Category Archives: Human Rights

12 Years of Persecution – Interview with Falun Gong Spokesman

“Throughout Chinese history we have never seen such a brutal persecution”

One of the largest campaigns against people of conscience in China is the persecution of Falun Gong. On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party started a brutal crackdown against the spiritual group. Twelve years later and it’s still going on.

Here’s an NTD News story from July 20, 2011:

NTD Reporter Ben Hedges interviewed Erping Zhang, the spokesman of the official press office for Falun Gong—the “Falun Dafa Information Center”.

In this video Erping Zhang gives some insights about the persecution.

Interview with Erping Zhang, Spokesman of Falun Dafa Information Center:

The persecution of Falun Gong is severe and widespread in China

He was walking home from a concert he gave. He was just grabbed by the secret police and they took him to a police station and they tortured him to death…”

…when Jiang Zemin, the Communist Party’s Chief at that time, wished [ordered] the persecution in 1999, he started his campaign actually short of legal grounds and in fact this persecution itself is against the Chinese constitution, which has a clause for freedom of belief and freedom of conscience.

 Why is Falun Gong being persecuted? 

One scholar joked he said: ‘If everyone inside China will practice principles of truthfulness, compassion, tolerance, the Chinese Communist Party will no longer be there.’ Because what they have been doing over the years, they were lying about their own history.


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Behind the Egg-and-Shoe-Throwing Incident—Why Do Chinese Netizens Hate Dr. Fang Binxing?

A summary from AFP:

Internet users in China are hailing a student who claims to have thrown a shoe at the architect of the country’s so-called “Great Firewall” of Internet controls during a university appearance.

Police in central China on Friday refused to comment on the alleged attack on Fang Binxing at Wuhan University by a student who identified himself online only as “hanunyi”.

But the student has been hailed by web users — posts that were later deleted by authorities under the very system that Fang designed to snuff out information or comment that the government considers a threat to its authority.

“He is the enemy of all netizens who are forced to scale the wall all day long,” said one typical comment, later deleted by web monitors.

One of the students who pelted Fang Binxing with eggs and a shoe at Wuhan University on May 23. ( )

Tens of thousands of tweets and micro-blog posts were cheering the “Shoe Incident.”  Many have been removed from Chinese cyberspace.

Here are some samples translated by China Digital Times:


Principal Fang questioned [the host]: Before the lecture, there were already discussions on Twitter about the protest, why did not you take any precautionary measures?

Wuhan University host: We could not open that website, so we did not know what they were talking about.

* 方滨兴,你忘屏敝鞋了!‎

Fang Binxing, you have forgotten to block my shoe!

An empty lectern buried in shoes, posted by the Southern Daily Group comic artist Kuang Biao to his blog (


Principal Fang, next time will be a high heel!!

* “鸡蛋诚可贵,拖鞋价更高。若为滨兴故,二者皆可抛”

‘Egg is dear, shoes are dearer. Both can be given up for Binxing.’ [Reference to a poem by Petőfi Sándor, Hungarian poet and revolutionary: “Life is dear,
love is dearer. Both can be given up for freedom.”]

Here are few more:


Makes me happy, I found out too late, or I would’ve joined.


Support! Man and Gods alike are angry at the father of the GFW


Fang Binxing, known as the Father of the Great Firewall. (AP)

“He’s a scientist, but willingly became a tool for politicians. He took away the rights of the masses in exchange for the interests of a few people. If there was a lamentable person, Fang Binxing would be one. That’s why netizens who know what’s going on are full of hate and disgust for him.

Why do people hate Fang Binxing?

We spoke over the phone with online publisher Mr. Li Hongkuan, chief editor and founder of VIP Reference (Dacankao). Here is what he told us.

I think most students are frustrated, when we try to visit a website that website has been banned or failed due to the “Great Firewall of China”, and that happens all the time in our life. They got fed up and need someone to blame.

