Witness: 1999 Incident in Tianjin Suggests Premeditated Persecution of Falun Gong
This article was first published in May 2010.
(Clearwisdom.net) Linda Liang of Melbourne, Australia personally experienced the April 25 peaceful appeal in 1999. The following is what she recalls from that day.
Police Officers in Tianjin City Urged Falun Gong Practitioners to Go To Beijing
On April 11, 1999, He Zuoxiu published an article titled "I do Not Approve of Teenagers Practicing Qigong" in an official publication of the Tianjin Normal University Education College. He is the brother-in-law of Luo Gan, one of the high level officials who actively participated in the persecution of Falun Gong. In the article, He quoted a case which fraudulently criticized Falun Gong. The case was first brought up by Beijing TV and was proven false in 1998.
The Regulations on the Administration of Publication clearly state that when an incorrect piece of information is published in newspapers or journals and causes harm to the rights of a person or a legal entity, the concerned party has the right to ask for a public apology or file a lawsuit. From April 18, practitioners started to go to the Tianjin Education College to explain what Falun Gong was and hoped that the editorial office could make a correction.
During the morning of April 21, Linda went to the Tianjin Education College from her school (Tianjin University of Science and Technology).
The Education College was full of practitioners, old and young, men and women. They either stood quietly or read books.
"I remember it was very warm that day. Some practitioners had been there since April 18 and had been standing there for four days. The Education College was peaceful and quiet."
When the editorial office learned about Falun Gong and was about to publish an apology, the Tianjin Public Safety Bureau suddenly mobilized riot police on April 23 and 24 to beat and remove practitioners. Forty five practitioners were arrested. Linda recalled, "At 5 p.m. on the 23rd, officers from the Heping Public Safety Bureau announced that the gathering was unlawful. At 8 p.m., about three hundred police came. Two practitioners in the front were dragged away and beaten. Some practitioners were thrown into police cars."
A few practitioners asked the police to release those who were arrested, but the Tianjin city government told them that they could not do so without permission from the Beijing Public Safety Department. The appeals office of the Tianjin government also told practitioners that the arrest was ordered by the central government and practitioners should go to the state department appeals office to express their opinions.
On April 25, 1999, about 10,000 practitioners went to the appeals office in Beijing. This event was later described as "Falun Gong attacking the central government" by the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpieces and used as an excuse to launch a state-wide persecution of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999.
After April 25, the Party Secretary in Linda's department told her that she would be removed from the Party and would have to write an "ideology report" if she continued to practice Falun Gong. Before the secretary left, he told Linda, "In two months, I believe you will stop the practice no matter what." She did not know what he meant until the persecution started on July 20.
In the nine years after 1999, she did not spend much time with her husband, who was also a practitioner. They went to three different cities and lost their jobs four times. They witnessed the death of five practitioners after being tortured for their belief. Many practitioners were beaten until they were disabled and many more were imprisoned. Linda's brother-in-law's entire family practiced Falun Gong. Eight of them were imprisoned, leaving an old man and two young children at home.
"In 2004, my brother-in-law was locked in a prison in Inner Mongolia. He was tortured until his eyeballs were dehydrated and almost fell out. The prison had to release him." Linda visited her brother-in-law afterward. She saw him living in a hut that had nothing in it.
In July 2008, Linda and her family moved to Melbourne and ended their homeless lives in China. They began to practice again and are free to believe what they want to, like in most countries in the world.