(Minghui.org) Editors’ note: Propaganda surrounding the “1,400 deaths” has played a central role in instigating hatred and animosity toward Falun Gong in China.

Although Falun Gong was widely practiced in China throughout the 1990s, it was only after the persecution began in July 1999 that authorities alleged that “the practice of Falun Gong has led to over 1,400 deaths” of its followers. This claim has been repeated by Communist Party publications and spokespersons, undermining support for Falun Gong practitioners who are regularly victims of severe rights violations.

While the burden of proof lays squarely on Chinese Communist Party authorities, evidence was never furnished. More importantly, no independent investigation was allowed. Where individuals have managed to investigate, cases of alleged Falun-Gong-induced “deaths” were found to be fabricated, and no such “deaths” ever occurred outside of communist China, where Falun Gong is practiced freely. 

How did the “1,400 Alleged Deaths” come about? Minghui.org recently obtained insider information for one of these cases – the death of Shi Zengshan’s second daughter from Shijiashuiying Village, Taoxu Town, Mengyin County, Linyi City, Shandong Province.

After eight years in the army, Shi Zengshan retired to become an accountant and secretary of the Chinese Communist Party secretary in his village. Later, he quit this job due to heart disease and gastritis. His wife Ma Qinglan suffered from gastritis, enteritis, arthritis and uterine tumors. She had surgery in 1995, but the operation didn’t heal well, resulting in a large, painful lump at the incision. Wind could easily penetrate through her stomach, so she wore cotton-padded vests in winter and summer, and wasn’t fit to do housework.

On January 28, 1997, both Shi and his wife watched the nine-day lectures of Falun Gong upon the recommendation of a friend. On the fifth day, Ms. Ma’s unhealed incision no longer hurt, and the large lump disappeared. Mr. Shi’s heart disease and gastritis also vanished. These wonderful personal experiences motivated both of them to continue practicing Falun Gong.

Seven months after the onset of the persecution, on February 16, 2000, Li Changxiang, deputy chief of the Taoxu Police Station, rushed to Shi’s home with two police officers to arrest him. The two officers twisted Mr. Shi’s arms, and holding him in a chokehold, shoved him into the police car. Shi’s second daughter, who suffered from congenital heart disease, was present. Witnessing this sudden attack on her father, she fainted in shock. She was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment, but she died three days later.

The Mengyin County propaganda department, in order to gain political capital, organized a special group of people to fabricate accusations against Falun Gong. They alleged that Mr. Shi’s daughter practiced Falun Gong and that she died from refusing medication and injections. They asked Shi to cooperate with the local television station to read this script and record it for broadcasting.

Mr. Shi disagreed at first; he did not want to betray his conscience and tell a lie. To force him into submission, the town government organized a group of hit men. They stripped Shi of his clothes and hit him with a wooden chair. They used so much force that the chair broke. They continued to beat Shi with a wooden stick until he passed out. His ribs were broken, his face bruised purple and eyes bloody. No part of his body was left unharmed, and he could no longer lie down or get up without assistance. When he could no longer handle the beating, he compromised and cooperated with the TV station, resulting in never-ending regret for him.

A few months after the fabricated video was broadcast by Mengyin TV and Shandong TV Station in July 2000, a reporter was sent from China Central Television (the state-owned central broadcaster) to Shi’s village to film the story about his daughter. The program would be used as evidence that “Falun Gong does not allow people to take medicine and have injections.”

When Mr. Shi received the notification that the CCTV reporter was coming to interview him, he left, as he could not bear to tell more lies about Falun Gong. The practice had brought him good physical and mental health, and his conscience wouldn’t allow him to frame it again. The town’s cadres panicked as Shi walked away, as they might get into trouble if the reporter couldn’t finish the task. 

When the reporter told his supervisor that “Shi refused to do the interview,” he was told, “Find him at all costs!” The reporter waited for three days while the village cadres searched high and low. They went through the neighborhood and talked to friends, close relatives, and distant relatives, but still could not find Mr. Shi.

Shi’s wife said to the reporter, “Why is he hiding from you? It is because the story about our daughter was fabricated. My husband was forced to tell a lie after he was savagely beaten and forced to pay a 16,000-yuan fine. Our daughter was scared to death by the police. We are not willing to deceive people anymore and we do not want to do any more wrong to Falun Gong and Master Li, the founder of Falun Gong.”

The reporter eventually found Mr. Shi, but ended up only writing a few lines for his report: “Looking at his orchard, Shi feels bittersweet. He’s happy to have a good harvest, but said that he’ll never see his second daughter again.”

The reporter also said that many elderly neighbors in his residential complex all said that Falun Gong is good, just as Mr. Shi told him.