, but observers think it is unlikely that Gao will be allowed free passage to the United States in order to reunite with them.
“While Gao has been released from prison, it is abundantly clear he is not yet free,” said Jared Genser, Gao’s pro bono legal counsel with the group Freedom Now. “Until he is reunited with his wife and children, our work will continue. I call on the Chinese government to remove the security cordon around Gao, to let him speak freely and meet with anyone he chooses, to allow him to travel freely, both in China and abroad.”
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a longtime supporter of Gao Zhisheng, who took on his cause as part of a human rights project, said he was “relieved to hear that Gao has been granted his freedom from torture and seclusion, though I fear that he may not be truly free outside prison.” Rep. Wolf added, in the statement: “I hope that, if he chooses to apply, he will be granted asylum in the United States.”
After years of running a successful legal practice in Beijing, defending minority groups, abused workers, and house Christians, Gao’s law firm was suspended in November 2005, after he began taking on the cases of persecuted Falun Gong practitioners and writing two open letters urging an end to that persecution.
After Gao’s law firm was closed, he penned an open letter to the head of the CCP and China’s premier in which he described in detail the torture suffered by Falun Gong practitioners. Then, a few days later, he released his letter withdrawing from the CCP.
“Over a dozen days’ close touch with Falun Gong believers was a shocking experience to my soul,” he wrote in the letter, based on his time living with and interviewing Falun Gong practitioners in China about their persecution.
“I had lost my hope for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) completely. This CCP has employed the most barbarous and most immoral and illegal means to torture our mothers, our wives, our children, and our brothers and sisters. It has made this kind of torture part of the Party member’s job and raised the political standing of torture,” he wrote in the letter.
Gao continued: “From now on, Gao Zhisheng, a Party ‘member’ who hasn’t paid the membership fee for a long time and has been absent from the “Party activities” for many years, declares that he quits the cruel, untrustworthy, inhumane, and evil party.”
“This is the proudest day of my life.”
Tags: China, CCP, human rights, human rights lawyers, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Lu Chen
“Improper speech” by lawyers on the Internet is no longer allowed, according to the All China Lawyers Association, the state-controlled equivalent of the country’s bar association.
A draft version of new rules and penalties prepared by ACLA was leaked to social media platforms by disgruntled lawyers on June 12.
They found the prohibitions galling, including a ban on the publication of open letters “to provoke protests or incite public opinion,” or the making of “extreme or improper comments to attack or deframe China’s judicial system, political system, and the Party’s principles and policies” on the Internet.
The muzzling will probably have the most impact on lawyers that take on sensitive political cases associated with the persecution of religious followers, Falun Gong practitioners, and advocates of democracy and the rule of law in China.
If the revised draft is passed, violators will face public censure and potential expulsion from the Association—the equivalent to no longer being allowed to practice law in China.
The All China Lawyers Association is in charge of all licensed lawyers and law firms in China, and acts under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. The People’s Republic of China’s laws on the legal profession says that attorneys and legal firms in China are required to join the ACLA.
While not publishing their views on the Internet, lawyers may also be prevented by their firms from “founding, participating in, or supporting any organizations or activities that damage the image of the ACLA or do not align with the duty of lawyers.”
Law firms are no longer to “indulge” their employees by allowing them to engage in these unspecified subversive behaviors, the notice says.
The move by the ACLA, which is controlled by the government, is the latest move by the Chinese regime to punish advocates of a freer political system in China.
Several well-known rights lawyers have been arrested for “causing trouble” before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 massacre, including Pu Zhiqiang and Tang Jingling.
Predictably, attorneys in China have expressed their outrage at the proposed new rules.
“I was frightened after reading that draft,” said Zhou Ze, a well-known lawyer who also advocates for democracy and human rights in China. “The new rules are obviously for cracking down on dissident lawyers,” he said on Weibo.
He remarked that part of the reason for the proposed rules may be to prevent lawyers from speaking out against the Ministry of Justice, whose own questionable, and sometimes allegedly illegal operations many lawyers in China suffer under.
“If the draft is adopted, there may not be any more dissident lawyers,” Zhou wrote. “The judiciary will be more domineering and less just, and corruption in the judiciary will be more severe!”
Others formed a petition on Tuesday to protest against the proposed rules, and called for the ACLA president, Wang Junfeng, to step down. Over 50 lawyers signed the petition the day it was launched, according to Zhang Lei, a lawyer in Beijing.
