Tag Archives: Falun Gong

TESTIMONIAL: ‘The Sky Was Falling’ Memories of Growing Up Under Religious Persecution in China

EVA FU 
July 20, 2020

Jiang Lianjiao has been an outlier since birth.

As the fourth child in her family, she was not supposed to be born under China’s one-child policy. She had to be hidden in her grandmother’s home from the time she was one month old. She called her parents “aunt and uncle” until age 7 in order to evade authorities’ suspicions. Her parents spent all their savings—a big sack of pennies and dimes—to bribe local officials so that she could live at home with them.

After she was reunited with her parents at age 7, she began practicing a spiritual discipline called Falun Gong with them. Each day, around 30 people would join Jiang and her family in their apartment building’s courtyard to practice the meditative exercises together. Jiang, her sister, and parents traveled via boat to her father’s hometown in nearby Wufeng Township to demonstrate the meditation to fellow villagers. She and her sister were always in the front.

jiang lianjiao sister
Falun Gong practitioner Jiang Lianjiao (R), pictured with her sister, in her hometown in Hubei Province, China, in this file photo. (Provided to The Epoch Times)

That blissful life came to an end overnight.

On July 20, 1999, Jiang, then 8 years old, found herself and her family targeted in a nationwide campaign to extinguish Falun Gong. Some practitioners who worked for the state were tipped off about plans to arrest and detain adherents. Despite this, dozens still showed up at Jiang’s courtyard for the exercises, undeterred. Police cars soon appeared, and officers brought everyone to the local police station. Her father was detained for a month.

The persecution was initiated by then-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin (no relation), who considered Falun Gong’s enormous popularity a threat to the Party’s rule.

By the late 1990s, up to 100 million people in China were practicing Falun Gong, an ancient practice with moral teachings centered around the core principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Over the following two decades, Minghui.org, a clearinghouse dedicated to documenting the persecution, would identify more than 4,500 adherents who died under torture. Due to the authorities’ extensive efforts to censor information around the topic, the true death toll is likely much higher.

Epoch Times Photo

Home Turned Into a Prison

The abrupt turn of events made little sense to young Jiang and her family, nor to millions of other Falun Gong practitioners across the country, who were drawn to the practice for its healing benefits and calming effects but now faced arrests for their beliefs.

In 2000, Jiang’s family of six, along with about 100 other local practitioners, went to Beijing to appeal the Chinese Communist Party’s decision to suppress their faith. Almost as soon as they unfurled a banner reading “Falun Dafa Is Good” in Tiananmen Square, the police pinned her mother to the ground and kicked her as Jiang stood by, trembling in fear. They were dragged into police vans—her 16-year-old elder sister pulled in by her braids. A police officer waved a baton around, hitting Jiang on the head, causing her to faint.

Following this appeal, Jiang’s father was sentenced to three years in prison, while her mother got two years. Her 16-year-old sister was also detained for a month. Jiang, her older brother, and younger sister were left to fend for themselves at home. The eldest was just 12 at the time. Fearing they would run away, their building manager routinely locked them inside the house, only unbolting the door in the morning to escort the children to school.

shiyan jiang lianjiao hometown
Jiang Lianjiao’s hometown of Shiyan City in Hubei Province, China, in 2011. (Provided to The Epoch Times)

During that time, Jiang and her siblings often struggled to find enough food. To stave off hunger pangs, Jiang would fill herself with water or eat wild plants in the fields nearby.

The family was slowly reunited after Jiang’s older sister and mother were released from detention. In 2003, her mother and older sister saw Jiang’s father for the first time in three years. He was still imprisoned and due to be released in a month. The formerly healthy man looked bony and had to be carried out by six men. He had missing teeth. His legs were crushed from repeated torture sessions, which left him on crutches. He had forgotten how to speak due to prolonged isolation. The torture was meant to “transform” him—to coerce him into giving up his faith.

It was a pitiable sight and devastating for the family, who had relied on him as the breadwinner.

It felt like “the sky was falling,” Jiang said.

Jiang Liyu, Jiang’s younger sister, was arrested in 2017 for putting up stickers with messages supportive of the practice. She is still in detention.

Before the persecution, her father was a top surgeon at a local hospital in Shiyan City in central China’s Hubei Province, and her mother worked as an administrative officer. After they were released from detention, the hospital slashed their pay to 250 yuan (less than $36) per month—less than a quarter of their colleagues’ earnings. Her father was demoted to toilet cleaner, while her mother was made to launder the patients’ bedsheets by hand.

