(Minghui.org) The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been persecuting Falun Gong, an ancient meditation practice based on Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, since July 1999. According to information obtained by Minghui, in the year 2021 alone, 132 practitioners were confirmed to have died as a result of the persecution, 5,886 were arrested, 1,184 sentenced, and at least 10,527 were reported harassed by officials in 2021 or earlier.
But this is only part of the picture, given the tight censorship in China. The actual scale and severity of the CCP’s persecution could be much worse. In addition to detention, torture, and forced labor, for example, the CCP has conducted forced organ harvesting from living people for profit, with Falun Gong practitioners as the main victims. The death toll from this atrocity is unknown but is thought to be in the tens of thousands or more, and it still continues today.
In this article, we will analyze how the CCP abuses the judiciary system to implement its top-down, nationwide persecution policy.
The CCP’s Persecution Apparatus
The CCP’s persecution apparatus consists of three major components: the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), the 610 Office, and the law enforcement and judiciary system. The PLAC is the command center and policy-making organ for the persecution. Together with the 610 Leadership Team, it sets the policy and oversees the overall suppression.
The 610 Office, established on June 10, 1999 with the sole purpose of persecuting Falun Gong, is the executive organ. It is an extralegal agency given the power to override the Constitution and laws of China. It plans, directs, and implements the nationwide persecution. The Central PLAC and Central 610 Leadership Team oversee the Central 610 Office.
The actual implementer includes the entire law enforcement and judicial system – Public Security (the police), the Procuratorate (public prosecutors), the courts, and the Justice Bureaus – as well as other agencies such as the CCP’s Propaganda Department, State Security Department, Foreign Affairs Department, military, armed police, and so on.
Among those agencies, the Domestic Security Bureau within the Public Security Department is the main force that carries out most arrests, harassment, and monitoring of Falun Gong practitioners. The Domestic Security Bureau is Bureau No. 1 in the Public Security Department, and local public security units always have a domestic security group within it.
The Domestic Security Bureau was originally called the Political Security Bureau, with the main goal to “suppress counter-revolutionists,” or to suppress political dissidents, organizations the CCP declares illegal, human rights defenders, religious practitioners, and people petitioning against unfair treatment by government agencies.
The Domestic Security group has taken Falun Gong practitioners as one of its main targets since the CCP started the persecution. It tracks, monitors, and arrests practitioners, and also reviews any local Falun Gong cases brought by other groups. For example, the Domestic Security Brigade of the Public Security Bureau of Jincheng City, Shanxi Province, specifies in its duties that it is “responsible for commanding and coordinating the handling of the Falun Gong organization and other qigong organizations harmful to the society; organizing investigation work on special cases with a focus on digging out the Falun Gong underground command system; and building up secret forces in the fight against Falun Gong as well as improving intelligence gathering.”
Therefore, both the 610 Office and the Domestic Security group are illegally set up by the CCP to persecute Falun Gong and other people.
Overseeing the law enforcement and judicial system and indirectly ordering various other agencies, the CCP’s PLAC was able to command over 10 million staff members with a huge budget. This setup even created system problems within the CCP’s own organization. The PLAC was able to build up its power and grow into the “Second Power Center” within the CCP, where Zhou Yongkang served as former chief of the Central PLAC.
The Persecution Was Launched without Legal Basis
Jiang Zemin personally initiated the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999 when he was the CCP head. At that time, around 100 million (the CCP estimated 70 million) people were practicing Falun Gong. Envious of Falun Gong’s popularity and worried that people would believe in Falun Gong rather than the CCP, Jiang mobilized the CCP machine to launch the persecution in July 1999.
However, from the very beginning, the CCP didn’t have legal justification for its action. Jiang gave an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro during his visit to France in October 1999. He slandered Falun Gong as a “cult” without any factual basis. The next day, the CCP mouthpiece, People’s Daily declared Falun Gong a “cult” by quoting Jiang’s words. Then the CCP organs pushed that to the whole of China. However, the state apparatus should not follow suit simply because it was what the CCP head said or what the People's Daily commentary said – neither of those entities are the law.
There is no legal basis for taking the CCP top leader’s words to declare something illegal and then telling people that the state has declared something illegal. This was purely “rule by the CCP,” but not rule of law. In fact, there has never been any law in China that prohibits Falun Gong, not a single one. Therefore, from the legal perspective, practicing Falun Gong is legal in China.
Jiang personally gave direct orders for the persecution, including to “ruin [Falun Gong practitioners’] reputations, bankrupt [them] financially, and destroy [them] physically;” he also said that to beat Falun Gong practitioners to death is fine and that death would be counted as suicide; and, “cremate the body without checking identity or cause of death.”
All of these orders of Jiang’s bypassed the law. In fact, not only did they violate basic human rights and humanity’s moral codes, but they also violated the law completely. Unfortunately, the CCP’s standard practice is that its apparatus takes Jiang’s orders as the guiding principles, while ignoring the law.
Jiang later ordered the live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners for profit. The military hospitals and armed police’s hospitals are the main sites where this forced organ harvesting is conducted. The China Tribunal in London issued the judgment that the CCP is guilty of organ harvesting against Falun Gong practitioners. Both the U.S. Congress and the E.U. Parliament passed resolutions to condemn the CCP’s heinous crime.
Judicial Processes Violating the Law
Though the CCP claims to follow the “rule of law,” its judicial processes in persecuting Falun Gong violate the law.
