2014 in Review: People Awakening upon Learning the Facts (Part 1)
Table of Contents
Prologue1. Greetings and Congratulations from China2. Practicing Falun Gong is Completely Legal3. The Persecution is Running into a Dead End(To be continued in a future article)4. People Learning the Facts and Awakening5. Thousands of Signatures Opposing the Suppression6. Great Momentum of Quitting the CCP7. Consequences of Persecuting Falun GongConclusion
Another year has passed. Looking back on 2014, one may be amazed by the evolving state of the 15-year-long persecution against Falun Gong in China.
Here are some numbers: among accounts published on Minghui, more than 500 lawyers defended detained practitioners in 26 provinces. Citizens gave thousands of signatures with fingerprints in support of practitioners in various regions, including Beijing, Hebei, Henan, Tianjin, Shandong, Jilin, and Hunan. The movement of quitting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gained even more momentum: 189 million people had separated themselves from the regime and its affiliated organization by the end of last year.
All these point to one trend: this persecution, one that targets the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance, is losing steam. Meanwhile, more people have come to recognize the CCP's propaganda for what it is, and withdrew their involvement in suppressing Falun Gong practitioners. All the lies will surface sooner or later, and history belongs to those who follow their conscience.
1. Greetings and Congratulations from China
In the early days of the persecution, many people were misled by the hate propaganda from the Communist Party. With hostility towards practitioners, a large number of them remained numb amid the brutal persecution.
As practitioners have put in great efforts to tell people what Falun Gong really is, many began to question the Party's propaganda and became more receptive of facts about the persecution. As a result, they started to support practitioners and oppose the persecution in various ways.
This can be seen from congratulatory greetings published around traditional Chinese holidays, such as the Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Lantern Festival. Thousands of greetings—including of beautiful drawings or pictures as well as poems—pour into Minghui every year.
Sent by practitioners and everyday people from all walks of life, they expressed sincere greetings and gratitude towards Falun Gong and its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi. Although these greetings may seem trivial in the free world, they carry sincerity and warm words from a land where independent voices are muffled.
Below are some greetings published on Minghui for World Falun Dafa Day 2014, an annual celebration on May 13. They came from government employees, business owners, administrative staff, military personnel (both veteran and those in active service), the judicial system, law enforcement, university faculty, lawyers, and news media professionals.
All were sent by people who do not practice Falun Gong. Through beautiful pictures and touching words, they congratulated Mr. Li Hongzhi's birthday and wished all practitioners well.
Among them was an elderly man in his 90s from Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. As a CCP political officer for many years before retirement, he strongly opposed his family members' practicing Falun Gong. After hearing the facts, however, he not only renounced the Party, but also became respectful of Mr. Li Hongzhi and sent a greeting card to commemorate Falun Dafa Day.
Through family members who practice Falun Dafa, many came to know the positive effects Falun Gong has brought to society. One of them in Ningyang County of Shandong Province wrote, “Dear Mr. Li: in the past 10+ years, we have witnessed the high caliber of practitioners. That has helped us so much and made us feel fortunate to be their family.”
A legal professional in Shandong Province wrote that in this earthly world where morality was hardly valued, “It was compassionate Master Li who introduced the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance for people to regain their conscience.”
One person in Fukang, Xinjiang Province wrote that the CCP's totalitarian rule contributed to the moral degeneration in mainland China, and that “only Falun Gong and its practitioners give us hope for the future.”
A business owner agreed, “From practitioners, we have witnessed that Falun Gong is wonderful and sacred, and it sheds light on the future of mankind. That is also why we all quit the Party.”
A large number of them highlighted the harm the persecution has created. One officer working in Heze District, Shandong Province wrote that the persecution of Falun Gong pushed a large portion of the population against the innocent. “By undermining China's traditional culture and moral values, the suppression led to a catastrophe not only in China, but also across the world.”
A military officer in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province commented that the CCP has brought harm to China ever since it came into existence. He called on people with a conscience to expose the vicious Party so that China can regain righteousness and vigor.
A railroad employee wrote that people had awakened after learning the blood debts the CCP has incurred, and that “the CCP will surely be disintegrated, and that is the only path towards the future.”
Through recent history, many people also became more aware about the nature of the Communist Party. A group of retired police officers wrote, “After reading the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, we realized that we had been deceived by the Party's lies. We have now woken up from the nightmare and come to know that Falun Gong is laying a foundation for the future.”
