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

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

Qiang Wei attended a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on March 6, 2013. Qiang was recently removed from his post as Party Secretary of Jiangxi Province. (People’s Net)Qiang Wei attended a meeting at the Great Hall of the People on March 6, 2013. Qiang was recently removed from his post as Party Secretary of Jiangxi Province. (People’s Net)

A Chinese provincial Party Secretary connected with a political faction that Party leader Xi Jinping is dismantling recently left office under unusual circumstances.

According to state mouthpiece Xinhua, Qiang Wei, the Party Secretary of Jiangxi Province in southeast China, was replaced by the province’s governor, Lu Xinshe, due to age reasons.

At the age of 63, however, Qiang still has two years to go before reaching the mandatory age of retirement. It is also the norm for Party officials in Qiang’s position to finish their careers while still in office.

The unexpected replacement of Qiang Wei was in fact inevitable with the anti-corruption campaign going on in China, according to Heng He, a political analyst with the New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD). NTD and this newspapers are subsidiaries of Epoch Media Group in New York.

“From the perspective of driving out corruption, the elements of powerfully corrupt and conspiratorial factions are definitely key targets,” Heng told NTD in an interview.

Overseas Chinese language media have long reported on Qiang Wei’s personal corruption and political ties.

In March 2015, Bowen Press reported that Qiang’s younger sister profited from real estate developments in Beijing with the help of Ling Jihua, the former head of the Party’s secretive General Office.

When Qiang was Party Secretary of Qinghai Province from 2007 to 2013, he had allegedly helped Zhou Bin, the son of disgraced former security czar Zhou Yongkang, secure lucrative contracts and large-scale projects, according to Insider Magazine, a publication carried by Mingjing News. Mingjing News is known to trade in high-level political information, of varying degrees of veracity, from Party factions.

Insider Magazine also reported that Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua had promised Qiang the position of Public Security Bureau chief after their foiled coup against Xi Jinping in 2012.

Xi has hinted at the coup attempt in a speech last year where he denounced Zhou, Ling, and three other purged officials for having “carried out political conspiracies to wreck and split the Party.” These “ambitious figures and conspirators” belong to the influential political network of former Party leader Jiang Zemin.

Heng He, the political analyst, said that Qiang Wei’s political rise and sudden downfall is linked to his obeying Jiang’s orders to persecute practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that was marked for brutal suppression since July 20, 1999.

Qiang was the head of Beijing’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission—a small but powerful Party organ—from 1996 until he was moved to Qinghai Province in 2007. In 2013, Qiang became Party Secretary of Jiangxi.

The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), an international human rights nonprofit, found that Qiang had overseen the persecution of Falun Gong in Beijing, Qinghai, and Jiangxi. For instance, the 246 practitioner deaths and most of the over 9,350 detentions in Beijing took place under Qiang’s tenure as the security and legal chief of China’s capital.

WOIPFG considers Qiang responsible for the persecution of Wang Zhiwen, a former engineer with China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation. Wang was arrested at the beginning of the persecution and only released from prison in October 2014. Prison guards once broke his collarbone during a particularly severe beating, and drove toothpicks under his fingernails, before standing atop the fingers.

When Qiang Wei visited Taiwan in 2014 for an official visit, Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan lined the streets along his travel route and held up banners condemning his persecution. Taiwan Falun Gong practitioners also filed a lawsuit against Qiang for genocide with the High Court of Taiwan.

Read the full article here

Under orders of the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party, the regime’s security forces jailed and tortured the husband, daughter, and son-in-law of an elderly Chinese woman from a northeastern province.
Zhang Liqin, a 67-year-old resident of Tonghua City in the province of Jilin, has since joined hundreds of thousands of others who have filed criminal complaints against ex-Party chief Jiang Zemin with the regime’s highest legal bodies. These complaints list the forms of torture and abuse suffered by the litigant, or their family and friends, resulting from Jiang’s campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that comprises five sets of gentle exercises, and the teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Threatened by the immense popularity of the practice—about 70 million people from all walks of life practice Falun Gong, according to a survey commissioned by the Party—Jiang had ordered a Cultural Revolution-style suppression of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999.
Zhang Liqin, her husband Song Wenhua, her daughter Song Dianhua, and her son-in-law Zhang Hongwei were all practitioners of Falun Gong, and they were all victims of the persecution. Song Wenhua eventually succumbed to the abuses he received in detention, and Zhang Hongwei was severely abused.
An account of their tribulations is found in a copy of Zhang Liqin’s criminal complaint, which was published on Minghui.org on May 30. Minghui is a website that serves as a clearinghouse of information about the persecution.
The Song family first came under the regime’s gaze after they traveled to Beijing on July 4, 2000, to present a petition that explained the practice of Falun Gong and request the persecution be called off to the relevant authorities.
Song Wenhua after released from labor camp. (Minghui.org)
The family was temporarily held in Beijing, then transferred to a detention facility in Tonghua City. They were tortured and made to do forced labor, and were only released two months later after other family members posted bail.
Tragedy soon befell Song Wenhua, Zhang Liqin’s husband.
Song was detained two times in a span of three years. After police raided their home in 2002, Song was taken to a local police station where the deputy police personally administered a beating to him.
The following year, provincial security officers arrested Song while he was handing out Falun Gong literature that explained the practice and persecution. The security officers beat up Song and burned his genitals with cigarettes during interrogation sessions. Song was later incarcerated in Chaoyangguo Forced Labor Camp in the city of Changchun on Aug. 8, 2003.
Song was subjected to frequent abuses in detention, and eventually came down with tuberculosis. Although routine medical examinations found that one of Song’s lungs was nearly full of fluids, he was denied medical care and proper food.
In October 2004, a labor camp staff told Zhang over the telephone that her husband was “pretty good” and could be released for a substantial bail fee. Zhang immediately suspected something amiss, and after some negotiations, agreed to bail him out at a reduced fee.
Zhang was “stunned” to find her husband reduced to “skin and bones.”
“I could barely hear his voice, and his movements were sluggish,” Zhang wrote. Song later told her that the labor camp doctor had injected him with an unknown substance just before his release.
Song passed away 11 days later. He was 56.
Some time after her husband’s death, Zhang Liqin suffered another scare—Jilin Prison sent word that Zhang Hongwei, her son-in-law, had contracted a severe case of tuberculosis.
Zhang Hongwei (Minghui.org)
Zhang Hongwei, a security officer for the Tonghua Steel Group Corporation, was arrested in January 2001, and sentenced to 13 years in prison for printing Falun Gong literature. He was first detained in Changchun’s Tiebei Prison, and was transferred to Jilin Prison in March 2002, according to an account on Minghui.org.
Prison guards in Jilin Prison subjected Zhang Hongwei to excruciating torture in a bid to force him to sign a letter renouncing Falun Gong and swear loyalty to the Communist Party.
The guards would frequently poke Zhang Hongwei in the eyes and pinch his privates. They also placed him on a so-called “stretching bed,” a near medieval torture device where a victim’s four limbs are bound with rope to the four bed frame posts in a manner that suspends the victim’s body. Zhang Hongwei was subjected to a total of 52 days on a “stretching bed.”
During Zhong Hongwei’s 12-year stint in Jilin Prison, he developed medical conditions that were serious enough for him to be granted medical parole—a bad case of tuberculosis in 2006, a type of stroke in 2010, and even a brain tumor in 2012—but his family was never allowed to bail him each time.
Reenactment of “stretching bed.” (Minghui.org)
Zhong Hongwei was eventually released on January 19, 2014.
On her criminal complaint, Zhang Liqin wrote: “I hope that the procuratorate and the court can register the case for investigation, look into all the crimes committed by Jiang Zemin, deliver justice for my family, and allow citizens to live a life without fear.”
Since the end of last year, over 201,800 Falun Gong adherents have filed criminal complaints against Jiang for crimes against humanity and genocide, according to Minghui.org.