I. Re-education Through Labor
Re-education Through Labor was a main method that the CCP used to persecute Falun Gong up to 2013. This forced labor system gave the police the power to send people to labor camps without having to go through the normal judiciary procedure such as a court trial, judge’s ruling, and the appeal process.
The guards at the camps applied various tortures to Falun Gong practitioners to force them to “transform” (to renounce their belief) – as the CCP provided big reward incentives tied to the “transformation rate.” Many practitioners were tortured to death or disabled as a result of this policy.
Under both domestic and overseas pressure, the CCP was forced to abolish the re-education through labor system in 2013. However, the persecution of Falun Gong didn’t stop. The CCP, under its false claim of “rule of law,” switched to using the judicial system to try and sentence Falun Gong practitioners. The prisons carried out the same tortures on practitioners as did the forced labor camps.
II. Lack of Legal Basis During Court Trial
Among all the laws in China, there is no single article that defines Falun Gong as a cult, and neither is there any article that states that practicing Falun Gong is a crime. The principle of Chinese Criminal Law states that there be “no conviction without an express provision of law.” So the arrest, trial, and sentencing of Falun Gong practitioners are all illegal.
The 12th Plenary Meeting of the Ninth National People’s Congress Standing Committee published “The Decision on Banning Cult Organizations, and Preventing and Punishing Cult Activities” on October 30, 1999. Importantly, it did not specify that Falun Gong is a cult organization to ban.
The Supreme Procuratorate and the Supreme Court published a Legal Interpretation of the People’s Congress Standing Committee’s Decision. The Legal Interpretation called Falun Gong a “cult” and said that the Decision served as the “thought and legal weapon” in the current fight against Falun Gong. However, this interpretation is questionable, as the original Decision document did not mention Falun Gong.
Many court rulings cited the Legal Interpretation of the Supreme Procuratorate and the Supreme Court as the basis to convict Falun Gong and the measure to decide prison terms. However, the Supreme Procuratorate and the Supreme Court are not legislation organs, so their interpretation cannot be used as the law.
Another common legal “basis” used by the CCP’s judicial system to sentence Falun Gong practitioners is Article 300 of the Criminal Law, which states that anyone using or organizing a cult to undermine implementation of the law shall be prosecuted to the fullest extent of law.
According to the principle of criminal law theory, an act is considered to be a crime if it has at least three elements: mens rea, actus reus, and concurrence. However, in applying Article 300, Falun Gong cases do not contain these elements at all.
Mens Rea (guilty mental state): Which law did Falun Gong practitioners intend to undermine the implementation of?
Actus Reus (conduct): Which law did Falun Gong practitioners undermine the implementation of?
Concurrence: Since Falun Gong practitioners neither intended nor conducted actions to undermine the implementation of law, concurrence does not exist either.
Therefore, Falun Gong practitioners have not violated Article 300 of the Criminal Law.
Some staff members in the CCP’s judiciary system even claimed that they only follow politics but not the law. For example, Deputy Secretary Liu of the Xichang City PLAC in Sichuan Province blatantly told the practitioners' defense attorneys, “Don’t talk to me about the law, we don’t talk about the law.” Feng Xiaolin, a judge for the Qian'an City Court in Hebei Province, when questioned by the families of Falun Gong practitioners, confessed that Falun Gong cases do not follow the law. Director Ma of the Nong'an County 610 Office, Jilin Province, said, “Here we say what we want. We talk about politics but not the law. You can sue wherever you want.”
When some judges could not justify the mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners from a legal basis, they said there were “internal documents” on criminalizing and sentencing practitioners. But they did not provide the “internal documents.” When a court does not follow the law, but follows the CCP’s political direction or “internal documents” to convict Falun Gong practitioners, isn’t this a naked political persecution?
III. The PLAC and the 610 Office that Control Trials and Sentencing
The courts in China do not have judicial independence. They are completely controlled by the PLACs and the 610 Offices. The PLAC and the 610 Office operate in a black box. For many cases concerning Falun Gong practitioners, they would secretly decide on the prison term before the court trial and then just let the trial take place as a formality and let the judge announce the pre-set sentence.
It seems that the PLAC and the 610 Office have set up “internal rules” on sentencing measures. A judge once said that “practitioners will be sentenced to 7 years if they called out loud ‘Falun Dafa is good.’” The PLAC’s and the 610 Office’s policy and internal documents have no legal authority in convicting Falun Gong practitioners or sentencing them. That the courts follow them clearly shows that the CCP’s will is above the law.
There are also other illegal practices such as the police creating and presenting false evidence, the courts pressuring attorneys not to enter a not-guilty defense for Falun Gong practitioners, even forcing practitioners to dismiss their attorneys, and the police arresting attorneys for defending practitioners.
The CCP machine in the persecution of Falun Gong is still running. The CCP has created countless wrongful legal cases and persecuted countless Falun Gong practitioners. This shows the world the CCP’s true nature of putting its own will above the law. China’s legal system is “rule by the CCP” instead of “rule by law.” It is far from “rule of law.”
The CCP has also expanded its persecution methods and its “rule by the CCP” practice to persecute the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the people of Hong Kong, practitioners of other religions, those who care about human rights, and everyone else in China.
The only way to stop the CCP’s abuse of power against the Chinese people and to end the disasters the CCP brings to the Chinese people, is to end the CCP. Then the new China can truly follow the “rule of law” and bring justice back to Falun Gong practitioners and all Chinese people.
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