What the Media Doesn’t Say About Falun Gong

11 Years ago, on July 20, 1999, a persecution against a meditation practice called Falun Gong (or Falun Dafa) officially started in Mainland China. The persecution of Falun Gong was the brainchild of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, who saw Falun Gong’s enormous popularity among 100 million Chinese and simply wanted to crush it.

I learned about Falun Gong from newspapers, first in one of Ian Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in the Wall Street Journal.

Johnson wrote a series of 10 articles (which you can see here) of which I only read one, but they were compelling enough to win the Pulitzer.

Here is part of Johnson’s article that I read 10 years ago from a piece called “Brother Li Love“:

As the campaign against Falun Dafa enters its second year, many wonder how the group has withstood the government’s security onslaught. The crackdown has involved a deployment of uniformed and undercover security agents not seen since the massacre of antigovernment protesters near Tiananmen Square 11 years ago.

Johnson’s work represented an incredible effort to pursue the truth. As the years have worn on, though, media coverage of the July 20 anniversary of the start of the persecution against Falun Gong has dimmed. Other dramas have occupied the global consciousness–namely for Americans, 9/11 and the ongoing battle against terrorists.

At a newspaper where I work as an editor, The Epoch Times, I have seen a completely different chain of events, however.

In the English edition where I work, the commitment to reporting openly and truthfully about the persecution of Falun Gong has remained strong. In fact, if you search the term, “Falun Gong” in Google news today you’ll see what I mean.

In an article from The Epoch Times Editorial Board, they state:

In the past 11 years, the world has witnessed the pain and suffering Falun Gong practitioners have gone through. The CCP [Chinese Communist Party], in addition to spreading outrageous lies, has tortured Falun Gong practitioners with means of torture used only in the darkest eras of humankind, such as the needle club, steel wire, copper whip, bramble whip, genital beating, rape, and the like. A report by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture listed at least 40 types of torture used by the CCP against Falun Gong practitioners. According to reports on Clearwisdom, a website run by Falun Gong practitioners, there have been at least 3,300 confirmed deaths of Falun Gong practitioners; over 100,000 have been sentenced to labor camps; thousands more have been sent to mental hospitals where the tortures may include nerve-damaging drugs. Untold numbers of practitioners have been forced to attend brainwashing classes, and untold numbers have been beaten, made to stand for hours or days on end, and extorted by law- enforcement officials. Because of the CCP’s information blockade, only a fraction of the abuses suffered in the ongoing persecution are known.

Despite such a severe persecution, though, the practice has not been crushed, as Jiang Zemin wanted it to be 11 long years ago. It has spread far and wide to every corner of the world. Reports the Epoch Times:

Eleven years ago, Falun Gong was practiced in 30 countries. Since then, Falun Gong has been calmly and peacefully spreading and is now practiced in 114 countries. Today, Falun Gong can be found in most areas in Asia, North America, South America, and Europe, and in some African countries. Falun Gong books have been translated into over 40 languages.

In another Epoch Times article, staff reporters interviewed international supporters who have fought over the years to help end the persecution. One of them, Edward McMillan-Scott, is Vice-President of the European Parliament. Scott told The Epoch Times:

“I think it’s really important for people to understand just what in the world does really take place in China—the prison camps, re-education through labor, child labor, forced labor, torture. This is the real China,” he said. “The worst thing they’ve done is choose a totally innocent group of people [Falun Gong practitioners], and torture them to death, and this has got to stop.”

In my opinion as a professional journalist, that’s something worth reporting at least once a year.

Reposted from Media and Foreign Policy:


Shen Yun’s Stunning Opening Show at Radio City

NEW YORK—Bursting with color and vitality, the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York came alive with the Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company Saturday afternoon. The first show to celebrate the arrival of the Lunar New Year and Year of the Tiger had the audience enthralled. The audience enthusiastically called for an encore from soprano Geng Haolan, who sang “Reaching the Other Shore” initially and then “Awakening” to follow up.

Midge Pych, director of the Family Resource Center in Connecticut, said the show was wonderful.

“It’s definitely worth seeing—very colorful, and in a way you definitely could remember it later on,” she said at intermission. “It was quick moving and colorful, and the background scenes are wonderful.”

The digital backdrops at Shen Yun bring classical Chinese dance into the 21st century, giving each scene added visual depth and grandeur. From majestic celestial palaces to sprawling Mongolian grasslands, each backdrop is designed to match a dance’s costumes, story line, lighting, and choreography.

Using Chinese classical dance and music, stories from ancient China through today are performed in handmade silk costumes.

“When it tells a story, nobody is talking and you know what the story is,” Ms. Pych said. “It’s like what they did with the tiger, and he drank three glasses of wine. There was no vocabulary, there was just the music and the movement.”

The dance Ms. Pych refers to is Wu Song Battles the Tiger. In this scene from one of China’s most beloved novels, Outlaws of the Marsh, a man-eating tiger plagues a small village that borders a forest.

On the outskirts of town lies an inn whose alcohol is so potent that a sign proclaims, “Three Bowls of Wine and You Have to Stay the Night.” Hunters who try to take on the tiger fail. But when a village man is killed, the mighty Wu Song decides to stalk the beast himself. After imbibing a full three bowls at the inn he stumbles off the save the day.


Podcast for Epoch Times Newspaper Online Features Daily Headlines

A new podcast for The Epoch Times newspaper online features daily headlines, as told by Epoch Times podcast reporter, Rich Crankshaw.