“The All-China Lawyers Association is not protecting the rights of lawyers any more, but has become an accomplice in repressing lawyers’ rights,” the petition says. It added that the rules violate China’s own constitution.
“The Lawyers Association shouldn’t listen to the ruling Party’s orders to restrict us, said Xie Yang, an attorney in Hunan Province, in an interview with Sound of Hope Radio. “It’s doing everything to show its loyalty to the authorities. We just can’t accept that.”
Tags: China, CCP, human rights, censorship, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Lu Chen
Journalists in China have been banned from writing articles deemed “critical” about the government or even about companies without permission, according to a recent announcement from China’s propaganda authorities.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television—shortened to SAPPRFT—ian amalgam of the former State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP)—published a notice last week laying down the new rule, while going over eight cases of journalists and news companies that have strayed.
“Journalists and news stations are prohibited from doing critical reporting without permission from their work units, and they are prohibited from creating websites, channels, special editions, and print editions to publish critical reporting without authorization,” the notice said.
Violators could have their licenses to practice journalism, or in the case of a publisher, its publishing license, revoked, the notice said.
Six of the eight cases highlighted by propaganda authorities allegedly involved journalists who had attempted to extort the targets of their stories.
Such activities indeed take place in the recesses of China’s repressed news industry—though analysts are more apt to blame the communist authorities for their overbearing restrictions on reporters, rather than the moral turpitude of journalists themselves.
In one of the cases, Zhou Xiang, a reporter at the state-run Maoming Evening News in Guangdong Province, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison in March.
Zhou was accused of bribery after he took 26,000 yuan ($4,173) from 13 companies and individuals, whom he apparently threatened to run negative reports about if they didn’t pay up.
Such reports would have included claims that they polluted the environment, neglected industrial accidents, or were involved in illegal housing projects. The truth status of the charges was not clear from the reports. Apart from Zhou’s jail time, he has been barred from practicing journalism for the rest of his life.
But whatever the abuses of journalists—real or fabricated—Chinese public opinion has not taken kindly to a blanket prohibition on “negative” coverage.
“Extortion is extortion, and critical reporting is critical reporting! How could extortion lead to a ban over the other?” said Chinese lawyer Chang Xiaokun, based in Shandong Province, on Weibo, a popular social media website in China.
“The constitution says citizens have the freedom of speech, which includes freedom to criticize. Aren’t journalists also citizens? If criticism is not allowed, the nation is finished!” wrote an outraged Song Zude, a well-known commentator of the entertainment industry, on his Weibo page.
Yang Bo, a regular Internet user, wrote: “Journalists often use Weibo to expose corruption without the permission of their companies. Now they don’t dare do that any more, and corrupt officials will sleep well.”
Chinese of a more pessimistic bent were not surprised by the announcement, because suppression of the media has never changed under Party rule. The notification simply announces the status quo, these commentators said.
Even before the new prohibition, many Chinese journalists have been punished for reporting negative news on a variety of social issues. Xiang Nanfu, for instance, who was based in Beijing and wrote for the overseas media Boxun, was arrested last month on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Party media agencies said that Xiang published “fake” news that “defamed China” and “deceived Chinese people,” while Boxun was labeled a “reactionary website.”
But much of what Boxun reported about included the violation of human rights of petitioners and other disenfranchised groups in China.
Other reporters have been punished for simply doing their jobs. Before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre, Xin Jian, with the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and Vivian Wu, a former Beijing-based reporter for the South China Morning Post, were detained after interviewing Pu Zhiqiang, a well-known human rights lawyer who is now also in custody and faces a potentially lengthy imprisonment.
Tags: Falun Gong, China, CCP, human rights lawyers, persecution of dissidents, labor camps, Society
The Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp was supposed to be closed down, but now it simply has two names
By Carol Wickenkamp
For years the tales of torture that came out of Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp in China’s northeast were a potent demonstration of the abuses of the country’s forced labor system. In turn, Masanjia’s apparent closure last year was seen as a hopeful sign that the system was, in fact, being closed down, as authorities had promised.
But recent reports from China tell a different story: the Masanjia Forced Labor Camp is alive and well, except for the fact that it’s no longer called the Masanjia Forced Labor Camp. Instead, the same sprawling set of buildings and facilities appears to be now put to use as both a “drug rehabilitation center” and as part of the Liaoning Province’s prison system. These bureaucratic modifications disguise the fact that the same guards, in the same buildings, abuse and exploit the same or similar prisoners—just as before.
