Media Reputation and the Burden of Proof

The popular interpretation of "burden of proof" is that whoever proposes any position should present evidence to support his position. If one party accuses another party of something, the accuser should provide evidence to validate his accusation. In modern civilised societies, however, under certain circumstances, the responsibility to present evidence is reversed. If the accuser has circumstantial evidence and traces of evidence, he can propose the indictment, while the accused must provide concrete evidence to prove his innocence. If the accused fails to do so, there is reason to believe that he is guilty.

Reversal of the burden of proof is usually applied when the accused is in possession of, or monopolises, the evidence. One example is medical accidents: the patient may lack medical knowledge and evidence, but if he was treated and harmed at a hospital, he can press charges against that hospital, while the hospital bears the burden of proof and has to show that it was not responsible for the harm done to the patient. Another example is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)'s monitoring of the stock market. If the SEC has only circumstantial evidence to verify that a company has violated a rule, it can press charges against the company, and the accused company must provide evidence to prove that it did not commit fraud with its stocks and did not cheat stockholders out of their money.

Reversal of the burden of proof does stand in these situations on the basis of justice and moral principles. A civilised society prevents those with power from harming and exploiting less powerful groups such as a patient or the average stockholder.

Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a violent, totalitarian regime that brutalises its people and blocks information, reversal of the burden of proof becomes absolutely necessary in order to uphold justice.

The Minghui website (Chinese version of Clearwisdom.net) quickly and accurately reported the witnesses' words in its exposure of the Sujiatun Concentration Camp, and this testimony constitutes powerful circumstantial evidence; therefore the burden of proof no longer lies with the Minghui website. If people ask for direct evidence such as pictures or physical evidence, they should direct their requests at the CCP regime, instead of the Minghui website. The CCP monopolises all resources of information and tries its best to cover up the truth and block information channels, and it frequently persecutes people who provide information to overseas media by charging them with "leaking state secrets." Due to the present situation, it is immoral and irrational to demand concrete proof.

The Minghui website regards its reputation as its life and does everything possible to verify published articles. The witness who exposed the Sujiatun Concentration Camp mentioned that many people are still facing possible murder. If the Minghui website were to wait until it obtains physical evidence to report this news, those people in danger might lose their lives in the meantime. In consideration of this unique circumstance, the Minghui website had to accurately and quickly report the witnesses' words and request the international community to conduct an immediate investigation. This is the action of a responsible media.

Someone asked, "What if this news is not completely accurate? Wouldn't it affect the reputation of the Minghui website?" I want to ask, "What if it is completely accurate?" If the Minghui website misses the time and the opportunity to save lives just to protect its "reputation," what if those people who were facing danger lose their lives? Isn't it immoral for a media to ignore other people's lives out of fear for its "reputation"? How can a media without morality have a good "reputation"?

Falun Gong practitioners and friends who love and care about the Minghui website: please don't worry so much about the "reputation" of the website. The Minghui website has always conducted itself according to the principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance, despite highly limited resources and manpower. It does not have any consideration for practical interest or pursuit of reputation, but only wants to have a clear conscience. Justice resides in people's minds and hearts.

Nothing is more important than life itself. At this critical moment of life and death, a responsible media should not wait for irrefutable evidence and miss the time and opportunity to save lives. During World War II, Western media and governments did not report and investigate the atrocities inside Nazi concentration camps, and today's media and governments are turning away from the same crimes. We are responsible for awakening their conscience.

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