Mr. Fang…is the person that has been responsible for building up this “Firewall” and somehow [the news about his visit] was widely spread. So a lot of young people knew that he was the chief architect of this “Great Firewall”, so they turn to blame him.

… A lot of websites are banned. And certainly a lot of people hate that.

What does this shoe stand for?

The young people – they are getting bolder and bolder. If they are angry, they express it. The older generation, among ourselves, even if we know that the Chinese Communist Party…restricts our freedom, we are afraid to express it. We don’t want to say, even though we don’t like the way the Communist [Party] treated us.

Right now, the younger generation is getting even more courageous in speaking their opinions.  They threw a shoe at this person as an expression of anger. I think that’s a bold expression.  The older generation usually would not do it. The younger generation is more liberated… I will not be surprised if similar things will happen more and more openly in the future.

The real meaning of this “shoe incident” is that the Chinese people, like all the other people in the world, regard freedom as a basic human right and everybody wants it.

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Bold Falun Gong Street Posters in China—Do They Suggest a Re-Emergence of the Persecuted Group?

Recently, Falun Gong posters have been popping up in public places in Chinese cities. These posters are banned—but not just that. With such a severe persecution of the spiritual group ongoing in China, getting caught putting up a poster could mean being thrown in jail or a labor camp.

"Falun Dafa is good" poster

Poster exposing the crackdown of Falun Gong

Falun Dafa posters in Shanghai

“Falun Dafa is Good” banners in Heilongjiang Province

Falun Dafa banners in Heibei province

Falun Dafa poster in Shandong province

What’s the big deal about a few banners and posters?

According to adherents of the spiritual practice, human rights organizations, and the UN (Document Numbers: Manfred Nowak, A/HRC/13/39/Add.1, A/HRC/13/39/Add.5; Asma Jahangir, A/HRC/13/40/Add.1; Margaret Sekaggya, A/HRC/13/22/Add.1) to date, there are nearly 3,500 confirmed deaths as a result of the crackdown. Many more have been illegally imprisoned or sent to labor camps, where they face severe torture and abuse.

So why we can still see posters saying “Falun Dafa is Good” and calls to end the crackdown against Falun Gong throughout China?

We spoke over the phone with Levi Browde, the Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center in New York. Here is what he told us.

Are these posters an isolated phenomenon, or do they indicate a revival of Falun Gong in China?

I think neither. I think this has been one of the standard methods practitioners have used for years to verbalize either what’s happening to them or just to set the record straight on the nature of the Falun Gong, because the media there is completely blocked.

So this is one of the channels that everyday citizens have used to tell people that Falun Gong is not what the Chinese Communist Party says it is and that the persecution is happening, it’s ongoing and it’s very vicious.
These banners…it doesn’t always get reported out to the West… even over to our websites, but it is something that has been going on for years in towns and cities throughout China…

This is one thing they do. And the other is they print leaflets and newsletters and distribute them usually under safe conditions at night… to buildings through China. To get the word out, about what the Falun Gong is really about and what the persecution is about…

It might be new for people in the West [as it] hasn’t had a lot of visibility but it is something that has been going on for years, and they’ve been doing it very consistently.

Why hasn’t this had much visibility in the West?

Well, I think that’s an important question, and more broadly it’s an important question why the Falun Gong topic is not something that’s featured very much in Western press.

I think there are a number of factors. I think one: there is a taboo factor where, you know, there are certain topics—Falun Gong is one—that if Western media cover heavily, they’ll run into trouble with the Chinese regime. And media entities are also companies, and they have a concern about getting kicked out of China. I think that’s definitely one thing.

Another is that it may perhaps in many Western minds…perhaps it’s no longer breaking news or something that fits, you know, the headlines of today. Some might have a notion that it’s kind of an old story.

And I think the third thing is that people don’t realize the significance. You walk by a pole in Shanghai and you see a Falun Gong poster. People don’t realize and even Western media don’t realize that the persecution of Falun Gong first of all, is as vicious now as it ever was. It affects tens of millions of people. That’s something that still doesn’t fully register with even fairly educated Western media [reporters] in China. And so perhaps it’s thought that there’s not enough of a story there, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

So what’s the meaning of seeing Falun Gong posters throughout China?

