The Basic Requirements of News Writing for Dafa Practitioners (Part 5)
6. The Responsibilities of Verifying News from China and Clarifying the Truth
6.1 A Malicious Environment without Freedom of Speech vs. the Importance of Broadcasting the Truth about Falun Dafa
News writing is directly related to the reporter's and the media's social responsibility. To uphold truthfulness and objectivity in the news, all news-related information must be verified prior to its publishing, especially sensitive and important news that might in all probability create great furor or misunderstandings among the public. A news item that carries untrue information will have a damaging effect on the readers. Such news reports will not only tarnish the credibility of reporters and media, but also negatively influence readers in the long-term.
There are many venues and means of verification for information in the ordinary social environment. It is imperative that one verify all information that will be published in a news report. A reporter and an editor's work ethic and professional work experiences, as well as the existing culture [of the media and its society], determine the level of information integrity. Dafa practitioners who work as volunteer reporters for Dafa web sites are faced with great challenges in that information cannot be verified via typical channels of communications. At present, we face formidable challenges when we report Falun Gong news from China. The first step to overcoming these challenges is to be clear about what could undermine the integrity of our reporting. Let's first take a look at some of the important traits of the social environment in China.
6.1.1 Dafa Practitioners in China are under Persecution
When Jiang Zemin officially set in motion the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999, Dafa practitioners in China lost their basic human rights. Given his personal will and unquestioned power, Jiang established the "610 Office," whose sole purpose is to oppress Falun Gong and execute Jiang's order to "defame Falun Gong practitioners' reputation, bankrupt them financially, and destroy them physically." [Note: The "610 Office" is a Gestapo-like agency specifically created to persecute Falun Gong, with absolute power over each level of administration in the Party and all other political and judiciary systems.] During the brutal persecution, practitioners in China are forced to renounce their belief in Falun Gong and are denied freedom of speech. Practitioners who steadfastly practice Falun Dafa's principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance" and courageously publicly speak the truth about the persecution of Falun Dafa and about the health and other benefits they derive from it are usually subject to brutal persecution. Many Dafa practitioners in China are imprisoned in brainwashing centers, forced labor camps, and/or prisons for an extended number of years.
6.1.2 The Role of the Chinese Communist Party's Propaganda in Its Persecution of Falun Gong
One of the most notable characteristics of Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong is the spreading of lies. Jiang strives to justify, sustain and cover his persecution with outright and unchecked lies. The persecution against Falun Gong has become a plague upon the Chinese people worldwide. It is imperative and urgent for practitioners to expose the lies that justify and sustain the persecution, and to broadcast the truth about Falun Gong and the persecution, because the truth will help discourage the persecution and reduce the loss of lives.
The true origins of Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong can be found in his unrestrained appetite for power, in his prejudice against political adversary, former Chinese Premier Mr. Zhu Rongji, and in his long-lasting jealousy of the founder of Falun Gong, Mr. Li Hongzhi. The peace and harmony evident in the lawful appeal of more than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners at the National Council of Appeals Office in Beijing on April 25, 1999 was the spark that ignited the bomb of malice and madness that had long festered in Jiang Zemin. Therefore, Jiang Zemin stated to government officials at all levels, and to the general public in China, that the persecution of Falun Gong was well justified because he had determined that Falun Gong was "associated with high-level political leaders within the Chinese Communist Party" and that Falun Gong "promoted anti-Chinese movements all over the world."
Yet, if one studies the Falun Gong literature one finds that being of high social status does not influence or have an affect upon one's Falun Gong cultivation. Everyone, regardless of their social background, has to adhere to the principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance." Furthermore, the cultivator lets go of attachments to fame and wealth, the mainstays of most people, during their cultivation path. As part of the cultivation process, every Dafa practitioner practices the five sets of Falun Gong exercises. The exercises are highly beneficial to ones health. Those who hope to cultivate Falun Dafa for personal gains are, as a Chinese idiom points out so clearly, "trying to fish the moon out of the water", or "making obvious futile efforts." [The following analogy does not intend to insult non-practitioners.] Just like a swan does not fight with a raven over an animal carcass, a cultivator aims to gain admittance to spiritual realms that require the cultivator of achieve the highest levels of morality, which is not the same as the ambition of most people, [who often instead focus on gaining wealth and material interests in society.]
Jiang Zemin's lies about Falun Gong are clich s that the Chinese people should have been able to recognize. The dilemma is that the leaders at all levels of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as the public in China, chose to accept Jiang's falsehoods as truth without questioning them. The rationale for this behavior is that Chinese people have suffered severe oppression in many political campaigns since the Party has taken power, and have not learned to stand up for what they know is right. They chose not to speak the truth despite what they have learned in the aftermath of each of the Party's devastating political campaigns [such as the Cultural Revolution].