Masanjia made world headlines in 2013 when an Oregon woman, Julie Keith, discovered a letter from the labor camp in a plastic Halloween kit shipped from China. Shocked, she contacted the media, which set about exploring the background of the camp.
It was exposure of that kind that the Chinese Communist Party found deeply embarrassing, and was part of the reason for its high-profile move to—on paper at least—close the system of re-education through forced labor, which has been part of the Party’s coercive toolkit since the 1950s.
When a CNN film crew visited Masanjia last year, it had every impression of being empty. No guards were in the watchtowers, and no one came to trouble CNN correspondent David McKenzie as he strolled within feet of the chain-link fence. Minghui.org, a website that carries firsthand reports from the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, also reported last year that the remaining practitioners detained in Masanjia were being released. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that has been persecuted in China since 1999.
The Same Camp
Shang Liping, a female Falun Gong practitioner, was recently transferred from Shenyang Women’s Prison to the Masanjia Addiction Treatment Center, according to a March report in Minghui. The report continued that staff and police were the same people that had worked at Masanjia when it was a labor camp.
Yu Shuxian and Chi Xiuhua, two other female Falun Gong practitioners, were put into the same drug rehab center in Masanjia this January, according to Minghui. When family visited Chi, they found that “she had completely changed; her face was pallid and listless, she neither lifted her head nor opened her eyes, and she had no energy to speak,” according to Minghui. “Her family was distraught, extremely scared, and could not guess what torment she had been put through.”
Other sections of the large labor facility have been transferred to the provincial prison system, and operate as the Masanjia Prison District of Liaoning Province’s Shenyang Women’s Prison, according to Minghui.
The Shenyang provincial prison for women is extremely violent, with Minghui reporting 20 Falun Gong deaths since 1999. At present at least 84 Falun Gong practitioners are incarcerated in Liaoning Province’s women’s prison in Shenyang, many of them serving sentences of up to 13 years.
A group of Falun Gong practitioners who were held in the women’s prison in Shenyang were transferred to the Masanjia Prison District, most of them this year. Multiple telephone calls made by Epoch Times to phone numbers identified as belonging to Masanjia were not answered.
Niu Guifang, a female practitioner, in a trial thick with illegalities, was sentenced to the women’s prison in March 2013, and was transferred to Masanjia Prison District at the end of last year. Although her hands were injured by the prison police, and she couldn’t hold heavy things, she has still been forced to work every day in the workhouse at Masanjia, Minghui reported in April.
When the Communist Party announced the death of the re-education through labor system in early 2013, seasoned observers of the regime’s security system began expecting what has now transpired.
“Cosmetic changes” won’t stop the abuses, said Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch. Instead, they “might only further entrench the system,” she said.
A detailed report by Amnesty International nearly one year later observed: “Abolishing the RTL [re-education through labor] system is a step in the right direction. However, it now appears that it may only be a cosmetic change just to avert the public outcry over the abusive RTL system where torture was rife,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, China researcher, in a December 2013 paper.
“It’s clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven’t changed. The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way,” she said.
That same month the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy noted, in its own report in the matter, that re-education through labor has simply been replaced with other forms of detention, like forced drug rehab and “legal education classes.” The group said, “These systems are already used in Tibet and merely continue the abuses associated with RTL under a different name.”
The Same Work
While the new division at Masanjia appears to be between a prison and a drug rehabilitation center, the latter, as far as prisoners of conscience go seems to be used in the same way that the old labor camp was used: Falun Gong practitioners are sent there by police, without a trial, regardless of their drug-free lives.
The mixing of prisoner types has taken place for years in China. “People from the Liaoning Provincial Labor Education Bureau came to audit us in 2011, and ordered that every Falun Gong practitioner needed to take a test. Our medical examination document listed us as drug addicts, but in fact, out of the nearly 400 inmates, only four were drug users,” former Masanjia inmate Qiu Tieyan wrote in October 2013 about her incarceration.
“We had to work six hours every day making military coats, forest coats, and firefighter jackets for the Jihua 3504 Limited Corporation in Changchun City. Outside of the workshop, we had to load and unload things, clean, and do other chores. Guard Wang Guangyun brought in her dirty laundry from home, and we had to wash it. We had to keep this a secret and do it quickly,” she said.
