Among the thousands of reporters, athletes, and spectators arriving this week for the Beijing Olympics, most have likely heard of Falun Gong and the Communist Party’s often brutal campaign to crush it. But what few realize is the extent to which the violence meted out against these peaceful religious believers has in some cases taken place within walking distance of Olympic venues, hotels, and prominent landmarks.
So, what exactly is Falun Gong? Who are the individual victims of the Party’s campaign of persecution and where are they from? What leads are available for journalists seeking to investigate what lies behind one of the most taboo topics in today’s China?
These are some of the questions this guide seeks to address, questions that have become all the more pertinent given the scale and severity of the pre-Olympic crackdown on Chinese citizens who adhere to this spiritual discipline.
Since December 2007, the Falun Dafa Information Center has received reports of over 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners who have been detained across China, at least 500 of them from Beijing. We have received phone calls from people who have just heard that their mother, father, or sister was taken from home by the police, interrogated, and sentenced without trial to a “re-education through labor” camp. Even more alarming has been the rise of reports about individuals dying in custody within days, weeks, or even hours of their arrest.
However, with the exception of one article in the Times of London about a Beijing musician who died in custody in March, there has been little attention in the international media to this aspect of Olympic “preparation.”
To assist journalists in remedying this dearth of coverage and reporting on an important chapter of the story of the 2008 Olympics, the Center has compiled the profiles of sixteen Falun Gong adherents detained in Beijing and surrounding provinces, most since the beginning of the year. At least nine of the 16 have died in police custody since the beginning of 2008 and several were persecuted with the complicity of local hospitals and educational institutions.
For each profile, we have included whatever concrete details are available which might assist those seeking to verify the circumstances surrounding these individual cases. These include a photograph of the individual, their address, the name of their former workplace, the last place of detention, known acquaintances overseas easily available for interviews and, in some cases, the names and phone numbers of those perpetrating the abuses in question. Also included in this guide are brief responses to the most commonly asked questions about Falun Gong.
It is our hope that this guide will assist journalists arriving in Beijing to shed light on what has happened to Falun Gong adherents in China in recent months and over the past nine years.
For the individual accounts of Falun Gong practitioners relayed in this volume reflect not only the tragic human costs of a religious minority being brutally suppressed, but rather, the very real dangers any Chinese citizen might face at the hands of the Party-state.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to working with you.
Related report: Torture Outside the Olympic Village: A Guide to Chinas Labor Camps, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) presents a guide to labor camps and detention facilities just a stone's throw from Olympic venues.