On the Fifth Anniversary of the "April 25 Appeal" -- Remembering April 25, 1999 (Part 3)
(Clearwisdom.net) Clearwisdom correspondent Gu Anru reports: five years ago on April 25, 1999, approximately 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to appeal to the State Council's Appeals Office on Fuyou Street in Beijing. The world stood still as the Falun Gong practitioners appealed in a peaceful, rational, trusting, tolerant and highly self-disciplined manner.
Nevertheless, on July 20 of the same year, Jiang Zemin and his followers began a rigorous persecution of Falun Gong, using all the government machinery to slander and attack Falun Gong. The Chinese people and the people throughout the world were told enormous lies, and Falun Gong suffered a great injustice because of that. For a time, many people thought Falun Gong practitioners who went to appeal had political motives, and that the "April 25 Appeal" triggered the persecution.
As the "April 25 Appeal" reaches its fifth anniversary, I will try to review the stories, causes and effects of the "April 25 Appeal," including the historic facts in order to further expose the truth. I would like people to take a close look at the catastrophe that is happening in China, the appeal itself, and to come to an informed conclusion.
III. Conspiracy in Action, Framing the Charge for the Persecution
Although the event ended peacefully, an attack against Falun Gong was in the making.
1. "April 25 Appeal": A Big Political Entrapment?
There have always been a few groups in the Party who held different opinions about Falun Gong. Among these there was a minority of people who waited for just the right opportunity to destroy Falun Gong. They wanted to gain political advantage over others. According to the Central News Agency (Taipei 5/4/99), the political and judiciary system secretly planned ways that would lead to the banning of Falun Gong. They decided to let the people rally, so they could apprehend them afterwards. They hoped that the practitioners would incriminate themselves. They had decided to create lies about the "April 25 Appeal," such as that it threatened Zhongnanhai, which would eventually achieve their aim: the banning of Falun Gong.
Since Falun Gong was publicly introduced in 1992, it attracted significant government attention. Some people who were good at finding opportunities for personal gain also began to make their own plans. In 1996, Luo Gan, who was the secretary general of the State Council at that time, ordered the public security department to carry out a secret investigation of Falun Gong. The public security department sent out a large group of agents to participate in Falun Gong practitioners' activities throughout the country. They could not discover any evidence that proved Falun Gong was involved in illegal activities.
Even though the investigation revealed no evidence, Luo Gan, who became the secretary of the Central Political and Judiciary Committee in early 1998, advocated to ban Falun Gong. However Premier Zhu Rongji rejected this opinion.
He Zuoxiu, who is said to be the brother-in-law of Luo Gan, is a politically active academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He Zuoxiu continuously slandered Falun Gong in the Chinese media and became Luo Gan's accomplice in order to create the incident that would lead to the banning of Falun Gong. After the "April 25 Appeal," Luo Gan reported to his superiors that Falun Gong had millions of adherents and was filled with religious and superstitious features. The founder of Falun Gong, Mr. Li Hongzhi, who resided in America, was falsely accused of having complicated international connections. Luo regarded Falun Gong, which is based on the principle of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance" as an unstable factor.
According to some witnesses, the public security department had already been given three days notice before the event that Falun Gong practitioners would come to Zhongnanhai to appeal. They closely monitored it and kept the information secret and were not worried about being criticized about it afterwards. Was this Luo Gan's way of creating the opportunity he was looking for? The public security department strictly watched the practitioners' activities, and video recorded everything, including the exact time when they arrived in Beijing. They recorded painstakingly where the people came from and with what kind of transportation they arrived in (see CCTV "The truth of April 25 Illegal gathering"). The public security personnel followed orders to guide the people to Zhongnanhai, and arranged this earth-shaking event. One has to wander if the public security department decided to set the practitioners up? In Tianjin, they arrested, beat practitioners and ransacked theirs homes, then they followed the orders of Luo Gan to lead the practitioners to Zhongnanhai and orchestrated this world-shocking event. Didn't they decided to arrest, beat practitioners and ransack their houses to create a situation that had to be resolved by the central government? All these facts demonstrate clearly that a plot had been hatched and executed, but the general population was unable to see and realize that such a devious and underhanded event could have taken place.
