January 1, 2007
2006 Year In Review for Chinese Democracy Mvmt
By John Kusumi
From a China Support Network perspective, what happened this year? 2006 was "Tuidang, Year 2." Tuidang refers to a campaign, ever more insistent, urging all Chinese to quit from the Chinese Communist Party and related organs; and more broadly, for China on the whole to leave behind the CCP. In 2005, "Tuidang, Year 1," 7 million people quit the Communist Party. In 2006, 10 million people quit the CCP, for a total of 17 million resignation statements -- all posted at the Tuidang web site.
The tires have been slashed on China's Communist Party, and it is increasingly unpopular. Those ten million resignations represent excellent news and "the air going out of the tires." Yet, a few more events happened this year, allowing us to claim 10 million and change. The type of change that we would really like to see is China's transition to a democratic, post-communist regime; throughout this year, however, the CCP regime remained stubbornly in place, continuing its Maoist ways of persecution, crimes against humanity, corruption, and propaganda.
In the United States, bought off politicians continued to be bought off; and sold out news media spin doctors continued to be sold out. CNN's Anderson Cooper became "half a hero" with his reporting about Organ Tourism; only half a hero, because he managed to render that report and not breathe one word about Falun Gong persecution. He went half way towards breaking our story. The number of confirmed deaths in the Falun Gong persecution now stands at 2,989, soon to surpass CSN's estimate of 3,001 dead in the Tiananmen crackdown.
The confirmed deaths will be smaller than the number of actual deaths, due to the difficulty of getting reports from within a tyranny that likes to hide its crimes and corruption -- and which holds the levers of state media inside China.
Our big story which broke this year (yet, not on U.S. national TV) dates back to March 9, 2006. That is when the Epoch Times first article appeared, with word of a concentration camp at a medical facility in the Sujiatun district of Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, China. The concentration camp was said to hold Falun Gong practitioners, who were kept as a living organ bank for profitable transplant surgery, which would be performed at the medical facility. Call it organ theft. Call it people farming. Call it organ harvesting. And, call it a genocidal crime against humanity. This practice means that transplants are clearly involuntary, coming from prisoners of conscience who should never be imprisoned in the first place. Falun Gong practitioners do not raise their hands and volunteer to be executed -- we should remember that this is genocidal persecution in the first place. The transplants may occur from people who are still alive as their organs are removed; after surgery, bodies are cremated to remove the evidence.
This means that when CNN's Anderson Cooper, as noted above, reported about Organ Tourism without the matter of Falun Gong practitioners, he didn't report the darker, sinister, more ugly, sickening "other side of the coin." On March 9, the same day I first heard about it, I blogged: "Even though this news is huge and as large as it gets (China vaults into a class with Nazi Germany, and there may be Olympic boycotts if not loss of the Olympics all together), I anticipate the story will grow larger in the sense of a news story. The rising clatter must rise still further, and consequences may ensue for China's relations with the rest of the world. Suffice it to say, it's big." Now, over nine months later, I continue to stand by my initial assessment.
In addition to the allegations about Sujiatun, more word came about organ harvesting as a widespread practice, undertaken at many other facilities. The news of this medical abuse and flagrant human rights abuse is what drove Wenyi Wang to become the loud protester, from the press gallery, on the South Lawn of the White House -- in the April 20 welcoming ceremony for PRC President Hu Jintao. Hers was "the shout heard round the world," a high profile occasion due to the world stage and presence of international media. In addition to being an Epoch Times reporter, Wenyi was already familiar to me as a vigorous rights campaigner, and organizer of prior activism. What I did not know on April 19 was her background as a medical doctor. That background added credibility and gravity to her charges about the regime's practice, and with the newfound attention, Wenyi became a widely traveled, and much interviewed, speaker in behalf of the cause. While U.S. national TV did very little about following up (I saw CNN's Wolf Blitzer seem to scold her like a headmaster), Wenyi was able to make a tour of various ADIs (U.S. cities), and thereby reach a very wide audience through affiliate and local media.
Getting the word out is within the scope of the mission at the China Support Network. This year, Wenyi Wang was not the only one doing the "end around" of U.S. national TV. I am naming David Kilgour and David Matas to be the China Suport Network's "Men of the Year." Why so? Kilgour and Matas stepped up to the plate, independently investigated, and released their "Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China." Their findings served as independent confirmation: the allegations are true. They conclude "that there has been and continues today to be large-scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners."
David Kilgour is a former Member of Parliament in Canada, and was Secretary of State for the Asia Pacific region. David Matas is an international human rights attorney. With their political and legal backgrounds, they would know better than to be casual or inexact with public statements. While they knew the stakes in international relations, and while they knew the enormity of the charges against Communist China, they nonetheless undertook to inform the world of their findings. Their tour, to 26 countries, was another way to "end around" the ersatz journalists of U.S. national TV.
