Dec 31, 2003

( In the cold winter of 2003, Liu Chengjun was tortured to death. On March 5, 2002, together with several other practitioners, he successfully tapped into the Changchun cable TV network and broadcast an over forty-minute feature about the true situation of Falun Gong. This incident caught the attention of the whole world. On March 24, 2002, Liu Chengjun was arrested, handcuffed and shot by the police. Since that day, many people have been concerned about his safety. During the past twenty-one months, I had heard at least several times that he was being tortured while in detention. This time we received the news that Liu Chengjun was tortured to death. I am saddened and angry, as if a close friend has been tortured to death.

The situation of Liu Chengjun made me very concerned about the situation of another practitioner, U. S. citizen Charles Lee. On January 22, 2003, on a trip to China to visit his family, Dr. Li was arrested as soon as he got off the airplane, and charged with "preparing to tap into a television network." He was sentenced to three years in prison on March 21 and has been detained at the Nanjing prison, where he suffers from brainwashing and torture. His fiancée, Foo Yeong-ching, told reporters in early December that in order to force him to give up his belief, Dr. Lee is monitored round-the-clock by one guard, one policeman and six inmates. They are assigned to monitor his every movement, including during mealtimes, when he is in the bathroom and when he sleeps. They force him to read materials that denounce Falun Gong and if he refuses, he is continually attacked both verbally and physically.

Charles Lee was thrown into prison simply for "preparing to tap into a television network." Even if he had indeed succeeded in doing so, it is a righteous action and should be admired rather than punished. Jiang's regime claimed that Charles Lee "sabotaged a television facility." However, it is Jiang's regime that truly sabotages the TV media.

The Chinese television media are maintained and supported by the hard-earned money of the Chinese people, and the media should speak for its people. At the same time, the media should play the role of supervising government officials. However, the fact is that the majority of Chinese media is television and it is completely controlled by the dictator Jiang Zemin. Especially during the time when he was in power, Jiang sold his "three representatives theory" on prime time television and turned the daily "news report" into his own personal show. Meanwhile, the television stations also took every effort to defame Falun Gong by broadcasting fabricated stories to deceive the people. Isn't this sabotaging the TV media? Do Chinese people support the media only to be deceived? When the TV media only caters to the dictator and neglects its general public, it inevitably becomes a tool for spreading lies and exaggerating their so-called political achievements.

The recent situation of the Chinese media concealing the true situation of SARS is a good example of this issue. During the Party's Sixteenth Congress, in order to broadcast Jiang's political achievements, the media intentionally hid the grave situation of the SARS epidemic. As a consequence of the cover-up, SARS spread all over the country and even abroad. This March, while SARS was already rapidly spreading on a large scale, television stations still claimed that the situation was under control. This distortion of the news resulted in major suffering for the Chinese people. It is crucial for television stations to report the truth. This issue is related to the well-being and interest of every person. This is the reason why in a civilized country such as the United States, the government is not allowed to own the media, nor can it override, by any means, the media's right to report the truth. On the contrary, the media closely monitors government officials, and thus they have to be very careful in their behavior.

What Liu Chengjun had done, and what Charles Li was preparing to do, was to let the TV speak the truth. It is not sabotaging television facilities but rather helping the media to fulfill its responsibility to tell the truth. Such actions indeed support the role of television. On the other hand, the dictator has taken the media and television for his own use to spread lies. This is the true sabotage of the media, and it is a crime.

At present, the Chinese media still does not take the opportunity to speak the truth. But if the day finally comes when the media can escape the control of the regime and speak the truth, they should set up a monument to the Jilin practitioners with the following inscription: "During the time when TV was filled with political lies, they let TV speak the truth. For that they sacrificed their lives."

The journalistic community that is supposed to speak the truth should forever remember and praise the courageous act of these practitioners. Their courage, righteousness and commitment are the real hope of the media.