April 25, 1999April 25, 1999

EDMONTON—”It was a day when goodness truly triumphed.”

That’s how Michael Cooper, MP for Edmonton-St. Albert, described the April 25, 1999, event in which an estimated 10,000 Falun Dafa adherents gathered in Beijing to peacefully protest the hardening tone of state-run media against their practice and the wrongful arrest of their fellow practitioners in nearby Tianjin.

Cooper was speaking at a rally held in Edmonton’s Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Gazebo on April 22 to commemorate the anniversary of the appeal. The rally also heard from Garnett Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, and adherents of Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) who experienced persecution in China.

It was the largest peaceful pro-democratic demonstration in China since the Tiananmen Square pro-democratic demonstrations of 1989. It was a remarkable feat.

— MP Michael Cooper

The protest was the largest appeal for freedom of belief in China’s recent history, and the last time Falun Dafa adherents were able to gather before the brutal persecution against the practice was launched in July 1999 by then-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin.

‘A Remarkable Feat’

“It’s an honour to be here to stand with [Falun Dafa adherents] for truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, to stand in solidarity to commemorate the brave 10,000-plus men and women who [gathered] in Beijing on that fateful day of April 25, 1999,” Cooper said. Truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance are Falun Dafa’s guiding principles.

April 25, 1999

Garnett Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, talks at a rally in Edmonton’s Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Gazebo on April 22, 2017 to mark the 18th anniversary of the April 25, 1999 appeal in Beijing by Falun Dafa adherents. (Omid Ghoreishi/The Epoch Times)

“Men and women, who stood up for justice, who stood up for freedom, who stood up for human rights, who stood up for the dozens of Falun Gong practitioners who days earlier had been rounded up, arrested, and beaten. It was the largest peaceful pro-democratic demonstration in China since the Tiananmen Square pro-democratic demonstrations of 1989. It was a remarkable feat,” he said.

But the response of the Chinese regime was typical of a “brutal communist dictatorship,” Cooper noted.

Just three months later, Jiang’s regime launched a campaign of persecution against Falun Dafa, which in the past 18 years has resulted in thousands of families being destroyed, many sent to labour camps, many tortured to death, and many more losing their lives in China’s illicit state-sanctioned organ transplant trade.

April 25, 1999

Dr. Minnan Liu from the Falun Dafa Association of Edmonton talks at a rally in Edmonton’s Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Gazebo on April 22, 2017 to mark the 18th anniversary of the April 25, 1999 appeal in Beijing by Falun Dafa adherents. (Omid Ghoreishi/The Epoch Times)

“In the face of some of the most egregious human rights abuses and crimes committed in the modern world by the communist dictatorship of China, how have Falun Gong practitioners responded?” asked Cooper.

“[They’ve] responded peacefully, through education, through a campaign of awareness, to shine light on the evil—the evils that are perpetrated on a day-to-day basis in China against Falun Gong, and the tens of millions of practitioners right across China.”

Forced Organ Harvesting

Cooper told the crowd that he and fellow MP Genuis and others in the House of Commons will continue to press the Canadian government to compel Beijing to stop the persecution and promote “freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

Canada can play a strong role, standing up for universal human rights. We have a responsibility to do that, especially when the government talks about increasing our engagement with China.

— MP Garnett Genuis

Genuis, who recently introduced a private member’s bill to combat forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China, said persecution against all faith communities in China is on the rise.

“As China does its best to whitewash its international image, the persecution is escalating, it’s getting worse, and it requires a strong response from those of us in the West and throughout the world committed to justice and human rights,” he told the rally.

Genuis’s bill C-350, which revives a bill tabled in the last parliament by former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, amends Canada’s Criminal Code and Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The bill seeks to make it a criminal offence for someone to acquire an organ that they know was obtained without consent, and to make those involved in forced organ harvesting inadmissible to Canada.

Luo Zehui (R) recounts through a translator how her father fainted under torture and then cremated while still alive in China for practicing Falun Gong at a rally in Edmonton’s Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Gazebo on April 22, 2017. The event was held to mark the 18th anniversary of the April 25, 1999 appeal in Beijing by Falun Dafa adherents. (Omid Ghoreishi/The Epoch Times)

According to investigations by former Canadian secretary of state David Kilgour, Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, and American investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, up to 90,000 organ transplants take place in China on a yearly basis, with the majority of them being Falun Gong prisoners of conscience who are killed for their organs.

“Canada can play a strong role, standing up for universal human rights. We have a responsibility to do that, especially when the government talks about increasing our engagement with China,” Genuis said.

Persecution

The rally heard from two Falun Gong practitioners who personally experienced persecution while in China.

Calgary resident Luo Zehui relayed in an emotional speech through a translator that her father, Jiang Xiqing, was put in a forced labour camp and tortured for practising Falun Gong.

April 25, 1999

Zhang Ping (R) recounts through a translator how she was imprisoned multiple times in China for practicing Falun Gong at a rally in Edmonton’s Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Gazebo on April 22, 2017. The event was held to mark the 18th anniversary of the April 25, 1999 appeal in Beijing by Falun Dafa adherents. (Omid Ghoreishi/The Epoch Times)

Jiang fainted under torture, and was then cremated while he was still alive, a tearful Luo said.

Zhang Ping, also from Calgary, talked about how both her physical and mental state improved with the practice and how she was able to harmonize her relations with family members and those in her community, thanks to Falun Gong.

However, due to the CCP’s campaign of persecution, she was arrested and detained on multiple occasions. She finally escaped China to come to Canada in 2015.

“After leaving my hometown, within less than a year I heard about three more fellow Falun Gong practitioners who died of persecution,” she said.

“There were 43 confirmed death locally and 989 in my province since the persecution started.”

Read the full article here

On Oct. 24, 2016, in San Francisco, Peiqi Gu talked about her family’s educational values, and how she almost lost the chance to complete school in China due to the persecution of her spiritual faith—Falun Gong. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)On Oct. 24, 2016, in San Francisco, Peiqi Gu talked about her family’s educational values, and how she almost lost the chance to complete school in China due to the persecution of her spiritual faith—Falun Gong. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—”For 16 years, I’ve been living in the fear of being persecuted for my faith,” said Peiqi Gu, 30, who grew up in communist China. Her faith is Falun Dafa, a Buddha School practice of the mind, body, and spirit, which is freely enjoyed nearly everywhere in the world, with the notable exception of China.

Just one year before the persecution began, Gu, at the age of 11, took up Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) with her mother. According to an official study, some 70 other people in China were also practicing Falun Gong; Falun Gong sources say the number was over 100 million.

This traditional meditation system advocates high moral values associated with truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as taught in the teachings of Zhuan Falun.

“I always can find very profound meaning about life, about the universe in Dafa, in reading Dafa,” said Gu, as well as how to be a good person, and how “to deal with tribulations and troubles of life.”

When the persecution started and the communist party-controlled T.V. began vilifying Falun Gong, Gu was in total disbelief. The programming aimed at instilling public fear of and hatred for Falun Gong in an attempt justify the brutal persecution.

“I was shocked because it was absolutely the opposite of what I learned by … practicing and reading the Dafa book ,because Dafa always tells you to be a good person, by following the principles of truthfulness, compassion—benevolence—and tolerance,” Gu said.

Gu and her mother set out to counteract the slander by telling others of their positive experiences with the practice. Yet, these actions placed them directly in harm’s way.

This is a story of a loving family sticking together, of a young college girl forging a path to spiritual freedom, and in doing so, strengthening her voice to dispel the lies against Falun Gong.

Education a Family Priority

For Gu’s family, education was a top priority.

Peiqi Gu grew up in China as an only daughter of two loving parents who valued education. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Peiqi Gu grew up in China as an only daughter of two loving parents who valued education. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

“I am the only child in my family. I was a very, very super-spoiled girl,” Gu said.

“It’s funny, since first grade to twelve,” Gu explained, her mom was up first to start breakfast. Her dad waited until the very last moment before calling Gu to wake up to allow her as much sleep as possible. After eating or while Gu ate, her mom did her hair. Dad got her school bag arranged, and put her shoes on then assisted her with a coat.

“Then … my dad would just open the door, so I could just run and go to school. And, my parents even moved to an apartment that was next door to my high school, so I just needed to walk five minutes to go to school and be seated in my classroom.”

School was a safe place until February of 2006, “that’s the day I will never forget, … my mom and I got arrested,” Gu said.

Arrest and Threats

Gu, her mom, and her aunt’s family were on holiday break at a hotel. “Six of us were arrested, and we were interrogated and questioned by the police separately,” Gu said.

Peiqui Gu was arrested in China along with her mother for talking about Falun Gong. The police threatened to abduct her from school and place her in detention.

Peiqui Gu was arrested in China along with her mother for talking about Falun Gong. The police threatened to abduct her from school and place her in detention. “Nobody was willing to help us… So, I feel that the whole family had collapsed,” Gu said.

“Then they figured out that only my mom and I practiced [Falun Gong], and [so] they released my aunt’s whole family.”

The arrest happened as a result of Gu and her mom giving out free DVDs to resort shop owners. The DVDs had information dispelling propaganda ploys by the government-controlled media to turn the public against Falun Gong.

Mom and daughter also talked to a shop owner about their personal experiences of becoming healthy and better people by living by truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

At the police station, Gu’s mom refused to tell the police where they had gotten the DVDs they were passing out. The police then “start to threaten my mom that they would stop my education and ruin my future,” Gu said.

After 48 hours in the police station, “they sent my mom to a detention center, and they asked my dad to take me home. The police … told my dad, who is not a [Falun Gong] practitioner, to take care of me because I [now] have a criminal record in the police system, and that if I ever do that [again]… I would definitely be arrested and they would stop my college education.”

“It was the first time I [had] ever seen my dad so desperate,” Gu said.

The threats were also hard on her mother. “My mom thought of killing herself because if they would stop my education, my mom could not forgive herself,” Gu said.

Gu’s dad reassured them that everything would be okay. He decided to ask if he could take her place if Gu should go to jail, then her studies would not be interrupted.

Impact on the Family

Historically, the communist regime instills fear that can pit parents and children against each other as well as other loved ones. The fear is well founded.

There are chilling consequences for talking about Falun Dafa in public or not renouncing the faith when asked to by communist regime authorities. These well-documented consequences include incarceration, leading to such things as “sleep deprivation, threatening family members, denial of access to sanitation or bathrooms,” Amnesty International reports.