A military staff member wrote, “The persecution of Falun Gong by the CCP has triggered anger and opposition both inside China and from international society. People know what is right and what is wrong, and they have paid closer attention to calling to end the brutality. The CCP's regime will not last long.”
Several faculty members at Qufu Normal University in Shandong Province said they had been deceived by the communist propaganda and misunderstood Falun Gong. “That not only affected us, but has jeopardized China as a whole. Fortunately, Falun Gong practitioners told us what had happened, making us gradually learn the truth. Now we are able to see through the tactics of Jiang Zemin's regime and decided to separate ourselves from the Party.”
In addition to quitting Communist Party organizations, many people talked about Falun Gong as well as atrocities the Party had committed. One retired officer from Shandong Iron & Steel Group wrote, “For those who are still influenced by the hate propaganda, we will tell them the nature of the Party so that they would stop sinking with the regime.” The officer expressed gratitude toward Mr. Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong.
A number of military staff members retired or joined other professions so that they would no longer remain as onlookers. One wrote, “The CCP has caused a catastrophe for people both inside and outside China. We will expose this to more people so that the truth will be spread further.”
The president of a company in Baidaihe in Hebei Province wrote that his employees were blessed by Falun Gong once they learned the truth and chose to support righteousness. He added, “We've become more open-minded, more tolerant of one another, and the workplace is much better now.”
All the employees from a privately-owned steel company wrote to congratulate Falun Dafa Day, “We're very thankful for what Master Li had brought to this world, and we hope all people can know the truth.”
One navy researcher wrote, “Righteousness will prevail, and people will be held responsible for their actions.” He said he was thankful for Falun Gong and hoped Mr. Li could return China sooner.
“This is a great moment,” a newspaper staff member in Shandong Province wrote about Falun Dafa Day, “We and our family and friends all want to express our gratitude towards Master Li.”
A selection of greeting cards published on Minghui for World Falun Dafa Day 2014
2. Practicing Falun Gong Is Completely Legal
The suppression of Falun Gong has reached almost every corner of Chinese society, but most people fail to question its legitimacy, as it is mandated by the communist regime. Recently, a lawyer in China wrote to Minghui emphasizing that no Chinese law had officially banned Falun Gong; to the contrary, the Chinese Constitution permits freedom of belief and freedom of speech.
According to the lawyer, many people involved in the persecution have actually violated China's Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law. After all, practitioners have not committed any crime in holding their beliefs, nor in their efforts to inform others about Falun Gong and the persecution.
That is why Mr. Xi Yanyi, a renowned human rights lawyer in Beijing, once said to law enforcement officers regarding their involvement in the persecution, “You may not be prosecuted today, but that doesn't mean you will not be prosecuted in the future.”
Mr. Xi is not alone. According to information published on Minghui in the first half of 2014, among 312 trials against Falun Gong practitioners, 147 (47%) had lawyers plead not guilty. These cases, which involved 320 practitioners and 345 lawyers, covered 26 provinces or provincial-level cities in China. Below are some examples.
When Mao Hongwei, an attorney from Guangdong Province, defended Liaoning Province practitioner Ms. Zheng Shuyun, he emphasized that Ms. Zheng's belief in Falun Gong legally entitled her to own Falun Gong books and materials. When the prosecutor mentioned that Ms. Zheng had been previously detained in a labor camp, Mao rebutted that because the detention term had not been decided through legal procedures and Ms. Zheng was tortured there, that detention “was a violation of the Chinese Constitution and Chinese law.”
That the charges against practitioners have no legal basis often becomes clear once lawyers present the facts. For example, when officials in Inner Mongolia tried Mr. Song Bingfu and his wife Ms. Zhang Ping for distributing Shen Yun DVDs, the attorney requested to play the DVDs that the prosecutor presented as evidence. Upon seeing this classical dance performance that represented traditional Chinese culture, the judge and the prosecutor became speechless.
Similarly, when practitioner Ms. Luo Jianrong was tried in Jiangxi Province on January 17, 2014, her lawyer's two-hour defense won a round of applause and cheers from those in attendance. The presiding judge and prosecutor had no rebuttal and looked defeated.
As a result of such defense arguments, court staff sometimes became supportive of practitioners, despite their orders to sentence Falun Gong practitioners regardless of the law. For example, after Mr. Song Zhenhai in Hebei Province was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for distributing Shen Yun DVDs, his lawyer reiterated the freedom of belief and the lack of legal basis for the persecution. An appeals court voided the judgment and ordered a new trial.