The people share the same weaknesses, having political aspirations while at the same time fearing those who currently wield power. They fear themselves being made the target of political attacks. Their weaknesses stem from the desire to protect themselves from any harm.
Prior to the persecution, these people understood perfectly well that Falun Gong was without doubt beneficial to people and society, and many of them even practiced Falun Gong. But when Jiang began to brand Falun Gong as a "highly political" organization, they conceded and began to oppose Falun Gong. They lost their courage to speak the truth about Falun Gong, ignored their consciences and forgot the principles they once espoused. Falun Gong was framed with the Tiananmen Square self-immolations, staged by the Chinese Communist Party. Falun Gong was also falsely implicated in a tragic Beijing murder by a psychopathic non-practitioner, Mr. Fu Yibin, for no other reason than to brainwash and intimidate those Chinese people who still resisted Jiang's propaganda demonizing Falun Gong.
[Suggested links for more information on these topics:]
- "Special Topic on the Self-Immolation": http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/special_column/self-immolation.html
- "Capital Murder Case's" Fu Yibin Was Insane According to Relative": http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2002/2/2/18336.html
- "An American Psychiatrist's Comments: The Fu Yibin Case is a Psychiatric Case": http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2002/1/17/17862.html.
The Chinese Communist regime has fabricated and broadcasted a huge number of falsified stories in order to justify its oppression against Falun Gong. These have been highly effective in deceiving the Chinese people and sustaining the persecution. Naturally practitioners in China and overseas have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort in revealing the truth behind them. Going into further details of how Jiang and his Gestapo-like "610 Office" have tried to conceal their persecution against Falun Gong is beyond the scope of this article, but in fact this could fill an entire book.
6.1.3 The Party Tightly Conceals The Truth About Falun Gong
China's social environment has significantly improved since the end of the Cultural Revolution and the beginning of the Economic Reform that opened the Chinese markets to foreign investment. People who have financially benefited from the Economic Reform claim that freedom of speech has improved. If one judges the current freedom of speech in China on the surface, or when one looks at individual cases, and overlooks the Jiang regime's fundamental policies of blocking and controlling information and freedom of speech, one may say that the freedom of speech has improved to some extent. Or in other words, if one assesses China's current freedom of speech only by individual cases where improvement can be noted, or by an individual's freedom of speech, and when one takes into consideration the nature of the society, that is controlled by the Chinese Communist regime, ignores the persistent vice and corruption in Chinese society in general, one would conclude that "improved freedom of speech" was a applicable only to certain individual cases in China and not the overall Chinese society.
For example, it is an indisputable fact that one may condemn prostitution and gambling in China, or even Jiang Zemin, but should one express positive opinions about Falun Gong publicly, one would immediately be persecuted and become a prisoner of conscience or be branded a criminal. Jiang, in his persecution the Chinese people, has fully utilized and integrated the Chinese Communist Party's collective experience and means of persecution it learned over the past several decades. He has also developed new persecution methods. The following persecution methods are only the tip of the iceberg: Verbal orders from the "610 Office," include "death of Falun Gong practitioners from beating is nothing and shall be counted as suicide; the body shall be directly cremated without investigating the person's identification" and "no law regulates the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners;" the secret documents from the "610 Office" that must be returned immediately after reading; and over 100 types of atrocious torture methods popular among the staff of forced labor camps nationwide to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Zhao Lishan, 60 years old, a writer of the Writers' Association in Hebei Province, was illegally detained in a forced labor camp for two years, which was followed by an illegal ten year prison term sentence handed down during a secret and unlawful trial. Mr. Zhao is currently detained in Baodin Prison in Hebei Province. Mr. Zhao Lishan started to practice Falun Gong in 1996. Prior to practicing Falun Gong, Mr. Zhao was very ill and suffered from hemiplegia (total or partial paralysis of one side of the body that results from disease of or injury to the motor centers of the brain.) Due to his ailments, Mr. Zhao reflected upon the meaning of the transience of life. Mr. Zhao became perfectly healthy during his practice of Falun Gong, and thus understood that Falun Dafa was good. Since Jiang started to persecute Falun Gong in 1999, Mr. Zhao Lishan insisted on speaking the truth, which violated the taboo of revealing the truth about Falun Gong. He thus challenged the orders from the top-level leaders in the Chinese Communist Party. Additionally, some corrupt government officials tried to profit from Mr. Zhao's case and thus were promoted and/or received a bonus, as they were instrumental in having Mr. Zhao illegally sentenced to ten years in prison. Mr. Zhao now suffers from unstable blood pressure. His face is pale and swollen. He is denied any family visits. Mr. Zhao Lishan and others like him were found "guilty" by these corrupt government officials, only because they found happiness and the meaning of life from cultivating the principles Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, instead of believing in the "Three Represents" of Jiang Zemin's political system. People like Mr. Zhao Lishan were found "guilty" because they refused to provide false testimony that would help sustain the persecution against Falun Gong, and because they refused to return Falun Gong's infinite blessings with hostility.
