Facing the Sinister Environment Openly and Nobly (Part II)
This article was first published in April 2009.
(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part I)
In 1996, Xu Guangchun, Deputy Minister of the Central Propaganda Department, called the chief editors of ten major official newspapers. Xu ordered Guangming Daily to publish articles defaming Falun Gong and the rest of them to quote those articles. Later, the News Publishing Division of the Propaganda Department sent out an internal note to ban all the Falun Gong books because they "advocated superstition." The Falun Gong books Zhuan Falun and Falun Gong were among the top ten best sellers at the time. This signaled a change in the policy of "not interfering, promoting, or attacking qigong and supernormal abilities."
However, many people who worked at the major official newspapers practiced Falun Gong. There were even more practitioners working at the Ministry of Public Security. A thank you letter from the Chinese Foundation for Justice and Courage stated that the Head of the Ministry, Wang Fang, cured his illness through practicing Falun Gong. At the time, many people in the Ministry were qigong lovers and knew about Falun Gong. Many officials from the public security system were practitioners. Former members of the Falun Dafa Research Center, Ye Hao and Li Chang, were Deputy Director and Division Head of the Ministry.
In 1996, the suppression of Falun Gong was over before it even started because hundreds of thousands of letters arrived at the central government to clarify the truth about Falun Gong.
In the beginning of 1997, Luo Gan ordered the Ministry of Public Security to conduct a national investigation in an attempt to find "evidence" of Falun Gong being a cult. Reports from the public security bureaus nationwide found no problems. In July 1998, the First Bureau of the Ministry issued notice 555, "Notice About the Investigation of Falun Gong". In the Notice, it named Falun Gong as a "cult" and proposed to "get a hold of insider information of Falun Gong activities and conduct further investigation if any evidence can be found."
Luo Gan first convicted Falun Gong and then decided to look for evidence. At the time, many secret service officials and police officers pretended to be Falun Gong practitioners to conduct the investigation. Many of them became steadfast practitioners after gaining a good understanding of Falun Gong. To Luo's surprise, no evidence of crime was found at all nationwide. However, Luo's investigation triggered incidents in several areas.
The Zhaoyang City Public Security Bureau in Liaoning Province issued notice No. 37 in 1998, "Notice to Prohibit Falun Gong's Illegal Activities". Some practitioners were fined a total of 4,000 yuan. More than 40 practitioners went to the Ministry to appeal, and over 1,000 signed a petition to accuse the Zhaoyang Public Security Bureau of violating their civil rights.
On July 21, 1998, the First Division of the Ministry again issued a notice to all the local departments. The local public security departments in Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Hebei and Fujian provinces dispersed practitioners from their group practice sites, broke into practitioners' houses, and confiscated their private property.
Luo's two attempts to stigmatize Falun Gong as a cult and to set up reasons for suppression wasn't because Falun Gong did anything wrong. Luo was the Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Committee. He was at the highest position he could be and to go higher, he had to do something big politically.
Luo later discovered that many people in the Ministry of Public Security knew about and practiced qigong. In 1996, he removed those who were in charge of and practiced qigong.
In the second half of 1998, several retired cadres from the National People's Congress, led by Qiao Shi, did a detailed investigation on Falun Gong and reached a conclusion: practicing Falun Gong has all benefits and no harm. At the end of the year, they presented to the Central Politburo their report. Jiang Zemin was the head of the Politburo at the time.
Phony Scientist Confounds Right and Wrong
The political air surrounding Falun Gong got more and more sensitive after all that Luo had done. At the time, there were reporters and officials who dared to support Falun Gong openly. There were also those who acted as the situation dictated and those who wanted to accumulate political assets. They framed and slandered Falun Gong and planted seeds for the persecution that was to follow.
In May 1998, Luo's brother-in-law He Zuoxiu created a rumor in his interview with Beijing TV (BTV). He said that a graduate student with the last name Sun went psychotic because of the practice. In fact, Sun's mental problems had nothing to do with Falun Gong and Sun's roommate and classmate had many times clarified this with concrete facts. He stood by his statement with BTV. Many Falun Gong practitioners went to BTV to clarify the facts. After a deputy chief of BTV saw the practitioners' peaceful protest and learned what really happened, he made a news broadcast on Falun Gong's outdoor practice to make up for the previous wrongful statement, without apologizing for it. This incident then quieted down.
