Chinese authorities are secretly moving Falun Gong practitioners out of Beijing-area labor camps and detention centers to prepare for potential visits by foreign media, a group that monitors the plight of Falun Gong in China said Monday.
The Falun Dafa Information Center says the move came after it released a guide leading journalists to jails where Falun Gong practitioners are tortured, the Center said. Many of the sites in its guide are near Olympic venues in China.
Relying on their network of contacts inside China, the Information Center says practitioners detained in Beijing have been moved to Shanxi Forced Labor Camp and the Shanxi Women's Forced Labor Camp, and some to Inner Mongolia.
Those moved out of Beijing are being replaced with individuals who claim to have renounced Falun Gong, and who are prepared to repeat the regime’s line on Falun Gong to Western press, the Center says.
The Information Center suggests that Beijing authorities may be planning a media stunt for journalists.
"They’re moving victims of torture and other abuses out of Beijing, and replacing them with individuals who parrot the CCP’s stance on Falun Gong," says Mr. Erping Zhang, spokesperson for the Information Center.
"Think about it...they are preparing ‘show tours’ to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. We trust journalists in Beijing won’t be taken in by these tactics."
The same tactics are thought to have been used in 2001, when the authorities invited journalists for a show-tour of the Masanjia Labor Camp in Liaoning Province, where many Falun Gong believers are thought to have been tortured.
In 2001, 18 female Falun Gong practitioners were reportedly stripped naked and forced into the cells of male criminals to be gang raped at the labor camp.
Journalists were invited to Masanjia a month after the allegations came to light and were presented with freshly painted walls and smiling prisoners bearing English name-tags. The Falun Dafa Information Center questioned why English name tags were needed in a Chinese labor camp if not for the foreign press.
State-run Chinese websites used the statements by purported former practitioners to justify its continued repression of the group.
The Center urges journalists in Beijing to work in tandem to visit multiple labor camps at the same time.