If a society is opposed to such virtues as Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance, or identifies those citizens, who conduct themselves according to the principles Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance as adversaries, isn't such a society opposed to itself, or its own foundation?
Recently, Mr. Du Daobin, a writer from Hubei Province, was arrested on the charge of subversion. 39-year-old Mr. Du Daobin published numerous articles overseas during recent years commenting on China's current political issues. He was immediately arrested after publishing an article titled "Commentary: My Conscience Forbids Me to Keep Silent Any Longer". [Partial translation is available at: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2003/8/14/39108.html.] Mr. Du cited many facts of the Jiang regime's persecution against Falun Gong, some of which included the "610 Office" pressure of all levels of local governments to persecute Falun Gong. The "610 Office" will stop at nothing to prevent Falun Gong practitioners from making lawful appeals for Falun Gong, including "firing the local government officials immediately." The "610 Office" keeps murdering a large number of Falun Gong practitioners as if they were just hemp, and the forced labor camps all over China persecute Falun Gong practitioners through brutal tortures. Mr. Du compared the brutal persecution against Falun Gong to the Nazi concentration camps of Oswiecim, Poland; Japan's Unit 731, part of Japan's Kwantung Army during World War II, that manufactured materials for germ warfare and deliberately tested them on Chinese civilians by infecting them with plague, cholera and anthrax and exposing them to toxic gases; and the Cultural Revolution in China.
Mr. Du Daobin lamented in the article, "Falun Gong practitioners in China are our compatriots and Chinese citizens. They have suffered from the most appalling persecution in their own country. Such a persecution is beyond the tolerance of those people with a conscience! The persecution strikes me as utterly embarrassing because such blood-boiling, atrocious, brutal persecution is taking place right among us!"
At the end of the article, Mr. Du wrote, "I feel I must break my silence and I want to loudly appeal to the intellectual circles and people who are on the Internet: Kind-hearted Chinese people who still keep silent, wake up! While you are keeping silent, the spirit of the Nazis has returned and usurped the power of our government, killing your countrymen with the most inhuman means. It is time we took action! It is time we offered the victims our helping hands! Voice your support to those unfortunate people who have the same civil rights as us! Say í No' to that huge beast, and it is high time we ended this miscarriage of justice."
It is important to mention that Mr. Du Daobin, a man of high conscience, is not a Falun Gong practitioner. Nevertheless, Mr. Du was charged with "subversion," simply because he saw through the persecution of Falun Gong and courageously spread the truth to the general public. Let's think for a moment. Everybody aspires to be something different. Falun Gong practitioners are not at all interested in obtaining or overthrowing the Chinese regime. For the past four years, Falun Gong practitioners have only been appealing to the Jiang regime for one thing only: please return Falun Gong practitioners the right to practice Falun Gong freely and grant them freedom of personal belief. To help attain this goal, Falun Gong practitioners exposed the persecution that is in direct violation of the Chinese Constitution. Why would a third-party who did no more than call for Falun Gong practitioners' rights and freedom have committed "subversion?" Why hasn't Jiang Zemin been charged with subversion when he, as a regular member of the Chinese Communist Party, has been persecuting Falun Gong by controlling the Chinese military power, subjecting the entire nation as his personal tool, and abusing the national resources? Why would those who resist the unlawful persecution be charged with subversion instead? If such a just action as speaking the truth is considered an act of subversion, it is my humble opinion that subversion should be revered as a virtue because it will benefit the Chinese people and the country.
Why is it necessary to understand and discuss Falun Gong? Why is Jiang Zemin on his guard when people talk about or praise Falun Gong in public? Why is Jiang trying to suppress all information pertaining to Falun Gong? An increasing number of experts and concerned people have begun to wonder about such questions. Many people discovered that resolving these issues would have a great impact on China's present and future. It is true that to avoid these issues will maintain a negative impact on countless Chinese people and families. I hope the information supplied here will help fellow practitioners who have recently joined with us to overcome the Jiang regime's information barrier and understand the gravity of this work.
6.1.4 Destructive Interference and Sabotage by the Jiang regime's Special Agents
In addition to filtering and controlling the information on the Internet, the Chinese media, and Dafa practitioners' means of communications, Jiang's regime frequently sent special agents to interfere with Dafa practitioners' truth-clarification work, e.g. feeding Dafa practitioners false information, or news mixed with true and false information.
