LONDON (EFGIC) – Last night, China’s Xinhua News Agency – the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party – issued a report about an individual who has been sentenced to death for a number of killings he committed that Xinhua says were “inspired … by Falun Gong.”
This morning, the BBC, CBC and Reuters repeated this report as if Xinhua were a credible source of information on Falun Gong.
The claims put forth by Xinhua in this story follow a pattern of fabricated reports that have – under the orders of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin – been faithfully churned out by China’s state-run media over the last four-plus years in an attempt to legitimise the persecution against Falun Gong, or at least dull the interest of would-be critics around the world.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called these claims, “unproven,” “bogus” and part of a “massive propaganda campaign,” and they are the exact opposite from how Falun Gong is known around the world. The United States Congress, for example, said in Concurrent Resolution 188, which passed unanimously by a 420-0 vote: “Falun Gong is a peaceful and nonviolent form of personal belief and practice with millions of adherents in China and elsewhere...” (news)
INADVERTENTLY PROPAGATING HATE
As we saw in the recent decision against two former Rwandan media execs. found guilty of genocide for inciting hatred among the Rwandan people, the media plays an active role in contributing to how people think about, and sometimes act upon, various issues around the world. By issuing reports like this that simply repeat wild, unfounded claims by the Chinese regime, the BBC, CBC and Reuters are inadvertently propagating the very same hate propaganda Jiang Zemin has used for more than four years to turn Chinese people against themselves, and incite them to “help” in the “fight” against Falun Gong. Through this ill-conceived campaign, countless Chinese citizens have been lead into assisting with persecuting their fellow countrymen and women.
Already this morning several Chinese newspapers have picked up the BBC’s report and used it to attack Falun Gong. This in turn can rouse the anger of Chinese people in local communities, inciting more to take part in an already-systematic persecution against Falun Gong: A persecution that has been classified as 'genocide' by a number of the world's leading human rights attorneys, and has resulted in more than a dozen lawsuits around the world against Jiang Zemin and a few other top Chinese leaders. (news)
These issues deserve careful consideration, for when is the responsibility of media to report accurately, fairly and responsibly greater than when it reports on matters that involve the life and death of so many? The people of the world must have the confidence that media companies who are part of the world's free press can bear this burden with integrity and a sense of responsibility for the influence their reports wield.
A PLOY TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM THE REAL NEWS?
In the past, those following Jiang Zemin to persecute Falun Gong have often distributed anti-Falun Gong propaganda with a calculated purpose – to divert attention away from horrific crimes against humanity committed against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
In the case of this story, perhaps they are trying to divert the world’s attention away from a breaking news story. That is, the story of a Falun Gong practitioner who had been named in an Amnesty International “Urgent Action,” and who died the day after Christmas after 21 months of torture and abuse in custody. Mr. Chengjun Liu had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for broadcasting programs in China’s northeastern city of Changchun that exposed the atrocities against Falun Gong practitioners in China and the attempts of Jiang Zemin to cover them up. (news)
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.
With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, Chinas then-Communist leader, Jiang Zemin, outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999, fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiangs regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it. To that end, Jiang established the 6-10 Office, a Gestapo-like agency spanning from the Central Government to the local governments. The United States Congress has described the 6-10 Office as an agency charged with overseeing the persecution of Falun Gong members through organised brainwashing, torture, and murder.
The Falun Dafa Information Centre has verified details of 852 deaths since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. In October 2001, however, Government officials inside China reported that the actual death toll was well over 1,600. Expert sources now estimate that figure to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labour camps, typically without trial.
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