U.S. CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA ANNUAL REPORT 2009

Published 10 October 2009

http://www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf

II. Human Rights

FREEDOM OF RELIGION

China’s Religious Communities

FALUN GONG

Since July 1999, the Chinese Government and Communist Party
have designated Falun Gong an illegal ‘‘cult organization’’
and implemented
a ‘‘strike hard’’ campaign of suppression against it—the
scope and intensity of which have been unrivaled in the seven
years since the Commission began its work. 2009 marked the 10th
anniversary of the government’s formal ban on Falun Gong, a spiritual
movement based on the teachings of its founder, Li Hongzhi,
and Chinese meditative exercises called qigong. Viewing the 10th
anniversary as sensitive, the central government held fast in 2009
with its 2008 pre-Olympics efforts to ferret out and punish Falun
Gong practitioners. Authorities conducted propaganda campaigns
that deride Falun Gong, carried out strict surveillance of practitioners,
detained and imprisoned large numbers of practitioners,
and subjected some who refuse to disavow Falun Gong to torture
and other abuses in reeducation through labor facilities. International
media and Falun Gong sources also reported deaths of
practitioners in Chinese police custody in 2008 and 2009.
‘‘Strike hard’’ directives and ‘‘sensitive’’
anniversaries
The high priority that Party leaders place on the ‘‘struggle’’
against Falun Gong was demonstrated by its inclusion as a principal
target for a ‘‘strike hard’’ campaign in a directive that
set the
agenda for public security bureaus (PSB) nationwide this year.123
In February 2009, the Central Committee on the Comprehensive
Management of Public Security circulated a directive that urged
PSB forces to ‘‘closely watch out for and strike hard against . . .
infiltration, subversion, and sabotage by ‘Falun Gong.’ ’’
124 In November
2008, the People’s Daily reported that the Communist
Party Secretary of Weifang municipality in Shandong province—a
city where police tortured at least 12 Falun Gong practitioners to
death in 2000 and where more than 60,000 were estimated to reside
before the ban125—urged Party cadres not to relent in the
crackdown: ‘‘we must not loosen our hold on the struggle with
‘Falun Gong’ in the slightest way. [Officials] at all levels must firmly
grasp the objectives, go a step further to intensify measures, increase
the force . . . make great efforts to carry out deep strikes
against ‘Falun Gong’ . . . [and] maintain a state of high pressure
from the beginning to end.’’ 126 In May 2009, Gaoyou city in
Jiangsu province issued an ‘‘implementation plan’’ that aimed
to
‘‘raise the people’s understanding and support for the work of
dis121
posing of the ‘Falun Gong’ problem . . . [in order to] resolutely stop
the spread of ‘Falun Gong.’ ’’ 127 A lecturer at the Jilin
Provincial
Public Security Bureau Academy recently described the ‘‘anti-cult
struggle’’ as an ‘‘unrelenting protracted war,’’
and reiterated the
government’s ‘‘determination’’ to ‘‘thoroughly
eliminate the cult
cancer.’’ 128 The Wanquan County PSB in Hubei province reported
plans in May to ‘‘forcefully strike against ‘Falun Gong’ diehard
elements’’
by ‘‘strengthening patrols, forming a tight network of control,
obtaining deep, behind-the-scenes intelligence, and getting to
the point that we know when the enemy will move, before the
enemy can move.’’ 129
Chinese authorities placed the anti-Falun Gong campaign prominently
on the agenda of a special public security taskforce called
‘‘Project 6521,’’ which reportedly was established to maintain
‘‘social
stability’’ during four sensitive anniversaries in 2009, including
the 10th anniversary of the April 25 Falun Gong silent demonstration
near the Party leadership compound in Beijing.130 District officials
in Guiyang city, Guizhou province, reported on ‘‘deployment
arrangements’’ taken to implement two ‘‘monitoring and control
measures’’ during the 10th anniversary of the April 25 Falun Gong
protest: (1) ‘‘take strict precautions to prevent ‘Falun Gong’
from
conducting illegal activities and putting up posters and distributing
propaganda materials’’; and (2) ‘‘local police stations, community
neighborhood committees, and public work units must strengthen
efforts to root out and strike against Falun Gong . . . and in a fundamental
way, eliminate hidden dangers.’’ 131 In Shanghai’s