The following are a few examples of the large amount of destructive interference and sabotage by the Jiang regime's special agents. To give overseas Falun Gong practitioners a bad name, Jiang's regime sent special agents to Hong Kong and many tourist spots around the world. Special agents stopped tourists from China, displaying a pushy and intimidating manner, telling them that they absolutely must listen to the truth about Falun Gong. Of course they did not actually clarify the truth about Falun Gong. Their goal was to annoy and offend the tourists from China with their display of ill manners. The intent was that these tourists, who might have already been deceived by the Jiang regime, would take these unpleasant special agents as real Falun Gong practitioners and this would reinforce their dislike of Falun Gong practitioners.
Other special agents would pretend to be Falun Gong practitioners, distribute truth-clarification materials and contact Falun Gong practitioners for truth-clarification work. These special agents would even hire local residents to help them distribute truth-clarification materials, and together they would tell the tourists from China that they had been paid by Falun Gong practitioners to distribute these materials. Many tourists from China, especially government employees who rarely travel overseas for business trips, are likely to fall prey to these deception and continue to accept the Jiang regime's falsehoods as the truth and thus help sustain the persecution in China.
Some Chinese special agents send bogus solemn declarations [that declared their words and deeds under forced brainwashing are null and void] to Minghui, embedded with filthy language and curses, in an attempt to profane Minghui. Some Chinese special agents are hired to select special cultivation terminologies in Falun Dafa books and articles from Minghui, to change their meanings to cause controversy and misunderstandings by the general public. They use distorted explanations to justify the persecution against Falun Gong and their defamation of Falun Gong. Falun Gong practitioners continue to find special agents all over China, Hong Kong, the United States and many other areas. The volunteer staff at Minghui has been bombarded with and forced to handle the garbage information in the news and articles sent by the Chinese special agents on a daily basis. I will not describe further details of similar destructive interference and sabotage by the Chinese special agents.
6.2 Mainland Chinese Dafa Practitioners' Role and Responsibility in News Writing
One of the most critical missions during the Fa-rectification period for Dafa practitioners is to expose the brutal persecution. Since the majority of Dafa practitioners are in China and the main thrust of the persecution is in China, it goes without saying that Dafa practitioners in China must carry out the critical responsibility of revealing the terrible persecution. This includes the collection, verification, and exporting of firsthand evidence of the persecution. Only Dafa practitioners in China are capable of this task.
Because of the unprecedented information barrier in China, it is a real challenge to send information from within the forced labor camps, prisons and detention centers. In the environment where a large number of Dafa practitioners have been and continue to be abducted, imprisoned, tortured to death, forced to become homeless, deprived of basic income, etc., every simple task in daily life becomes an extremely risky business that could claim one or more Dafa practitioner's life. On the other hand, it is exactly because Dafa practitioners carry many important responsibilities on their shoulders that they should strive to overcome all the difficulties affecting the verification and description of the collected information. When we come across a piece of information that we don't understand, we should either skip it or put a note next to it telling the recipient what is missing. Before you send out news that is not based on firsthand experience, we should review the "Six Basic Elements in News Writing" and verify all the critical information in the news. We cannot include personal speculation or vague memories as facts, add our personal emotions to the facts, or even change everyday people's impression or judgment of an event to our personal satisfaction. Otherwise, the Chinese Communist regime would exploit these loopholes and make sweeping comments on the lack of integrity and credibility in the overall information of Falun Dafa web sites. Or they would use our loopholes to confuse practitioners that haven't studied the Fa well and those less rational sentient beings that have fallen prey to the Jiang regime's deceptive information. The integrity in verifying all information in the news from China is by no means a display of suspicion of Dafa practitioners who bring in the news. Instead, it is part of the collaborative efforts to eliminate destructive interference and to improve Falun Dafa news reports. Any lack of understanding of this essential responsibility will result in loopholes subject to the old forces' exploitation and thus damage practitioners' cultivation and Fa-rectification environment.
From a different perspective, we wouldn't have to overcome the difficulties in collecting and verifying the information about the persecution if there wasn't any persecution or information barrier in China. All practitioners who help broadcast Falun Dafa related news to fellow practitioners and society are volunteers. Although we are highly responsible to our volunteer work and have overcome uncountable and unspeakable difficulties with iron willpower, tolerance and hard work, we have to admit that we are facing formidable tasks that are much more challenging than those prior to the persecution. On the other hand, we mustn't be too hard on ourselves if we have already correctly reported the main story in the news report and just missed a few trivial details. We should not be overly attached to our past wrongs or accomplishments. If we fall to the ground, we should get up quickly and correct our mistakes as soon as possible to be responsible to fellow practitioners and the sentient beings.
(To Be Continued)
For Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, please see