Read the full article here

A once powerful provincial head of China’s security and law agency, who had built up his career through a network of business and political ties and had a prominent hand in carrying out a nearly 17 year-long persecution of a spiritual discipline, has recently been purged.
On April 16, the Party’s disciplinary agency announced that Zhang Yue, security boss of Hebei Province, was placed under investigation for “seriously violating Party discipline,” though didn’t elaborate on his wrongdoings.  
Zhang was dubbed the “security czar of Hebei,” according to NetEase, a popular Chinese news portal that published a detailed investigation of Zhang’s dealings. NetEase also reported that Zhang, who enjoyed swimming, used public funds to pay for a luxurious swimming facility (or bath house) in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. The female staff at the facility, NetEase said, were hired for their looks, like “flight attendants.” Only public security officials were at or above the ranking of deputy department chief were allowed to use the swimming complex.
Business and Political Connections
Zhang Yue’s business and political network extended deep into Beijing.
Zhang established ties with Guo Wengui, a powerful businessman whose influential business network provided its members with political and legal assistance nationwide. Guo himself reportedly had strong ties with Ma Jian, the former deputy chief of China’s Ministry of State Security, and Ling Jihua, the former chief of staff to ex-Party leader Hu Jintao and former head of the General Office, a key Party gatekeeping agency.
Together, Zhang, Guo and Ma worked together to mount a hostile takeover of China Minzu Securities in 2010, reported NetEase.
The scheme provides an insight into how security muscle in China can be used to make commercial competitors an offer they can’t refuse.
They went to work on two of Minzu Securities’ main shareholders: Capital Airports Holding Company, the largest, which held 61.25 percent, and Hebei Bank, the fourth largest shareholder, with 6.81 percent.
Zhang leaned on Hebei Bank’s government regulator—the Hebei Banking Regulatory Commission—and had them threaten to throw a Party leader working at the bank into prison, reported NetEase. In June 2010, the regulatory commission allowed Beijing Zenith Holdings, where Guo was the controlling shareholder, to buy up the bank’s shares in China Minzu.
Zhang Zhizhong, the president of Capital Airports, was easier to dispose of: he was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Hengshui Intermediate Court. It is suspected, but not proven, that this was engineered as part of the takeover.
In January 2011, Capital Airports Holding Company sold all of its shares in China Minzu for 1.6 billion yuan (about $247 million), about 1.8 billion yuan (about $278 million) below market price, to Guo’s company. Beijing Zenith Holdings then became the biggest shareholder in China Minzu Securities.
Deals like this characterized the entrepreneurial activities of Zhang and his colleagues as they arbitraged their privileges in the public security and spy apparatus. But one of the key reasons that Zhang was able to obtain such unchecked power lies elsewhere.
Zhang’s quick ascent up the political ladder was the result of his connection to former security czar Zhou Yongkang, according to NetEase. Zhou is known to have built his own career, which also saw a rapid ascent from a provincial leadership post to a central Party role running security, by doggedly following the orders of former Party leader Jiang Zemin. Zhou became one of the most infamous perpetrators of Jiang’s policy to hunt down and torture practitioners of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice, teaches five slow-moving, meditative exercises, and exhorts living by the moral principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. Threatened by the rapidly growing popularity of the practice through the 1990s, and its independence from the state, Jiang Zemin ordered a nationwide suppression of the group on July 20, 1999.
Before becoming the head of the Party’s security forces in Hebei, Zhang was chief of the “anti-evil cult” bureau, or the “610 Office,” from November 2003 to December 2007. The “610 Office” was responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong, according to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse of first hand information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
The 610 Office once held a privileged position in the Party, but its prestige has come under direct assault under Xi Jinping, with its former head, Li Dongsheng, sentenced to jail for 15 years in January this year.
Zhang Yue’s rise may also have been assisted by a personal connection. His second wife, Meng Li, was friends and colleagues with Zhou’s second wife, Jia Xiaoye, according to NetEase. Both Meng and Li had worked at the state-run broadcaster CCTV in years past, Meng as a host, and Jia as a journalist.
The persecution of at least 10 practitioners of Falun Gong is directly attributable to the orders of Zhang Yue, according to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a New York-based nonprofit.
Li Zhiqin, a Falun Gong practitioner from Xingtai City in Hebei, died in police custody on Sept. 12, 2007, according to Minghui. Ningjin Police Department has since produced a fabricated document claiming that Li had died of severe heart attack, according to Minghui.
Liu Yongwang, a Baoding resident, was a chief electrical engineer at a foreign company in Beijing before he was subject to persecution at the Baoding Forced Labor Camp in 2001 after being kidnapped by police in Shanghai, according to Minghui. For three years, Liu experienced multiple forms of torture, including forced feeding, being whipped by leather belts and bamboo sticks, shocks with electric batons, and being tied to a bed board. In June 2006, Liu was again abducted by police and taken to Tangshan Jidong Prison.
Liu was released after finishing his 8-year sentence in August 2013. And in February 2016, he filed a lawsuit against Jiang.