Nanhui district, Party officials called an ‘‘emergency meeting’’
to
focus on the ‘‘April 25 period,’’ urging police and government
officials to ‘‘sharpen their vigilance’’ and ‘‘strengthen
coordinated
warfare’’ against Falun Gong.132 In Tianjin municipality, officials
increased police patrols and intelligence gathering focused on
Falun Gong practitioners during the 20th anniversary of the violent
suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen protests.133
The 6–10 office
In the past year, the 6–10 Office—an extralegal, Party-run security
apparatus created in June 1999 to implement the ban against
Falun Gong—continued to consolidate its central role in all aspects
of the nationwide ‘‘anti-cult’’ campaign. A June 2009 official
report
from Henan province summarizes the role of the Chenxi County 6–
10 Office as ‘‘taking charge of the supervision, inspection, direction,
coordination, and implementation of the entire county’s anti-cult
work.’’ 134 The duties of the secretariat of the 6–10 Office include
‘‘taking responsibility for protecting secrets’’ and ‘‘supervising
and
solving special investigations and coordinating the work of striking
against and disposing of [Falun Gong].’’ 135 In December 2008, Li
Xiaodong, the head of the central 6–10 Office, visited Siyang county
in Jiangsu province for an inspection and told local officials: ‘‘As
for
the cult problem, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau must
vigorously cooperate with judicial offices in conducting strikes; as
soon as you discover a group, simply attack it, as soon as it shows
its head, hit it right away, you must never be softhearted.’’ 136 The
6–10 Office in Jiangsu’s Suzhou city conducted ‘‘spot checks’’
in December
on community and school ‘‘no-cult’’ projects in the Canglang
122
district.137 Officials noted how the Canglang Party Committee and
government ‘‘attach a high degree of importance’’ to the 6–10
Office’s
work and that it had received a ‘‘full guarantee’’ of funding
and personnel.138
The 6–10 Office and public security bureaus throughout China
surveilled and monitored communities, residences, and workplaces
in order to identify and isolate Falun Gong adherents. In May
2009, the Qidong city 6–10 Office in Jiangsu province conducted an
‘‘investigation to get to the bottom of the situation involving cults,’’
which identified 176 Falun Gong practitioners living in one township.
139 In October 2008, Linxiang city in Hunan province gave
credit to its ‘‘24-hour control and monitoring line of vision’’
for
allowing authorities to ‘‘thoroughly suppress’’ two Falun
Gong incidents.
140 In June 2008, Xuanwei city authorities in Yunnan province
called for strengthened patrols, greater use of plainclothes
officers, and closer cooperation between public security forces and
residential committees in order to ‘‘thoroughly shatter’’
Falun
Gong.141 Xuanwei authorities also authorized a ‘‘powerful political
offensive’’ in all villages and neighborhoods involving mandatory
resident participation in a propaganda campaign to ‘‘effectively
frighten’’ Falun Gong.142 In Shandong province’s Huimin county,
a
2008 workplan for ‘‘implementing concentrated rectification’’
of
Falun Gong requires various agencies to investigate all religious
personnel within their jurisdiction for involvement with ‘‘cult organizations.’’
143 In March 2009, the head of the Shashi District 6–10
Office in Jingzhou city, Hubei province, during an inspection of
sub-district offices, called on officials to ‘‘reinforce monitoring
and
control of ‘Falun Gong’ practitioners.’’ 144 In June 2009,
Jiujiang
city officials in Jiangxi province described a surveillance system focused
on a group of 829 ‘‘key figures,’’ composed primarily of former
Falun Gong prisoners.145 In July, authorities in Shandong province’s
Zibo city placed nine practitioners under a ‘‘system of 24-
hour monitoring and control.’’ 146
Identification and monitoring of Falun Gong practitioners is also
accomplished through the 6–10 Office’s cultivation of paid informants.
The aforementioned circular from Xuanwei city offered a reward
of 10,000 yuan (US$1,464) for each Falun Gong practitioner
who is captured distributing ‘‘reactionary propaganda’’ and
5,000
yuan (US$732) for informants who ‘‘provide clues to crack a
case.’’ 147 In March 2009, Linzi district in Shandong’s Zibo city
unveiled
a reward system for citizen reports of Falun Gong activities.