2. Police Directed Practitioners to "Surround" Zhongnanhai
Much evidence shows that the public security department had carefully laid the trap during the violent incident in Tianjin , and also at the "April 25 Appeal." But Falun Gong practitioners' morality and sense of justice let them calmly face this adversity.
According to people who know the inside story, Luo Gan, He Zuoxiu and their cohorts knew without a doubt that Falun Gong practitioners were going to Beijing. They knew clearly where they started their journey and where they were heading. They knew exactly where their journey would end and from which intersection they would gather near Zhongnanhai. They had cameras ready to take a picture of each participant.
Some of the Falun Gong practitioners entered the city early on the morning of April 25. He Zuoxiu worried that there may not be enough people to cause an alert for the central government leaders. Therefore, he suggested to Luo Gan, "Only assuring that the incident was large enough would make the central government agree to suppress Falun Gong." Thereupon, Luo Gan gave the order that the road-blocks be removed. By doing this, he made sure that the armed police would steer large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners who had been blocked in at the periphery of Zhongnanhai to form a "surrounding circle." He Zuoxiu viewed the scene several times. He intentionally showed his face to provoke an incident, but gave up when the Dafa practitioners ignored him. Later, he colluded with Luo Gan and finally persuaded Jiang to hide in a bulletproof car and "review" the incident in person. This was the trigger that caused Jiang to fly into a jealous rage.
According to witnesses, the practitioners first gathered near Fuyou Street (the location of the State Council's Appeals Office) then more and more people came, until the 2 kilometer long Fuyou Street was crowded with people. The south side extends to Chang'an Street, while the northern side intersects with Xi'anmen Street and nearly reaches Beihai on the east. One was unable to see the end of the crowd at the west; however there were no practitioners on the sidewalk outside the Zhongnanhai fence, only the security guards and the police were there. (see chart)
Sketch map explanation: *shows the position of practitioners.
Later, a few armed police came to tell practitioners that it was not safe there, you can't be there, etc. Thereby, under their guidance, the practitioners without any second thought divided into two groups and encircled Zhongnanhai.
According to a witness, during the night of April 24, while the Tianjin incident was in the making, Falun Gong practitioners employed with the public security department turned in their name cards. They explained to Zhongnanhai authorities that they wanted to understand the true situation. However this did not catch the police's attention. After 9 p.m. on April 24, some practitioners who came from Beijing's outskirts had already arrived on Fuyou Street near Zhongnanhai.
Just past 6 a.m. on April 25, this witness came to the northern side of Fuyou Street and found that the police had already blocked the road into Zhongnanhai. Soon after this an astonishing event occurred: the police first led the practitioners from the eastern side to the western side; then directed them from north to south and slowly steered them towards the front gate of Zhongnanhai. Meanwhile, another group of practitioners was coming from the south towards the north. Under the instruction of the police, two groups of practitioners happened to meet in front of Zhongnanhai and became one group. According to the media reports, there were more than 10,000 people.
Another witness of the "April 25 Appeal" wrote to Clearwisdom: "We sat down where the police had taken us and read a few pages in Zhuan Falun. Several police officers came over and shouted: "Get up! Get up! Follow us to the front courtyard, the leader is going to meet you there." Therefore, we followed the police from the south to the north and walked less than 200 meters. I saw a few policemen were leading another group of practitioners from the north towards the south in the opposite direction. When two groups of practitioners came close to each other, the police asked us to sit down. Later I found out these police directed our kind practitioners from here to there, let us walk from the east to the west, from the south to the north, in order to bring us to the trap Luo Gan set up, so he could make the false claim that Falun Gong practitioners had "surrounded Zhongnanhai."