“The ill-treatment escalates to severe beatings, 24-hour surveillance, solitary confinement, shocks with electric batons,…”rack” torture…” and hundreds of other forms of unbelievably inhumane tortures,” according to Amnesty.

Out of fear of retaliation by the government authorities, Gu’s relatives turned their backs. “They just abandoned us in that dark night; I will never forget. They just left and … never called my dad.”

Instead of coming up with solutions, “they gathered all our relatives together  … cursing us and blaming us,” Gu explained.

“Nobody was willing to help us out, to get out of that situation. So, I felt that the whole family had collapsed.”

Now living in the United States, Peiqi Gu can openly practice Falun Gong. Her mission is to tell others about about the benefits of Falun Gong as shown here in a park in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 2016. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Now living in the United States, Peiqi Gu can openly practice Falun Gong. Her mission is to tell others about about the benefits of Falun Gong as shown here in a park in San Francisco on Oct. 24, 2016. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Ever since the day she and her mom were arrested, she said, “I’ve been living in the fear of being persecuted.”

“I couldn’t imagine [anything] worse happening to me. So the only thing in my mind during the four years in college [in China] I was thinking about how to escape, to get out from that place,” Gu said.

Several opportunities to live elsewhere came up and she took them. The final stop was the United States. With the help of U.S. Falun Gong practitioners, “I walked away from the fear little by little,” Gu said.

Dreams of Freely Practicing Falun Gong

After college, Gu tried several places outside of China to live. “I got a job and the company sent me to Laos, a … developing country. I told myself I would rather … live there instead of going back to China,” Gu said. No more worries of being abducted.

However, fear was still felt as her parents’ phone was monitored by local police.

Her job in Laos was with a hotel “where I found my interest in the hotel industry,” Gu said. And in 2014 she got accepted  to a U.S. school to get a master’s degree in hospitality management.

The school granted her the opportunity to attend a conference in the Dominican Republic where for the first time since the persecution began she was able openly to practice Falun Gong.

“That moment was so beautiful. I just felt so relieved by sitting there and practicing with practitioners. I realized … the whole world welcomes Falun Dafa,” Gu said.

The practice “is originally from China, but unfortunately most of the Chinese people are unable to know the beauty of Falun Dafa.”Peiqui Gu shows a cell phone photo of her father when he visited her in the summer of 2016. She was separated from her parents for two years, the longest time she ever spent away from them. Her father

Peiqui Gu shows a cell phone photo of her father when he visited her in the summer of 2016. She was separated from her parents for two years, the longest time she ever spent away from them. Her father “knows how hard I was trying to survive alone on the other side of the world by myself,” Gu said.

Gu decided right then to continue to do what she did in China, “keep telling others, especially Chinese people, what Falun Dafa is, [and about] the wonderfulness of Falun Dafa,” Gu said.

In May of 2016, she graduated with a master’s degree in hospitality management, which led to a good job as an accountant for a boutique hotel chain.

A New life in America

She recently had a reunion with father on his visit to the United States. She was so excited that after two years of being in the States, she finally got to see him.

“I have never [been] separated from my parents for that long,” Gu said.

As a young professional working as an accountant for a high-end boutique hotel chain, Gu is on top of her world with a new life in the United States and awaiting a reunion with her parents. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

As a young professional working as an accountant for a high-end boutique hotel chain, Gu is on top of her world with a new life in the United States and awaiting a reunion with her parents. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

Her dad couldn’t believe that his little girl was all grown-up, very independent, with school completed, a new life and friends, and a good job.

“He knows how hard I was trying to survive alone on the other side of the world by myself,” Gu said.

Gu’s family hope one day soon to be reunited permanently.

Read the full article here

Over 6,300 Falun Gong practitioners form an emblem of Falun Gong and the Chinese characters, truthfulness, compassion and forbearance at the Liberty Square in Taipei on Nov. 26, 2016. (Chen Po-chou/Epoch Times)Over 6,300 Falun Gong practitioners form an emblem of Falun Gong and the Chinese characters, truthfulness, compassion and forbearance at the Liberty Square in Taipei on Nov. 26, 2016. (Chen Po-chou/Epoch Times)

TAIPEI, Taiwan—After two days of intensive labor and preparation, a huge symbol appeared center stage at Taiwan’s Liberty Square, named for its role in the island’s transition from one-party rule to democracy.

On Nov. 26, wearing yellow, blue, red, and black clothing, about 6,300 practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong formed a large emblem along with the three Chinese characters for truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, the core teaching of Falun Gong. The symbol, called “falun” in Chinese and meaning “law wheel,” includes the traditional Buddhist “srivatsa” and Taoist “taiji.” It is the emblem of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (Great Way of the Law Wheel).

The participants, mostly Falun Dafa practitioners living in Taiwan, included practitioners from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia. The character formation has become an annual tradition, held in November, to commemorate the month back in 1997 when Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, visited the island for the first time.

“The world needs truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” said Huang Chun-mei, organizer of the activity and deputy chairman of Taiwan Falun Dafa Association. “If everyone in society follows these principles, our society will be better.”

The character formation, however, bears a much deeper meaning. Huang Chun-mei explained that the character formation would put a check on the continued violent persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, and, contrary to propaganda by the Chinese regime, show that the Buddhist discipline thrives around the world, with people practicing Falun Gong in over 100 countries.

From Design to Formation

The planning and design actually began over two months ago, said Wu Ching-hsiang, a retired architect, who has been responsible for drawing the blueprints for Taiwan’s character formations since 2009. He has also provided drawings for similar activities held in Washington D.C and New York.

Wu explained in a phone interview why getting the blueprint right was such a lengthy process: “Once, after I finished a drawing and was suddenly told that there would be 1,000 additional participants, I had to quickly redraw the blueprint.”

Wu added that the history of character formation actually originated in China. But unlike those held in China and elsewhere in the world, the formation in Taiwan often involves more complex images.

“Geometric shapes involving straight lines or 90-degree angles are not difficult,” said Wu. “It is images with curved lines that are more challenging.” To provide an example, Wu added that participants form the more complicated, but beautiful Chinese characters in clerical script, a form of Chinese calligraphy nowadays, as opposed to the more simple writing style in the past.

In China, such large-scale character formations were common in China before July 1999, before the persecution started. Since then, practitioners in Taiwan, the United States, and many other countries have tried to keep the tradition alive.

Wu said that in the formation this year, besides the emblem and the Chinese characters, there are also rays of light depicted in yellow. These rays, according to Wu, represent Buddha’s grace illuminating the world.

Preparation

Two days before the formation of the characters, preparation at the Liberty Square begins. Hundreds of practitioners, mostly from Taipei, turn out to manually place colored round plastic sheets and tape them to their designated spots.

Wang Chung-tung, 66, a retired ocean freight captain and former assistant professor at Taipei College of Maritime Technology, said over the years he had previously battled through adverse weather, red ants, and even snakes during the preparation, as the formations were sometimes held on grass instead of concrete.

A sense of gratitude to Falun Gong has led Wang to be diligent over the years in helping out with preparations for the character formation. Wang took up the practice in 2002 after his 20-year-long career working at sea, where “there was a thin line between life and death.” With Falun Gong, he said he has found the meaning of life that he had longed for during his years on ships.

Similarly, Chuang Mao-chin, 56, a retired government official from the National Bureau of Foreign Trade, said he had been taking part in the preparations since 2011. Last year, Mao recalled how he still decided to help out with the preparation even though he was under the weather, because of the gratitude he feels for the good quality of sleep he has enjoyed since he started practicing Falun Gong in 2010.

For many volunteers turning out for the character formation was an opportunity to tell passerby, especially mainland Chinese tourists—Liberty Square is a popular tourist attraction site in Taiwan—about the injustices still suffered by Falun Gong practitioners in China.

“Tourists easily find the character formation very interesting, not just on the day of the actual formation, but days before when the preparation is underway,” said Dr. Huang Hui-chun, 37, a cardiologist working at National Taiwan University Hospital, and a practitioner since 2006.

Huang Chung-peng, 56, owner of a mechanical hardware company in New Taipei City, said he once had to explain how Taiwan is different from China when a Chinese tourist was stunned to find that the Taiwanese government had granted permission to Falun Gong practitioners to hold such a large public activity.

“When mainland Chinese, after using anti-censorship software, see pictures of the character formation, they will realize how Falun Gong is openly practiced in Taiwan,” said Huang Chung-peng.

Opportunity Only in Taiwan

For many practitioners in other Asian countries, to take part in the character formation in Taiwan was an opportunity not to be missed.

“Falun Gong is welcomed everywhere in the world except China,” said Sato Kunio, 53, a hotel owner in the Japanese city of Chiba, who was born in Harbin, China before moving to Japan in 1980. He started practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and has participated in Taiwan’s character formation several times.

For Rosy Ngygen, 34, senior account manager from Vietnam who started practicing Falun Gong in 2012, the opportunity was precious, given that it was impossible to hold a large-scale activity like this in her own country due to political pressure from China.

Ngyugen explained, “The Vietnamese government does not oppose Falun Gong, but it does not want to make the Chinese government upset either.”

Kim Jung Soo, a retired government official in the education department in Busan, South Korea, took part even though he had only been practicing for three days. He thanked his wife for introducing him to Falun Gong. He said she had shown “peace and serenity” as a practitioner for the last 14 years.

While participants were seated for photographing and filming, many tourists paused for selfies with the rare and colorful backdrop.

“Beautiful. I don’t know the history of this, but to my eyes, it’s very beautiful,” said Mrs. Sangsajja, a housewife from Thailand.

Jose Collazo, a business analyst from Puerto Rico, said he had heard about the persecution of the group in China. He enjoyed the character formation.

“It is very colorful. I wish I could see it from up top,” he said.

Read the full article here

Xin Ziling in an undated photograph. (Apollo Net)Xin Ziling in an undated photograph. (Apollo Net)

Xi Jinping is widely misunderstood by the media and intellectuals because they don’t understand the power dynamics inside the Chinese communist regime today, according to maverick retired defense official Xin Ziling.

Born Song Ke in the province of Hebei in northern China, Xin joined the People’s Liberation Army in 1950 at the age of 15. Xin eventually made director of China National Defense Univer­sity, the country’s top higher education institute for defense official.