148 The 6–10 Office in Liuyang, a county-level city under
Hunan province’s Changsha municipality, launched a 24-hour hotline
for informants in March and announced rewards of between 50
and 1,000 yuan (US$7 and US$146).149 In April 2009, the Liuyang
6–10 Office issued an open letter that called for residents to ‘‘resolutely
resist cults’’ and promised an ‘‘appropriate material reward’’
to those who ‘‘courageously report cult behavior.’’ 150 The
Wangcang
County Communist Party Committee and government in Sichuan
province issued a joint letter in April to rural residents that outlined
the ‘‘severe danger’’ posed by Falun Gong, provided residents
with a ‘‘cult’’ hotline, and guaranteed rewards for informants.151
Authorities in Anhui province’s Bengbu city credited an informant’s
call for facilitating the capture of a 50-year-old disabled Falun
123
Gong practitioner named Yu Xiaoping who was distributing leaflets.
152
The 6–10 Office focuses on public schools and universities as
venues for spreading its ‘‘anti-cult’’ message. In May 2009,
the
Xinjiang Agricultural University initiated a 10-month campaign to
‘‘build a durable ideological line of defense’’ to ‘‘guard
against and
resist’’ possible ‘‘sabotage and infiltration’’
by Falun Gong.153 In
June, students and teachers from middle schools all across Panji
district in Anhui’s Huainan city participated in a ‘‘surge of anti-cult
education’’ that ‘‘raised their political consciousness.’’
154 In July, elementary
school students in Leshan city, Sichuan province, attended
a ‘‘lively’’ speech from the local Party secretary and viewed
an ‘‘anti-cult warning film.’’ The principal instructed students
to
study ‘‘anti-cult’’ materials during the summer, take notes
or write
a comic book to illustrate lessons learned, and return a form with
a parent’s signature to verify completion of the assignment.155
Detention, abuse, and death in custody
Chinese authorities continue to employ an extrajudicial system of
incarceration known as ‘‘reeducation through labor’’ (RTL)
to punish
multitudes of Falun Gong practitioners. Public security officials
may order citizens who are suspected of minor criminal or political
offenses to serve up to three years of RTL without establishing
their guilt before a court.156 According to one scholar, authorities
have ‘‘maximized’’ the RTL system as an ‘‘instrument
for political
control’’ over Falun Gong.157 In 2008, the Beijing Women’s RTL
Center reportedly held 700 Falun Gong practitioners compared to
only 140 prisoners accused of other crimes.158 In February 2009,
more than half of 13 former RTL inmates interviewed for one
study—none of whom were practitioners—noted that Falun Gong
constituted one of the largest groups of RTL prisoners and that
they are singled out for harsh treatment.159
As security intensified ahead of the 10th anniversary of the ban,
the ‘‘strike hard’’ campaign resulted in widespread detentions
and
imprisonment of Falun Gong practitioners. In the first half of 2008,
Harbin municipality authorities in Heilongjiang province placed 53
Falun Gong practitioners in criminal detention, 23 in administrative
detention, formally arrested 23, and ordered 19 to serve
RTL.160 In November 2008, Nanning municipality authorities in
the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region reported that they had
taken 36 Falun Gong practitioners into custody, formally arrested
10, held 15 in administrative detention, and sent 3 to RTL.161 In
December 2008, authorities in Pingjiang county, Hunan province,
detained two Falun Gong ‘‘core elements’’ and ‘‘destroyed’’
an underground
printing operation as part of a workplan to ‘‘ruthlessly
strike against’’ Falun Gong.162 In February 2009, Dazhou municipality
in Sichuan province disclosed that public security officials
had detained 114 practitioners and ‘‘destroyed’’ 11 Falun
Gong
‘‘gangs’’ and 17 ‘‘underground nests’’
in three years.163 Huai’an city
officials in Jiangsu province noted that they had ‘‘cracked’’
more
than 20 cases in the first half of 2009 that resulted in Falun Gong
detentions.164
In addition to forced labor, RTL for Falun Gong practitioners involves
a process known as ‘‘transformation’’ whereby they are sub124
jected to various methods of physical and psychological coercion
until they recant belief in Falun Gong.165 In January 2009,
Sichuan Provincial Party leaders inspected the Xinhua RTL center
where 42 male Falun Gong practitioners were detained. RTL
authorities told Party leaders that their ‘‘unique model of transformation’’
had recently succeeded in reforming a group of
‘‘die-hard’’ practitioners.166 In June 2009, the Inner Mongolia
Autonomous
Region Justice Bureau described the Hohhot Women’s
RTL Center as a ‘‘main battlefield’’ in the ‘‘struggle’’
against Falun
Gong, where a total of 518 practitioners had been ‘‘transformed.’’
