Some of Our Experiences During the Rescue Charles Li Car Tour
(Clearwisdom.net) While the Fa-rectification process is advancing rapidly, through the continuous efforts of oversea practitioners, most nations' governments and citizens now know about the persecution of Falun Gong happening in China. They no longer believe the propaganda exported by China. However, many people still don't know about the degree of the persecution and how vicious it really is. People in the US don't know that an American citizen is being persecuted and subjected to violent brainwashing and torture. When we tell people that one their own citizens is being subjected to the persecution, they're often quite surprised.
Everyone knows that the media plays a critical role in our clarifying the truth. However, we see that in the larger cities that have many practitioners, the media seldom attend our press conferences because they have already received so many releases about Falun Gong. However, the media (including dailies, weeklies, monthlies, college newspapers, television stations, and radio stations) in medium and small cities don't have many chances to report on Falun Gong directly because there aren't any practitioners there. They usually carry articles about Falun Gong that they got from major newspapers and wire services. In our contact with the media, we found that the editors and reporters in smaller centers are actually quite interested in Falun Gong; it's just that there aren't any local Falun Gong activities to report on.
In February, some Texas practitioners divided into five groups, and during the weekends visited many smaller cities and held press conferences there. Recently, we participated in the North American Car Tour to rescue Charles Li. We visited approximately 30 cities in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Kansas, and Okalahoma. In the vast majority of the cities, reporters came to interview us. Their reports were usually objective and were presented as local events.
One editor told us, "Even though this isn't something that relates to us locally, we can report on it because you came here personally." Through such reporting, many local citizens became aware of the illegal arrest and brutal torture of an American citizen by the Jiang regime. At the same time, the reporters gained a better understanding of the persecution that is happening in China. In one city, there was a TV program broadcast at night, and the next day while a practitioner was gathering signatures on a petition, many local residents said, "We saw the story on TV, we'll definitely sign our names." More and more people have become indignant at what the Jiang regime is doing to innocent people. Some of the reporters that interviewed us, as well as policemen and government officials, also signed their names after understanding the facts. At the same time, we also held small-scale car tours to the surrounding towns and held press conferences, all of which achieved very good results.
There are many cities in America. These cities have their own media outlets such as newspapers, and quite a few have their own radio and TV stations. The circulation of each newspaper may only be in the thousands or tens of thousands, but the residents have a great deal of interest and trust in what the local newspapers have to say. These people may ignore international news in the bigger newspapers; but they will read the local newspapers carefully because it reports on things that are close to them. In one town, after a report about our workshop and the next scheduled class were published, about 50 people attended the second workshop.
The success of the car tour was the result of practitioners working together as a whole body. Both the practitioners that were on the road and the ones who stayed at home all contributed. Some people contacted the media, others obtained permits, some wrote articles for Clearwisdom (Minghui), while others lent their vehicles for the tour. Participating in the car tour helped practitioner in their cultivation. One lady, nearly 70 years old, hadn't done any media work before but did an excellent job and helped make the press conferences successful. She let the reporters know the profoundness and beauty of Falun Dafa by telling them how she had benefited and describing the physical changes she experienced after practicing Falun Gong.
The practitioners responsible for contacting the media would prepare a media alert, focusing on the American citizen illegally arrested in China being tortured in jail for trying to reveal Jiang's cruel persecution against Falun Gong. They then went on to explain how Jiang is committing heinous crimes against Falun Dafa practitioners and how a lawsuit, citing torture, crimes against humanity, and genocide, has been brought against him in Chicago. We called each media source and asked for the news editor or the newsroom, and informed them that there would be a press conference in front of their City Hall the next day (or the day after, depending on the circumstances). We told them that the press conference was about an American citizen being illegally arrested and tortured in China for trying to expose Jiang's cruel persecution of Falun Gong. We also said that Jiang is being sued for his crimes and cruelty towards Falun Gong practitioners by practitioners all over the world.
The vast majority of editors were interested in this type of news, and they would request that we fax or email the media alert to them. Some editors would even ask for more information. Whenever possible, we would talk at length with the editor. The more he understood the facts, the more likely it was that he would come to our press conference and publish an accurate report. Some of the editors would write the report right away, so by the time our practitioners got to the city to hold the press conference, the article would already have been published. Once, right after we set up our displays and banners, a staff member of the local newspaper came and gave us a copy of their newspaper. She said, "I heard about your efforts to rescue Dr. Li through your car tour, and I wanted to sign my name to support your efforts." After signing her name to the petition, she had a deep discussion with us to understand more about Charles' situation in China.