The same Minghui report said there are about 300 prisoners in the Masanjia Prison District, but did not give a total for Falun Gong practitioners held there.
Drug offenders are treated in the same way in detention as when the facilities were called re-education camps. They are forced to do factory work, light manufacturing, and repetitive labor.
Once locked up, there is little rehabilitation either—only brutality and hard labor, said Human Rights Watch in a 2012 paper.
“If people weren’t working hard enough we would beat them with a one-meter board, or we would just kick them or beat them with our hands,” a former re-education through labor guard from Guangxi Province told Human Rights Watch. “Sometimes people got beaten to death. About 10 percent of people who come into re-education through labor centers die inside.”
Additional research and reporting by Lu Chen
By Associated Press
BEIJING—Australia said Tuesday it is trying to confirm reports that a Chinese-born Australian artist had been detained in Beijing ahead of the 25th anniversary of the military clampdown on the student protest centered around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, adding it would try to persuade China to release him if he is being held.
Guo Jian, a former protester in China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement, was taken away by Chinese authorities shortly after a profile of him appeared in the Financial Times newspaper in commemoration of the anniversary of the crackdown.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian embassy in Beijing was attempting to confirm with Chinese authorities that the 52-year-old former soldier had been detained.
“As an Australian citizen, we’ll do what we can to release him if the case is he’s been detained,” she told Sky News television in the Australian capital, Canberra.
An Associated Press reporter talked to Guo as he was taken away from his home in suburban Beijing on Sunday night. Guo said he would be held by police until June 15.
It is the latest in a string of detentions of artists, lawyers, scholars and journalists ahead of the Tiananmen anniversary amid intense government efforts to deter coverage by foreign media of its remembrance.
Tags: Falun Dafa Art
The Art of Zhen Shan Ren (truthfulness, compassion, tolerance) International Exhibition is the main feature of the 2014 Art Nordic, the largest art fair in Scandinavia, this weekend.
It is a powerful depiction of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, the qigong practice that has been growing around the world by the million since 1992, shown in 36 artworks at Øksnehallen in downtown Copenhagen from May 9-11.
Since 1999, the Chinese Communist Party has persecuted Falun Gong practitioners—also called cultivators—with misinformation, arrests, imprisonment, and torture. The artist collective of seventeen artists, all but one of whom is of Chinese descent, communicates the universal view of Falun Gong, as well as the persecution, which they have all personally experienced.
“Cultivators look at issues from a deep perspective,” Zhang Kunlun, a sculpture and painter who co-founded the Exhibition in 2003, has said, “and inspiration springs forth like a fountain.
“As artists we have a duty to present this magnificent period of human history for the future.”
While the whole world has its eyes on Denmark during the Eurovision festivities in the same weekend, Art Nordic’s Boi Wynsch said, “In the art world, you often experience a reluctance to deal with the direct connection between art and the real world.
“This is in no way a reluctance that these seventeen artists possess. Treading a path that very few artists are able to follow, they use their art to communicate a stirring, frightening, and convincing portrayal of the reality that they themselves have experienced—one that many Falun Gong practitioners still experience in China today.”
He said, “This makes their art very different from the art that is typically produced in Scandinavia, and that makes me even more excited to present it at Art Nordic.”
The individual backgrounds of the seventeen artists are very different, but they all share the ambition to express—in spite of the recurring tragic theme of all their artworks—the truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance that are essential to the practice of Falun Gong.
All the artworks except for a sculpture of a Buddha, are realist oil paintings, a style chosen by the artists, because its simplicity and accessibility allow them to communicate the stories they wish to relay to their audience. The exhibition is centered on seven themes, including The Joy of Cultivation, Persecution in China, and Peaceful Resistance.
The first exhibition took place at The National Art Club in New York in 2004. Among the artists are names such as Xiaoping Chen, Dr. Xiqiang Dong, Kathy Gillis, Yuan Li, Daci Shen, Weixing Wang, and Dr. Kunlun Zhang.
The exhibition is a close collaboration with Foreningen Konst och Kultur Zhen Shan Ren in Gothenburg, Sweden. Typically, the exhibition is only displayed in museums, but as an exception, in Denmark it can be experienced as part of an art fair. NTD Nordic is a sponsor of the exhibition.