167 The Assistant Director of the Jiangxi Provincial RTL
Management Bureau pressed his subordinates to ‘‘increase awareness
of the importance of this particular year to our transformation
work and understand the urgency of overcoming the current low
rate of transformation.’’ 168 In July 2009, Party leaders in
Heilongjiang’s Tailai county redoubled their efforts to ‘‘transform’’
one local practitioner who was reportedly the sole holdout among
212 others who had already ‘‘thoroughly transformed.’’ 169
Cases of torture and death of Falun Gong practitioners in official
custody, both confirmed and alleged, continued to surface in the
past year. Amnesty International reported that over 100 practitioners
died in detention or shortly after release in 2008 as a result
of torture or other forms of mistreatment.170 In February 2008, a
popular musician and Falun Gong practitioner named Yu Zhou
died in Beijing police custody 11 days after he and his wife were
detained. Authorities refused to allow an autopsy and Yu’s family
suspects that he was beaten to death.171 In March 2009, a public
security officer at the Shibei District Liaoyuan Road PSB station
in Qingdao reportedly beat Lu Xueqin, a Falun Gong practitioner,
for nine days until she was permanently paralyzed from the waist
down.172 In July 2009, a 45-year-old practitioner named Yang
Guiquan was reportedly declared dead upon arrival at the Fuxin
City Mining Corporation General Hospital in Liaoning province
after being held for 16 days by police and reportedly beaten with
electric batons and force-fed.173
Harassment of attorneys, court irregularities, coerced confessions
In the past year, security officials in southwest China reportedly
assaulted attorneys who attempted to defend Falun Gong clients
facing charges in China’s judicial system. On April 13, 2009, public
security agents in the capital of Sichuan province intercepted and
beat Beijing-based lawyer Cheng Hai as he was traveling to meet
the mother of a Falun Gong client. The agents reportedly kicked
and punched Cheng for agreeing to defend Tao Yuan, a Falun Gong
practitioner who was seeking medical parole from Chengdu municipality’s
Hanyuan Prison.174 On May 13, 2009, more than 20 officers
from the Jiangjin District Public Security Bureau (PSB) in
Chongqing municipality reportedly physically assaulted attorneys
Li Chunfu and Zhang Kai at the home of Jiang Xiqing, a Falun
Gong practitioner whose death in custody they were investigating.
175 Officers took Li and Zhang to the PSB where they hung
them inside iron cages, interrogated, and beat them. Police reportedly
told Li and Zhang that ‘‘you absolutely cannot defend Falun
Gong; this is the situation in China.’’ 176
125
The Chinese Government’s harsh treatment of lawyers who defend
Falun Gong has been most severe in the case of Gao Zhisheng,
a prominent human rights attorney who was last seen being forcibly
taken from his hometown by public security officials on February
4, 2009.177 When public security officials abducted Gao in
September 2007, Gao was tortured in a secret location outside Beijing
for more than 50 days.178 Gao’s account of the abduction describes
how he was repeatedly struck with electric batons all over
his body, including his genitals, and subjected to other forms of torture.
Gao recounts how his tormentors admitted that Falun Gong
practitioners were indeed tortured as Gao had previously alleged:
‘‘you are not incorrect in saying that we torture Falun Gong followers.
That’s right, we do. The 12 courses we’re serving you were
perfected on the Falun Gong followers.’’ 179 Gao was also warned
that he would be killed if he told anyone about being abducted and
tortured.180 He has not been seen since February. [See Section II—
Criminal Justice—The Disappearance of Gao Zhisheng.]
In 2009, authorities in northeastern China reportedly detained at
least four attorneys on account of their defense of Falun Gong clients.