Three days before the "April 25 Appeal," the public security department had already been privy to all information. They strictly monitored the situation, but they did not report to their superiors and were ready to accept being criticized later. According to the other news report, He Zuoxiu was asked to publish comments after the incident. He said that he won't comment right away, because he did not want to disrupt the entire operation (5/5/99 electronic "Ming Daily").
Thus, who directed the "April 25 Appeal" from behind the curtains? Were He Zuoxiu's articles and the Tianjin police's arresting Falun Gong practitioners a beginning step, an entrapment set up through a prearranged operation?
3. Intense Publicity Campaign Prepares for a Sinister Undertaking: The Suppression and Terror Closes in Daily
After the initial incidence, the Jiang regime decided to arrest people and completely eradicate Falun Gong. On April 27, the New China News Agency publicized that: "With respect to all types of qigong practice and body building activities, the various government levels have not banned them. One should look at them from different perspectives and grant such activities under the auspices of government sanctioned and also direct them through various legal channels. However, rallying around Zhongnanhai is not an option. Such an assembly around the Central and State Department organizations affects public order and the normal livelihood of the public. Those actions are not permissible. The disruption of social stability in the name of qigong practice must be dealt with by law."
When this policy decision was released, many reporters from the media predicted certain Falun Gong practitioners would be arrested and sentenced. As expected, on April 28, it was said "the four main leaders who sat in meditation at Zhongnanhai were detained" (April 28, 1999 "Union News "). After a few days, the respective agency collected a "name list" of Falun Gong practitioners through the Residents Committee, the various levels of the work units, and the Party organizations. (May 4, 1999 "Union News.")
Following that, it is rumored that during June the Communist Party convened an emergency meeting during which it declared Falun Gong to be an "evil cult." The arrest of people, to begin in the very near future, was one of the main topics during that meeting. It is also alleged that the government would avail itself of a method to reduce the favorable trade balance with the US. It was whispered that they would request the extradition of the founder of Falun Gong, Mr. Li Hongzhi in exchange for a five hundred million dollar trade credit. (June 2, 1999 "Central Daily News"). Also, the responsible persons at the practice sites of all locations were watched. Contact persons already had their phones tapped and were being followed. Their stance and actions were closely monitored. Falun Gong practitioners were also told to cease practicing, or they would be dismissed from public employment. Military personnel were threatened that they would be expelled from Party membership (for members of the Chinese Communist Party, especially those members holding public office, to be expelled from the Party membership would be tantamount to the end of employment in a public office) and lose their military status. Students were threatened with expulsion from schools (June 2, 1999, "Central Daily News"). Police vehicles were parked near the homes of practitioners in some regions, and some practitioners revealed that the police created incidents, apparently for the purpose of creating a confrontation. (June 3, 1999 "China Times Newspaper").
Beijing also released a document directed at ostracizing Falun Gong, disseminated to the lowest of government departments at all locations, and special units of the Universities directly under the Central Government. This document stated that Falun Gong practitioners were no longer allowed use of any public place to hold activities, and the orders applied to all universities, high schools and primary schools. These institutions were no longer permitted to allocate space to Falun Gong practitioners for their activities. At the same time, a number of practitioners in the city mentioned that they were harassed at the public parks when they were practicing in the mornings (June 3, 1999 "China Times Newspaper).
Concerning the five hundred million dollar deal meant to reduce the favorable trade balance in return for the extradition of Mr. Li Hongzhi, and the declaration that Falun Gong was an "evil cult," Mr. Li published an article, "Some Thoughts of Mine" and explained his honorable intentions. He explained that he only teaches people to be compassionate, and has no interest in politics. He stated that Falun Gong practitioners were not involved in "superstitious" activities and; that Falun Gong is not an "evil cult." For this reason, the Falun Gong practitioners once again went to Beijing in the hope that the respective government entity would grant a favorable "statement." When the practitioners met the officials of the agency, they wanted to hear that the government did not have a policy of eradicating Falun Gong (June 6, 1999, Electronic "Ming Bao").