Today, Xin is best known as a fiery critic of the regime who isn’t afraid to broach sensitive topics—he is the author of a highly critical book on former Chinese dictator Mao Zedong; he has spoken out against former Party leader Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice; and joined other scholars and journalists in calling for the regime to end censorship.   

Recently, Xin Ziling was interviewed by the Chinese language edition of Voice of America as part of a series on the Communist Party’s 6th Plenum. Though the interview took place before the recently-concluded meeting, its identification of the faultlines in elite Party politics remains highly relevant. We’ve translated the interview, and edited it for brevity and clarity.

***

Question: What are your thoughts about the 6th Plenum?

Xin Ziling: This meeting concerns the infighting in the Chinese Communist Party. Xi Jinping is heading a group of reformists, and they are being opposed by a faction led by Jiang Zemin.

The 6th Plenum will bring a general resolution to this struggle, and there must be complete resolution in the lead up to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress; otherwise, the 19th Congress can’t be held. For example, if Jiang is still allowed some say in matters of the day, he could pick another three Politburo Standing Committee members [serving Standing Committee members Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, and Zhang Gaoli are known allies of Jiang]. How is that acceptable? What will become of China then? I also believe that [Xi Jinping] will conclusively resolve organizational issues at the 6th Plenum.

Now the whole Party has essentially endorsed Xi Jinping assuming the title of “core” leader. In other words, Jiang Zemin’s position as the Party’s “core” is on the wane; previously, Jiang still had influence, but now many cadres are much clearer on the overall situation. I recently read that the leaders of 28 provinces were replaced within a span of nine months. If a cadre refuses to change his political mindset and stance, he will be replaced and dealt with by the Party organization.

I’m optimistic about the prospects. By that I mean that Xi Jinping will be victorious, the reformists will be victorious, and the Chinese people will be triumphant. China cannot possibly progress without the purging of corrupt officials—those big tigers, medium tigers, and old tigers. [“Tiger” is Party parlance for corrupt high-ranking officials.]

It’s also impossible for progress to be made on political reform and issues such as the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the political rehabilitation of Falun Gong if Jiang Zemin isn’t removed. With rows of big tigers obstructing the way, there’s no way to resolve these issues. The conditions and timing must be right for a comprehensive resolution to be reached, and its possible that something will come of the 6th Plenum that will jolt the people and the Party.

Q: Do you that think that Xi Jinping might resolve the issues of Tiananmen and Falun Gong when he becomes “core” leader?

Xin: It’s not a question of probability; Xi Jinping will definitely resolve these issues. Falun Gong practitioners can and have filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin with the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate … these judicial organs have already accepted these complaints. Falun Gong and Tiananmen must be resolved. Xi Jinping cannot carry this burden going forward; he is crystal clear on this matter.

Q: Human rights lawyers have been arrested, petitioners have been suppressed, freedom of speech is being restricted, and many people have been prosecuted for comments they’ve made on the internet. Could these incidents have happened if Xi Jinping didn’t give a nod?

Xin: Let me make a clarification. There are currently two power centers in the Chinese Communist Party. And Xi Jinping doesn’t have complete power before the 6th Plenum.

Take the political and legal apparatus, for example. In theory, after Zhou Yongkang was purged, Xi ought to have regained control over the apparatus. In reality, however, the apparatus’ direction can be influenced in countless ways; many officials are still carrying out Zhou Yongkang’s policies, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Recently there was a man named Wang Zhiwen [the former Falun Gong coordinator in Beijing] who was prevented from leaving the country in Guangzhou. Xi Jinping is definitely not behind this. Because the people who blocked Wang still have some power.

Nowadays, who does the common folk blame when they are unhappy about something? They blame the top leader, and say that it’s Xi Jinping’s doing even when it’s not his idea. This  situation arises from slandering and the so-called “advanced blackening” [gaojihei in Chinese].

Those old tigers and big tigers from the Jiang faction face the fate of being purged. So they think: If I’m a goner, then I’m going to bring you down, too. They then try to sabotage Xi, and damage his political reputation. But Xi is not behind many incidents; the shutting down of Yanhuang Chunqiu [a reformist publication ran by mostly elderly Party cadres] was the handiwork of Liu Yunshan [the propaganda and ideology chief].  

Right now Xi Jinping cannot abandon his plans at the 6th Plenum or his overall objectives to deal with the specific problems caused by the Jiang faction. As the highest-ranking leader, Xi needs to deal with all these problems comprehensively in terms of strategy, direction, and policy. He needs to get all cadres to implement the Party Central’s policies; having the top leader rectify all problems caused by noncompliant cadres is impossible.

Given the circumstances, many people, including the media and the intelligentsia, have a lot of misunderstandings about Xi Jinping. They see increased restrictions on the media, and people getting arrested. But if Xi isn’t aware of a lot of things until they take place, what is he to do?

Q: Isn’t Xi Jinping aware that his reputation and credibility are damaged when these things happen?

Xin: Of course he is aware. And that is what drives him to resolve all these issues once and for all at the 6th Plenum! If Xi doesn’t take action, what he ultimately faces is Chinese officials dragging their feet, or even performing the opposite of what he wants. Some officials might think: You don’t allow me to take bribes, that’s fine. I will not do any work, and bring the entire government administration to a halt. Then the people will blame Xi Jinping.

The organizational issue can be resolved through the appointing of new officials and wiping the slate at the 19th Congress. Jiang Zemin has build up his factional networks in the Party for over two decades, and the roots he has sunk are intertwining and very deep. This is not an easy issue to resolve, but Xi won’t be able to push through his policies without fixing this issue. Then the case of orders not leaving Zhongnanhai [the officials headquarters of the Party leadership in Beijing] will persist.

Q: For several months, there have been many changes in the ranks of the top provincial leadership. Do you believe that Xi Jinping is responsible for the reshuffling?

Xin: Certainly. Now, many provincial-level cadres are Xi’s appointments. These personnel changes were made to prevent a political coup from taking place during the 6th Plenum and the 19th Congress. That’s also the reasoning behind the reshuffling of top leaders in 28 provinces in 9 months.

Q: After the recent military reforms, does Xi Jinping have complete control over the military?

Xin: You could say that. Military reform is a massive operation; frankly, Mao Zedong didn’t dare to do it, and neither did Deng Xiaoping. What Xi has done is unprecedented, but then again he was forced into it. Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou [two disgraced former military vice chairs] had Hu Jintao under their thumb for a decade; everyone in the military was loyal to them. If this issue isn’t resolved at a fundamental level, it’s impossible to gain control over the military.

In fact, Xi forcibly wrestled back control of the military, and the struggle continues to escalate. Recently, there were many personnel changes in the military; this was done to clean out the remaining influence of Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong. Why is this necessary? Because many of Xu and Guo’s subordinates are still in office, and whose side they are on is still unclear. However, the overall situation has been settled, and Xi Jinping is firmly in control of the military. Without controlling the military, there can be no way for Xi to counterattack in this ongoing struggle. So it is reasonable for Xi to have started with military reform, and to purge Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

Read the full article here

Torsten Trey, the executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, speaks at an event in Taipei on Feb. 27, 2013. (Chen Pochou/Epoch Times)Torsten Trey, the executive director of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, speaks at an event in Taipei on Feb. 27, 2013. (Chen Pochou/Epoch Times)

Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, a nongovernmental coalition of medical professionals, has declared the date of Oct. 1 the “International Day Against Forced Organ Harvesting.”  This year is the inaugural occasion, and to mark it the group has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to take action on the abuse.

The concerns of DAFOH, as the organization is often known, focus primarily on what they describe as the killing of prisoners of conscience in China for organs—the practice is believed by researchers to primarily target practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been marked for elimination since 1999, as well as other ethnic or religious communities, including Tibetans, Uyghurs, and possibly some “house church” Christians.

Those concerned with the issue are enjoined by DAFOH to download their petition and send it to both DAFOH and the email address of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The petition expresses “alarm… [at] the mass of evidence of forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience in China.”

It calls on the High Commissioner, currently Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad of Jordan, to call upon China to cease forced organ harvesting, “initiate further objective investigations that lead to the prosecution of the perpetrators involved in this crime against humanity,” and also call upon the cessation of the persecution of Falun Gong.

 Falun Gong, a set of five slow-motion exercises and moral teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, gained significant popularity in China during the 1990s, before it befell the wrath of the leader at the time, Jiang Zemin.

According to the most recent research by the investigators David Kilgour, David Matas, and Ethan Gutmann, between 60,000 and 100,000 organ transplants have been conducted per year in China since around the year 2000 — just six months after the persecution of Falun Gong started. During this period, China claimed that almost the sole source of its organs were death row prisoners — even as the number of death row executees fell, year by year.

Given the enormous gap between the number of transplants and judicial executions, however, (researchers say the latter number is only in the thousands per year), researchers have explored alternate organ sources, and concluded that practitioners of Falun Gong are targeted. The evidence supporting this includes surreptitiously recorded telephone calls with doctors who say they have healthy organs from Falun Gong, multiple independent reports of blood-testing in custody, overlap between personnel engaged in the anti-Falun Gong campaign and organ transplantation, and a range of other indicators.

DAFOH highlights on its website a number of statements of international support, including from Japan and the United States.

Hiroshi Yamada, Member of the House of Councillors in the Japanese Diet, is quoted saying: “I sincerely express my condolence to those who were victims of the forced organ harvesting.  We will take an action from Japan so that this Holocaust, which challenges the sublime spirit of medicine, will be eliminated as soon as possible through strong solidarity of people with conscience in the whole world.”

A number of U.S. federal and state elected representatives also provided comments on the occasion. “Dear Members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission,” writes State Rep. Michael F. Curtin of Ohio. “For many years, I have been deeply troubled by the mounting evidence of forced organ harvesting in China and elsewhere in the world.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission has a moral duty to do everything in its power to bring an end to this outrageous scourge, an affront to civilization and an affront to humanity itself.”

Congressman Michael G. Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania, entered the commemoration into the House of Representatives record with a statement on Sept. 30. “This practice is another form of evil in our time and the United Nations will be further alerted to this crime against humanity, as are we,” he said.

Incidentally, or not, the date of Oct. 1 contains additional significance: It is on this date in 1949 that Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China.