In Harbin city, the capital of Heilongjiang province, authorities
detained attorney Wei Liangyue and his wife in February. Public
security officials reportedly ordered Wei to serve one and onehalf
years of reeducation through labor for meeting with Falun
Gong practitioners, which they described as ‘‘gathering a crowd to
disturb social order.’’ 181 In July 2009, security officials abducted
two lawyers from Shandong province because of their involvement
in Falun Gong cases. On July 2, Jinan city officials detained Liu
Ruping outside of his residence and took him to an undisclosed detention
facility. Six days later, police in Pingdu city reportedly detained
Wang Ping, an attorney with the Tianzhenping Law
Firm.182 On July 4, plainclothes officers raided the home of Wang
Yonghang, a lawyer in Dalian city, Liaoning province. Police detained
both Wang and his wife, and while she was released, Wang
remains in custody.183
In cases where authorities did not physically assault or detain
attorneys who defend Falun Gong, officials often harassed and intimidated
them. The government sought to silence Chinese human
rights lawyers, many of whom have defended Falun Gong practitioners,
by threatening de facto disbarment through the refusal to
renew their licenses to practice. In May 2009, authorities contacted
senior partners at nine law firms and demanded that they refrain
from submitting license renewal applications for certain attorneys
or deliberately submit incomplete applications that could be turned
down on technical grounds.184 In four cases, authorities advised
that certain lawyers should receive poor marks in their annual performance
evaluations, which would be used as a pretense to disbar
them.185 As of early September 2009, the government has used the
normally routine process of ‘‘annual assessment and registration’’
to revoke the licenses of at least 21 rights lawyers.186 The government
also obstructed Falun Gong practitioners’ access to legal defense
when it forced the Beijing Yitong Law Firm to close for six
months in March 2009, largely on account of its role in human
rights cases, including on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners.187
[For more information, see Section III—Access to Justice.]
126
In the past year, trials of Falun Gong practitioners continued to
display procedural irregularities and violations, while justice bureaus
took actions that subverted ordinary legal protections. In
October 2008, the Wuhou District People’s Court in Chengdu, the
capital of Sichuan province, sentenced 11 Falun Gong practitioners
to between three and seven years in prison. The court reportedly
barred family members from attending the trial and prohibited the
defendants’ lawyers from speaking.188 More than 15 lawyers joined
together to appeal the ruling, but the appeals court attempted to
obstruct their access to court records.189 The Harbin Municipal
Justice Bureau issued a directive in October requiring attorneys
who defend Falun Gong practitioners to report to and receive pretrial
‘‘guidance’’ from the government-controlled lawyers association.
190 In January 2009, lawyers for two practitioners on trial at
the Shashi District People’s Court in Jingzhou city, Hubei province,
alleged that torture was used to extort the defendants’ confessions
and complained that the court repeatedly interrupted the defense
counsel’s statements and prevented them from finishing questioning.
191 In February 2009, the Shenyang Municipal Justice Bureau
in Liaoning province ordered several attorneys who had
prepared a not-guilty defense on behalf of six Falun Gong practitioners
to either withdraw from the case or cooperate with authorities,
and threatened to not renew their licenses if they failed to
comply.192 In March, during the trial of 12 practitioners in the
Shibei District People’s Court in Qingdao city, Shandong province,
the defendants’ counsel objected to the court proceedings because
of unlawful procedural violations committed by the court and
procuratorate, and alleged that authorities used torture to extort
confessions from defendants.193
The Party’s 6–10 Office reportedly has interfered in the adjudication
of Falun Gong cases. In November 2008, defense lawyers for
two practitioners on trial at the Jiguan District People’s Court in
Jixi city, Heilongjiang province, challenged the court’s independence
when the presiding judge was seen meeting with 6–10 Office
agents during a court recess.194 In February 2009, the Xi’an District
People’s Court in Liaoyuan city, Jilin province, reported that
when preparing for a trial involving Falun Gong and other ‘‘cult organizations,’’
the court must first ‘‘petition’’ the municipal 6–10
Office,
and only after receiving an affirmative response is the court
then permitted to hear the case.195 A document that appears to be
a ‘‘secret’’ directive dated February 10, 2009, from the 6–10
Office
in Shenyang city, the capital of Liaoning province, surfaced on a
U.S.-based Chinese-language news Web site in March. Among
other things, the directive mandates that the 6–10 Office should
‘‘dispatch personnel to audit court proceedings of ‘Falun Gong’
cases and assist with managing sudden incidents.’’ 196

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