Defense lawyers appointed by the state have changed from compliance with the persecution to defending practitioners' innocence once they learned what was really going on. When Ms. Gao Sujuan, Mr. Tang Chao and five other practitioners in Liaoning Province were put on trial in September 2014, Mr. Tang's court-appointed lawyer first pleaded guilty. Ms. Guo's two lawyers—hired by her family—asserted that she broke no laws by citing the constitution, criminal statutes, and international conventions. Mr. Tang's lawyer then changed the plea for his client to not-guilty, stating, “Tang’s acts did not constitute those of a criminal, based on the law. He is innocent!”
3. The Persecution is Running into a Dead End
Because the persecution against Falun Gong is unconstitutional and against the people's will, it often ran into problems and the CCP persistently looked for new ways to intensify the persecution. But as the old saying goes: goodness always prevails.
Four prominent lawyers, Mr. Jiang Tianyong, Zhang Junjie, Wang Cheng and Tang Jitian were arrested on March 21 along with seven Falun Gong practitioners as they were preparing to defend practitioners detained at the Qinglongshan Brainwashing Center. At least three out of the seven practitioners were left in critical condition due to mistreatment. The four lawyers were beaten in the process: among them, Lawyer Zhang Junjie was released on March 27 and had sustained three broken ribs.
When a group of concerned Chinese citizens protested with a hunger strike and candlelight vigil outside the Qixing Detention Center, a total of 23 people, including three additional lawyers, were arrested on March 29, 2014. A statement of protest was co-signed by over 60 Chinese lawyers from various areas, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Sichuan, Henan, Hebei, Guangdong, Shandong, and Yunnan Provinces.
This drew broad attention from Amnesty International, the U.S. State Deparment, and many other government agencies. However, officials continued to threaten the lawyers. Even after the trial started in December 2014, officials tried many ways to impede the lawyers, such as frequently changing the trial date, detaining them, revoking defense permits, and forcing family members to replace them with state-appointed lawyers. “There is no way for us to continue the defense. The court's violations of law are way too severe. The entire trial is illegal. There is no justice at all,” said one of the lawyers, Wang Yu.
In another case of legal obstruction, when Mr. Xu Xianda and Ms. Huang Xiaoxia, a couple in Heilongjiang Province, was tried in September 2014, officials not only barred their family from attending the trial but also ejected the lawyer from the courtroom.
When practitioner Ms. Feng Xiumei was tried in November 2014 in Liaoning Province, court officials prohibited the lawyer from accessing case files or meeting Ms. Feng, and forcibly removed the lawyer from the courtroom during the trial.
Ms. Kong Hongyun, a medical professional in Hebei Province who formerly operated her own clinic, was forced out of her job and arrested numerous times. In the end, officials postponed her trial three times due to lack of evidence and held it in a gym at the detention center.
Unlike Party propaganda against Falun Gong broadcast in public, officials often keep trials secret, even from defendants' families. When Luzhou City Court in Sichuan Province tried two practitioners in November 2014, officials scheduled the trial inside a detention center, placed three checkpoints outside, and mobilized close to a hundred local government officials to block family members and onlookers.
In some cases, lawyers are even physically attacked. After the trial of Ms. Gu Zucui, a practitioner in Luzhou, Sichuan Province, ended on November 12, 2014, her lawyer left the courtroom and was immediately surrounded by government officials and 610 Office staff. As the gang humiliated and insulted the lawyer, one of them grabbed his glasses and stomped on them. The officials cheered as the lawyer walked away without a word. One of the perpetrators said, “If he fights back, we'll beat him until he never dares to come back to Pengzhou.”
In Jilin Province, a group of practitioners had been illegally detained for almost 14 months. Although their trial was scheduled for December 2014, officials from various agencies blocked their attorneys in many ways:
1) Court officials refused to approve the lawyers' defense permits and denied access to case files.2) Prosecutors repeatedly discouraged the practitioners and their families from hiring lawyers, offering lesser charges in exchange.3) Detention center officials ordered a detained practitioner to stop using lawyers from other cities and threatened, “We have a death quota of five in this detention center every year.”4) When attorneys went to the detention center's supervisory agency and pointed out that long-term detention was illegal, one officer said , “We know this is over-term detention, but there is nothing we can do.”
Both Laozi, a sage in ancient China, and Greek playwright Euripides once said, "Those whom gods wish to destroy, he first makes mad." That may coincide well with the persecution of Falun Gong in China, as each person involved is making a choice.
(To be continued)