You can hear the Epoch Times podcast, updated daily, here:

Epoch Times Podcast (by date)

Or you can go to the Epoch Times home page and listen to that day’s podcast as live streaming audio:

Epoch Times home page

Voices from the War on Terror

See more from my Foreign Policy Association blog about Media and Foreign Policy here

PEN American Center will host what promises to be an engaging, eye-opening, and interesting event (regardless of one’s political ideology) about the U.S.’s so-called war on terror.

Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the “War on Terror” will include Matthew Alexander, Jonathan Ames, K. Anthony Appiah, Paul Auster, Ishmael Beah, Don DeLillo, Eve Ensler, Jenny Holzer, A.M. Homes, Jameel Jaffer, Susanna Moore, Jack Rice, Amrit Singh, and Art Spiegelman. Guests are writers, artists, lawyers, a former U.S. interrogator, and others.

Co-hosted by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), the event will look at acts of abuse and torture during the war on terror. Event participants will read from the recently-released secret documents that have brought these abuses to light—memos, declassified communications, and testimonies by detainees—and respond with thoughts about how the U.S. can move forward.

When: Tuesday, October 13
Where: The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th St., NYC
What time: 7 p.m.

Tickets: $15/$10 for PEN/ACLU Members and students with valid ID at www.smarttix.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

Top Photojournalists Gather at Brooklyn Gallery

by Genevieve Long for The Epoch Times

See Tim Hetherington in NYC on Dec. 8, 2009, click here for more details

NEW YORK—Close on the heels of the New York Photo Festival, VII photography agency hosted two provocative events at their studio in Brooklyn. Both events featured discussions with photojournalists and documentary photographers on the state of their craft locally and around the world.
Gary Knight at VII in Brooklyn The events on May 21 and 22 were both co-sponsored by dispatches, a journal created by veteran journalists and photojournalists. The journal is a book-like quarterly publication centered on a different theme in each publication, and includes photo essays and reportage (reporting underwritten with personal insight). The most recent edition, “Out of Poverty,” looks at issues related to poverty around the world.

“It [was created] out of a frustration that I was being asked to look at things in an increasingly banal way,” said Gary Knight, editor and art director of dispatches. Knight, who is also co-founder of VII, has photo essays on global poverty featured in the current issue of dispatches.

He says he tries to bring something human and hopeful to people with his photographs.

“You don’t want to leave people in despair,” said Knight, who showed an audience of about 50 a slideshow of his photographs of poverty from dispatches at the May 21 event. “There always has to be some sense of hope.”

Shots from Brazil, India, and Ohio were included and will be on display at the VII gallery through June 16. Audience members were also invited to print their own photos of poverty and add them to a wall in the gallery. About 25 audience photographs were displayed.


Cops and Terrorists and the Cities in Between

by Genevieve Long for The Epoch Times

New York City is one of the safest places to be in the post-9/11 world, believe it or not. Just look at the foiled terrorist plot on May 20 uncovered through a joint NYPD-FBI sting operation. Homegrown terrorists wanted to use surface-to-air missiles to blow up a synagogue. But instead of getting their wish of punishing Americans, they got booked by police for their insidious plot.

The reason these and other terrorists have not attacked New York since 9/11 can be found in journalist Christopher Dickey’s new book, Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterrorism Force—the NYPD.

Through meticulous research and exhaustive interviews, Dickey, who is Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek, explains how New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and NYPD counterterrorism division head David Cohen created an elite counterterrorism force from among the ranks of the NYPD.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the bureaucracy of the CIA, FBI, DHS, DIA, and NSA (the “three-letter guys,” as police call them) proved to have cumbersome processes for warding off future attacks. Kelly was of this opinion, and after being reinstated as New York Police Department Commissioner in 2002, he found NYPD cops who could go inside the world of potential terrorists—in New York and cities around the world. The road to creating that elite force and the impact on public security since is described in Dickey’s book.


New Book Takes Readers Inside the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Work

by Genevieve Long for The Epoch Times

NEW YORK—With 32,000 police, the New York Police Department is the country’s largest police force and has been hardest-hit by terrorist attacks. It’s an operation that needs to have more than a few tricks up its sleeve.

One of these is the NYPD’s Intelligence Unit—an elite group of 600 officers and analysts stationed in New York City and throughout the world. The work of the unit, which was created after 9/11, is detailed in the new book “Securing the City” by Christopher Dickey. Dickey is the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek magazine.

The book, which was released this month, was written with the close cooperation of the NYPD and police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who says the specialized unit was created because information from the federal government was too slow in coming. After 9/11, he realized the NYPD could no longer rely on the CIA, FBI, and NSA to keep New York City safe.

“Everything is bureaucratized, everything is slowed down in the federal government,” said Kelly during a recent discussion with Dickey at the Overseas Press Club in Manhattan. Kelly says in the years since 9/11, the NYPD has focused on how to create a highly skilled and versatile unit with members who not only understand the world of terrorists, but who speak their language and even their slang.

Kelly says these basic communication skills are vital to the work they do.

“We took all of the speakers of the sensitive languages and sent them to Berlitz [language schools],” said Kelly. Many of those used for the special assignment are foreign-born immigrants who the federal government will not clear to do counterterrorism work. Kelly thinks that such an exclusion is a mistake, and understanding subtle linguistic nuances can make for truly useful intelligence. “They know the slang of the back streets of Karachi because they are from the back streets of Karachi,” said Kelly about the members of the unit.