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CAn elderly woman from China recently recounted the brutal torture she suffered during her seven-year incarceration for practicing a peaceful spiritual discipline that the Chinese Communist Party has been suppressing for nearly 17 years.
Liu Xia, 63, a retired middle school teacher from Panshi City in China’s northeastern province of Jilin, was so badly abused in prison that she shrunk 6 inches, lost 44 pounds, and has difficulty walking, according to a report on Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for news and information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
The specific pretext for the arrest of Liu is not clear. She is, however, a practitioner of Falun Gong, a traditional self-cultivation practice of exercises and moral teachings. Falun Gong has been persecuted in China since 1999, on the orders of Jiang Zemin, the former Communist Party leader, after he felt threatened by the practice’s popularity. The Chinese regime estimated that about 70 million Chinese citizens from all walks of life were Falun Gong adherents before the persecution.
Liu’s ordeal began on July 10, 2008. Local policemen arrested her and demanded that she give them names of other Falun Gong practitioners in the area. They assaulted Liu and shocked her with electric batons for over 30 hours after she refused to cooperate with them.
On Sept. 28, 2009, Liu Xia was taken to Heizuizi Women’s Prison to begin a seven-year jail sentence. In prison, Liu was subjected to brainwashing sessions, beaten, shocked with electric batons, deprived of sleep, and placed in solitary confinement.
The worst torture was meted out between Dec. 28, 2010 and Jan. 11, 2011. First, Liu was beaten and abused by three of her fellow inmates in a solitary room. According to Minghui, a prison inmate named Han Lijie told Liu: “It’s useless to cry. If you die, we’ll just report that you died from natural causes …”
Two days later, Liu was subjected to a “stretching bed torture”: Prison inmates used bedsheets to tie Liu’s four limbs to four bedposts, leaving her body suspended in mid-air. They then placed heavy objects on her stomach and beat her arms and legs every 10 minutes.
After several days of punishing beatings, Liu Xia was made to write a statement promising that she wouldn’t practice Falun Gong. After she refused, she was stripped and tied to a table in a room, where she was left to freeze.
The abuse that left Liu crippled was meted out on Jan. 12. For long stretches over 40 days, Liu was forced to sit on a torture device known as a “small stool,” and had her hands tied above her head and her feet propped up. Various heavy objects were later placed on Liu’s legs to further her torment.
According to Liu’s account on Minghui: “The torture damaged my nervous system, and my ribs were broken. I became disabled and could not keep my back straight. I shrank more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) in height and lost 20 to 25 kilograms (44 to 55 pounds).”
When Liu Xia was released on July 10, 2015, she couldn’t stand up straight, couldn’t walk properly, and couldn’t lift a spoon with her hands. She also found that her husband had been forced to divorce her, and her son had gone missing after he couldn’t bear “social and family pressure.” Liu is currently staying with her younger brother because she is homeless.
Liu says that she’s lucky she left prison alive. Two other female Falun Gong practitioners who were incarcerated with her suffered far worse fates: Chen Shuqin was killed in custody on April 30, 2012, and He Hua was tortured to the point of insanity, Liu says.
Guo Xia, a prison guard that Minghui describes as particularly sadistic, informed the Falun Gong practitioners in Heizuizi Women’s Prison that she didn’t care if they died or went insane as long as her perfect record—of forcing practitioners to abandon their beliefs—remained unblemished.

