(Minghui.org) The words “forward momentum” come to mind when we look back on 2014. Here are ten top news items from Minghui this year.
“I know that of all the groups the Chinese Communist Party has suppressed, the persecution of Falun Gong is the most brutal. You [practitioners] have suffered so much. I feel very bad,” a Chinese tourist said to a practitioner raising awareness of the persecution during his trip in Switzerland. “You [practitioners] are mistreated so badly, but you still do this to help others.”
Major tourist sites around the world have become nerve centers where the public can learn about the persecution, especially state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience, which is covered up in China, and what the Chinese public really thinks, which is inaccessible to most outside of China due to Party propaganda exported to the West.
The number of tourists who choose to renounce their Party organization memberships has steadily increased across North America and Europe. Ms. Zhou, a Falun Gong practitioner volunteer at a tourist site in England, described in the summer of 2014 a trend she noticed:
“In 2008 and 2009, I could help a few hundred Chinese people quit the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] in a year. In 2010, it increased to about one thousand a year. After 2012, it has doubled and tripled, to a few thousand a year. Since the beginning of this year, it's about a thousand a month.”
Another 40 million Chinese renounced their Party memberships in 2014, taking the total to about 190 million. This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the publication of Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, the book that inspired the grassroots withdrawal movement.
The daily number of Chinese who quit the CCP and its sister organizations rose to more than 100,000 in mid-November. We have also seen reports about grassroots groups promoting the movement, such as one in Yunnan Province with over 110,000 members.
“The Nine Commentaries shows the path to separating the Party from the country. The path is to revive the traditional values of Chinese culture, such as those taught by Falun Gong: truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” said John Nania, editor-in-chief of English-language editions of Epoch Times, publisher of Nine Commentaries, at a December 2014 forum held in the U.S. Capitol building.
As the Minghui website predicted, Zhou Yongkang, former security chief in charge of leading the persecution and a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, was arrested on December 6, 2014, and an official criminal investigation was launched.
On June 30, Xu Caihou, former member of the Politburo and vice chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission, was handed over to prosecutors. Xu was the most powerful military figure in carrying out the persecution. He is believed to have been heavily involved in using military facilities and hospitals to engineer the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong practitioners.
As a result of practitioners' truth-clarification efforts, even though propaganda concealed the fact that Zhou, Xu, and many others who fell in 2014 were involved in the persecution of Falun Gong, many among the public knew this already.
In fact, many have started seeing this trend as a reflection of karmic retribution, a traditional Chinese idea that "what goes around comes around," a concept that the communist regime tried to remove from Chinese people's value systems.
Even some perpetrators acknowledge the idea, too: a 2014 report reveals that Shenyang judge E Anfu urged his family on his deathbed in 2011, “Quick, go find me a Falun Gong practitioner!” When he got the opportunity to talk to a practitioner, he expressed regret for his wrongful actions and acknowledged that his dire condition was the result of karmic retribution, reaping the consequences of his earlier decisions.
“Beijing’s oft-trumpeted cessation of transplanting organs taken from executed prisoners starting on January 1 in response to human rights concerns is nothing but a lie,” said Taiwan Covenants and Conventions Watch convener Huang Song-lih in December 2014.
During the December visit of China's former Deputy Minister of Health Huang Jiefu, about 80 Taiwan physicians signed a joint statement to demand the Chinese Communist Party immediately stop harvesting organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. According to the Taiwan Association for International Care of Organ Transplants, the number of co-signing physicians has reached over 5,000.
The General Assembly of Pennsylvania unanimously passed a resolution on October 8, 2014, urging the medical community to help raise awareness of unethical organ transplant practices in China.
Significant progress has been seen in medical societies. The House of Delegates of the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) passed a resolution on May 31, 2014, to condemn systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting in China. Many medical and law enforcement professionals have learned of the state-sanctioned organ harvesting as they attended major transplantation-related conferences in San Francisco, London, and the Hague.
Mr. Matas' poster “Sources of Organs for Transplantation in China” was designated a “Poster of Distinction,” which the conference planning committee urged attendees to make it a priority to read during the 2014 World Transplant Congress in San Francisco. (Courtesy of Mr. David Matas)
When Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Wang Zhiwen's 15-year prison term ended on October 18, 2014, instead of letting him go home, the authorities took him straight to a brainwashing center.
Like Mr. Wang, when the labor camps were closed down, many Falun Gong practitioners were transferred to "black jails," extralegal detention centers such as brainwashing centers and drug rehabilitation centers.
The replacement of labor camps with black jails suggests not only the continuation of the persecution of Falun Gong, but also the evolution of a more covert persecution policy: if any given black jail gains too much notoriety, it will be shut down to pacify international scrutiny, only to be re-opened at a different location under a different name.
For example, when the “Jiansanjiang Brainwashing Center” made world headlines this March after 11 Falun Gong practitioners and four human rights lawyers were arrested for seeking the release of practitioners detained there, the brainwashing center was shut down a month later. But it soon re-emerged as "Qiqihar Drug Rehabilitation Center," where the same staff were appointed to continue the persecution of the practitioners.