On June 3, a great number of practitioners from throughout China came to Beijing to explain the situation to the Central Government. During the night of June 4, the respective agencies deployed a great number of police. They checked the hotels and sent those practitioners that were found in Beijing back to their homes. Precautions were taken at all street entrances to the Zhongnanhai area, in an attempt to keep the Falun Gong practitioners from Zhongnanhai (June 6, 1999, Electronic "Ming Bao").
In connection with the rumor about the suppression of Falun Gong, on June 14, the Central Appeals Office and the State Department Appeals Office released a joint declaration, stating that the Government had not suppressed or banned Falun Gong and requested that Falun Gong practitioners ignore the rumor. They also clarified that they had not planned to ask for the extradition of the founder of Falun Gong, Mr. Li Hongzhi. They also would not expel any Party or League members of the Communist Youth League who were involved in the activities of Falun Gong. They would also not be deprived of their public offices (June 14, 1999 "Central News Agency").
Although the respective agencies spared no effort in clarifying that the suppression of Falun Gong was only a rumor, on June 21, the "People's Daily" published an article, requesting Party members and cadres to raise high their banners to show their support for the ideologies of materialism and atheism. This action was doubtless the declaration of their intention to weed out the cadres and Party members who were involved with Falun Gong. After the Zhongnanhai incident, the respective agencies began an all out investigation into the origins of the incident involving Falun Gong practitioners. It was discovered that those involved at the regional levels as volunteer contact persons were mainly Party members and included some cadres holding high offices in their organization. Many of them were senior members and retired cadres. In consideration of such a situation, the narrow minded and jealous Jiang Zemin was utterly shocked. But in accordance with the Constitution of China, every citizen had the right to spiritual belief and freedom, so there was no way they could openly and directly prohibit non- Party members of the public to practice Falun Gong. But, towards the Party members, the high level Party officials decided to adopt Party disciplinary actions for punishment of offenders. The article in the "People's Daily" was giving a prior warning (June 21, 1999 "Central News Agency").
After June, many documents declaring Falun Gong as an "evil cult" by the Central Government were circulated to all the local government offices. The local work units were ordered to deny the use of practice sites to Falun Gong practitioners. Party members and cadres were instructed to cease the practice of Falun Gong or face severe disciplinary actions.
In the middle of June, more than thirteen thousand Falun Gong practitioners jointly sent a letter to the President of China, Jiang Zemin and the Prime Minister of China, Zhu Rongji to request the permission for open practice and to legally recognize the publication of books related to Falun Gong. They also requested a declaration that Falun Gong is not an "evil cult" and that it is not a superstition but a science (June 24, 1999 "Central News Agency").
To be more effective in eradicating Falun Gong, Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan selected Shandong and Jiangxi Provinces as the experimental locations for the complete elimination of Falun Gong. Three days after June 14, the day the announcement was made that Falun Gong would not be banned or suppressed, Shandong Province issued a document requesting Party members and Government officials to stop practicing Falun Gong. Some Falun Gong practitioners took both the announcements and passed them on to the authorities for comparison. As a stalling tactic, they were told by the officials that these announcements were meant for overseas people to read. At that moment, Jiang and Luo planned to eradicate Falun Gong in both Shandong and Jiangxi Provinces first, and although keeping a low profile, continue to carefully watch other locations to pacify Falun Gong practitioners for the time being (July 21, 1999 "China Times Newspaper").