Read the full article here

A former Chinese municipal chief who ramped up the arrest and abuse of adherents of a persecuted spiritual faith has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party, according to the Party’s internal disciplinary agency.
In an April 7 notice, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced that Zheng Xuebi, the former Party Secretary of Chengde City in the northern province of Hebei, was found guilty of a litany of wrongdoings, including accepting bribes, nepotism, and appropriating public funds for his personal use. His crimes against Falun Gong were not mentioned as part of his removal, and were not the ostensible reason for the punishment.
When Zheng was deputy chief of Zhangjiakou, another city in Hebei, he had ordered an intense suppression of Falun Gong practitioners in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in nearby Beijing, according to Minghui.org, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for information about the persecution of Falun Gong.  
Falun Gong, founded by Mr. Li Hongzhi in 1992, is a spiritual discipline that involves slow exercises and teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice became a target for persecution in 1999 after Jiang Zemin, the former Party leader, felt threatened by its immense popularity—a survey conducted by the Party found that over 70 million Chinese citizens were performing Falun Gong in parks and other public spaces every day. Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China have since been incarcerated for refusing to renounce their faith and swearing fealty instead to the Communist Party.
In June 2007, Zheng Xuebi ordered that the suppression of Falun Gong be escalated in the city during a telephone conference, according to Minghui. As part of this operation, local police even arrested non-practitioners to smoke out their practitioner family members.
One prominent case involves the arrest and torture of Huo Zhenhua, the wife of Falun Gong practitioner Zhao Wanying. Zhangjiakou police had forced their way into the Zhao family home on July 25 when Zhao Wanying wasn’t around. The police instead arrested Huo Zhenhua, who didn’t practice Falun Gong, and left her two young daughters at home in tears.
Zhangjiakou police did largely the same thing three months prior. They incarcerated Huo Zhenhua for about a month and kept the Zhao house under closely surveillance in hopes of arresting her husband Zhao Wanying, should he have returned. Huo was only released after she had suffered a heart attack; Chinese police typically only release Falun Gong practitioners (or in this case, a non-practitioner) from detention when they have been nearly tortured to death to avoid being implicated for murder.
In early 2008, Zheng Xuebi, the purged Party Secretary, upped the stakes for hiding Falun Gong practitioners by implementing tactics of psychological torture. He had pictures of Falun Gong founder Mr. Li pasted on the floor near the gates of all train stations in Huailai, a county under the administration of Zhangjiakou, and ordered that anyone who refused to step on the pictures be arrested. As part of the repertoire of abuses in brainwashing centers, detained Falun Gong practitioners are sometimes forced to desecrate pictures Mr. Li or Falun Gong literature.

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A top Communist Party leader in China’s northeastern province of Liaoning, who is responsible for persecuting a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer and practitioners of a traditional Chinese self-cultivation discipline, has been placed under investigation.
Su Hongzheng, a standing committee member of Liaoning’s Party organization, and the head of the provincial domestic security committee, was found to have “seriously violated Party discipline”—a euphemism for malfeasance—according to a terse announcement by the Party’s anti-corruption agency on April 6.
Su is not the first high-ranking official to be purged in Liaoning. Four other provincial-level Party cadres, including former Liaoning Party Secretary Wang Wei, have been sacked since 2012, according to The Paper, a semi-official Chinese news website.
As head of Liaoning’s security apparatus, which controls the Chinese regime’s police, judiciary, and prison systems, Su Hongzheng oversaw the persecution of prominent Dalian human rights lawyer Wang Yonghang.
In 2007, Wang started defending practitioners of Falun Gong, and even wrote an open letter to then Chinese leader Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao arguing that the Chinese regime has no legal grounds to prosecute Falun Gong practitioners in court.
Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin had ordered a nationwide suppression of Falun Gong in 1999 after discovering that the practice’s slow moving exercises and teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance had attracted an estimated 70 to 100 million adherents. The Chinese regime’s security apparatus detained hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, and subject them to severe torture and abuse while incarcerated.
Lawyer Wang Yonghang was eventually subjected to the same fate as those he was defending. In 2009, Wang was arrested in Dalian, a city in Liaoning Province, and sentenced to seven years in prison. While being held in Shenyang No. 1 Prison, Wang was subjected to force-feeding and torture after he tried to stop other prison inmates from hitting Falun Gong practitioners, according to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for information about the persecution of Falun Gong.
Lawyers for Lawyers, a NGO based in Netherland, wrote in a February 2015 report that Wang has been in bad health for years, and was then known to be suffering from “symptoms of tuberculosis, pneumonia, chest congestion and a buildup of fluid in tissues around his abdomen.”
Those whom Wang Yonghang tried to defend fared much worse. According to Minghui, there have been 37 instances of Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted to death since Su Hongzheng helmed the Liaoning PLAC in November 2011.
The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization whose intended mission is in its name, had named Su to be directly responsible for the torture and persecution of two Falun Gong practitioners and a human right lawyer.
Petitions by villagers for Zhao’s release. (Minghui.org)
One notable case involves Zhao Fugui, a 43-year-old resident from the city of Benxi who was abducted by local police in July 2014, and given a five-year sentence in December 2014, according to Minghui.org. Angered that Zhao was thrown in jail just because he practiced Falun Gong, over 300 local villagers lent their signatures to a petition calling for his immediate release.
When news of Su Hongzheng’s purge broke on the Chinese internet, several Chinese citizens took to the discussion section of the popular Chinese news portal Sina to rejoice at the fall of a persecutor, and condemn the Party organ he used to run.
“People of Liaoning celebrate enthusiastically,” were the words of two netizens.
“On the security bureau in Liaoning … it’s dark … very dark,” wrote “sjyk555” from Benxi, a city in Liaoning.
“The Liaoning domestic security apparatus should be overhauled,” commented “Do Good Deed 2015” from Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province.