Art Nordic offers 5,000 square meters of art from 200 different artists, including more than 60 from Sweden, who have all pre-qualified for the art fair within the categories of visual arts, ceramics, sculptures, photography, glass and ornamental art. The fair is expected to draw an audience of 12-15,000 people.
Link to video interview: Art Nordic presents: The Art of Zhen Shan Ren
By Lu Chen
Gao Yu, a well-known veteran Chinese journalist, who has been missing for half a month, was recently paraded onto China’s national state broadcaster and filmed sitting in a police station pleading guilt to crimes and asking for punishment from the state.
Gao is being accused of leaking state secrets to overseas media channels. The May 8 broadcast has concerned many observers, inside and outside China, with the methods taken by the authorities to stifle dissent.
Beijing police arrested the 70-year-old Gao on April 24, under the orders of a special task force established in Beijing after a “central confidential document” was published on an overseas website last August, according to the Party mouthpiece Xinhua.
Gao pleaded guilty to obtaining and passing on that secret document, an action she said she “deeply regrets” and for which she is “willing to accept legal punishment.” She was said to have obtained the document last June, typed it into her computer, and then emailed it overseas, the report said.
Gao was shown being led into a small, enclosed police room, wearing an orange prisoner vest where she made her confession. Her face was blurred out for some reason.
“I think what I did touched upon the law, and harmed the interests of the state,” she said, while nervously rubbing her hands together. “It was very wrong.” The police nod their heads sternly. “I sincerely accept the lesson and plead guilty,” she said.
No official reports have clarified what the leaked document was, but it bears a very close resemblance to the infamous “Document No. 9,” reported widely last year.
“Document No. 9,” published by the Hong Kong-based Ming Jing media group in August of last year, transmitted new ideological directives from the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department. It required Chinese universities to stay away from seven topics including universal values, press freedom, citizen rights, civil society, the Communist Party’s historical mistakes, judicial independence, and “the bourgeois elite.”
Observers of the Chinese political system saw the document, and the campaign that accompanied it, as historical regression.
No official reports have fully explained “Document No. 9,” but some local government websites appeared to discuss it in May of last year. Though the news items were later purged, a screenshot of a circular announcing that officials at the Rural Construction Committee of Chongqing City studied the document was preserved on the Internet.
Aside from the secretive nature of the document, political analysts see the arrest and punishment of Gao Yu as an open attack on the press in China. Bao Tong, a former policy adviser to the reformist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, ousted during the Tiananmen turmoil of 1989, said that there were a number of “bizarre things” about the accusations against Gao.
“If collecting and delivering information is guilty, why does journalism exist?” Bao Tong asked.
Gao has worked in the media industry in China since 1979, and has twice been sentenced to prison for her work. The first instance was on June 3, 1989, when she was arrested and detained for more than a year for her reporting on the student movement leading up to the massacre of June 3 and 4.
Then in October 1993, Gao was arrested again and sentenced six years in prison for “publishing state secrets.” In February 1999, she was given parole due to poor health. She has won a number of international journalism awards, including the Golden Pen of Freedom, Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, and others.
Some of Gao’s work has brought intense controversy outside China. In a column for Deutsche Welle’s online Chinese edition in January of this year, Gao wrote that a secretive security task force inside the Communist Party in 2012 “sent materials to Bloomberg News about every standing committee member” except two. Bloomberg later that year published revelations, purporting to be based on publicly available documents, about the wealth of the Xi Jinping family.
The use of forced confessions aired on television was widely used during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, and many Chinese intellectuals have compared the treatment of Gao Yu and others to those days. The method is used by the Party both to humiliate the individual in question, and also to warn others from committing the same acts.
Others targeted in a similar manner include Charles Xue, a Chinese-American entrepreneur and angel investor, known by the screen name of Xue Manzi. While in detention last September he was forced to confess to visiting prostitutes. Xue had gained a reputation for his sharp speech criticizing the Communist Party, and for the millions of online followers he had amassed. He called for free speech and democracy in China.
Chen Yongzhou, a reporter at a newspaper in Guangzhou, was also hauled onto China Central Television to admit to taking bribes for reporting “fake news” about alleged corruption at the state-owned construction equipment manufacturing enterprise Zoomlion. Before Chen had gone to trial he had been made to confess to his crimes on national television, an ordering of events that lawyers in China took exception to.
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A Chinese human rights advocacy group has established a database of political prisoners in Mainland China.
China Political Prisoner Concern (CPPC), run by volunteers, set up a Chinese-language website recently to collect, verify, and publish the status of political prisoners in China.