It is not necessary to have a lot of practitioners present at news conferences. A small unit consisting of about three to four practitioners is enough. We prepared a banner that read, "SOS: Urgent Rescue of US Citizen Dr. Charles Li Tortured in China for Exposing Dictator Jiang's Genocide of Falun Gong," and some poster-size photos of Charles Li. We would erect a frame to support the banner, a large photo of Dr. Li, and pictures of the persecution, and then we would do the sitting meditation, the standing exercises, or send forth righteous thoughts. Such scenes are very effective and leave the reporters with a strong impression. A businessman who happened to be at the city hall said, "Knowing how the Chinese government is persecuting its own people, why are we still doing business with them? We should just stop!" Right before he left, he picked up some truth-clarifying materials and said, "I want to take a good look at this when I get home."
Our fellow Dafa practitioners realized that we should keep strong righteous thoughts when talking with the media. We used to fax the media about our event, make a confirmatory call, and then wait for the media to come. We discovered, however that is not enough. We know what we are doing is very important, more important than other local events. Even though the editors or the journalists may not realize it, we knew they should come. For example, on the way to one of the cities, we called the local media on our cell phone to tell the media representatives that would be presenting an important issue -- namely, rescuing an American citizen. That afternoon, reporters from all three TV stations and the newspaper came. We understood that it is very important to be proactive when contacting the media.
We usually chose city halls for the press conferences. City halls are good places for press conferences because they are usually close to the newspaper and the radio station offices. Normally, you do not need a permit to use the front area of a city hall in most smaller cities. Also, parking is easy, space is plentiful and clean, and you can talk with the Mayor and other officials about Falun Gong and the persecution.
If none of the local media came to our press conference, and we had time, we would go and talk with the editors, telling them that we just had a press conference, and that our issues were very important, and we hoped they would talk with us for just 5 or 10 minutes and report on what we presented. We found that "raising awareness" is an effective phrase that the reporters respond to very well. If they're just too busy, we may even help by writing an article for them and sending it to them, with pictures attached, via e-mail.
Since a newspaper may not publish the whole paper on their website, and we wanted to have the newspaper reports when talking with government officials, we usually left a card with the media, and asked them to mail us a copy of their published article, the audio or videotapes, or we left a large envelope so they could send us the reports later. The reports were usually published a day or two after the interviews, and we would find them on the newspaper's websites. If we didn't find the websites, then we would call to ask whether or when the article would be published. Finally, we sent a thank you letter with a gift, such as a bookmark, to show our appreciation for their reports, and to establish relationships for the future.
We feel that all the newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations were created for Dafa, and are good assistants in our large-scale activities of clarifying the truth and saving sentient beings. In fact, only the evil is afraid of being exposed. It is afraid of both the big and the small media. After a local newspaper reported our event, we would send the news to Clearwisdom.net, so it would be quickly known to the whole world and the governments, people, and so the evils could read it too. I once told a small-town newspaper editor that after they reported our event, their newspaper became widely known. After I explained to him why, he said: "That's great, I sure didn't expect that to happen!"
We feel that it is a good idea for practitioners to hold press conferences for the local media outlets. In this way we can bring home the fact that an American citizen has been illegally arrested and tortured in jail for trying to reveal Jiang's cruel persecution of Falun Gong, and make this issue well known to Americans. As the smaller, local media begin to report on this issue, it will eventually affect the larger media outlets. Many local media post their articles on the Internet; and they are easily found through a simple on-line search. Not only will larger media sources read these articles, other small media enterprises will read them as well. Various government agencies from everywhere, as well as anyone who is interested in Falun Gong, will read these articles, so they do have an impact.
As Teacher said in "Explaining the Fa During the 2003 Lantern Festival at the U.S. West Fa Conference,"
"Since they aren't afraid of having their dirty deeds brought out into the open, we should expose them all to the whole world, and let all Americans know that a U.S. citizen has been arrested. Since they're not afraid of having their dirty deeds brought out into the open, we should go ahead and do those things. Every day that they don't release him is another day for us to expose them."
"Every time evil uses bad people to damage us, they are actually promoting us!" ("Lecture on the Fa at the U.S. Midwest Conference")