Hello, and welcome to the weekly FGMtv news review. I'm Susan Mitchell.
§ Here at FGMtv we focus on programs and news that illuminate the truth of Falun Gong, which is also known as Falun Dafa.
§ Falun Dafa is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that includes exercise and meditation. Its principles are based on being good, true and enduring.
§ The practice began in China in 1992 and quickly spread by word of mouth throughout the country.
§ In 1998, a government survey concluded that the number of practitioners exceeded membership in the communist party.
§ One year later, dictator Jiang Zemin began a brutal persecution that violates not only the Chinese constitution, but also international treaties signed by China.
In this week's update from China…
§ 690 Falun Gong practitioners are confirmed to have died from torture while in custody, with 24 new death reports received in the last 7 days. Reliable sources inside China put the actual total death count in the thousands.
§ Torture reports in the last seven days have come in from 16 different provinces, and the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Kaifeng.
§ 729 people declared as null and void, statements saying they will give up Falun Gong that were made while undergoing torture as they were the result of extreme coercion. They say they will continue practicing Falun Gong.
Our top story this week:
May 13 was World Falun Dafa Day. FGMTV was at Toronto's City Hall to film part of the celebration.
And some of our other stories:
§ Persecution in China kills three members of one family
§ Ottawa practitioner receives volunteer award from the City
§ Practitioners in Argentina hold their first conference
§ Update on Swedish woman detained in Thailand
First, our top story: World Falun Dafa Day Celebrations
§ On May 13th, a few hundred Toronto practitioners organized a Chinese cultural program for the city's lunchtime audience.
§ Several hundred people dropped by Nathan Phillips Square, in front of Toronto's City Hall, taking time to enjoy the singing and dancing, and paying their respects to the hundreds of practitioners who have been tortured to death in China for their beliefs.
§ They were joined by two City Councillors who welcomed the visitors and expressed their support for people to practice freely.
§ For practitioners of Falun Dafa, May 13 is perhaps the most important day of each year. It is the anniversary of the day their teacher, Mr. Li Hongzhi, made public the exercises and guiding principles of Falun Dafa.
§ It is also Mr. Li's birthday, and so the celebrations, like the one in Toronto, that took place in cities around the world held double significance.
§ Millions of people have benefited from the exercises and teachings and they have profound gratitude and respect for Mr. Li."
We mentioned that World Falun Dafa Day celebrations were held in many cities and would like to take you on a quick pictorial tour:
§ In Sydney, Australia, there was a parade through Chinatown with practitioners wearing ancient-type costumes;
§ Singapore Falun Gong practitioners published a notice of the worldwide celebrations in the major local Chinese Newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.
§ Children in Washington DC tried their best to sing together!
§ While other children in Taipei did the same thing!
§ and in Chicago, a fan dance during a concert to celebrate, and other activities that brought happiness to this little girl.
§ In Quebec city in Canada, practitioners celebrated by doing their exercises downtown.
§ while in San Francisco, practitioners gathered in one of the city's parks in the sunshine, and later held dance performances to entertain people in Chinatown.
§ Approximately 10,000 people practice Falun Dafa in Taiwan. Special occasions like World Falun Dafa Day, their Teacher's birthday, offer wonderful opportunities for large scale group practices. To be in the vicinity where thousands of people are meditating deeply must be a very peaceful experience!
Persecution in China Claims Three Members of One Family
§ A request from China has been received to add another plaintiff to the U.S. lawsuit charging former Chinese president Jiang Zemin with genocide and crimes against humanity.
§ The woman writer and her husband travelled to Beijing several times to appeal to the central government. They wanted to tell them that Falun Dafa is good and that it is just a traditional practice for health and for raising one's spiritual level.
§ Instead of the appeals being accepted, the two were illegally detained 6 times and fined about three years' salary, 20,000 Yuan.
§ She and her husband were both illegally sent to labour camps. She was released after one and a half years, but her husband died in the camp on July 6, 2001 after being tortured with high voltage electric batons for about 7 hours in a row.
§ Witnesses told her family the terrible details, and her father-in-law was so shocked that he fell into a state of extreme despair and died shortly afterwards.
§ Her own father, already upset at his daughter being illegally detained, also died from shock after hearing of the tragic deaths of his son-in-law and the son-in-law's father.
§ She writes, "I started out with a happy, harmonious family and a very prosperous business. But after 4 years of Jiang's persecution, my whole life fell apart.
§ The reason the labor camp dared to persecute Dafa practitioners so viciously is that, according to what they said themselves, "We got orders from above: If we beat you to death, it will be counted as suicide." She said, "What they term "above" is precisely Jiang's "610 Office," which is under his orders to carry out the persecution of Falun Gong at all costs."
Ottawa Falun Gong Practitioner Receives Volunteer Award
§ Canadian MP, Marlene Catterall recently hosted an Award Ceremony for outstanding volunteers in West Ottawa.
§ Falun Gong practitioner Gerry Smith was presented with the "Nurturing our hearts" award for his years of volunteer work to introduce Falun Gong in Canadian communities, and to call for an end to the brutal persecution in China.
§ In thanking Ms. Catterall, Gerry said, "Falun Dafa came from China and has taken root in Canada. Many people of different nationalities practice Falun Gong. Falun Gong practitioners' services to communities are all voluntary. This honor I've earned today is actually given to all other Falun Gong volunteers who silently make contributions."