In fact, Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan had deliberately used their official power. Beginning June 26, the Public Security personnel were dispatched to forcibly move Falun Gong practitioners from their practice sites along the line of Changan Street. This continued with the removal of Falun Gong practitioners from their practice sites in the whole city of Beijing. The practitioners were banned from practicing at any public locations. (June 28, 1999 "Central News Agency"). Following that, Jiang and Luo used the name of the Party in telephoning all the provinces in early July demanding that every member of the Party must report to the Central Government whether they "believed in Falun Gong or not" (July 5, 1999 "Central News Agency")
Jiang and Luo also used all the propaganda machinery to fabricate "criminal charges" against Falun Gong and Mr. Li. Initially, there were very few reports about the "4.25" incident (April 25 incident), but from the latter part of June on, large scale criticisms were made against Falun Gong. On June 13, an anti-Falun Gong website was established; the name was selected to be "The Great World Coalition Against Falun Gong" (the website commenced operation on June 20). This website was for publishing articles, distorting the facts, slandering and vilifying, and tarnishing the name of Mr. Li and Falun Gong (June 22, 1999 "Central News Agency"). After that, they sought means to take advantage of Falun Gong, by using fictitious materials known as "Materials of Exposure" from some early stage Falun Gong practitioners who were criticized by Mr. Li. CCTV stations broadcasted these materials. They falsely accused Falun Gong of "causing the death of 1,400 persons". Such concocted "criminal charges" against Mr. Li persist even today.
It is rather obvious that this group continuously conspired in their efforts to completely eradicate Falun Gong. They used a two-pronged approach. "Criminal charges" were invented and used as a preparation to eliminate Falun Gong in future, while at the same time, lies were spread indiscriminately, declaring that Falun Gong would not be banned. The fabricated charges were ready approximately by late June or early July.
4. Jiang Zemin Arbitrarily Abolishes Government Decrees and Launches the Unprecedented Persecution
The "Tianjin Incident," initiated by Luo Gan and his brother-in-law, He Zuoxin, as well as the "4.25" peaceful appeal, were satisfactorily resolved through communication between the then-Premier, Zhu Rongji, and Falun Gong practitioners. However, Jiang's jealousy could no longer be contained. On April 25, 1999, after the Zhongnanhai "4.25 Appeal," Luo Gan and others reported to Jiang on what had occurred. Jiang Zemin couldn't restrain himself any longer. He waved both of his hands and shouted: "Destroy them! Destroy them! Firmly destroy them!" This outburst surprised all those present.
On the night of April 25, Jiang Zemin, as the Communist Party General Secretary, wrote to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and other related leadership a letter, asserting that the "4.25 Appeal" was carefully planned and organized by someone extremely intelligent. (Top-Secret: Central Office telegram (1999), No. 14, the Chinese Communist Party Central Office Issuance: A Letter From Comrade Jiang Zemin to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and other related leadership comrades.)
On June 7, during a Central Political Bureau meeting, Jiang proclaimed, "Falun Gong has a very hidden political and social as well as complex international background." "It's the most serious incident since the political uprising in 1989." A document was circulated within the inner circle on June 13. (Top-secret: Central Office telegram (1999), No.30, Chinese Communist Central Office Issuance: A note "Regarding Comrade Jiang Zemin's discussion and associated urgency of dealing and resolving the Falun Gong issue.")
During that meeting, Jiang said, "The Central has already agreed to create a special division, which will deal with Falun Gong. Comrade Li Janqing will be the leader and comrades Ding Guangen and Luo Gan will be the assistant leaders, together with members from other associated departments. The group will study the issue and come up with concrete steps, methods, and measures to deal with Falun Gong. The Central, and each ministry, province, autonomous region and municipalities are to coordinate and cooperate closely." In reality, the so-called "Central" is Jiang Zemin himself. Six out of seven Standing Committee members of the Political Bureau were against the suppression.
Although unsubstantiated, Jiang Zemin regarded the Falun Gong issue as a "Political Struggle" and considered Falun Gong as the enemy of the Chinese Communist Party. He mobilized and deployed the countries governing bodies and all other related entities nationwide to carry out the suppression. On June 10, under his personal auspices, tyrannical tendencies and demand for absolute power, he created the nationwide "610 Office" (1) which superseded the national constitution and the law. Between April 25 and Jun 10, Jiang Zemin completed a comprehensive action plan, concrete steps for implementation, and its systematic enforcement.
From the aforementioned two top-secret documents, according to some high level Party officials, when Jiang Zemin brought forward the questionable connection between the "4.25 appeal," overseas and western nations, and the possibility of behind the scene planners, etc, Jiang showed clearly his intention to bring his personal power into play. Even without providing incriminating evidence, he ordered the all-encompassing suppressive policy.
