Hebei Province Authorities Surreptitiously Photograph Falun Gong Practitioners
(Minghui.org) Authorities in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province have been using various excuses to take photos of local Falun Gong practitioners without their consent. The practitioners suspected that the photos might be used for certain quotas in the “Zero-out” harassment campaign, or building a database for further persecution.
The “Zero-out” campaign, which started around March 2020, was a coordinated effort aimed at forcing all Falun Gong practitioners on the government's blacklists to renounce their faith. Many practitioners were ordered to sign statements renouncing Falun Gong or had their photos taken, to be used for identity verification purposes, during the harassment.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual and meditation discipline that has been targeted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.
Officials from the Chongli District Healthcare Bureau, district hospital, and security department visited three retired practitioners in December 2020. The officials brought gifts to the practitioners and said they were conducting a welfare check. While asking the practitioners to sign forms acknowledging having received the gifts, they took photos of them.
The officials claimed they were visiting every retired employee of the organizations, but the practitioners later confirmed that the authorities only visited Falun Gong practitioners, and one of the officials who participated in the visits revealed that they were merely going through formalities to satisfy their superiors.
Some of the practitioners working in the Chongli District Education Bureau were also harassed and pressured to sign statements to renounce Falun Gong. When they refused to comply, the authorities took their photos during a meeting.
In another incident, one practitioner working at the Chongli District No. 1 Middle School had his photos taken by a person who was pretending to take a selfie.