He Zuoxiu was a political opportunist. In November 1995, Yu Guangyuan, Deputy Head of the Theory Division of the Central Propaganda Department, went to Qinghua University to talk to the students. A student at the time, He was at the forum and met Yu. After He graduated in 1951, he was assigned to work in the Propaganda Department.
In May 21, 1952, He published an article in People's Daily, "Idealism in Russian Scientists' Criticism of Quantum Mechanics". He proposed to apply idealism, a powerful tool in political struggle at the time, to physics. In 1955, the issue of whether to tear down historical relics in Beijing triggered heated discussion. Mao Zedong was the major driving force behind those who called for the removal of the relics and Professor Liang Sicheng from Qinghua University and others advocated keeping them. He seized the opportunity and published an article, "Liang Sicheng's Misunderstanding of Architecture Issues" and called Liang's style of architecture "Chinese brain in a foreigner's body," "Mutant of harmonizing classes," and "A wrong theory directly violates the country's general policy." Liang was forced to "re-examine his problem" and the mass destruction of historic buildings in Beijing commenced. Beijing's look was changed radically. In an article published on People's Daily in 1998, "He Zuoxiu, an Ambitious Scholar", He still took delight in talking about this history. He believed it made him gradually understand what "creative Marxism" was. He also criticized Morgan's genetics and Nobel Laureate Gell-Mann's quark model with Marxism and the ideology behind it. Late in He's life, he turned to criticizing qigong and called it "pseudoscience".
For all He Zuoxiu had done to protect Beijing's ideology, the Red Flag Magazine strongly recommended him to become a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He continued to use his position to accumulate political capital. In 2001, Jiang Zemin was promoting his "Three Represents" theory full bore. He Zuoxiu gave a speech in the first quantum mechanics forum held by the Academy, saying that "the pattern of the development of quantum mechanics fits with Jiang Zemin's Three Represents theory." Several scholars left the forum during his speech. He put together his "theory" in an article and published it in the Journal of Kunming University of Science and Technology (Social Sciences), volume 1, 2001, "The Establishment of Quantum Mechanics and the Evaluation System of Scientific and Technological Innovation - In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Establishment of Planch Quantum Theory"
Like Luo wanted to please Jiang by suppressing Falun Gong, He spared no effort in defaming Falun Gong in the name of science. However, local Beijing officials continued to follow the existing policy of not interfering with qigong and did not publish his works.
Tianjin Incident Opens the Curtain of Persecution
Taking the next step against Falun Gong, He published an article entitled "I am against youngsters practicing Falun Gong" in the Journal of Tianjin Institute of Education on April 11, 1999. He blamed Falun Gong for things not related to it and hinted at disasters, including the destruction of the country, that would happen if people continued to practice Falun Gong. At the time, Falun Gong practitioners saw the beginnings of a political movement to wipe out Falun Gong and felt compelled to clarify the facts about the practice.
On April 23, thousands of practitioners went to the editorial office of the Journal to clarify the facts. As the talk was about to conclude and the publisher was willing to issue a statement to correct He's previous publication, 300 riot police appeared in Tianjin. They dispelled the Falun Gong practitioners, and in the process they beat and arrested 45 of them. Tianjin city authorities told the practitioners that the suppression was an order from Beijing and encouraged them to go to Beijing to appeal if they wished.
Ten Thousand Practitioners Visit Zhongnanhai
The news reached Beijing, and many local practitioners decided to appeal on April 25 to the State Bureau for Letters and Calls. On April 25, more than 10,000 practitioners came to the Bureau to appeal for Falun Gong. This was later referred to as the "4.25 incident."
After the Great Cultural Revolution, Beijing set up the system of appeals to deal with the massive number of complaints from people who suffered from various political movements. An individual or a group's right to appeal is a part of the Constitution, and people do not need to apply in public security departments before they appeal and do not need any kind of special approval.