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Nie Dangguan, a provincial political heavyweight in southern China, has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and removed from public office, according to an April 5 notice on the website of the Party’s internal investigative agency.
The public charges against Nie are typical: embezzling state funds, illegally enriching his compadres, visiting prostitutes, and other acts of malfeasance. But these charges also conceal what are much more serious crimes: his supervisory role in ordering the torture and forced labor of practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline.
Nie was formerly the deputy mayor, deputy Party secretary, and head of the local Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) of Jiangmen, a city in Guangdong Province.
According to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a network of volunteer researchers, Nie, being the chief of Jiangmen’s security apparatus, is directly responsible for brutally persecuting two practitioners of Falun Gong.
The PLAC controls the Chinese regime’s secret police, regular police, judiciary, and prison system, and is able to order the arbitrary arrest, forced labor, and torture of any individuals deemed a threat to the regime.
Falun Gong was declared an enemy of the Communist Party in 1999, after years of tacit support by the regime. But after the traditional discipline of self-cultivation—which includes the performance of slow exercises and living by the teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—got too popular, it became a target for elimination by the Party leader at the time, Jiang Zemin.
Party organizations like the PLAC that Nie Dangquan was in charge of and ordered some of the darkest aspects of the persecution.
In October 2012, Jiangmen residents and practitioners of Falun Gong Feng Qifeng and Li Aiqun were incarcerated for practicing Falun Gong and were subject to forced labor and brutal torture.
Feng Qifeng (Minghui.org)
Feng, a former employee of the China branch of Dascom, an international printing, telecommunications, and lighting company, and Li, a retiree, had been arrested by officers from the local 610 Office—an extralegal organization under the PLAC that was created specifically to persecute Falun Gong—and placed in the Jiangmen Detention Center without trial or formal investigations, according to Minghui.org, a website that serves as a clearinghouse of information about the persecution.
While imprisoned, Feng and Li were forced to make plastic flowers and cosmetic masks from 7:00 a.m. in the morning until 11:30 p.m. at night. Assembling the plastic flowers is a torturous process: “Blood and glue mix, and the pain is unbearable. The skin peels, then heals, but breaks again because of the work.”
If workers in Jiangmen Detention Center failed to meet their daily quota for three days straight, they were forced to stand absolutely still for three hours. If they refused to work, they were tied to a bed for a whole day and denied use of the toilet.
On Dec. 9, 2013, a court in Jiangmen, in cooperation with the 610 Office, sentenced Li and Feng to eight and three years in prison respectively, failing to inform either of their family members or lawyers, according to Minghui.
Feng was released from Sihui Prison in Guangdong on Oct. 22, 2015. Li’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

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China’s anti-corruption agency is investigating a Communist Party cadre who previously headed a police academy. Although the agency has not announced the reasons for its probe, the man had been identified to be a serial human rights violator by a U.S.-based non-profit organization.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced on March 22 that Du Min, the former Party chief of the Yunnan Police Officer Academy and former security chief in Kunming, a city in the southwest province of Yunnan, had been placed under investigation for “seriously violating Party discipline”—a byword for corruption—without further elaboration. Du’s last appointment in December 2015 was deputy director of Yunnan’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to China’s rubber stamp legislature.  
In his role as head of the internal security apparatus in Yunnan—the same agency controlled at the central level by the purged official Zhou Yongkang—Du Min was well-known for his persecution of those deemed enemies of the Party. This category includes dissidents, house Christians, practitioners of Falun Gong, among others.
Most information is known about Du’s role in the persecution of the latter group, given that it has been a major political priority of the Communist Party for over a decade.
The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a human rights research and advocacy group based in the United States, points to a number of cases of egregious abuses against practitioners of Falun Gong at the time that Du Min was in charge—making him ultimately responsible for the torture that was administered.
Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice whose adherents perform five sets of meditative exercises and closely follow the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, has been persecuted in China since July 20, 1999, under order from then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. Jiang had declared Falun Gong an ideological challenge to his rule because of its popularity and independence from state control.
As a result of the campaign, the regime’s security apparatus has for the past 16 years imprisoned, tortured, and forced Falun Gong practitioners to sit through forced brainwashing sessions. Over 3,900 practitioners have been killed, and hundreds of thousands others languish in labor camps, according to Minghui.org, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for information about the persecution. Researchers have also marshaled evidence which point to the Chinese regime’s role in forced organ harvesting of live Falun Gong practitioners; an estimated 65,000 practitioners were killed between 2000 and 2008 for their organs, though the real total may be much higher.
MORE:Investigative Report: A Hospital Built for Murder
Wu Yun, 43, a resident of Kunming City in Yunnan Province, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010. She was sent to Yunnan’s Second Women’s Prison, where she was made to do 16 to 17 hours of forced labor per day. Prison guards would also force Wu to sit on a small stool from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and assigned two other prisoners to make sure she didn’t move or change position. It is unclear if Wu Yun has been released from prison.
Zhang Ruqiong, 51, another resident of Kunming, suffered gross abuse at the hands of local security officials. Her home was ransacked on Aug. 27, 2010, and she was held in Guandu District Detention Center without trial. After refusing to sign a statement renouncing her belief and for shouting “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance is good,” security officials tied her to an iron ring that was embedded in the floor and shackled her with 20-pound weights.
“Her feet became swollen and infected and oozed pus, attracting many bugs,” according to an account of Zhang Ruqiong’s persecution on Minghui. After 20 days of abuse and torture, police released Zhang to a local hospital rather than have her die in custody. Police harassed Zhang and her husband when she was recuperating at home; unable to bear the pressure, Zhang’s husband asked for a divorce.
On Aug. 26, 2011, Zhang Ruqiong was officially put on trial. It is unclear what the outcome of the trial was, or Zhang’s present condition and whereabouts.