Since the latter part of May 1999, the city and the public security bureaus began systematically to break up daily Falun Gong practices throughout the nation. In some places, the public security personnel used high-pressure water hoses to disperse practitioners and stop them from doing the exercises. They also used high volume trumpets to interfere with their exercises. Assistant leaders and coordinators from each practice site were scrutinized, monitored, followed and their phones were tapped. They were not allowed to leave their locale.
On July 19, during a high level meeting, Jiang Zemin formally announced an out-and-out ban on Falun Gong. On July 20, arrests of Falun Gong practitioners began nationwide. This was the beginning of the step-by-step escalation of the brutal persecution of Falun Gong.
After July 20, Jiang Zemin ordered the "610 Office" to systematically implement a persecution policy that targeted solely Falun Gong practitioners. The persecution directives included: "Ruin their reputation, bankrupt them financially and destroy them physically," "Falun Gong practitioners beaten to death are counted as committing suicide; Falun Gong practitioners tortured to death are to be directly cremated without identifying them."
According to Minghui website's unofficial preliminary statistics, based on information gathered from non-governmental sources, at least 950 Falun Gong practitioners have been killed as of April 20. 2004. Death cases were reported from over 30 provinces, autonomous region, and municipalities. The most deaths were found in the provinces of Heilongjian, Jilin, Shandong, Liaoning, Hubei, and Sichuan. Among those who died, 52% were women and 31% were between the age group of 50 and 70.
However, this is not the entire picture. According to unpublished official statistics, in October 2001, the death toll among detained Falun Gong practitioners had risen to over 1,600. Across China, at least hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were detained in prisons and forced labor camps, and thousands more were sent to mental hospitals to be injected with medication that destroys the central nervous system. Large numbers of practitioners were sent to local brainwashing centers where they endured mental agony. Millions of practitioners were brutally beaten, physically abused and financially ruined. Additionally, the so-called "law executors" extorted unprecedented fines.
5. The "4.25 Appeal" was an opportunity for Jiang's regime to launch its suppression of Falun Gong. It also became the historical moment for Falun Gong practitioners to step onto the world stage.
The so called "4.25" event was originally a simple appeal for peoples' fundamental rights as Chinese citizens. Why did it turn into such suffering? Such a reaction was completely unexpected by the peaceful Falun Gong practitioners. Those who appealed did not foresee its ramifications. Unless one researches vast amounts of information and analyzes them carefully, one cannot understand why such a chain of events could ever have happened. Neither Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, nor any Falun Gong practitioner of the "4.25 Appeal" would have arranged such a chain of events. Falun Gong had become enormously popular among the Chinese people within just a few years. Jiang Zemin, who assumed the most powerful position in China, would naturally find an appropriate opportunity to rid himself of his imagined enemy. If there would not have been an appropriate opportunity, he would have made one up. In his mind, the power he had gathered was only for serving himself and his family.
6. For Falun Gong practitioners, the "4. 25 Appeal " was an opportunity to appeal peacefully to the government; yet, it became a expedient excuse for Jiang Zemin to launch the persecution.
The "4.25 Event" was quite ordinary. Appealing to the government is not uncommon in China. However, it was an extraordinary event since Falun Dafa practitioners displayed their state of mind, which is formed by the principle of truthfulness-compassion-forbearance. During this incident Falun Gong practitioners would show people the glimmer of hope of restoring moral standards in society, but out of jealousy, Jiang Zemin launched a persecution that was unprecedented in history and totally against the wishes of the people. Under the disguise of this huge lie, he mobilized the entire country's media and instigated unthinkable and inhuman methods, so he could destroy people's righteous belief. Ever more people are awakening to the truth behind the persecution. This is another historical incident which demonstrates that evil cannot prevail. "4.25" will always be remembered in history and will display human spirituality forever!
(1) "610 Office": a bureau specifically created by the Chinese government to persecute Falun Gong. It has absolute power over each level of administration in the Party, as well as over the political and judiciary branches.