Read the full article here

Huang Jiefu, the spokesperson on Chinese transplantation issues, dodges reporters at The Transplantation Society’s recent biennial conference in Hong Kong on Aug. 19. (Yu Kong/Epoch Times)Huang Jiefu, the spokesperson on Chinese transplantation issues, dodges reporters at The Transplantation Society’s recent biennial conference in Hong Kong on Aug. 19. (Yu Kong/Epoch Times)

China’s organ transplantation authorities may be taking a leaf from the public relations playbook of Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump: If you make a stumble, just pretend like nothing happened.

This, at least, would be a potential explanation for the silent substitution of the 491st question in the 500 “Frequently Asked Questions” on the website of China’s Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, a state-linked agency promoting voluntary donation.

In early August, the question asked was: “Can prisoners in jail apply to donate their organs after death?”

The answer: “As long as they meet the basic requirements of organ donation, the organ function is normal, they are willing, and there is no compensation, prisoners can all the same donate organs.”

The existence of the question and answer was, in the first place, a bizarre and public contradiction of the officially stated policy of the Chinese authorities on organ transplant reform.

China’s organ transplantation spokesperson, Huang Jiefu, has since December 2014 been promising that no more organs would be sourced from death row prisoners.

It remained unclear just why a question on China’s own semi-official website, belonging to the foundation run by Huang, would flatly contest his own public promises.

But it seems the answer to that question will now remain a mystery. Sometime later in August, after Epoch Times brought the aberrant Q-and-A to the attention of several Chinese and Western doctors, it was replaced.

“Will information about donations be widely reported by the media?” the new one asked. (No, is the answer.)

A screengrab from an archived version of the website of the China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation, with the replaced question — affirming the use of prisoner organs — highlighted. (Screenshot/Epoch Times)

Yet the question of whether or not death row prisoners are still being used as an organ source remains unanswered. China, after all, has passed no new law banning the use of organs from prisoners, and nor have they rescinded the 1984 regulations that first gave the legal opening for their use.

An email to the foundation requesting comment was not immediately returned.

The failure to make these promised changes has led the international transplantation community to sour on endorsing China’s system, and led to public rebukes from the former head of The Transplantation Society at a major conference in Hong Kong last month.

Meanwhile, attention continues to focus on whether the primary source of organs all along has not been death row prisoners, as China claims, but instead extrajudicially executed prisoners of conscience—primarily practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been targeted for elimination since 1999.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning this practice in June, documentaries on the subject are winning prestigious awards, and the issue has been prominently raised in a number of recent reports in The New York Times.

On that topic, Chinese authorities have provided even less explanation than the deleted question. “Ridiculous!” was all Huang Jiefu, a former vice health minister, could muster at the recent Hong Kong conference, declining to address hundreds of pages of detailed evidence that researchers say documents the practice.

Read the full article here

Dr. Annika Tibell, chief physician at the New Karolinska Hospital Project in Sweden. (Karolinska Institutet)Dr. Annika Tibell, chief physician at the New Karolinska Hospital Project in Sweden. (Karolinska Institutet)

STOCKHOLM—Dr. Annika Tibell is one of the world’s most respected voices in the ethics of organ transplantation. Currently Chief Physician for the New Karolinska Hospital Project, commissioned this fall in the capital of Sweden, Dr. Tibell was the lead author for The Transplantation Society’s first policy statement on China in 2006, and was one of the founders of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group, a major organization focused on transplantation ethics.

In a recent interview, Tibell joined calls for a major international investigation into China’s organ transplant practices, where researchers believe that for over a decade prisoners of conscience have been the primary source of organs used to supply the massive and profitable industry.

Dr. Annika Tibell, a figure in international transplant ethics, in Stockholm, on Feb. 17, 2011. (Jan Ainali)

The issue came into renewed focus this summer, when a report by investigators Ethan Gutmann, David Kilgour and David Matas presented data indicating that over one million transplants likely look place in China beginning from the year 2000. They believe that the primary source of all these organs is practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that has been targeted for elimination in China since 1999.

She says that the new report is comprehensive and in-depth, though the sheer amount of information has made it difficult to grapple with. She calls the report’s estimate of 60,000 to 100,000 yearly transplants in China “staggering” and calls for an in-depth investigation by a “major, established, public organization” such as the UN or the Council of Europe.

“I wish the calls for action to various major organizations had lead to greater results than what we have seen so far. It’s a shame that this has not happened,” she said.  

When The Transplantation Society reviews its China policy in 2017, it should, to the best of its ability, include in its considerations the findings of the Kilgour-Gutmann-Matas report, as well as other new information to emerge since the policy was written, in 2006, Tibell said. She also says the TTS should contribute to the evaluation of the report, and of the general situation of organ sourcing in China.

China has categorically denied these allegations without responding to them in detail, and claimed that the organ source in the past was mainly death row prisoners, but that there is now a voluntary donation system in place.

This claim has met with skepticism by transplantation specialists, including the current leadership of TTS.

“There remains, in many sectors, a deep sense of mistrust of your transplant programs,” said Philip O’Connell, former TTS president, speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong on Aug. 19. “It is important that you understand that the global community is appalled by the practices, which you have adhered to in the past.”

He added: “Many people in the global community are not persuaded that China has changed.”

Philip O’Connell, former president of The Transplantation Society, at a press conference during the Society’s biennial conference, in Hong Kong on Aug. 19, 2016. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)

The Hong Kong conference was The Transplantation Society’s biennial conference, and originally was aimed to coincide with promised reforms in China to end the practice of procuring organs from executed prisoners.

When it became clear that those reforms were not going to come to fruition, however, TTS executives turned sour on China’s promises.

Interacting with China on transplantation issues is “extremely difficult”, Tibell said. One the one hand, she believes in a dialogue that puts pressure on China to change, but thinks it’s a “balancing act.”

“My opinion is that all interaction with China should have the purpose of achieving change. There is no other reason to interact with China”, she says.

When TTS chose Hong Kong as the venue for the 2016 conference – and included a session about a supposed “new era” for the Chinese transplantation system – some felt that this was a victory for China’s attempts to sweep an enormous crime under the rug and be accepted into the global transplantation community.

An investigation before the congress by Epoch Times found at least a dozen deeply problematic Chinese co-authors, presenters and panelists. This was brought to the attention of the TTS.

One example is Shen Zhongyang, the architect behind the booming transplantation center at the Tianjin First Central Hospital, which was heavily criticized by TTS for its extremely short waiting periods for organs – periods investigators say are impossible unless you have a pool of live “donors” standing by to be harvested on demand.

Tibell said that from what Epoch Times presented, Shen’s presence as co-author of an article is “remarkable,” and she expressed curiosity at the rationale behind it.

Another case is that of prominent liver surgeon Zheng Shusen, who chairs a Party-run organization dedicated to vilifying Falun Gong. He has also published a paper showing the ability to source livers within 24 hours, something experts say is practically impossible without a pool of live donors, on standby for execution. Zheng, unlike Shen, was present at the session, but TTS seemed to have attempted to replace him as speaker and later distanced themselves from him.

Tibell said that Zheng’s case “sounds very troubling.”

“It brings to the fore the fact that the current guidelines on interactions with China is completely focused on the professional role in transplantation. A revision of the guidelines should discuss how to deal with a situation like this,” Tibell said.

She is wary of TTS taking up the non-professional roles that doctors and participants in their conferences may have and suggests it would only be suitable where there are grave aberrations from the norm, such as in the case of Zheng Shusen.

Though the conference program committee made a detailed review of papers before they were presented, Tibell acknowledged: “If people lie to our face, it gets difficult.”

She wouldn’t comment on whether she thinks a Chinese surgeon who is part of a secret system that investigators call a crime against humanity would find it difficult to lie to the TTS.

“I don’t like to speculate on what it’s like to live under a dictatorship,” she said.

Israeli transplant surgeon and previously a member of TTS’s Ethics Committee Dr. Jacob Lavee chose to boycott the conference. Tibell says she respects his position, but that obviously TTS as an organization judged otherwise.

“Only afterwards, perhaps in several years time, will we know if this contributed to a positive development, or if it contributed to increased acceptance [of the Chinese transplantation system],” she says.

Tibell was unable to appear at the conference due to the opening of the New Karolinska Hospital she is involved in.

When asked if she would have attended if circumstances had permitted, Tibell was silent for a long time before answering.

“I would have had to consider it very carefully, just given the choice of location. Will I have contributed to positive change by attending, or will I have contributed to increased acceptance for practices I find unacceptable?”

Read the full article here

A re-enactment shows the torture method of being wrapped up in tape (Minghui.org)A re-enactment shows the torture method of being wrapped up in tape (Minghui.org)

A 65-year-old woman said she was sentenced to five years in a Chinese prison, where she suffered “inhumane torture,” for following a type of meditation practiced by millions in China.

Sun Zhuoying said she was sentenced to five years for hanging a banner that spoke out about the Chinese regime’s unlawful persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong, a type of traditional Chinese meditation practice, in May 2011, according to a report published Sunday on Falun Gong information website Minghui.org.

In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its suppression of Falun Gong, traditionally known as Falun Dafa. Practitioners are routinely subjected to arbitrary arrest, harassment, loss of employment, torture, and death at the hands of CCP officials. Several months ago, a report said Falun Gong adherents are being killed for body parts in China’s popular organ transplant industry. As many as 1.5 million organ transplants may have taken place in China since 2000, which were mostly “harvested” from Falun Gong practitioners, but include other prisoners of conscience, the report said.

Sun described her experiences in a lengthy account, saying she was forced to stand 18 hours each day, her head was beaten “with heavy objects” until she passed out, and she was also subjected to unusual torture methods including being completely wrapped up with sealing tape by other prisoners at the behest of prison guards.

“They forced me to sleep on a wooden board and wrapped me in sealing tape. They bound my hands, feet and body together before wrapping up my feet and legs separately. I couldn’t move even a little,” she said.

She also said she was coerced by prison officials to write a false statement admitting her “crime.” After she wrote a declaration to nullify the statement, Sun was placed in solitary confinement.

“They tortured me so severely that I was often in critical condition. They took me to Shanghai Prison Hospital every couple of months. I once lost consciousness at the hospital from heavy bleeding in my stomach,” Sun added, according to the report.

She described other forms of torture, which was often psychological in nature.

“I was also forced to sit in bed until midnight every day before being allowed to sleep. When my watchers noticed me sleepy, they beat me violently and poured cold water on my neck,” she added. “In the middle of a cold winter they removed my blanket every fifteen minutes at night.”