I think as Chinese it’s very informative, because again, this is telling a story that they are not going to hear anywhere else. They are not going to hear it on television or newspaper there. It’s all controlled. So I think it’s eye-opening to Chinese citizens.

For folks in the West, it would depend on how much they understand the background. It really would. Whether they understand the significance of that poster and all that it is saying and all that has gone into this grassroots effort to post these things.

I think it’s really going to depend on how much the Westerner understands what’s really happening on the ground of China…what they need to understand is that there’s tens of millions of people, who for the last ten years have been victims of a campaign that uses every instrument of the state to squeeze them out. To not give them a life, fires them from their jobs, expels them from school, doesn’t let them have housing; they are at risk to randomly being picked up, abducted, put in a jail, put in a labor camp for years. This is how tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners have lived.

And by-and-large, the wool has been pulled over the eyes of the Chinese citizenry, because the media has portrayed Falun Gong in a completely opposite nature of what it is and marginalized Falun Gong. And so [people] should look at these leaflets as the few and only channels to get the word out on what’s really happening to these tens of millions of people.

It’s extraordinary for the historic nature of it, for the scale of it… even in a country as populous as China, tens of millions of people, it’s a lot of people to be subjected to [persecution]… And so, as far as I can tell, this [type of campaign] is the largest grassroots underground media in the history of the world.

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The Falun Gong “Protest That Changed China”? It’s Not So Simple…

Falun Gong practitioners gather outside Zhongnanhai on April 25, 1999. (Courtesy

Summary from Matthew Robertson in The Epoch Times (italics below added by me)

On April 25, 1999, the most “serious political incident” since 1989 occurred in China. Over 10,000 practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, had quietly gathered on the streets of Beijing and silently stood and sat from morning to night, seeking to be allowed to practice their faith free from harassment.

The incident is often seen as the catalyst to what happened next: a nationwide Cultural Revolution-style persecution featuring incessant propaganda, cruel violence, labor camps, and thought reeducation campaigns that continues to this day. But a look at the three years that preceded that incident shows that rather than being the catalyst to the persecution, it was practitioners’ last-ditch effort to head off what hardliners inside the Communist Party had been hatching since 1996.

Exclusive interview with the author

I spoke with researcher and author Matthew Robertson about why this issue is still important—because it’s been 12 years since the incident on April 25, 1999, where 10,000-plus Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing.

The reason this is important is because it affects how people understand the whole persecution [of Falun Gong]. If people understand it as a kind of action-reaction, and that Falun Gong got what was coming to them for protesting, then the attitude toward the persecution is different. If they understand that things had already started as early as ’95 or ’96, the whole perspective changes.

Robertson told me that he had to shorten his original article by about half to make it a suitable length for print. I asked him what got left out. He told me:

Ye Hao was the head of the Falun Gong Research Society and a director in the PSB (Public Security Bureau). He said that as early as 1995, the PSB said that they wanted to label Falun Gong a xiejiao—an “evil cult” or “heretical religion”—and ban it. But for whatever reason, that label didn’t get off the ground. But they had this plan in 1995.

The key that came out of this [research] is the ideological nature of the persecution and not the organizational fears. If you look at Western media, they emphasize that the CCP was scared of Falun Gong’s capacity to organize. But that really is just a superficial thing; that came much later. Since ’96 it was really an ideological struggle.

Like many practitioners said [to me], and especially what Ye Hao said, no one was saying the kinds of things Falun Gong was saying, about cultivating to buddhahood, about cultivation in other dimensions, and about the importance of morality, and all those things. It just wasn’t done in China. People wouldn’t say things like that publicly. So some people in the CCP hated [Falun Gong]. And it also had supporters. So that’s what took three years.