In the Heilongjiang Human Rights case that drew international attention in March 2014, four lawyers--Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Zhang Junjie, and Wang Cheng--were arrested along with seven Falun Gong practitioners for seeking the release of practitioners detained in Jiansanjiang Brainwashing Center, officially known as the “Jiansanjiang Farm Legal Education Center.”
While they were detained, the lawyers were beaten and tortured, including being hung up and punched in the chest, head, back, and legs. Mr. Zhang Junjie sustained three fractures to his lower back as a result of severe beatings.
The four lawyers were released by April 6 due to international criticism. Four of the seven practitioners are still detained at the time of this report. The latest information was the illegal trial on December 17, 18 and 19.
Eight other lawyers representing the four practitioners who remain in custody have encountered tremendous interference from Jiansanjiang authorities, including constantly changing trial dates at short notice, threats, numerous checkpoints on the way into the courtroom, a confiscated ID and minivan, bailiffs pinching the lawyers during the trial, and plainclothes officers following them after the trial.
Threatening practitioners' family members to drop legal representation is a common practice of local authorities in China. For example, when the family of practitioner Mr. Han Fu, a 48-year-old farmer in Jilin Province, was looking for a lawyer to defend him, someone on the court staff warned them, “We won't reduce Han's sentence even if you guys do have an attorney. In fact, we won't even tell you when the trial is!”
“We have finally come to understand how the CCP brainwashed us for so many decades. After learning all the facts, I realized that Falun Gong is nothing like what the CCP propaganda claims it is. The CCP simply doesn't let people be good,” said a Beijing resident when he signed a petition to support the practitioners.
Inspired by the 1.5 million signatures submitted to the UN last year condemning forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, a similar petition drive was initiated in China this year and soon gained the support of thousands.
After learning about Falun Gong and the persecution, many individuals in a position to carry out the persecution also showed support for the practitioners.
Two Party diplomats were arrested in Argentina and Czech Republic for using force to disrupt peaceful protests of local Falun Gong practitioners during Chinese delegation visits in the summer of 2014.
A Chinese diplomat was arrested on July 19, 2014, after forcing his way past the police cordon to disrupt a Falun Gong protest during Xi's meeting with the Argentine Vice President. The man's diplomatic identity was confirmed by Argentinian police.
Eleven European citizens were forcibly removed from Belgrade, Serbia, prior to the CEE-China (Central and Eastern Europe) summit on December 16-17. They were detained outside of Belgrade during the event and deported to Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Finland after the summit was over. They had intended to wear yellow T-shirts during the summit as a way of protest, since the local practitioners' protest permit application was denied for no stated reason.
This is a reminder to the world that the CCP continues to export its violence and terror to the West. Such acts have met resistance from local police forces in most countries.
When the “welcome groups” hired by the CCP tried to block and even attack practitioners in Brisbane and Canberra during Xi Jinping's G-20 visit, the local police moved them away, threw their flags away, and banned them from getting near the Falun Gong protestors. Police officers also helped practitioners to hang their banners up high so that Xi's motorcade could see it.
In Auckland and Wellington, the police helped the practitioners find the best place to display their banners. When the “welcome groups” came, the police directed them to stay on the other side of the street. Seven officers were stationed to protect the Falun Gong practitioners.
Five large-scale international conferences were held in 2014. Practitioners have stepped up their efforts in their individual cultivation and truth-clarification. “Practicing as if one has just started” is a goal many strive for.
On May 13, the 22nd anniversary of Falun Gong's introduction to the public and Master Li Hongzhi's 63rd birthday, over 7,000 practitioners from more than 50 countries and 200 regions around the world attended the 2014 New York Conference at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Master Li made an appearance at the conference and spoke to practitioners for an hour and 40 minutes.
It was the first time that such a conference was held on a weekday. A conference and other public activities held during the week provide a better opportunity for the public to witness Falun Dafa flourishing in the United States and around the world, despite the brutal persecution that continues in China.
On October 16, the 2014 San Francisco conference was held at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in downtown San Francisco. Master Li Hongzhi lectured to the 4,000 practitioners present for about two hours and ten minutes.
From November 8 to 16, the 11th China online conference was held on the Minghui website. Fifty-four sharing articles were published. They represented the sincere joy of practitioners who knew that they had helped their fellow Chinese understand the persecution, the beauty of the Falun Gong practice, and what it is like to be free of the Party's mind control. These results outweighed the risk and suffering incurred in the process of raising awareness of the persecution in China.
The other two large-scale conferences were held in Madrid, Spain on October 5 and Taipei, Taiwan on November 9. Practitioners from 35 European countries assembled in Spain, and over 7,500 practitioners gathered in Taipei.
As Shen Yun Performing Arts' reputation for reviving traditional Chinese culture is on the rise outside of China, its popularity also reaches far into mainland China, where the company has yet to perform as part of its annual global tour.
Groups of mainland Chinese, including government officials, entrepreneurs, and artists, were observed in Shen Yun performances in South Korea and Taiwan—many had seen the show on DVDs distributed by Falun Gong practitioners in China. Touched by the purity and positive energy of the performance, they took the opportunity to see Shen Yun live during their trips outside of China.
In addition to those who go abroad to watch a Shen Yun show, many people in China also eagerly look for Shen Yun DVDs.