Sun said she returned home in May 2016.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have said the Chinese regime has been carrying out mass arbitrary detentions, show trials, and other human rights abuses resulting from the persecution.

Read the full article here

The Tianjin First Central Hospital. (mapio.net)The Tianjin First Central Hospital. (mapio.net)

A foreign patient receives a life-extending organ transplant in a Chinese hospital. Feeling grateful, he asks a hospital staff who the donor was so that he may give thanks and repayment.

But no one at the hospital—not even the transplant doctor—knows the donor’s identity.

Before his flight home, the patient is issued an official transplantation document. He finally learns the identity of his life-giver: A 30-year-old male death row convict. Coincidentally, all the other transplant patients received organs from healthy, 30-year-old executed prisoners. Only their names differed.

A correspondent who identified him or herself as having worked at the Tianjin First Central Hospital in the mid-2000s recently recounted the above episode and other oddities in a personal statement provided to New Tang Dynasty Television.

Below is a translation of the statement, edited for brevity and clarity.

***

I’m currently living in mainland China. Once, I worked at the organ transplant center in Tianjin First Central Hospital. What I’ve learned could perhaps serve as a rare warning to those who persist in persecuting Falun Gong. It’s also a cautionary tale for my fellow countrymen with a conscience.

The Communist Party Sells Human Organs

When China was welcoming large numbers of foreign organ transplant patients, I stepped into Tianjin First Central Hospital’s organ transplant center on the seventh floor. I managed to get a job at the transplant center through a recommendation.

Then, Tianjin First Central Hospital was also known as the Orient Organ Transplant Center because it handled large volumes of organ transplant patients, and was located in China. Today, this hospital is still the largest center in Asia.

The world of organ brokers is a black box — but from my contact with that world, I’ve figured out that there are a number of channels for people to learn about or get organs.

One channel is through middlemen. A well-known South Korean doctor with one of the biggest hospitals in South Korea would introduce his patients to a middleman. This middleman would then refer these patients to the Tianjin hospital.

There is no diplomatic arrangement for organ transplantation between China and South Korea. Rather, intermediaries belonging to Mafia-like syndicates cut transplant deals.

Many of the foreign transplant patients came to China looking for a liver or kidney. The bulk of these foreigners were South Koreans, while the rest came from Japan or Taiwan.

Foreign doctors are another channel for organ transplants. Because there was a shortage of transplant doctors in China, an unnamed hospital hired a South Korean doctor on high wages. This South Korean doctor told me that his peers in China held two household registration (hukou) credentials—one South Korean, and one Chinese—and that he is a legal Chinese citizen. I don’t know how much Chinese blood these dual-national South Korean doctors have on their hands.

A third channel is Chinese commercials. These ads feature famous Chinese celebrities, and serve to deceive and entice potential patients. A South Korean patient I keep in touch said that his countrymen flocked to China after watching an organ transplant advertisement starring Chinese actor Fu Biao.

On Aug. 26, 2004, Fu Biao checked into Beijing’s 309 Hospital for a check-up. The following day, he was diagnosed with liver cancer. On Sept. 2, Fu received a liver transplant at the General Hospital of the People’s Armed Police in Beijing.

The chief surgeon operating on Fu was Dr. Shen Zhongyang, a man hailed by the Chinese media as China’s “top scalpel.” Dr. Shen had headed the organ transplant research institute at the People’s Armed Police Hospital and the Orient Organ Transplant Center in Tianjin First Central Hospital.

In April 2005, Fu suffered a cancer relapse. He had a second liver transplant surgery on April 28, and was once again operated on by Dr. Shen, though this time at the Orient Organ Transplant Center.

On Aug. 30, however, Fu Biao passed away.

The following March, the organ harvesting of still-living Falun Gong practitioners in the district of Sujiatun in Shenyang City was exposed. The years between 2002 to 2005 were said to be the peak period of former Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin’s organ harvesting operation. Later, an article revealed that Dr. Shen Zhongyang conducted liver transplant experiments using live subjects, many of whom “died under experimentation.”

Afterwards, a person provided a tip on the sourcing of actor Fu Biao’s donated livers—two Falun Gong practitioners from Shandong. Dr. Shen had killed the practitioners for their organs.

Fu might have only lived a year more after his two liver transplants, his organ transplant advertisements continue to be broadcast in South Korea. Thus, South Koreans still visited China for surgery in 2006 because they didn’t know that Fu Biao was already dead.

Fu only lived a year more after his two liver transplants. But while he passed away on Aug. 30, 2005, Koreans were still going to China for surgery in 2006 because Fu’s organ transplant advertisements continue to be broadcast; unlike the Chinese, the Koreans didn’t know that Fu had died.

Those in need of a liver transplant around the world had fallen victim to the Chinese Communist Party’s enormous deception.

China Has the World’s Largest Human Organ Bank

A South Korean patient once told me that Chinese doctors learned the organ transplantation techniques from the technically superior Japanese doctors.  

When I was at the Tianjin organ transplant center, the hospital staff were familiar with a professor Zheng, a specialist in liver transplants, and a professor Song, a kidney transplant specialist. They were considered the best transplant surgeons in their respective fields, and both had learned their craft in Japan. The two professors didn’t appear to be working for just one hospital—one day they’d be performing surgery in China, and the next day they’d head off to Japan or some place else.

At the Tianjin First Central Hospital, doctors perform transplant surgery in groups of three. I’m not sure how many surgery groups there are. These doctors work night after night, while hospital translators wait with the relatives of patients in the hallways. A liver transplant can take up to 10 hours.

Why did foreigners, particularly South Koreans and Japanese, journey to China for organ transplants, I asked professor Zheng and professor Song. They told me that while they had superior transplantation skills, they weren’t able to find organ donors within a very short time frame in the aforementioned Asian countries. For instance, the waiting time for an organ in Japan or South Korea could be as long as 10 years, or five to six years at the earliest. Some patients pass away while waiting for an organ because acquiring one isn’t easy.

The professors added that everyone in their medical teams and their patients know about the organ waiting time. So many foreign patients end up traveling to China because there appears to be many Chinese organ donors.

Shocked and Distressed Patients

Most of the patients I met at Tianjin First Central Hospital were in need of either a liver or a kidney. Unless the patient suffered an organ rejection, they would be discharged after a short residency period. Under normal circumstances, patients would receive an organ in two days, while some waited anywhere from 10 days to half a month—patients said that this was too fast.

A South Korean patient had the longest waiting time of those I’d met—a whole month—and happened to be at the Tianjin transplant center when the Chinese Communist Party’s live organ harvesting scandal was being exposed.

After a spending a month in Tianjin, the hospital told the patient to travel to the city of Wuhan in central China for a transplant, and we immediately flew over. I didn’t know that an organ transplant network actually existed.

The surgery in Wuhan was very successful, and the patient and his family were very satisfied with the result. Before they returned to South Korea, the patient and his wife—a person of faith—asked who the donor was. The liver transplant had cost him a sum (around three hundred thousand to five hundred thousand yuan), the patient said, but it was the donor who allowed him to regain his health and extend his life.

“I want to know who donated the liver so I can thank the person’s family and give them money or whatever they need; I’m truly very grateful,” the patient said.  

At the time, there was no way for the hospital staff to know where the organs came from. Also, we were warned before being hired that we shouldn’t go sniffing around or indulge in loose talk with patients.

But I wanted to fulfil the South Korean patient’s last request before he left for home.

Of course, the patient didn’t know that we were prohibited from snooping around, and I shouldn’t have been asking questions, but I spoke to the patient’s transplant doctor anyway.

The doctor said: “You’re asking about the donor? Even we don’t even know who the donor is, and there’s no way to find out. Nobody can tell you anything, and no records exist.”

I relayed the doctor’s reply to the patient and his family, and they were very taken aback.

The patient said that international laws regulate the transfer of organs. By these laws, the organ donor and his family are required to sign organ transplantation documents. Without proper documentation, transplant doctors are liable for punishment. In South Korea, everyone knew who their organ donor was because the information has to be made public by law.

Back then, we hospital staff didn’t know anything about the international laws governing organ transplantation. The South Korean patient explained that without these transplantation laws, people could be killed en masse by criminals seeking to profit from their organs. (Then, an organ could be sold for about 300,000 yuan to 700,000 yuan.)

Before leaving the hospital, the South Korean patient said that the hospital needed to give them an official document that indicated that he just had surgery and the organ that he had received, as well as the donor’s personal information and signature. Without this document, the patient wouldn’t be able to board a plane.

I escorted the patient and his family to an airport. They and other organ transplant patients were made to board a special double-decker aircraft instead of a commercial plane. Finally, the organ transplant patients were issued transplantation documents which stated that they had received their organ from a 30-year-old male death row inmate. Only the names of the executed prisoner differed.

Everything was made up.

Post-transplantation Oddities

Organ transplantation is not for everyone. Some patients meet with organ rejection. Others die in surgery. And a few react very adversely after receiving the organ.

A male patient was perfectly normal before checking into Tianjin First Central Hospital. After the organ transplant surgery, however, this patient went insane—he started running around the ward naked, jumping and screaming as he went along.

There was a female patient who suddenly grew a beard after surgery. Her voice became deep and hoarse, and she started to behave like a man.

The examples I listed above are definitely not one-off incidents. During my stint at Tianjin First Central Hospital, patients behaved abnormally from time to time. Doctors told concerned family members that their loved one had developed an adverse reaction to the transplant medication.

At the time, I wasn’t aware that the organs these foreigners had spent large sums of money to purchase came from Falun Gong practitioners. Many of us were too naive, and didn’t imagine that those blinded by money had in fact been brainwashed by the Chinese Communist Party…

One after the other, angels clad in white transformed into murderous devils. Knowing that such things cannot be allowed to continue, I quit my job at Tianjin First Central Hospital.

Afterwards, I obtained information about the live organ harvesting Falun Gong practitioners through various channels. I did what I had to do, and exposed the truth to the world so that those with a conscience can free themselves from the devil’s grip.

Recently, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res.343, a piece of legislation calling on the Chinese regime to immediately cease the harvesting and trafficking of organs obtained from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.

For the past 17 years, Falun Gong practitioners—followers of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance—have been subjected to hundreds of inhumane torture methods, including the atrocity of organ harvesting. This must be stopped immediately, and shouldn’t be allowed to implicate the rest of humanity.