If there wasn’t all this kind of resistance [from supporters], the CCP might have tried to ban it in 1996. So what happened in 1999 was just the endpoint of what really began earlier. And that’s something that’s kind of being missed because Zhongnanhai (the protest on April 25, 1999) was such a dramatic event—so it steals the show. But this history is really the key to understanding the dynamic that led to the persecution.

For more info on what happened on April 25, 1999 and the CCP’s reaction, watch Part 2 of our award-winning documentary series, A Decade of Courage.

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New Round of Fake Emails from Chinese Regime to Discredit Falun Gong?

This news release was published yesterday by the Falun Dafa Information Center, the official press group for the Falun Gong (a.k.a. Falun Dafa) spiritual practice.

A new round of fraudulent emails was sent from suspected Chinese agents to elected officials, journalists and NGOs in Canada, the United States, France and Norway earlier this month. The emails’ senders deceptively claim to be representatives of the Falun Dafa Information Center, and the content of the messages is crafted to portray Falun Gong as bizarre, threatening, intolerant, and otherwise undeserving of sympathy or respect.

The emails make bizarre claims, including that if the recipients took up the practice of Falun Gong, they would be granted “exceptional capabilities” including “making a fortune without labor.”

“The Falun Dafa Information Center did not send these emails, and in no way condones the threats or bizarre thinking that they advance,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang… “Still, it’s very clear why the e-mails take this tactic: it plays directly into the fears of extreme religious believers.”

Read the full article

We had reported on this issue four weeks ago after purportedly fraudulent emails like this were first discovered. This is our story from March 25, 2011:

Of note, in this video above, investigations into the I.P. addresses showed that the emails came from inside China—obviously not from the Falun Gong spokesperson in New Jersey, who is likely blacklisted from even entering China.

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Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Accused of Tax Evasion–What’s Behind It?

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on November 7, 2010. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

From the Associated Press

Famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who disappeared earlier this month and is believed to be in police custody, is being investigated for allegedly evading his taxes and destroying evidence, a Hong Kong newspaper reported Thursday.

The Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying Ai, an outspoken government critic, is suspected of evading large amounts of tax, though no exact figure was given, and destroying papers that might have been used as evidence against him.

It said he was also being investigated for bigamy because he has a young son with a woman other than his wife and is suspected of spreading pornography online.

Original Article in Wen Wei Po (Chinese)

(2011-04-14) 艾未未受調查先抗拒後配合

Analysis: What Does This Mean for Other Chinese Dissidents?

Ai Weiwei is a world-renowned artist with connections in China and with Western governments. In the past, despite his criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, he had never been arrested and charged like this (although Shanghai authorities demolished his studio last November). So are the charges against Ai political or grounded in law? And if the former, what does this mean for other dissidents in China?

Evan Osnos for the New Yorker writes this in Why Ai Weiwei Matters

The importance of Ai’s case is not strictly his work and ideas; it is the way in which his experience, and now his disappearance, illuminate the behavior of the Chinese state.

Professor Jerome A. Cohen of NYU’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute discusses this in more detail:

Ai’s April 3 detention has now given him a greater, albeit unwanted, opportunity to demonstrate the injustice of Chinese criminal justice. His case illustrates the abject helplessness of the individual before the unchecked power of the police, despite legislative and judicial measures attempting to curb that power. Because of the notoriety of Ai’s detention, police are more likely to comply with the letter of the law in this case than in less visible cases, where they have shown a disturbing tendency to act outside the law. For that reason, Ai’s case is especially educational, since it may help us understand what Foreign Ministry spokesmen mean when they say that China “is a country ruled by law” but that perceived “troublemakers” cannot “use the law as a shield” and “no law can protect them”.

Associate Professor at Notre Dame Lionel M. Jensen writes for George Mason University’s History News Network:

On Thursday morning the character assassination phase became more ominous, when Xinhua News Agency reported that Ai was being “investigated for suspected economic crimes in accord with the law... Yet, the ambiguous language of the official report conveyed that the state was having difficulty obtaining actual evidence to make such a “case.”

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