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NEW YORK—Every year a wide variety of community groups come together to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, Flushing. A colorful procession of floats and performers—drummers, lion dancers, celestial maidens—move through the streets. But for the last few years, a group focused only on inciting hatred has also made its presence known—and according to secretly-recorded footage, they get paid for it.
“We’re the Huasheng Marching Band,” says a man in a secretly recorded audio last week. “We get paid $100 up front when we arrive to take part, and then another $10 for food. We get paid every year. If we didn’t get paid, are we going to come out? We come and play a bit for money, then go home.”
The band accompanied the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, which dressed in red and focused on harassing practitioners of Falun Gong, during the New Year parade on Feb. 13. Falun Gong is a traditional spiritual practice that has been persecuted in China since 1999. CACWA is widely suspected of having close ties with the Chinese consulate in New York, part of whose mission it is to suppress the voice of groups that are deemed dissident by the Chinese authorities.
Falun Gong practitioners, who raise awareness about the abuse, torture, and organ harvesting against them in China, are one of the major targets for China’s diplomatic outposts. The practice itself involves performing five exercises and adhering to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It is believed to have become a target by the Chinese state in the late 1990s because of the number of people practicing it, and their independence from the regime’s control.
Falun Gong practitioners take part in the Chinese Lunar New Year parade in Flushing, Queens, N.Y., on Feb. 13, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
The use of astroturfing techniques—deploying groups that appear to have no relation to the government, but which are in fact supported by the Party, and push a Party-line—is a well-known modus operandi of the Chinese Communist Party. Such techniques have been used expertly by the Party since the Civil War years in the 1930s and 1940s in China. In 2008 the Chinese consular general, Peng Keyu, was caught in a secretly-recorded telephone call boasting about how he had organized angry mobs to besiege Falun Gong on the streets of Flushing.
New Tang Dynasty Television, an independent Chinese-language broadcaster based in New York City, made the secret recording of the Huasheng band member this year. Huasheng is one of China’s official bands based in the United States, according to another secretly recorded interview by NTD last year.
The NTD reporter even followed the band members, and the CACWA group, as they bundled out of the cold and into a large Chinatown restaurant for their lunch banquet.
“Is everyone here? Once everyone is here I will pass out the tickets. Those who are with us, find your own seats. Then tell me the number of people at your table, and I will pass out the tickets,” said Li Huahong, the organizer of the group, in undercover footage recorded on Feb. 13. It was not made explicit in her public statements, but it seemed that the tickets were exchangeable for either cash or the meal.
A still from the New Tang Dynasty Television report showing Li Huahong and members of her group at a restaurant in Flushing, Chinatown. Li is heard calling out instructions for participants to receive their “tickets.” (NTD)
Li has gained a reputation for her virulent propaganda against Falun Gong, which largely copies the official anti-Falun Gong propaganda spread in China by the Communist Party. One of the Party’s most well-known lines is to compare practitioners of Falun Gong to vermin, or a threat to public security who must be struggled against and eliminated.
In March 2013, 13 New Yorkers filed a lawsuit accusing members and supporters of CACA of violating the freedom of belief of those who practice Falun Gong (11 of the plaintiffs are adherents of the discipline). Days before the parade in Flushing this year, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York released a 28-page decision rejecting the motion, filed by counsel for Li Huahong, to dismiss the case.
“I have always said that what the Chinese Communist Party has committed against Falun Gong is genocide,” said Ye Ning, a human rights lawyer in the United States, in an interview with NTD.  “The so-called Anti-Cult Alliance is purely an expansion of the Party’s genocide overseas.”

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As people in China prepare to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 8 this year, tens of thousands made the time to send their well wishes, and to express gratitude, for a Chinese living in exile an ocean away: Li Hongzhi, the founder of the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong.
The electronic greeting cards from around China are being posted to the Falun Gong website Minghui.org. The senders are often, but not always, practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, a system of self-improvement involving the moral teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and the performance of five exercises. Falun Gong has been targeted for elimination by the communist authorities in China since 1999. It is probably the largest persecuted group in the country.
“My wife is a Falun Gong practitioner, and she recovered her health after she began the practice,” wrote one Chinese citizen. “I thank Teacher Li for giving me a perfect wife.” The individual chose to remain anonymous, given that support for Falun Gong can be punished in China, due to the severe repression. “I wish Teacher Li everything is well and the best of luck overseas,” the man added.
A New Year’s greeting card depicting Falun Gong practitioners passing out materials about the persecution, from Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province in far northeastern China. (Minghui.org)
The greetings show that the Chinese regime’s efforts to eradicate Falun Gong in China—a nationwide campaign that was initiated at the highest levels of the Communist Party—has failed to crush the practice, and that many are sympathetic with the plight of practitioners, despite the Party’s propaganda, which attempted to incite hatred against Falun Gong and those who practice it.
For instance, in addition to wishing Mr. Li a happy Chinese New Year, people from Shenzhen in southern China also express solidarity with the practice.
“We witnessed ourselves the tragic reality of how this scoundrel Jiang Zemin used his power to persecute Falun Gong. Jiang has harmed all of us Chinese people,” wrote the individual. “We simply want to uphold justice, we just want to put our names down to join the effort to lodge legal complaints against Jiang Zemin, and have him be brought to justice.”
Jiang Zemin was the Chinese Communist Party leader who declared that Falun Gong was the enemy of the Party and, despite opposition by his colleagues, pushed through a campaign to defame and destroy the practice in China.
Since May last year, over 200,000 practitioners have filed criminal complaints against Jiang Zemin with the regime’s highest courts and prosecuting body, accusing Jiang of genocide and crimes against humanity.
A New Year’s greeting card sent by a practitioner from Yingkou, a city in Liaoning Province in northeastern China. (Minghui.org)
In multiple countries in Asia, over 1 million names have been collected for a signature drive to support the effort to bring Jiang to justice. In Qingyuan County in Liaoning Province, 4,651 citizens either set down their names or added their thumbprints to support the effort, reported Minghui.org on Jan. 6.
Falun Gong practitioners from all walks of life—Minghui included instances of personnel in the postal service, coal companies, railroads, oil fields, military, aerospace, farming, banking, urban management, and more—wished Mr. Li a happy Chinese New Year, and expressed their wish to see him again in China.
A practitioner from Changchun, Mr. Li’s hometown and the first place he disseminated the Falun Gong teachings, wrote: “We disciples miss Master, looking forward to the days when Master returns to his hometown, and we can celebrate the New Year together.”
Of the 23 provinces and 4 municipalities in China, Minghui.org had received electronic greeting cards and well wishes from at least 13 provinces and the province-level cities of Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin, at the time of writing.
“Thank you revered Master for your salvation and everything you’ve done. Thank you!” wrote a practitioner from Tianjin.

