An international human rights watchdog has raised concerns that practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China may be framed on false charges during the Beijing Olympics.
The New York-based Falun Dafa Information Centre issued a statement on August 8, saying that the recent escalation of attacks on Falun Gong, inside and outside of China, was similar to previous violence that preceded vilification.
The Centre is concerned that there is a real possibility the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may attempt to stage an incident, and then label the perpetrators as Falun Gong practitioners.
“They’ve done it before,” Centre spokesman Erping Zhang said.
“Over the past nine years, the CCP has used a variety of inaccurate labels on Falun Gong. In each case, the aim has been to vilify people who practice Falun Gong, and therefore, justify the horrors these people are subject to under CCP rule,” Zhang said.
The choice of inflammatory labels has been especially far-fetched in the run-up to the Olympics, the Centre notes, with some Chinese officials and state-run media attempting to link Falun Gong with violent factions or even terrorists.
The frequency of such references as the Games approach suggest there is a second, perhaps more sinister purpose to such labelling, the Centre said.
“There exists, sadly, a real possibility that the CCP would attempt to stage or attribute a disruptive act ... with the intent to pin it on Falun Gong,” says Zhang.
The Falun Dafa Info Centre cites examples of previously staged events against the peaceful exercise and meditation practice.
One occurred in 2001, when the Chinese regime sought to falsely link Falun Gong to a multi self-immolation event in Tiananmen Square. Washington Post reporter, Phillip Pan, concluded some time later that no one had ever seen any of those involved in the event practice Falun Gong. An award-winning film, False Fire, ( www.falsefire.com ), and other analyses have further debunked the accusation, the Centre states.
Canadian Lawyer, Clive Ansley, a specialist in Chinese law, was resident in China in 1999, the year the campaign against Falun Gong was initiated, and bears witness to the CCP’s strategies.
“I witnessed on a daily basis the unremitting vilification of Falun Gong and Falun Gong practitioners in all areas of the Chinese print and television,” he says in a sworn statement. “It was the most extreme and unjustified campaign of unmitigated hatred I have ever witnessed.”
In the lead up to the Olympics, there is evidence the campaign is being leveraged again.
Following the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, reports suddenly appeared in Chinese state media saying Falun Gong practitioners overseas were obstructing overseas Chinese organisations’ efforts to solicit donations for the earthquake disaster victims.
No incidences of this obstruction were witnessed or reported in any other media.
The persecution against Falun Gong is well documented. More than 3000 deaths from abuse of Falun Gong practitioners in custody in China are documented and millions of Falun Gong adherents are believed to still be detained.
The persecution and torture of practitioners has also been well-documented by the United Nations Rapporteurs on Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Throughout this ordeal, there has never been a reported case of Falun Gong adherents retaliating in an act of pre-meditated violence.
“Let me be absolutely clear,” says Zhang, “anyone who participates in an organized act of violence in the name of Falun Gong is, by the very act itself, not a Falun Gong practitioner, and certainly does not represent the community of Falun Gong practitioners.”
“In all our efforts to regain our basic freedoms over the past nine years, we have never engaged in acts that intentionally harm innocent people,” says Zhang. “The foundation of our faith is the principles of honesty, compassion and tolerance, and we aim to follow these in everything we do … even when exposing the abuses meted out by the CCP.”