§ Throughout the world, Canada ranks first in volunteerism with a total of approximately six and a half million volunteers out of a population of thirty million people.
Falun Dafa Practitioners in Argentina Hold their First Conference
§ On May 4, 2003, Argentina practitioners held their first Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference in Buenos Aires.
§ Because Argentina is a big country, practitioners in different provinces hardly have any opportunities to share experiences. However, experience sharing plays an important role in fostering practitioners' improvement, and so people travelled more than twelve hours from several different Argentinian cities and also from Chile to attend the Fa conference.
§ Those who arrived the day before the conference took the opportunity to peacefully appeal in front of the Chinese Embassy for an end to the persecution. There was also time to study together and exchange ideas about their practice. In addition to the formal conference speeches, the audience saw two films entitled, "A Peaceful Journey" and "We Will Show You the Future."
§ For many practitioners, it was the first time they had seen their Teacher on film. Most had only seen Mr. Li Hongzhi's photograph in his book, Zhuan Falun. Everyone agreed that it was a very special opportunity and experience to come together in this way.
Flower Festival Parade in Hiroshima, Japan
§ Approximately 590,000 citizens of Hiroshima, Japan lined Heping Avenue to watch the annual "Flower Festival" parade. The audience this year was 90,000 higher than last year.
§ Falun Gong practitioners were one of the seventy-one groups to participate. This year's theme of "Dance, Sing, Flower of Peace" provided them a perfect opportunity to show off their Tang dynasty costumes, and beautiful traditional dances accompanied by a family of drummers.
§ Their colourful float covered with blossoms and balloons and surrounded by dancing girls with floral baskets and ribbons proved very popular with the parade broadcasters and the audience.
§ During former Chinese president Jiang Zemin's visit to the US in October 2002, some Falun Gong practitioners, as victims of the persecution, filed a lawsuit against him and the "610" Office in a US Federal Court in Chicago.
DC Media Conference
On May 9, 2003, Washington, DC Dafa
practitioners gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy, in spite of the rain,
to hold a media conference. They publicized the lawsuits against Jiang now
proceeding concurrently in seven countries.
§ This is the first time in history that the perpetrator of an illegal persecution has been sued before the persecution has ended. The lawsuits against Jiang set an international precedent, and an example for people to follow in future. It is a signal that wrongdoers will be punished by law, no matter how great their power.
§ Speakers at the media conference emphasized that Jiang's actions are personal vindictiveness, and that Jiang does not represent the wishes of the people of China.
World Truth Forum held in Sydney, Australia
§ Australian Falun Dafa practitioners organized a World Truth Forum at the beginning of May 2003 in Ashfield Town Hall. The purpose was to provide an opportunity for dialogue, and to offer a picture of human rights abuses in China to local residents.
§ Inspiration for the event was prompted by the Chinese Regime's current demonstration of its inability to communicate accurate information to the world on the SARS epidemic.
§ China's SARS cover up is no surprise to those who are involved with raising awareness and attempting to end human rights abuses in China.
§ Amongst speakers from many different religious and secular organizations, Dr. Marie Clugston, from Amnesty International, gave a brief overview of different cases of government persecution. She told about unfair trials for Tibetans, and the justifying of human rights abuses by using names such as “heretical organization” and “terrorists” to describe traditional and cultural groups in China.
§ Steve Milne a researcher and practitioner of Falun Gong closed the program by exposing former Chinese President Jiang Zemin's personal crusade to eradicate the practice of Falun Gong; a crusade, he said, so despicable that even an eight-month old baby has been tortured to death. Mr. Milne ended by telling the audience that Jiang has now been charged with genocide so that he can be brought to justice for his crimes against humanity.
Update on Swedish Woman Detained in Thailand
§ Expressen, one of Sweden's major newspapers reported this week: Today marks the eleventh day since Pirjo Svensson, 44, from Gothenburg was detained in Bangkok. The Thai authorities have still not stated why she is being detained. Despite his attempts, the Swedish Ambassador has not received any answers either.
§ According to the Swedish Falun Gong Information Centre she has been detained with 90 other prisoners in a cell no bigger than 90 square metres. The prisoners are only allowed out of the cell for 10-20 minutes per week to get fresh air.
§ The important point - "what is she accused of?"- is still unresolved.
§ "We have tried to get some answers", says Jan Janonius at the Swedish Foreign Ministry. "Right now we have arranged a human rights lawyer for her, the best there is."
The Practitioners in Toronto Also Held a Parade
FGMTV's Christine Loftus was there:
§ The Falun Dafa Association of Canada has decided to continue with its annual week long festivities despite SARS being in Toronto.
§ For the past five years Torontonians have gathered to celebrate the founding of the practice of Falun Gong as well as the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. This year the association hopes that the events will help in the campaign to revive Toronto and the Chinese community who have both been hit by the disease.
§ Falun Gong practitioners in Toronto, who have been sponsored by various Chinatown restaurants, will take to the streets in beautiful traditional Chinese costumes performed in a parade of colour. The performances have been geared to show the virtue and beauty of ancient Chinese culture and to celebrate health and happiness in Toronto.
§ After the parade everyone was invited to join in dance performances in Chinatown. They will perform gorgeous dance routines to support the Chinese community who have been hit by SARS.
§ This is Christine Loftus reporting from Toronto.
Thanks for watching the FGMtv weekly news review.
I'm Susan Mitchell. See you next week!