It is the responsibility of every Chinese person in the mainland and abroad to see that live organ harvesting is ended.

Translation by Frank Fang; editing by Larry Ong.

Read the full article here

A Moon Festival greeting card, sent by Falun Gong practitioners from northern China’s Shanxi Province, to the founder of the spiritual practice (Minghui.org)A Moon Festival greeting card, sent by Falun Gong practitioners from northern China’s Shanxi Province, to the founder of the spiritual practice (Minghui.org)

Poems, personal messages, and colored cards are pouring into a Falun Gong website as thousands express their greetings and goodwill to Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of the Chinese spiritual practice, on the occasion of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Falling on Sept. 15 this year, the holiday that dates back well over a thousand years has seen both practitioners of Falun Gong, as well as those who do not practice, sending their regards via Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that was founded in 1999.

Mr. Li first taught Falun Gong in northeastern China in 1992. The meditation practice, which teaches practitioners self-improvement along the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, rapidly gained in popularity, but was banned in 1999 by the Communist Party. In 1999 a state report estimated 70 million mainland Chinese were had taken up the practice.

Though Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, remains persecuted in China to this day, this has not stopped people in scores of nations worldwide from practicing Falun Gong, nor has it silenced the voices of practitioners still in mainland China.

“I want to congratulate Master a Happy Moon Festival,” wrote a family member of a practitioner living in eastern China’s Shandong Province. “Those who have a conscience all know that Falun Dafa is good and that truthfulness, compassion and forbearance are good.”

A Moon Festival greeting card, sent by an imprisoned Falun Gong practitioner from the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, to the founder of the spiritual practice. (Minghui.org)

Also known as the Moon Festival, the Chinese holiday has a history going back to the Tang Dynasty, where people get together with families and friends to enjoy colored lanterns and eat mooncakes.

The predominant theme of the greetings was gratitude and longing. Some said they wished that they could join Mr. Li, who resides in the United States, in celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. Practitioners from Mr. Li’s hometown of Changchun in northeast China recalled the days when Mr. Li first taught the practice in China and hoped for his eventual return. Others related personal experiences and breakthroughs in their practice of Falun Gong.

“I am lucky to be able to practice Dafa and I have been practicing it for 20 years,” wrote a practitioner from central China’s Hubei Province. “I have become a better person by following the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.”

It is a common practice in Chinese culture to address a teacher or mentor as “Master.”

A family of six from Heilongjiang not only wished Mr. Li a happy holiday, but also declared their strong will to stay in the practice, even though two of them had been made homeless because of the persecution.

Some Chinese who do not practice Falun Gong have also written to convey their respects.

“Respected Master Li,” a technician at a research institute of the Chinese navy who said he does not practice Falun Gong wrote, “In China, morality has fallen to a terrifying degree … Only your Falun Dafa can bring light to this world.”

“I am a Beijing citizen and I like to thank Master Li,” wrote a citizen from Beijing. “Our family of nine have known about the truth about Falun Dafa…the selflessness of Falun Dafa practitioners have touched upon our entire family. And I want to pass on this special wish to special people, so they can believe that Falun Dafa is good and truthfulness, compassion and forbearance is good.”

The greetings also included poems and electronic colored cards, and came from multiple provinces and people from many backgrounds, including those in the oil, health, mining, security, education, finance and railroad industries.

Cards and well-wishes are not limited those living inside China. At the time of writing, Minghui.org has received holiday greetings to Mr. Li from practitioners from England, France, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Iran, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Canada and the United States.

A Moon Festival greeting card, send by Falun Gong practitioners from Iran, to the founder of the spiritual practice. (Minghui.org)

In 2008 the U.S. Department of State cited estimates that Falun Gong practitioners were as much as half of the Chinese regime’s reform-through-labor population, a number that would be in the hundreds of thousands. Human rights groups have reported that pracitioners often receive the worst abuse in detention. Practitioners have reported being subjected to torture, beating, sleep deprivation, forced labor and many other forms of abuses. Minghui.org has confirmed 4,030 practitioners have died from torture and abuse since 1999, although with the difficulty of getting information out of China this number is believed to be low.

The total number of deaths could be over a million, based on developing investigations into the communist regime’s practice of forced organ harvesting. Researchers believe detained Falun Gong practitioners are the primary source for organs used in China’s transplantation industry.   

Outside of China, the practice has been taken up by people from at least 78 countries and regions around the world. In May this year, nearly 10,000 practitioners from at least 53 nations participated in a Falun Gong experience sharing conference at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Read the full article here

Xun Li, President Falun Dafa Association of Canada, urges Prime Minister Trudeau to speak with Chinese leaders about ending the persecution of Falun Gong during his upcoming trip to China  on 26 Aug.,Xun Li, President Falun Dafa Association of Canada, urges Prime Minister Trudeau to speak with Chinese leaders about ending the persecution of Falun Gong during his upcoming trip to China  on 26 Aug.,

OTTAWA—Falun Gong practitioners delivered to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office on Aug. 26 over 120,000 signatures gathered from across Canada calling on him to help end the persecution of their spiritual discipline in China during his official visit to that country from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.

Later the same morning, they had reason to be hopeful based on a response to a reporter’s question about their cause at a technical briefing that covered Trudeau’s upcoming trip to China.

“The issue of human rights, you can absolutely expect to be raised as part of the prime minister’s trip, and it is part of the ongoing dialog that we expect to have with China,” said one of the prime minister’s office spokespersons chairing the media briefing.

“As it relates specifically to Falun Gong, that is very much part of the [list] of human rights issues that Canada is very concerned about.” 

Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is an ancient Chinese spiritual discipline consisting of moral teachings, meditation, and gentle exercises. The teachings are based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

David Kilgour

Former federal cabinet minister David Kilgour, co-author of an investigative report on organ pillaging from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in China, speaks at a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 26, 2016, appealing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge Chinese leaders to end the persecution of Falun Gong in China. (Pam McLennan/Epoch Times)

Viewing the popularity and the traditional principles of the practice as incompatible with the communist system, the regime under former leader Jiang Zemin banned it in 1999 and continues to arrest and torture its adherents today. Mounting evidence from independent investigations also indicates that adherents have been killed in large numbers for their organs to supply a massive and lucrative state-run organ transplant industry.

Showing broad support from concerned people across Canada, the practitioners delivered 70,000 signed postcards along with petition forms bearing 50,000 signatures to Trudeau. The postcards and petition asked Trudeau to take every opportunity to speak with the Chinese authorities to urge them to stop the persecution of Falun Gong and the forcible seizing of vital organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.

Canada has a very clear role to play to be frank with China about its behaviours.

— Xun Li, Falun Dafa Association of Canada

On the same morning, the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) also held a press conference on Parliament Hill just before the technical briefing. FDAC’s president Xun Li asked Trudeau to urge Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese authorities to end the persecution of Falun Gong and release the hundreds of thousands of incarcerated practitioners—including 12 family members of Canadians—and to help bring former leader Jiang Zemin to justice for initiating and orchestrating the persecution.

“As you recently stated, Canada has a very clear role to play to be frank with China about its behaviours that are concerning for Canadians who want to engage China but to do so while upholding their core values including human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Li said.

Seeking Help to Free a Mother and a Father

Hongyan Lu, a Canadian citizen and a Falun Gong adherent, spoke at the press conference about her mother, Chen Huixia, who was arrested on June 3 and has been tortured while detained.

Hongyan Lu speaks at a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 26, 2016, asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help obtain the release of her mother, Chen Huixia, who was arrested on June 3 in China for practising Falun Gong. (Pam McLennan/Epoch Times)

Lu also described an earlier detainment and the fallout it caused in her family. “My mother was abducted once in 2003 for roughly three months, and was only released after my father bribed the police. After her release, the harassment continued, to the point my father felt forced to divorce my mother. Only after my parents divorced was I able to get a passport and come to Canada.”

She emphasized the severity of the human rights crisis and the need for prompt action.

“This situation is quite urgent. I hope Prime Minister Trudeau will communicate with the Chinese regime urging them to stop forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Urge them to follow the International Bill of Human Rights, stop the inhuman persecution, and release my mother and all other Falun Gong practitioners,” Lu said. “It’s time to end this evil crime.”

Paul Li is equally concerned about his father, Xiaobo Li. The elder Li was previously detained in the early years of the persecution and spent eight years in jail. His crime was writing articles to counteract the Chinese Communist Party propaganda vilifying Falun Gong. After his re-arrest in 2014, he was sentenced the following year to another eight years of detention for practising Falun Gong.

Falun Gong practitioner Paul Li holds a photo of his father, Li Xiaobo, who was detained for the second time in China in 2014 and sentenced to a second eight years of imprisonment, at a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 26, 2016. (Pam McLennan/Epoch Times)

The younger Li described how his father quit smoking and became a more tolerant person after taking up the practice of Falun Gong. He also recounted the torture and suffering his father endured in prison.

“I sincerely hope when Prime Minister Trudeau visits China next week, he will raise my father’s case again to the Chinese government, and request [current leader of China] Xi Jinping to unconditionally release my father Xiaobo Li and other Falun Gong practitioners, so that millions of families can reunite and the persecution can end,” Paul Li said.

Organ Pillaging Supplying 60,000 to 100,000 Transplants a Year

Former federal cabinet minister David Kilgour presented details of the recent report titled “Bloody Harvest / The Slaughter: An Update” that he co-authored with Winnipeg-based international human rights lawyer David Matas, and U.S. investigative journalist and China analyst Ethan Gutmann.

Released in June, the report estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 organ transplants have been carried out in China every year since 2000 in approximately 700 hospitals known to perform transplants. While wait times for organs in other countries are measured in years, wait times are in a matter of days or weeks in China.

The report indicates that the main source of the organs has been the large numbers of non-consenting Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. “Freedom House reported in 2015 that Falun Gong practitioners are the largest contingent of prisoners of conscience in China,” said Li in his speech.

Those large estimates of organ transplants add up to over a million Falun Gong deaths over 15 years from 2000 to 2015. Meanwhile, according to the Chinese regime, only approximately 10,000 transplants per year are being done across the country.

“We provide considerable evidence of an industrial-scale, state-directed organ transplantation network, controlled through national policies and funding, and implicating both the military and civilian healthcare systems,” states a note supplied by Kilgour which lists information from the update report as well as suggestions on what legislators and governments can do, such as making the purchase of trafficked organs illegal for Canadians. 