To save money, the family turned off fans in the summer despite sweltering heat; the children wove bamboo curtains they sold for 1.1 yuan ($0.16) each. They only bought the cheapest food possible: rice contaminated with mice feces, and vegetables that were about to spoil.

Epoch Times Photo

Web of Lies

Over the past 20 years, the regime has broadcast damaging propaganda through state-controlled outlets in an attempt to vilify the practice and its adherents. The most infamous was a staged self-immolation performance on the eve of the Lunar New Year in 2001. This incident helped swing Chinese popular opinion against the practice.

The web of lies permeated the very fabric of Chinese society.

Annita Bao
Annita Bao in a photo taken in 2017.
(Provided to The Epoch Times)

Annita Bao, a 30-year-old jewelry designer in New York and Falun Gong practitioner, fled China in 2016. She recalled that in her hometown of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, all students at her elementary school were forced to sign their names on a huge banner that denounced the practice.

“It’s a show” to create the impression that the entire Wuhan population had turned their backs on Falun Gong practitioners, Bao said.

The neighborhood committee officers also frequently visited her home and inquired about whether she was still practicing, in the name of “caring about her academic performance.”

If the family refused to give up the practice, they warned, they would make a public announcement at Bao’s school to humiliate her. For years, Bao’s family kept the lights off in the living room so as not to alert the police that they were home.

Lü Zhongyang, currently an undergraduate at the University at Buffalo, said students at his elementary school in China were forced to watch and listen to defamatory videos and broadcasts. Similar propaganda was disseminated in school textbooks throughout the years.

The air was “depressing,” Lü said, “as if life may fall into pieces anytime.” His father, a news editor in Beijing, spent about four years in jail for writing on currency notes messages raising awareness about the persecution.

When Jiang’s parents were first detained, their hometown broadcaster, Shiyan Radio and Television Station, sought out Jiang and her siblings, saying that it wished to film some footage of them to show their parents that the siblings were doing all right.

Only after a neighbor came across the segment on television and told Jiang about it did the siblings realize they had been fooled: The videos were part of a propaganda program to describe how “obstinate” their parents were in practicing Falun Gong, and it claimed the state was taking care of the children, Jiang said.

“How can they do this—creating rumors by telling us lies?” Jiang said, calling the tactics “inhumane.” “Not only did they persecute [my parents], they also went out of their way to deceive the public. … It was extremely shameless.”

character formation wuhan
A character formation event involving 5,000 Falun Gong practitioners, forming the Chinese characters for “truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” the core principles of Falun Gong, in Wuhan, China, in 1998. Annita Bao attended the event when she was a young child.
(Minghui.org)

Bittersweet

If fear was a recurring theme for these practitioners as they grew up under the shadow of persecution, today they try hard not to let it define them.

Jiang, whose great-grandfather was driven to madness during the Cultural Revolution for his belief in Daoism, vowed that “the adversity won’t crush my spirit.” The series of persecutions her family has experienced over generations, she said, has allowed her to see the regime’s true face and has motivated her to tell more people about the ongoing persecution in China.

“The damage the Chinese Communist Party has inflicted is not just about one generation … nor one kind of people,” said Jiang, who has since escaped from China. Submitting to the regime’s scare tactics would only encourage the authorities to act more out of hand. Only when you know the true situation can one emerge stronger, she said.

annita bao design
A drawing by Annita Bao after her parents’ release in 2018, which she says conveys her hope for the family to live a more carefree life. (Provided to The Epoch Times)

Like Jiang, Bao took up the practice when she was seven. She said her past experience has given her a “sense of mission.”

In her approach to designing jewelry, that translates to a strive for perfection while not emphasizing material benefits, she said.

“The more the [Party] thinks we are weak, the more we need to prove them wrong,” she said, adding that she took challenges as opportunities to elevate her character. “He who laughs last laughs best.”

Follow Eva on Twitter: @EvaSailEast

Falun Gong Adherents in Hong Kong Worry That Beijing’s Security Law Could Threaten Religious Freedom

 FRANK FANG
June 10th, 2020

Editors note: For more info on the persecution of Falun Gong/ Falun Dafa and anyone (alt media) who defends the practice by the Chinese Communist Party and its international affiliates, feel free to read The Epoch Times, Falun Gong, Edge of Wonder and the Sloppy Smear Campaign Against Them.

