FIVE FALUN GONG REFUGEES DETAINED IN THAILAND FOR PEACEFUL PROTEST
Five Falun Gong adherents who had escaped to Thailand after persecution in China have been detained in Bangkok for over two weeks now. The group was forcibly seized during a quiet protest outside Bangkok’s Chinese Embassy condemning the serial rape of Falun Gong women by Chinese police. Thai government sources have cited as motives behind the arrests “strong pressure” from Chinese authorities. FDI is concerned that the group, of whom several were tortured or abused in China, will be returned to the mainland and face further violence for their dissident activities abroad. Despite an outpouring of concern by activists around the globe (including demonstrations outside Thai embassies throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia), the five Falun Gong remain at present in Thai custody. FDI is calling for the immediate release of the five Falun Gong and is asking Thai authorities to ensure their safety.
THE GUARDIAN: “HOW THE SANE ARE LOCKED UP IN CHINESE ASYLUMS”
In a recent article (12/24) The Guardian offered a riveting look at the world of China’s ankang, or “peace and health,” (criminal mental asylum) system—a system that the article said is run, shockingly, by China’s notorious Public Security Bureau (PSB) and into which scores of healthy Falun Gong adherents have been banished. The article draws on interviews with Wang Wanxing, a political dissident recently released from the ankang system after thirteen years. “As in the old Soviet Union, China classifies dissidents as being ‘mentally ill,’ arguing that their activities against the state are a form of madness. Human rights campaigners believe some 3,000 ‘political’ inmates are currently kept in the hospitals, though the precise figure isn’t known. The numbers have been swelled in recent years with the jailing of numerous practitioners belonging to the Falun Gong dissident movement, as well as local activists who have complained about corruption or poor working conditions,” the piece tells. While an estimated 25 ankang institutes are currently in place, Chinese authorities, according to The Guardian, plan to soon quadruple that number, putting an ankang in every city populated by 1 million or more. Wang Wanxing, like many Falun Gong, was “‘diagnosed’ as suffering from ‘political monomania’--a condition that doesn’t exist.” Wang described conditions inside the system as “terrible,” adding that, “The inmates would beat each other up. There was no safety.” Wang described what amounts to “anarchy” where “treatment meted out to inmates included electric shocks, insulin shocks and forced injections.” Wang witnessed multiple prisoners die from the medical “treatment” they received in custody there.
EPOCH TIMES: “TAIWANESE BUSINESSMEN BLACKMAILED INTO SPYING FOR CHINA”
According to a January 2nd report by the Epoch Times, mainland China’s authorities are actively involved in coercing Taiwanese businessmen into espionage, much of which involves collecting intelligence on Taiwan’s Falun Gong. According to testimony given in Taiwan by defector and former Chinese security official Hao Fengjun, over 2000 Taiwanese businessmen in China have been or are at present victims of these tactics. Hao described how while working for the office of China’s National Security Bureau he “was ordered to masquerade as a city councilman or secretary who would win the confidence of Taiwanese businessmen… [and offer to] overlook crimes such as tax evasion, use of prostitutes, and adultery.” Hao is quoted as saying that, “Many of the entertainment venues [in China] such as nightclubs and bars are actually traps to frame the Taiwanese businessmen as they engage in sexual acts with prostitutes.” Hao would then enter the picture, acting as a sympathetic confidant to the Taiwanese figure who by then had been alerted to the illegality of his acts and the possibility of their being revealed back home, in Taiwan. Hao would pretend to “help” the businessmen out of their predicament by offering a deal: they could redeem themselves by covertly gathering information, “particularly on the activities of Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan.”
CHINESE OFFICIALS ATTEMPT YET AGAIN TO BRING DOWN ATTORNEY GAO ZHISHENG
Beijing attorney Gao Zhisheng has told the Epoch Times of attempts by Chinese authorities to “frame” Gao in recent weeks. (Gao’s law firm was recently closed and Gao’s license revoked by Beijing authorities for his defense of Falun Gong and others.) In one incident Gao received a call from a stranger who offered the attorney millions in cash, so as to avoid paperwork and taxes, for taking up his case. Upon turning down the caller Gao “heard laughter on the other end of the phone,” and a voice saying, “He didn’t fall for it.” Gao also reports now receiving dubious text messages from women propositioning him. The machinations parallel reported investigations of Gao by CCP officials, who are apparently trying to find means to discredit the high-profile attorney. Persons close to Gao are reported to have been detained for questioning in recent weeks by the Beijing PSB.
THOUSANDS OF TAIWANESE GATHER FOR FALUN GONG, EXERCISE FREEDOM
On December 25 four-thousand-plus Falun Gong practitioners from across Taiwan gathered at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall square to form a Falun--or “Law Wheel,” the symbol of Falun Gong. Previous formations of the sort had taken place only in mainland China. The event bespeaks of not only the popularity of Falun Gong in Taiwan, but, importantly, the freedoms enjoyed by those living in democratic Taiwan. In contrast to the violent persecution waged against Falun Gong in the Communist mainland, Falun Gong is widely supported and embraced in Taiwan, itself very much a Chinese society. From administrative departments of the government to the legislative yuan, members of the local legislature to attorneys, prominent figures from all sectors have voiced support. Taiwan’s President has offered public words of encouragement to Falun Gong practitioners, while the Vice President has joined Falun Gong human rights rallies and events. “The contrast in how Falun Gong now fairs on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is a powerful reminder that things could be otherwise--that what’s happening in the Communist mainland is senseless, destructive, and terribly unfortunate,” said FDI spokesperson Erping Zhang.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: “CHINESE INTERNET VS. FREE SPEECH”
In a December 26 piece the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the continued, and perhaps growing, involvement of high-tech U.S. companies in the suppression of free speech in China. The piece writes that, “U.S. tech giants are helping the Chinese express themselves online--as long as they don't write about democracy, Tibet, sex, Tiananmen Square, Falun Gong, government corruption or any other taboo subject.” (As reported in past FDI releases, a number of Falun Gong are serving prison terms for visiting Web sites deemed by Chinese authorities “subversive.”) The Chronicle reports that even words such as “democracy” and “Dalai Lama” are banned, for example, by Microsoft’s Chinese blog site. Yahoo meanwhile proved complicit in the recent arrest and jailing of one foreign correspondent in China. U.S. corporations have become active players in the control of expression in China by providing authorities with surveillance technologies, search filters, blocking tools, and other technologies of control. Concern over U.S. involvement appears to be growing. “Critics say that cooperating with governments to suppress free speech violates human rights, international law and corporate ethics… Both human rights groups and academics reject the companies’ argument that they have no choice but to follow local laws where they do business,” the piece reports. One source, Director of the doctoral program in ethics and law at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Professor Tom Donaldson, compares “tech companies helping China squelch free speech with Polaroid’s providing photographic technology for the passport system used under South African apartheid to control the movements of black citizens…” and has suggested “that what Yahoo, Microsoft and others are accused of doing is worse than merely selling technology to corrupt governments.”