For the Falun Gong prisoners of conscience “donors,” “Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas, and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries,” according to Kilgour’s note.

This massive organ pillaging could only happen because it is “a crime in which the Communist Party, state institutions, the health system, hospitals, and the transplant professions are all complicit.”

Urging PM to Take Action

“What we’re saying is we can’t have normal relations with a government killing their own citizens by the tens of thousands,” Kilgour said, urging the Canadian government to “stand solidly” with the people of China.

Li called on Trudeau to take a principled stand on human rights, including the Falun Gong issue in China.

“Your China trip is another opportunity to give moral support and encouragement to the Chinese citizens yearning for freedom, and to leave a legacy of courageous, principled action Canadians can be proud of,” Li said.

“Your upright stance against injustice and oppression will make a difference.”

Read the full article here

LegCo member Leung Kwok-hung, chief editor of the Chinese edition of Epoch Times Hong Kong Guo Jun, WOIPFG spokesperson Wang Zhiyuan, Malaysian nephrologist Dr. Ahmed Ghazali, and organ transplant abuse investigator David Kilgour. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)LegCo member Leung Kwok-hung, chief editor of the Chinese edition of Epoch Times Hong Kong Guo Jun, WOIPFG spokesperson Wang Zhiyuan, Malaysian nephrologist Dr. Ahmed Ghazali, and organ transplant abuse investigator David Kilgour. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)

HONG KONG—On the penultimate day of The Transplantation Society’s premier industry congress at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Center, a smaller conference with a slightly different focus was held by Epoch Times Hong Kong a short distance away.

The Epoch Times Hong Kong event, which ran for slightly over two hours and included half a dozen speakers, was almost solely on what speakers and organizers characterized as the genocidal abuse of transplantation in China.

The rationale for this optic was put plainly by Cheryl Ng, the spokesperson for Epoch Times Hong Kong.

“We feel a social responsibility to let the public know about this issue, and present a different view from the sanitized version of the reality of transplantation in China that may otherwise be presented,” she said in an interview. “We want to give the victims back a voice.”

Epoch Times was the first media to report on mass organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience in 2006—claims received with open skepticism in some quarters at the time.

A decade later, there is a growing sense of recognition that indeed, large numbers of innocents have been used as an organ source. The primary victims of this activity, experts believe, are practitioners of Falun Gong, a pacifist spiritual practice that teaches the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

The paper has reported closely and aggressively on the Communist Party’s campaign against this population, Ng said, as well as the Falun Gong community’s resistance to suppression.

The half-dozen expert speakers at the forum included David Matas and David Kilgour, a lawyer and former member of Canadian Parliament respectively who have authored some of the most prominent reports on organ harvesting in China; Dr. Ghazali Ahmad, a nephrologist who came from Malaysia; Dr. Maria Singh (appearing via Skype), a board member of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting; and several nongovernmental researchers who have tracked transplant abuse in China with their own research.

Human rights lawyer and investigator of organ transplant abuse David Matas. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)

David Matas focused on his and his colleagues new research, which led to an estimate that between 60,000 to 100,000 transplant operations were taking place in China annually.

The estimate was based on a hospital-by-hospital examination of bed counts, staff numbers, grants and awards, publications, the construction of new transplant wards, and more. It looked closely at 164 hospitals, and presented a survey of the over 700 that have done transplantation in China over the years.

“What that data tells us consistently, hospital by hospital, looking at all factors in combination, is that transplant volumes in China are far larger than the official national figures,” Matas said.

Dr. Ahmed Ghazali, a nephrologist from Malaysia who presented data on transplant tourism to China. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)

Dr. Ghazali had come from Malaysia to present data directly from that country’s public database of renal transplantation recipients. The most striking datapoint he highlighted showed that kidney grafts from supposedly dead donors from China functioned as well as live donors from Malaysia. The implication of this is that in China, kidneys were retrieved from individuals killed for that purpose.

Dr. Wang Zhiyuan, a former military doctor in China and a founder of the nongovernmental research group World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, gave a condensed version of his intense dive into the evidence of organ harvesting in China, available in video online.

The talk, titled “Ironclad and Irrefutable Evidence,” is a dissection of official Chinese publications which, Dr. Wang says, show incontrovertibly that organ harvesting in China is large-scale, state-run, and that it targets a non-death row imprisoned population.

Dr. Wang Zhiyuan, spokesperson for World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)

Given that practitioners of Falun Gong constitute the largest group of prisoners of conscience in China, they are exempt from all protections of the law, and Falun Gong refugees report receiving strange blood tests in custody, the consensus of researchers has rested on the conclusion that this population is heavily targeted for organ harvesting.

It’s a conclusion increasingly accepted as accurate, including by prominent political figures in the United States and Europe.

In a speech in June on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives urging the passage of a resolution that expressed concern over state-sanctioned organ harvesting in China, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said,  “Followers of Falun Gong are among China’s most vulnerable to state-sanctioned abuse, which leaves them as likely victims to this ghoulish practice.”

Congressman Chris Smith was one of the backers of that resolution, which passed unanimously. He wrote to the organizers of the conference in Hong Kong:

“The Chinese government says it is moving toward adherence to ethical standards and accepted procedural guidelines, but in the absence of accurate and transparent information, and with a history of repression and censorship, we cannot take the word of Chinese officials at face value.”

“There is clear evidence that suggests that the organ trade continues in China, that the organs of prisoners continue to be harvested without consent, and that a system of hospitals exist to profit from the sale of these organs,” the letter said. “This is unacceptable, reprehensible, and illegal and the practice of organ harvesting must be ended immediately,” Smith wrote.

Edward McMillan-Scott, former vice-president of the European Parliament, sent a letter to the conference, recounting how he had traveled to Beijing in 2006, meeting witnesses who described that:”the Chinese regime was forcefully harvesting the organs of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, for sale to the booming organ transplant industry.”

Martin Patzelt, a member of the Human Rights Committee of Germany’s Parliament, said in a letter to the forum that: “All the democratic countries in the world should pass such kinds of resolutions,” as that recently passed by the U.S. Congress.

A delegation of observers from a U.S. Congressional office, as well as a number of local diplomatic representatives, were also in attendance at the forum, according to organizers.

Hong Kong legislator Leung Kwok-hung. (Sun Mingguo/Epoch Times)

The Legislative Council member Leung Kwok-hung, most well-known by the moniker “Long Hair,” was a moderator for the event (wedged between a court appearance he was scheduled for later in the afternoon.)

While expressing solidarity with those seeking to shed light on the abuses in China, Leung said he was saddened by the fact that “not a single doctor from Hong Kong” appeared at the forum.

“I urge the doctors in Hong Kong… to do a good job for the Chinese people” by investigating and adding their voice to the issue, he said on stage, wearing his trademark T-shirt.

“I feel a little bit embarrassed. Not even one single doctor came here. I wish that at the next meeting there will be delegations from China and Hong Kong attending this forum.”

Read the full article here

A vendor makes shashlik (kebab) at a booth in Kashi of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Sept. 20, 2006 (China Photos/Getty Images)A vendor makes shashlik (kebab) at a booth in Kashi of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Sept. 20, 2006 (China Photos/Getty Images)

Whether to pick up a piece of fruit or to dislodge that bit of food between your teeth, you have to think twice about where those toothpicks you’re using come from.

Chances are, if the little bits of wood are from China, then what you place in your mouth may be more than you bargained for.

Toothpicks in hot water. (ishibk.com)

Taking a page from Chinese social media star Huang Bo, who did a safety test with chopsticks in hot water in 2013, a Chinese health and lifestyle website carried out a similar tests with five brands of toothpicks in February.

The results turned out just as worrisome as the chopsticks, with all the water dyed a shade of yellow. One batch of toothpicks produced a repellant odor and was covered with a thin layer of white residue after the water was removed. Bubbles were observed in three other batches, and some toothpicks in the fifth batch turned black.

Ma Zhaoli, a researcher with the chemical engineering and environmental department at Qingdao University, said the pungent smell could be the result of toothpicks being treated with sulfur or wood varnish, while the blackened picks were likely the result of mold.

Unsurprisingly, the reasons to avoid Chinese-made toothpicks are similar to why you should eat your Chinese take-out with chopsticks made in the States, or just use a fork and spoon.

They Can Cause Cancer

In 2009, Chinese media outlet Sina reported that the carcinogen rongalite was being used in Longmen, southern China, to produce toothpicks. With over 150 factories producing about 33,600 tons a year, this county of Guangdong Province made 70 percent of the national total.

Carcinogen rongalite in containers. (Sina)

Rongalite is a bleaching agent. It is a cost-effective substitute for the food-grade hydrogen peroxide, and its immediate effects include diarrhea, headaches, and vomiting.

At some factories at Longmen, Sina reported, toothpicks were produced in yards alongside chicken and duck coops, and made by workers without any sanitary gear.

They Are Made in Labor Camps

The sobering reality of Chinese-imported goods was highlighted in January 2013, when an Oregon woman named Julie Keith saw her purchased Halloween set come with a chilling note, written by the prisoner who assembled it in a forced labor camp.

Toothpicks are no exception.

Minghui.org, a website that reports on the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice in China, has identified two forced labor camps, Changliu Detention Center in northeastern China’s city of Tonghua, and the Wangfangdian Detention Center in Liaoning Province, as sites where prisoners, including Falun Gong practitioners were forced to produce toothpicks like those pictured.

Toothpicks made at the Changliu Detention Center (Minghui.org)

At Changliu, over 30 inmates were jammed into a small cell about the size of 300 square feet. The sanitary conditions were appalling: inmates shared two toilets, and inmates infected with lice or scabies were not separated.

Inmates sometimes wrapped and packaged the toothpicks they had used for shipment at Wangfangdian, and the glue was stored in restroom buckets that had seen years of use. According to Minghui.org, many of these toothpicks were sold to the United States and Europe.

Even Chinese State Media Admit to Poor Regulation

The Global Times, the English-language propaganda arm of the Chinese state media, has cited major regulatory and legal problems with the production of toothpicks in China.

“There is no safety standard or any other special regulation governing the process of production, distribution and consumption of toothpicks,” the Global Times reported in 2009.