The reasons for the practitioners to appeal to the Bureau were simple, to reflect what really happened to a higher level of government. Shi Caidong, a PhD from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, "In the evening on April 24, I stayed late in the lab to finish my experiment. I joined the group study and experience sharing late. Aunt Li explained to me briefly about what happened in Tianjin and told me that several practitioners were going to appeal the next day. I had previously written a letter to the News Division of the Propaganda Department to ask it not to ban the publication of Zhuan Falun and had not gotten any response. The News Division confiscated all Falun Gong books in 1996 in the name of stopping the propagation of superstition. Many practitioners wrote to the Division and high level political leaders about this but got no response. Directly going to the high-level officials in the central government seemed to be the only way to go at the time."
Many of the Falun Gong appellants were older and had been through the CCP's various political struggles. Some of them were youngsters who personally experienced the brutality of the June 4th Massacre. They were not clueless about what they were about to face.
A practitioner talked about her experience with the 4.25 Incident in an article published on May 20, 2002, on Clearwisdom.net, "That night at around 11:30 p.m., we received a few phone calls in succession, and then I realized that the situation was extremely complex. One of the phone calls was from my brother-in-law. He said, 'Tomorrow, you 3 sisters (all 3 of us practiced Falun Gong) definitely cannot go to Beijing. I have good friends in the police bureau in Beijing. They specifically told me that they are prepared and will not spare anyone [who goes to appeal].' A few moments later, he made another phone call to me, and warned us again: 'There are already large numbers of military troops stationed around the Zhongnanhai area. My friend told me: 'I know your sister-in-law is a good person. You should keep her at home, lock her up, and do not let her go to Zhongnanhai. The authorities told us to take a hard line against everyone. We are to spare no one regardless of who they are. If you guys definitely plan to go, I am warning you now.' My other sister also called us to say: 'Someone called my son, and told him not to let me go out no matter what because everything has been set up...' I asked my sisters if they would change their minds, and they all laughed. Just like this, we three sisters individually began our "4.25" journey with dignity."
What drove the practitioners to appeal without looking back? Didn't they know that they had no chance against the CCP? Didn't they know that common people couldn't win? Till this day, many people blamed the practitioners for insisting on appealing and not practicing "Forbearance". People blamed the practitioners for "disturbing the stability of the society." The following are some answers from the practitioners regarding these questions.
"From the ban of the book Zhuan Falun in 1996 to the incidents with BTV and Guangming Daily; from Luo Gan's investigation of Falun Gong's "crimes" to the incident in Tianjin, the political situation was turning more and more against Falun Gong. As members of society, we know that it is not about right and wrong for anything that involves politics and the 'decision from the top.' As Falun Gong practitioners, we follow the principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance in our everyday lives to improve our characters. We did not want to get involved in politics but we did know good and evil, right and wrong. Forbearance isn't about drifting along, but about being truthful and compassionate. If everyone gave in when facing overwhelming force, then there will be no telling of basic good and evil in society and no standard for right and wrong. In a society without justice and conscience, everyone will end up a victim."
"A practitioner needs to be a good person no matter where he or she is. Drifting along with the tide might bring temporary comfort, but that isn't forbearance. That is weakness. When everyone gives up on the principle of right and wrong, social morality collapses. If everyone agrees that force means the truth and follows personal gain in everything he or she does, then there will not be hope. Nowadays in China, we see that society has lost honesty and conscience. Isn't this the result of nobody believing in justice and everyone seeking only personal gain?"
"Being a member of society, everyone has the responsibility to protect a citizen's basic legal rights. This is also protecting his own legal rights. If everyone gave up his legal rights under pressure, that is helping to trample the law. How is that going to help with social stability?"
In the past 60 years of Chinese history, there have been too many lessons like this to be learned. In every CCP-driven political movement, if there were more people in society who could hold on to Falun Gong practitioners' principles and not bend to force, the absurd tragedies that were the result of confounding right and wrong could have been avoided.
(To be continued)