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In China and around the world, tens of thousands of Chinese have observed the New Year by sending digital greeting cards to Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. While addressed to Mr.Li, the cards, beautifully displayed on the Falun Gong website Minghui.org, also send a message to Beijing.
The sending of these cards has become an annual event. They typically express appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Li, addressed as “Master,” a title of reverence for a teacher in traditional Chinese culture.
Over 16 years ago, the odds did not seem to favor this joyful custom taking hold. The Chinese regime launched a campaign to eradicate Falun Gong, which the regime’s leader, Jiang Zemin, expected to take three months.
At the time, an estimated 100 million Chinese were practicing Falun Gong, whose adherents perform slow-motion exercises and live according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
The flood of colorful greetings from China is evidence the campaign against Falun Gong has failed. The cards come from all walks of life, and from all regions of China.
A New Year’s greeting card drawn by children practicing Falun Gong at Hengshui City, Hebei Province. It reads “Happy New Year Master.” (Minghui.org)
Steel workers in Tangshan, rail workers from Shanxi Province, oil workers from Chongqing, people working in the publication industry, bankers working at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and steel workers from state-owned enterprise Sinosteel have all sent their own beautifully crafted greeting cards.
A person working for a cigarette company in Shandong Province wrote: “Greetings Master. In the upcoming new year, your disciple firmly believes in truthfulness, compassion, tolerance, as well as Dafa and Master.”
The taking up of the practice by members of the military and the security apparatus was one of the reasons Jiang Zemin feared Falun Gong.
In the greetings posted on Minghui are cards from the General Staff Department—the headquarters unit for the People’s Liberation Army, and soldiers and officers in the Nanjing Military Region, the Guangzhou Military Region, and the Bureau of Ordnance and National Defense, as well as retired military officials from Guangdong.
University students in Shandong took the opportunity to send their good wishes to Mr. Li. Young practitioners from Hebei Province cherished the celebratory moment with beautifully hand-drawn greeting cards.
From the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Changchun, the city where Mr. Li first began teaching Falun Dafa in 1992, practitioners all wished Mr. Li a Happy New Year.
A New Year’s greeting card depicting two heavenly maidens and two snow cranes sent by practitioners working at the military’s General Staff Department to Mr. Li Hongzhi, founder of the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong. (Minghui.org)
People who do not practice Falun Gong, including those from Shandong, Jiangsu, Hubei, Beijing, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Suchan, Wuhan, Hunan, and other areas, either wished Mr. Li a Happy New Year or thanked him.
One person from Xianning, a city in southeastern Hubei Province, wrote: “After I learned the truth [about Falun Gong and the persecution], I know it was Jiang Zemin who started this persecution. And Jiang Zemin is the real criminal. And Jiang Zemin is the real culprit who breaks the law, causing so many people in China to misunderstand Master Li, as well as misunderstanding millions of wonderful Dafa disciples taught by Master Li. Master Li, I am here to give you my apology.”
Large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners remain locked up in detention centers, brainwashing centers, labor camps, or prisons in China. However, their captivity did not stop these practitioners from sending out greetings, including some from women’s labor camps in Fujian, Shanxi, and Hunan provinces, as well as individuals incarcerated in Xinjiang, Yunnan, Jiangsu, and Jinan provinces.

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December 10, 2015

One of the people who kidnapped Hope Chen’s father in China warned the 22-year-old woman on Dec. 8 that she would never see him again if she didn’t watch herself.
The following day, Chen recounted the story to reporters in the press theatre on Parliament Hill. Outside, 700 people gathered for a rally and MPs came one after another to lend their support to people like her—people losing loved ones in China or being threatened in Canada.
Chen, like her father, practices Falun Gong, a Chinese qigong practice of meditation, slow-moving exercises, and a moral philosophy centred on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Falun Gong grew exponentially in the 1990s in China, with official estimates pegging the number of people doing the practice at 70 to 100 million. On April 25,1999, following a quiet campaign by the Chinese regime to repress the practice that included disrupting practice sites, 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to the appeal office in Beijing.
Basically they’re threatening that if I associate myself with Falun Gong, they will never let me see my dad again.— Hope Chen