Hong Kong adherents of Falun Gong voiced concerns about their personal safety and basic rights upon China’s implementation of a national security law, during a recent closed-door online roundtable hosted by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice with meditative exercises and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Since July 1999, when the Chinese regime launched a nationwide persecution, the practice has been banned and heavily suppressed in mainland China. Thousands have been detained in jails, brainwashing centers, and labor camps, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.

However, it is freely practiced by millions in over 100 countries and regions around the world, including Hong Kong.

Though the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong still guarantees freedoms not enjoyed in the mainland, including freedom of belief.

However, with China’s rubber-stamp legislature recently approving national security legislation for Hong Kong that would penalize activities considered related to subversion, secession, foreign intervention, among others, human rights groups expressed concern that the proposal would allow Beijing to crack down on dissent.

As with many dissidents, activists, and religious minorities, Falun Gong adherents in mainland China have been sentenced on charges such as subversion of state power—-a catch-call charge the regime often uses to silence its critics.

During the roundtable held on June 9, Ingrid Wu, spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, expressed worries that Beijing’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners would be extended into Hong Kong once the security law takes effect. The event took place just before the U.S. State Department released its annual religious freedom report.

“We are afraid that Falun Gong will be treated like those practitioners in the mainland,” Wu said in a phone interview, and “no longer be able to freely practice our faith in Hong Kong and could be arrested…at any time.” The suppression could also be extended to other religious groups in Hong Kong, she added.

Wu noted that since China’s persecution began, Beijing has “directly or indirectly” interfered with Falun Gong practitioners’ activities in Hong Kong.

For example, applications to hold events in governmental venues have been continually denied, while adherents have been repeatedly harassed by pro-Beijing organizations since 2013 when holding public events to raise awareness about China’s persecution.

Most recently, in September last year, a local adherent named Liao Qiulan was assaulted by people believed to be connected to the regime, as she was leaving a local police station to arrange details for an upcoming Falun Gong parade.

Wu told the roundtable that local adherents feared that their rights for peaceful assembly and protest would be further denied after the security law is put in place, because “the activities exposing the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] crimes can also be considered subversion of state power,” she recalled to The Epoch Times.

She expressed worries that local practitioners could face torture or forced organ harvesting, as mainland adherents do.

Since the 2000s, the Chinese regime has been harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, including Falun Gong adherents, to supply its transplant industry. A London-based China Tribunal, in its March report, concluded that the stated-sanctioned practice was still happening, despite claims by the regime that it would stop sourcing organs from executed prisoners and rely exclusively on a new voluntary donation system in 2015.

Wu urged U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback, to issue a statement “to address the threat to religious freedom in Hong Kong,” and called on the broader U.S. government to help secure Hongkongers’ rights to religious belief and assembly.

In response to Beijing’s proposal for Hong Kong, President Donald Trump said in late May that the United States would place sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials who erode the city’s autonomy, and revoke the city’s special trading status under U.S. law.

Beijing has not formally responded to Trump’s announcement, but has said it is intent on implementing the law in Hong Kong.

Wu said that despite the impending threat, adherents in the city will continue to raise awareness about the regime’s persecution, and how its “ideology is a threat to humankind.”

“We will continue to tell more people about its hideous crimes, about what Falun Gong is, and why the Chinese regime chooses to persecute us,” she said. “Only when we persist, will authoritarianism [be exposed and] rejected by all people.”Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer

SOURCE: https://www.theepochtimes.com/falun-gong-adherents-in-hong-kong-worry-that-beijings-security-law-could-threaten-religious-freedom_3384692.html#

The Epoch Times, Falun Gong, Edge of Wonder and the Sloppy Smear Campaign Against Them

Ryan DeLarme
September 4th, 2019

There are roughly six or seven umbrella corporations (soon to be less with the merger of Viacom and CBS) that own just about every news-source you can think of that is not purely independent. Consider the implications of that for a moment.

MSNBC appears to be running a smear campaign against The Epoch Times, one of their fastest growing competitors. On August 20th the network devoted a large chunk of air-time to a “carefully crafted picture based on false claims”. These claims include that The Epoch Times was created as an outlet to promote the controversial and highly oppressed Chinese spiritual movement “Falun Gong” or “Falun Dafa”.