Since its inception on Feb. 1, the group, consisting mainly of human rights activists in mainland China, has already published a list of 100 political prisoners. They include democracy activists, dissidents, human rights activists, as well as Tibetan, Uyghur, Christian, and Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, and others. Among them are Xu Zhiyong (No. 54), founder of the “New Citizens Campaign,” and Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti (No. 59).
Some of CPPC’s volunteers are past political prisoners. During the past three months, they have collected and categorized large amounts of data and thousands of photos and have produced the first 100 prisoners’ profiles. More profiles and updates will be added on a continuous basis, according to New Tang Dynasty Television, based in New York.
The aim of the project is to effect the release of every one of the prisoners. By highlighting their cases, the group hopes to draw greater international attention to the issue. Another goal is to boost China’s social progress.
Chinese human rights lawyer Tang Jingling has already been collecting data on prisoners of conscience since 2008. He also called on Chinese Internet users to send postcards to the prisoners.
Tang told NTD that there are many Chinese prisoners of conscience. If since the June 4, 1989 massacre someone had collected information on these prisoners and systematically launched rescue actions, including sending postcards, it would have put huge pressure on the Chinese communist regime. At the same time, it would have also encouraged those imprisoned for reasons of conscience.
The prisoner list is likely to become very long, should the CPPC volunteer staff be able to collect all of the prisoners’ identities.
The World Uyghur Congress website lists dozens of Uyghur political prisoners, many of them writers, journalists and webmasters who are imprisoned on lengthy terms on charges related to freedom of speech, freedom of association, and religious charges.
The real number is likely much higher, but due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities to reveal details on imprisoned Uyghurs, it is impossible to determine the exact number.
The number of Falun Gong practitioners who have been unlawfully detained is likely in the hundreds of thousands according to incomplete records kept by Falun Gong groups, such as Minghui.org and the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.
If those who died in detention during the past 15 years are added to the list, as was human rights activist, Cao Shunli (No. 63), the list may number in the many millions.
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By Lu Chen
An extralegal detention center in China was shut down on April 28 after it drew national and international attention for detaining practitioners of Falun Gong and, then, a number of human rights lawyers who traveled there in an attempt to rescue those practitioners.
“The Qinglongshan brainwashing center was dissolved today! All the illegally detained people there have gone home!” said a note that was shared by Chinese lawyer Liu Jinbin, and posted on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China.
“We’ve sacrificed a lot, especially the just lawyers and family members from different places. This will become part of the annals of history!” the post, written by an Internet user @mianma, who was informed of the closure by released prisoners, was spread widely online, including by a number of human rights lawyers involved in the struggle.
The apparent closure of the facility follows months of effort by activists and civil rights lawyers from around China, who wrote letters and traveled there, in some cases camping out overnight and hunger striking in protest.
Liu Jinbin added, however, that while the facility was shut down, seven people were still detained elsewhere. The identity of those seven was not immediately clear.
What Liu called the Qinglongshan brainwashing center was formally called a “Legal Education Base,” operated by the Jiansanjiang Land Cultivation General Office and local public security officials, in the province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia.
In general, extralegal facilities of this sort are called black jails. This facility was specifically established for detaining practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional spiritual practice, and forcing them to give up their faith, often times through physical and mental torture. The Chinese Communist Party began a brutal persecution of Falun Gong in 1999 that involved mass arbitrary incarceration and widespread torture.
As a result of their efforts to secure the release of three Falun Gong practitioners detained at the Jiansanjiang facility, seven more practitioners and family members, plus the four human rights lawyers were detained and beaten, they said in later interviews.
Internet users calculated that they had 24 broken bones in total after being beaten and tortured by police there: Tang Jitian reported 10 rib fractures, Jiang Tianyong 8 rib fractures, Wang Cheng 3, and Zhang Junjie 3 spine fractures.
The lawyers were sentenced to between 5 and 15 days of administrative detention by the Jiansanjiang Public Security Bureau on March 22 for “using heretical religions to harm society,” after they staged protests outside the black jail.
Their detention, in turn, resulted in dozens of other activists flocking to the center and camping out the front for up to 10 days agitating for their release. Police arrested at least 15 protesters.
The shutdown of the center, though not announced on any official websites, has excited many Internet users and activists.
“24 ribs were not broken in vain,” was one widely forwarded remark.
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