(Clearwisdom.net) On the morning of January 25, 2005, Falun Dafa practitioners in New York gathered to appeal in front of the Associated Press (AP) Headquarters in Manhattan. They called upon the AP to retract its report on the Tiananmen "Self-Immolation," which severely misleads its readers, to make a public apology for this mistake, and to report the facts surrounding the "self-immolation" incident and the persecution of Falun Gong to make up for the damage it has caused.

Background Information

Last Friday (January 21, 2005), the Associated Press (AP) published an article about the so-called "Tiananmen Self-Immolation." This "Self-Immolation" Incident is one of the primary tools used by Jiang Zemin's faction to turn public opinion against Falun Gong. Every January, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) brings forth some of the people that they allege took part in the "Self-Immolation," and uses them to denounce and slander Falun Gong. The AP article's content basically repeats the slanderous propaganda used by the CCP to attack Falun Gong. This type of article, which uncritically accepts propaganda from an unreliable source and reports it as fact, goes completely against journalistic integrity. In fact, this type of reporting supports the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong.

Foreign Journalists Have Never Had Real Freedom to Interview Practitioners

Foreign Journalists have never had real freedom to interview practitioners, because all the interviewees are arranged by the Party. The BBC quotes Reporters Without Borders in its report on December 4, 2001:

"Since the eradication campaign against Falun Gong was launched by the authorities, foreign journalists have systematically been hindered in their work on this topic. Foreign photographers and cameramen are prevented from working on and around Tiananmen Square where hundreds of Falun Gong followers have demonstrated for the passed years. According to Reporters Without Borders' estimations, at least 50 representatives of international media have been questioned. Some of them have been beaten by the police. The correspondents who have tried to cover the banned movement's activities have been harassed by the security services. Finally, many Falun Gong followers have been jailed for being interviewed by foreign journalists." http://clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2001/12/6/16562.html

The reason why the CCP is so afraid of independent media interviews is that it fears the truth about the persecution will become known by the general public.

Falun Dafa practitioner Mr. Zhao Ming was detained and tortured in China for twenty-two months. He revealed how Chinese labor camps deceive foreign media, based on his personal experience. He said, "One day in the second half of 2001, all Falun Dafa practitioners who refused to accept brainwashing and 'those not thoroughly brainwashed' were gathered in one place to watch videos. Later we found out this was because journalists were to conduct interviews at the Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp. The only ones left to be seen, whether doing labor or exercises, were those who had "met their brainwashing standards." Three people were interviewed, and they praised the living conditions and the human rights situation. These people were released early as a reward by the forced labor administration bureau. Some media were impressed by how they were allowed to interview the inmates freely. In fact they had no knowledge of the dark, behind-the-scene manipulation.

There are many suspicious elements about all of the purported immolators interviewed by the AP this time. Take Wang Jindong as an example, who reveals many contradictions even in the CCTV self-immolation footage. From the photos provided by CCTV, it is obvious that the Wang Jindong before and the Wang Jindong after the self-immolation are two different persons. CCTV used his sitting position and the words he shouted as evidence that Falun Dafa practitioners conducted the self-immolation. However, in the CCTV footage, the self-immolating Wang Jindong was not sitting in the position taught in Falun Gong, nor did the words he shouted comply with the teachings of Falun Gong. Anyone who genuinely understands Falun Gong would notice this immediately. Many other conflicting points were documented by an award winning TV program, False Fire, which can be found online at: http://www.faluninfo.net/tiananmen/immolation.asp

CCP Controls the Media in China

The CCP exerts outright control over the direction of the media in China, and it has done so ever since it came to power in 1949. The media in China is not journalism, but the means by which the CCP conveys information that the CCP wants the masses to receive. Thus it is merely a tool for the manipulation of thought in China.

For the persecution of Falun Gong specifically, the CCP-controlled media not only twists and turns events in ways to put a negative spin on Falun Gong, but even totally makes up stories to deceive people. The "Tiananmen Self-Immolation" is a perfect example of how the CCP's media, in cooperation with the CCP's police, staged an event and reported on it as though it were true. This carefully orchestrated "Self-Immolation," then became a key tool used to turn people in China against Falun Gong.

Media Should Report the Truth

Mr. Zhang Erping, a Mason Fellow of J.F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and President of the Falun Gong International Committee for Human Rights stated that it is common knowledge that Falun Dafa practitioners are being persecuted in China. The AP should be very clear on this fact. Some of their journalists have viewed the videotapes that reveal the truth of this staged "self-immolation" incident.

Zhang Erping stated that media should report the facts; however, the AP article is not based on facts, so it is helping the CCP slander Falun Gong. It damages Falun Gong practitioners' reputation, while at the same time presenting misinformation to the general public.

Mr. Zhang believes that in order to make up for the damage done, the AP is obligated to correct its mistake openly, apologize to Falun Gong practitioners, and report the truth of the Tiananmen "Self-Immolation" Incident.

January 26, 2005