They get to be Men of the Year here -- first for taking on the case; second for integrity and courage in standing by their findings; and third for raising awareness, breaking an information blockade, and putting to shame U.S. national TV. Can we gauge the results of their media efforts? Yes, by asking, "How is their clip sheet doing?" From May 9 to December 20 of this year, their web site shows 194 clips in the English language. 129 news outlets were represented, of which 31 ran more than one article. That means that the story has caught the attention to be "followed," and actively followed up, at 31 outlets. The Epoch Times is clearly the most active, and we can say that it is the newspaper of record in the China-rights community. The other 30 outlets are--
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (8), The Calgary Herald (6), The Globe and Mail (4), National Post (4), Ottawa Citizen (4), Sydney Morning Herald (4), CBC News (3), China Post (3), NZ Scoop (3), St. Louis Post-Dispatch (3), The Christian Science Monitor (3), The Ottawa Citizen (3), The Toronto Sun (3), Abbotsford News (2), AFP (2), Asia News (2), Canadian Christianity (2), Chronicle Herald (2), CounterPunch (2), Cowichan Valley News Leader (2), CTV (2), Free Market News (2), Langley Times (2), South China Morning Post (2), Taipei Times (2), The Halifax Daily News (2), The Leader-Post (2), The Vancouver Sun (2), Times Colonist (2), Victoria News (2).
The single-mention outlets are a wide variety, including the Times of India, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, the Chicago Tribune, the Irish Medical Times, the Guardian, and the Washington Times.
Who is missing from this list? United States opinion leaders are missing -- the Associated Press, UPI, New York Times, and Washington Post. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and CNN. There is no sign of these news outlets in the list. Should we write them off as anti-Falun Gong media? Or as closer to Jiang Zemin than to freedom and democracy? Well, suffice it to say that REAL journalists know about our story, and that ersatz journalists continue to live in denial. I truly thank David Kilgour and David Matas, as well as Wenyi Wang, for their work in 2006 to "end around" the minority of journalists who are sticks in the mud. Everyone else knows about China's crimes against humanity; the last to know will be Brian Williams (NBC News anchorman) and Jacques Rogge (IOC President, who cannot be happy as this story tarnishes the Olympics).
The year includes its share of outrages -- sentences meted out to rights lawyers and campaigners by China's [in]"justice" system. Notably, lawyer Gao Zhisheng was arrested on August 15 and released on December 22. He has the relative leniency of house arrest, because Beijing has begun its pre-Olympics charm offensive. There will continue to be efforts to rescue him in 2007, and some chance that Gao will exit from China and reach exile.
To well review 2006, it is important to note that EU / European Parliament Vice President, Edward Scott-McMillan, also stepped up this year and made a fact-finding trip into China. He is alarmed by the human rights conditions of China, and he is joining a chorus of voices against the Beijing Olympics, slated to be held there in 2008. It used to be that U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seemed to be alone as a politician who also campaigned in our cause. This year, she is joined by David Kilgour (Canadian) and Edward McMillan-Scott (British). And this year, Nancy Pelosi herself gained new stature, as the incoming Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
This year end review is showing us that by several measures -- resignations from the CCP; politician attention; and, media attention -- that our cause is making headway or accelerating. It is arriving at critical mass just prior to the Olympics, which in itself is certain to whip up activists.
Also this year, Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo, and Google came under fire for assisting the police state in China, with technology that ends up in "the great firewall of China" -- internet censorship that also enables the authorities' internet crackdown.
2006 had one more high note and one more sour note. The high note is that a music video, "Remember Tiananmen Square" appeared, from the rock band NoManZero. The sour note is that the U.S. Congress passed another "PNTR for dictators" bill, this time for Communist Vietnam. The Vietnam trade deal had to be passed, late at night on the last day of the session, by the 109th Congress, because there would be no market for it in the 110th Congress. The new Democratic Congress features "rising protectionist sentiment," where PNTR becomes an impossibly hard sell.
That trade deal means bad things for America, but that is a topic for another column. As it stands, our cause had a good year 2006, and we look forward to an even better 2007. 2007 will feature the 18th anniversary of Tiananmen Square's massacre. --That is exactly one generation later. I hope we will use this year's anniversary to remember the event (for older folks) and to introduce the event (for younger folks). There is a rising new generation, that needs the introduction that explains how our China rights cause became urgent -- and globally known -- in the first place.
This 18th anniversary will be a time for educating people, in advance of the Beijing Olympics that are slated for August, 2008. To all of the campaigners in this cause, I offer kudos, congratulations, and solidarity. Some very good work was done this year, and more is to follow, as ever! Thank yous, and Happy New Year, to one and all who carry on the work of freeing China! :-) JPK
Published December 31, 2006 by the China Support Network (CSN). Begun as the American response group in 1989, CSN represents Americans who are "on the side" of the students in Tiananmen Square - standing for democratic reform, human rights, and freedom in China. For dissident news; to support a stronger China policy; or get more information, see http://www.chinasupport.net.