Ironically, the problems were exacerbated by superfluous bureaucracy—at the time of reporting, there were at least 10 Chinese state organizations tasked with improving public health.

“With overlapping and ambiguous duties, no single agency is capable of handling all product safety regulations and enforcement in China,” the report said. “The unclear division has created conflict and confusion.”

“Citizens often don’t know where to look for help with so many different regulators.”

Read the full article here

Ling Jihua, the former top aide to the head of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on March 8, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)Ling Jihua, the former top aide to the head of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing on March 8, 2013. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The former subordinates of a purged top Chinese Communist Party cadre Ling Jihua continue to be removed from office in what is likely an effort by Party leader Xi Jinping to cleanse the regime of Ling’s remaining influence.

Ling, 59, was formerly the aide to ex-Chinese Communist Party chief Hu Jintao and director of the Party’s General Office. He was arrested in July 2015, and found guilty of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment this July 4.

Recently two of Ling’s deputies were quietly removed from their posts.

Zhao Shengxuan. (cjn.cn)

Zhao Shengxuan, the deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was expelled from office for violating Party discipline, according to a communique in June.

However, a February communique indicated that Zhao, then the most senior of four Academy deputy directors, had resigned. His official biography appeared to have been taken down from the Academy’s website following the announcement of his resignation.

Meanwhile, state mouthpiece Xinhua reported on July 20 that Xia Yong, a deputy director of Legal Affairs Office of the regime’s State Council, was “no longer holding office.” No reason was provided for Xia stepping down, and there wasn’t any announcement of him taking up another job—a development that suggests Xia had been sidelined.

It is unclear whether Xia Yong will at a later date be charged with corruption by the Chinese authorities, but he is currently listed by a U.S.-based nonproft as being involved in one of China’s most brutal persecutions.

Xia Yong. (Xinhua)

In 2005, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) identified Xia as having played an active role in the suppression of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that involves slow exercises and moral teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Feeling threatened by the popularity of the practice—an official survey found 70 million people practicing Falun Gong in 1999—former Party leader Jiang Zemin ordered a persecution campaign on July 20 of that year.

About a week after the persecution was launched, Xia Yong and other scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences denounced Falun Gong using Marxist theories, according to WOIPFG. Xia later became the founding executive director of China Anti-Cult Association, a regime-controlled agency dedicated to spreading anti-Falun Gong propaganda and provided “guidance” on the forced ideological conversion of practitioners in detention centers, labor camps, and brainwashing centers.

Read the full article here

Liang Xiaojun. (Epoch Times)Liang Xiaojun. (Epoch Times)

Director of a law firm in Beijing. Graduate of the prominent China University of Political Science and Law. Son of a wealthy Chinese Communist Party cadre.

Liang Xiaojun is all these things — yet he’s also willing to risk police surveillance and arrest to defend the disenfranchised in Chinese society: maligned death row inmates, house Christians, and Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.

Liang’s commitment to upholding legal rights stems from his observing injustice in China endlessly play out.

“I once defended a person of faith in Chenghai, a district in Shantou City,” he told Epoch Times in an interview. “The person said had been illegally detained at a local legal education school, and was deprived of sleep for over 10 days, threatened, and intimidated. When he explained the situation to the court prosecutor, the prosecutor said: ‘You must’ve committed a crime if the public security officers resorted to torture to extract a confession.’”  

I don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t go to social events, and don’t have much social interaction. So I don’t have much need for money.

A trip to Xi County in the central Chinese province of Henan left Liang feeling that being a lawyer in China is “too tiresome”: “Even though there is the law, the police officers there say, ‘I listen to my leader,’ and the prosecuting officials say, ‘Don’t talk to me about the law; I won’t let you review the court documents.’”

Epoch Times recently spoke with Liang Xiaojun about his work in China; below is an abridged translation of the interview, edited for clarity.

Epoch Times (ET): You started out studying politics and ideology — why did you elect to enter this field back then?

Liang Xiaojun: I entered college in 1991. Then, politics thickly permeated China’s atmosphere, especially after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.

My father was a Party member and was very leftist in his thinking. He strongly supported the Party’s position and believed that the leadership of the Party was unshakable. Because studying politics could allow one to get a job more easily, my father chose this field for me. And so I sat for an exam and was admitted to the Hebei Normal University.

Liang Xiaojun. (Weibo)

What I learned was useless. In fact, I don’t like politics, especially the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism. I learned poorly, didn’t enjoy the lessons, and felt that the teachings were meaningless.

I led a life of affluence, and didn’t encounter any major setbacks. My life was very peaceful and ordinary, and I didn’t have any direct contact with the poor.

But I did observe those living in the farming villages, and I greatly sympathized with them. The country was developing, but why did so many people have to live in poverty and ignorance? The city dwellers discriminated against the villagers, and I found this hard to understand.

I feel that villagers and those in the cities should enjoy the same level of development, and that there shouldn’t be any discrimination. There is injustice in society, I thought, and felt that there should be some sort of system in place to reverse this unjust phenomenon.

Even though I was being indoctrinated with Marxism-Leninism, and the Maoist stuff, I still enjoyed traditional Chinese culture much more. I would read Confucius’s “Analects,” and selections from Mencius. It was from these ancients that I learned about giving up one’s life for a noble cause, and other teachings of virtue. This spiritual pursuit impacted me profoundly.

Meanwhile, I was studying law, and believed that there was something about the law that was worth exploring. For instance, the law embraces values like fairness and justice, which is in fact similar to the concept of “yi,” or “righteousness,” from traditional Chinese culture; in reality, these values are complementary.

ET: Are you still in contact with your classmates from the China University of Political Science and Law? You are all in the same profession, but why do you serve different clientele?

Liang: Of the over 100 classmates at the university, I’m possibly the only one on the rights defense path. I spoke to some classmates in university groups, but they didn’t understand me. Some even quit the groups I belonged to…

Some of us from the China University of Political Science and Law work in the public security system, and we know each other. But they can’t understand the sort of legal cases I take up.

So I haven’t been in contact with my classmates from the Hebei Normal University and the China University of Political Science and Law. First, we have nothing in common. Second, they are keeping their distance from me.

It’s better that my classmates just do what they do. I’m being monitored, and that could affect them if we keep in touch because many of them are government officials. After considering their situation, I’ve decided not to contact them.

That being said, I feel that what I’m doing is excellent and correct. I’m living up to the spirit of the law and defending human rights—there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve found other kindred spirits, and we share a common conviction.

I can’t accept too much money from Falun Gong practitioners. This group has been suppressed for over 10 years, and its adherents lead very difficult lives.

ET: Does the name “Daoheng” (道衡) in your Daoheng Law Firm have anything to do with traditional Chinese culture?

Liang: I did think about traditional Chinese culture when coming up with a name. The character “dao,” (道) is derived from “The Tao that is the way that can be followed, but it isn’t an ordinary way,” and “Taoism follows nature,” while “heng” (衡) means “balance.”

ET: Why are the words “Paying Attention to the Death Sentence” in Daoheng Law Firm’s corporate logo?

Liang: We’ve accepted several death-penalty cases. Some of our clients have their sentence reduced to life imprisonment, or a limited term of imprisonment, and some were even found not guilty.

As a lawyer, when my clients are handed the death sentence, I’m not heartless to the point where I feel nothing. I don’t know what judges who pass the execution order are thinking, because they are required by legal procedure to meet the defendants, the people on death row. After meeting with them, these judges order the execution, and it is done. I don’t know how the judges cope mentally.

Anyhow, I feel very uncomfortable when I know that my clients are going to be executed; I even have dreams about executions and my clients at night. People commit drug-related crimes because they are poor. For a little money, drug mules lose their lives. Being poor isn’t their fault, and killing these people doesn’t solve the problem.  

China has always handed out harsh punishment to drug criminals. However, drug-related crimes haven’t lessened, and are in fact increasing. The death penalty is a complicated legal and political issue. An authoritarian country needs the death penalty to maintain its rule, and to intimidate the people.

ET: Chinese law firms usually have a Party committee and Party leaders. Does your law office have a Party committee?

Liang: Daoheng Law Firm doesn’t have a Party committee.

ET: What sort of court trials do you feel are the most oppressive?

Liang: The trial of Liu Wei from Sichuan Province was the most oppressive  court case I’ve experienced.

Liu was a student at the Beijing Polytechnic University and a Tiananmen protester. After he quit school and returned to Sichuan, the police continued to harass him. So all he could do was rights defense and dissident work.

The Chinese Communist Party’s use of intimidation tactics dissident cases is unrivalled—when court is in session, large numbers of riot police enter the courtroom wearing metal helmets and carrying rifles loaded with live rounds.

Also quite oppressive are cases involving Falun Gong [a traditional Chinese meditation practice persecuted in China].

ET: What effect did the widespread arrest of lawyers in July 9 last year have on the legal community in China?

Liang: The suppression succeeded in some areas, but I feel that new lawyers are stepping out in large numbers. Everyone is persevering and going on with it.

ET: There are many lawyers, but there aren’t many “human rights lawyers.” Why did you decide to become one?

Liang: As a defense lawyer, I discovered that there were many people who were being suppressed by the country’s authorities, resulting in their being unfairly tried and sentenced.

Liang Xiaojun. (Weibo)

In 2008, I represented Kashgar Alimujiang in Xinjiang, a typical case of political and religious persecution. Alimujiang, a Christian who converted from Islam, was marked by the local religious bureau after he started organizing a family church. He was later arrested for “providing state secrets to foreigners,” and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

The Xinjiang procuratorate didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute Alimujiang, and his actions didn’t make him guilty, either. But he was convicted regardless.

When I later started representing Falun Gong cases, I found that it difficult to meet my clients, difficult to review court documents, and difficult to secure a court trial. It was challenging every step of the way because there was interference from public security forces, the procuratorate, and the courts.

After taking on Falun Gong cases, I realize that under the current Chinese system, they are the most severely persecuted group. So I decided to defend these people whose rights have been truly violated.

Since 2009, I’ve accepted between 80 to 100 Falun Gong cases. The authorities have piled intense pressure against me—the judicial bureau came looking for me, and so did other departments. These departments told me that I couldn’t represent Falun Gong practitioners, and that what I was doing was very dangerous.

Because the pressure was so immense, many lawyers who worked on these cases have since stopped representing Falun Gong practitioners. But I’ve always persisted.

Read the full article here