It does appear to be true that a couple of the founders of The Epoch Times practiced Falun Gong (which is their inherent right as sovereign individuals), it is also true that the persecution and negative propaganda directed at the movement was a motivating factor in creating a truly free press for the Chinese people. The Chinese Communist Party has gone to great lengths to stamp out The Epoch Times. To many, the event of a publication being so targeted is indicative of being close to the mark with their reporting when it comes to political corruption.

Rachel Maddow led the charge with a few familiar strategies, things like biased character assassination, discrediting a target with a cheap, “guilty by association” smear, and painting a cruel and inaccurate picture of Falun Gong practitioners as wacky members of some bizarre cult. The truth is that Falun Gong has helped an incredible amount of people to improve their physical and mental health through Budhist Qigong practices that draw from Taoist traditions. The practice actually seems to encourage love, discipline, and mindfulness. In spite of this, it’s practitioners have endured some of the most harsh and dehumanizing treatment imaginable by the Chinese Government.

NBC, MSNBC, and Rachel Maddow are also equating The Epoch Times’ coverage of “Spygate” in an honest, nonpartisan way to being “Pro-Trump”. An interesting side-note is that MSNBC and Maddow’s coverage of the botched “Russian Collusion” narrative actually caused them to lose viewership to publications like The Epoch Times and other nonpartisan news outlets.

Editor-in-chief for U.S. editions of The Epoch Times Jasper Fakkert recently gave his perspective on the attacks:

Maddow and the NBC reporters dismiss but do not provide a single point of factual rebuttal to our extensive coverage of the actions by Obama-era officials to target the Trump campaign in 2016, which have become known as ‘Spygate.’

Instead, Maddow engages in a description of Spygate that borders on lunacy, saying the scandal is “something about Donald Trump saving America from ‘satanic Democratic pedophiles.’

The reality is that The Epoch Times has become a recognized leader in its coverage of the Spygate scandal. The tireless reporting by our team of reporters based on actual evidence—including court documents, congressional testimony, and interviews—has received wide acclaim from readers across the country and validation from other media outlets, including The New York Times, which has cited our coverage…

-Jasper Fakkert, Editor-in-Chief U.S. editions.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/why-nbc-msnbcs-reporting-on-the-epoch-times-is-textbook-fake-news_3051327.html

Another sloppy (perhaps intentional) slip up was linking the popular Youtube Channel “Edge of Wonder” to The Epoch Times. The hosts Ben Chasteen and Robert Counts are former employee’s at The Epoch Times who have left the publication to create their own show where they could talk about pretty much any taboo subject you can imagine. The hit piece did a sort of slight-of-reporting to make it seem like the Edge of Wonder videos were instead Epoch Times videos, citing some of the more easily condemn-able video titles that Edge of Wonder have put out in an attempt to further discredit the Epoch Times. You’d think that a journalist with the slightest bit of integrity would have taken the small amount of effort required to confirm the accuracy of their reporting, but that does not seem to be the case here.

Before the dust had even settled, The Edge of Wonder YouTube Channel was being dumped on by everyone’s favorite “conspiracy debunker” Mike Rothschild over at the daily dot. The blatant disregard of accuracy and the venomous slander about the channels hosts and the community that supports them being “dark and violent” eclipses even Maddow’s belittling. 

The Edge of Wonder folks have made a statement about the rumors

We have heard baseless accusations that Edge of Wonder is mysteriously affiliated with or funded by external entities and production companies such as Universal Communications Network, Inc., The Epoch Times, Falun Gong, and Universal Studios. To be clear, we, Rob and Ben, have not been employed by The Epoch Times since we began Edge of Wonder, and if you actually watch our show, you will hear us mention our previous employment there; the meditation practice being persecuted in China called Falun Gong accepts no money from their followers and therefore does not monetize us; the Universal Communications Network, Inc. only serves as our production company; and neither the Universal Communications Network, Inc. nor Edge of Wonder are affiliated with the company Universal Studios. We are financially and completely independent from all other entities and companies at this time.

-Ben and Rob, EOW

The takeaway here should be that entities like NBC, MSNBC, and the Daily Dot are not necessarily interested in promoting objective truth or fair reporting, they are only interested in the propaganda that serves their board members political and financial agendas. This is discernment 101, deducing what the core motives are behind why and how certain narratives are circulated.

Sources: