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Propaganda Attacked a Spiritual Group, Then Praised John Liu

作者 : miranda0635g 訂閱      2009-10-06 03:48:10
NEW YORK—The story of how a communist propaganda table relates to Comptroller candidate John Liu is an unusual one.

With Cultural Revolution-style slogans and calls for fervent political struggle, the table’s attendants in Flushing, Queens, mostly distribute materials vilifying Falun Gong—an indigenous Chinese spiritual practice and long a target of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Sometimes, though, the attendants hand out materials praising John Liu. One of the organizers also said in a phone discussion that John Liu supports their endeavors.

On the table, headlines seemingly from a bygone era vie for space, like “Combat Falun Gong for the Harmony and Stability of the Community” and “Uphold Science, Eradicate Superstition.” Everything was in Chinese.

An Epoch Times reporter called the phone number on the literature, identifying himself merely as “a reader.”

A core organizer, Shen Rong, said during the discussion, which was in Chinese, that the impetus for starting the anti-Falun Gong table was “to make sure we are not violating the law” and that “we can’t just openly argue, mess with, and struggle against them [Falun Gong]. We need to have a right channel against them, so we had to get this registered.”

Two groups registered as non-profits in New York State, one calling itself the Chinese Descent Civil Rights Institute of New York U.S.A. (CCRI), the other calling itself the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance Inc., according to Shen Rong, who founded the first organization. He said a woman named Li Huahong registered the second. Both individuals were arrested for attacking Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing; Shen Rong says he was acquitted, while Li Huahong’s case is still open.

When asked whether John Liu supported the development to open the anti-Falun Gong propaganda booth, Shen Rong said “Yes, yes, yes” and that “He [Liu] supports our righteous actions.” The Epoch Times tried repeatedly to contact John Liu, sending multiple emails, making phone calls, and paying a visit to his office in Flushing, but received no response.

The events leading up to the propaganda table started when the Global Service Center for Quitting Chinese Communist Party, a volunteer group usually staffed by Falun Gong practitioners, organized a rally on May 17, 2008 to mark 36 million renunciations of the CCP, registered through a Web site affiliated with the group.
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At the same time, pro-CCP groups had organized themselves to fight against and condemn Falun Gong, while Chinese state-run media were poised to broadcast images back to China showing the apparent success overseas of the CCP’s anti-Falun Gong policies.

Less than a week earlier, on May 12, a powerful earthquake had killed at least 68,000 people in China, including 5,335 schoolchildren, according to official statistics.

Armed with footage of Falun Gong practitioners being surrounded and denounced in the streets of New York, Chinese state-controlled media ran exposés claiming that Falun Gong practitioners were celebrating the earthquake and trying to prevent donations for victims. No evidence was presented to support the claims, and some suspected the efforts were a ruse.

The CCP’s failure to substantiate its claims, coupled with its track record of fabricating news against and vilifying the spiritual group, led Falun Gong spokespeople to conclude that the events were orchestrated and another attempt of the Party to extend its anti-Falun Gong propaganda into the United States. Chinese state-run media were nowhere to be found at several previous rallies by the Global Service Center for Quitting the CCP, underscoring the uniqueness of the May 17 situation.

What appeared to be organized attacks nevertheless continued over a number of days, as crowds gathered to abuse, threaten with death, throw eggs at, and thrash around Falun Gong practitioners. After some of the most eager antagonists began to meet with arrests, however, they adopted a new method.

That’s when the table distributing Maoist-style political propaganda was set up.
Between Hate Speech and Free Speech

The anti-Falun Gong rhetoric in Flushing highlights the tension between two core U.S. values, according to Bryan Edelman, senior trial consultant at the Jury Research Institute in San Francisco. On the one hand, there is a strong tradition of freedom of speech in the United States, and any attempts to curtail it would be seen as a “slippery slope.” On the other hand, freedom of religious belief is also vital.

For Norman Siegel, who has been involved in civil rights work for decades, anyone that does not respect freedom of religious belief “should understand that that&9s un-American.” He spoke about the Flushing incidents in a previous interview.

The materials distributed in Flushing included a series of obviously false yet provocative claims about Falun Gong, including that a Falun Gong practitioner killed someone outside the Flushing library on Sept. 6. When questioned, Shen Rong said the murder claim was “obviously an exaggeration.” There were, in fact, no reports of such an incident.

The CCP is well known for its overblown rhetoric in referring to perceived enemies. In 1999 the ex-President of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui, was labeled a “deformed test-tube baby conceived in the political laboratory of hostile anti-China forces,” according to the Associated Press. In 2008, the Dalai Lama was called “a wolf in monk&9s robe, a devil with a human face but the heart of a beast,” in the state-run Tibetan Daily.

Much of the material handed out in Flushing slandering Falun Gong takes its cues from the CCP’s official propaganda line, which was set by the China Anti-Cult Association after the CCP persecution against Falun Gong began in July 1999.
Party-Supported Propaganda Organs

The China Anti-Cult Association (CACA), ostensibly a non-government, non-profit organization, was established in 2000. According to research based on documents from the Party bureaucracy, it is, however, a unit of the official China Association of Science and Technology (CAST), and it was established to support the campaign against Falun Gong. The secretary general and vice-secretary general in charge of CACA’s operations are full-time government employees, and all CACA branches have their offices inside government buildings.

CACA’s local branches can be found at the provincial, county, municipal, and neighborhood levels. “Such associations have emerged as a prominent information channel for the government’s campaign against Falun Gong, as they widely disseminate anti-Falun Gong propaganda by holding study sessions and other community activities to raise ‘anti-cult awareness,’” according to the Congressional Executive Committee on China’s (CECC) 2008 report.

The CACA’s primary activities go beyond developing propaganda against Falun Gong, however. The agency also works closely with the 6-10 Office, an extra-legal Chinese government agency in charge of “eradicating” Falun Gong, the CECC report said.

Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline based on truthfulness, compassion, forbearance. The discipline includes five exercises, one of which is meditation. People who practice it have been persecuted by the CCP since July 1999. Before then, it had attracted between 70–100 million practitioners in China since its introduction to the public in 1992.

The 6-10 Office oversees the “transformation through reeducation” sessions held in prisons and detention centers throughout China that use propaganda and torture to “transform” Falun Gong adherents. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, more than 70,000 cases of torture against Falun Gong adherents have been reported from China, while close to 4,000 are documented to have died as a result of torture and abuse in custody (the actual number of deaths is undoubtedly higher). The Center claims that CACA played a direct role in these cases.
From China to America

While the group established by Shen Rong purports not to use official material from China in attacking Falun Gong, the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance Inc., also registered as a non-profit in the United States, decidedly does.

For example, much of the material distributed by Li Huahong for the Alliance was from “Kaifeng,” a Chinese Web site which acts as a repository of information vilifying Falun Gong, including a cartoon and poem series denigrating Falun Gong practitioners, Falun Gong beliefs, and Falun Gong’s founder.

Demonstrations of links between Kaifeng and the CACA are readily available on the Internet. The Shandong Pudong Anti-Cult association, for example, a local chapter of the CACA, reported on May 13 of this year a successful training meeting for Kaifeng staff, which was organized in conjunction with the 6-10 Office.

Edelman, who has written articles in peer-reviewed journals about Falun Gong, does not think it’s a stretch that CACA may be behind the table in Flushing. “I think it is reasonable to assume that any organized attempt to put pressure on the Falun Gong within the U.S. can be traced back to China,” he wrote in an e-mail.

“Chinese support of these groups gives some insight into the level of paranoia within the CCP and the magnitude of its efforts to eliminate the Falun Gong both domestically and internationally,” he wrote.

These efforts are troubling to Levi Browde, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center. “The horrific things they say about Falun Gong, and all the things they do in the community to coerce people to attack Falun Gong. ... They are bringing the propaganda tactics used in Mainland China and using them right here on New York City streets, and it’s having a very real impact,” he said.
The Liu Connection

In late June 2008, over a month after the incidents began, China Press (Qiao Bao) reported on a meeting between John Liu and a group of local Chinese, a meeting which is said by Falun Gong practitioners to include some of the attackers. The argument attributed to Liu, which was in the form of paraphrase as is common in Chinese newspapers, said he expressed “regret” at the “practice group” which “irresponsibly expresses its opinions.” He was reported as saying: “The issue now is not freedom of speech, but residents in this district being intimidated and abused. ...” China Press is known to promote a pro-CCP perspective.

The form of Liu’s comments—that it was the Falun Gong practitioners with their Quit CCP stand who were disrupting the social order in Flushing, and not those who had attacked them—was repeated the same day in the CCRI literature. Such comments are belied by photographic and video evidence of the events on the ground, however.

At least two of the people manning the anti-Falun Gong propaganda booth were previously implicated in the street violence toward Falun Gong practitioners. Some were also known to have met with John Liu after the attacks began, according to the China Press, which included photographs.

Part of the conditions for registering the table stated that no promotion of political candidates was permitted. Yet one document was given the title “John Liu and Ellen Young should be honored. Our having the elected officials ‘Liu & Young’ is the glory of the citizens of greater New York.”

The document interspersed attacks on Falun Gong with praise for Liu and Young.

After attacking Falun Gong practitioners, the essay turned to praise for Liu and Young: “It is known to all that John Liu and Ellen Young ... are the only ones who bring sunshine to the citizens of greater New York. ... We really hope that Liu and Young can get to higher positions. We firmly believe that John Liu and Ellen Young are the only leaders who can bring brightness and glory to the citizens of New York.”

Levi Browde said he was puzzled at this juxtaposition. “I’m not sure why this group would, on a single pamphlet, venomously attack Falun Gong and then sing the praises of John Liu.

“What do these two things have to do with each other?” he asked. “We find it bizarre.”

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