Within days, then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin began planning a massive crackdown. It was officially launched on July 20 of that year and resulted in hundreds of thousands being arrested and thousands killed. Estimates of the number of deaths vary widely due to the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have disappeared into the Chinese judicial system.
Unlike many dissident movements in China, Falun Gong has continued to challenge the Beijing regime, with practitioners launching underground printing presses to counter state propaganda and creating some of the most effective anti-censorship software in the world so that Chinese people could get around the Chinese firewall.
Now they are taking advantage of changes to the legal system made by current leader Xi Jinping, and have filed 200,000 lawsuits against Jiang Zemin.
Chen’s father, Chen Yongbo, is one of them.
Wave of Lawsuits
Chen’s dad was first taken from her in 2000 for nearly three months when she was 6 years old. He was beaten, tortured, and injected with mind-altering drugs in an effort to “re-educate” him and force him to renounce Falun Gong.
“I remember crying myself to sleep at night, hoping that a miracle would happen and my dad would come back to me. But whatever injustice he faced, he didn’t stop being a compassionate, tolerant person, and he did not give up the right to seek truth and justice,” she says.
This year, Chen Yongbo joined the wave Chinese citizens filing lawsuits against Jiang for launching the persecution of Falun Gong. On Nov. 11 he was abducted from his workplace taken to a brainwashing centre in Wuhan city.
Conservative MP Peter Kent, chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong, speaks at a press conference on Parliament Hill on Dec. 9, 2015. Paul Li and Hope Chen, both of whose fathers are imprisoned in China for practising Falun Gong, stand in the background. (Matthew Little/Epoch Times)
MORE:Canadian MPs Speak Out on 16-year Persecution of Falun Gong in China
On Dec. 8, Chen tried to call her father. Instead, she ended up speaking with a woman named Xu Jun at the 610 Office, an extrajudicial agency that carries out the grim work of targeting and jailing Chinese dissidents. It was launched specifically to stamp out Falun Gong but has since expanded to other activities.
Chen’s voice trembled slightly as she talked about her phone call with Xu. Xu had read a newspaper article about Chen’s efforts to raise her father’s plight and secure his release.
“She threatened me to not be associated with Falun Gong practitioners anymore.”
Chen said she was told that if she did not disassociate from Falun Gong she would never be given a visa to enter China again.
“Then she’s saying they will not issue a visa to my dad. Basically they’re threatening that if I associate myself with Falun Gong, they will never let me see my dad again.”
Political Support
At the rally on Parliament Hill, Chen was joined by two men who have sat in cabinet for their respective parties—Irwin Cotler, as the Attorney General for Paul Martin’s Liberal government, and Peter Kent, one of Stephen Harper’s environment ministers.
She was also joined by Paul Li, a Canadian citizen who was arrested while visiting his father in China in April and then deported after being detained for four days. His dad, Xiaobo Li, was sentenced to eight years in prison. His crime was exposing the arrest and torture of other Falun Gong practitioners through writing articles and handing out information about a pirate radio show.
Unlike many dissident movements in China, Falun Gong has continued to challenge the Beijing regime.

For the younger Li, the presence of people like Cotler and Kent, as well as other MPs who showed up to the rally, meant so much. (Judy Sgro, one of the Liberal MPs who spoke at the rally, revealed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the plight of Falun Gong practitioners with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a recent meeting.)
“For a long time in the past year, I felt sad and sometimes helpless about what happened to my father. But as time passes I feel encouraged by the actions taken by my father and Falun Gong practitioners, and support from the Canadian government,” says Chen.
“Although my father is persecuted in prison for his belief, his actions are righteous.”

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PARLIAMENT HILL—Some 700 people gathered on Parliament Hill on Dec. 9, the eve of Human Rights Day, to deliver 95,000 petition signatures to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to urge his government to pressure China to end the campaign of persecution of Falun Gong.
Several MPs came out to lend their voices and sometimes profound insights to the cause.
Liberal MP Judy Sgro brought greetings on behalf of Prime Minister Trudeau and told the crowd that the PM had taken up their concerns.
“In recent meetings that Prime Minister Trudeau has had with the Chinese leaders, the issue of human rights in China, and specifically the Falun Dafa, was raised by Prime Minister Trudeau to the Chinese president,” she said.
“I know sometimes you get discouraged because some of the persecution continues to happen in China. But you must keep strong and keep doing what you are doing.”
Free, unfettered contemplation is essential to the human experience.— Conservative MP Garnett Genuis

Newly elected Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said governments who restrict religious freedom are inherently insecure.
“They believe that this natural process of free-thinking undermines social and political stability. But free, unfettered contemplation is essential to the human experience,” he said.
“As long as the government seeks to reduce their citizens to something less than human, they will always be insecure because men and women will look into their own minds and hearts and recognize that they were made for something more.”
Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who tabled the first bill in Parliament (former Liberal MP Irwin Cotler filed a similar bill as well) to stop Canadians from going to China for organ transplants, said he would introduce such legislation again.
Forced organ harvesting must be stopped in China, he said.
“Let’s call this for what it is—a horrific example of state cannibalism.” 
Universal Principles
Conservative MP Michael Cooper said it was a privilege to stand beside people defending principles like truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
“Those principles aren’t just Falun Gong principles, they are Canadian principles, and they are universal principles.”
Conservative MP and former environment minister Peter Kent chairs the parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong and has made efforts to get other MPs as well as the Prime Minister to pay attention to the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
“It is a real honour to be with you again,” he said.
Kent said he wanted the Canadian government to urge China to allow 200,000 criminal complaints filed by Chinese people against former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to reach their logical end—a finding of “extreme criminality” for Jiang’s campaign to snuff out Falun Gong.
Cotler, a former minister of justice and attorney general, called on Chinese authorities end the persecution of Falun Gong and “end the practice of the forced and illegal organ harvesting … and which was condemned unanimously by our foreign affairs subcommittee of international human rights.”
“The Chinese authorities seek to frame their relationship with Canada in terms of a narrative of trade and business, and investment, and yes we want to encourage trade, business, and investment between our countries. But there must be constitutionalism along with trade. There must be respect for the rule of law along with business.”
Conservative MP Scott Reid, who raised Falun Gong in his first intervention as an MP in 2001, said he has always been struck by the non-violent response of Falun Gong practitioners in the face of such persecution.
“What we say when we speak in support of you is nothing compared to the example that so many Falun Gong practitioners have demonstrated through their actions.”
NDP MP Peter Julian sent a letter of greeting commending Falun Gong practitioners for following the principles of harmony, tolerance, truthfulness, and compassion.
“Your bravery and courage have proven insurmountable and in the face of adversity you have not wavered from your belief and of the promotion of human rights,” he wrote.
Former Progressive Conservative and Liberal MP David Kilgour said he and all the other speakers were deeply touched by how Falun Gong practitioners have withstood persecution in China.
Kilgour, one of the first people to investigate live organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China, said others have carried out their own investigations and found similar results.
“Organ harvesting began with Uyghur political prisoners and then probably expanded to Tibetans and members of Christian house churches in China. But the persecution of Falun Gong for the first time flooded the labour camps with masses of healthy, exploitable, and very vulnerable people, men and women.”

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