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China attempts to thwart criticism on its use of torture

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NEW YORK - China's leadership has recently undertaken a campaign apparently aimed at lessening international criticism of the use of torture in its forced labor camp and detention centers. But for Chinese officials under Jiang Zemin's regime, neither acknowledging the use of torture nor attempting to curb it are viable options.
For the past four years, the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteurs, Amnesty International and other human rights groups have documented widespread torture of Falun Gong practitioners in China. Often employed to secure quotas for "confessions" and "statements to abandon" Falun Gong, torture has been a key component in Jiang's regime's policies toward Falun Gong.

On September 9, 2003, however, China's Ministry of Public Security issued new "regulations" prohibiting the use of torture and threats to gain "confessions."

The Ministry's announcement came almost a month before the Chinese Government was to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party government - a time when the regime typically goes to extra lengths to create a "favorable media environment" for the festivities, which includes rounding up any would-be protesters. It was this time last year when the first cases of SARS were covered up, and the same time in previous years when arrests and deaths of Falun Gong practitioners intensified.

The announcement also comes during a year in which China's worsening human rights record received strong condemnation from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department in their respective annual reports.

Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Mr. Erping Zhang says that the recent announcement from the Ministry of Public Security is unlikely to bring real changes within China's labor camps and detention centers, because the orders to persecute Falun Gong come directly from former Chinese leader, Jiang Zemin.

According to dozens of reports from China, contained in Jiang's orders were directives to "count all deaths in custody as suicide" and to "immediately cremate the bodies," which often times occurs before family members are even contacted to identify them.

"The Ministry of Public Security has been one of the primary weapons Jiang has used to torture and kill Falun Gong practitioners," says Mr. Zhang. "The Ministry of Public Security may have issued this announcement, but its intended audience is clearly not inside China."

Mr. Zhang concludes, "There are government agencies, specifically the 6-10 Office,' created precisely to carry out Jiang's 'eradicate Falun Gong' orders. If [the Ministry of Public Security] are serious about abolishing torture, why do they continue to allow the 6-10 Office to operate without constitutional restraints?"

The official stance from Chinese officials is that all deaths in custody of Falun Gong practitioners are from suicide or "natural causes." Personal testimonies and first-hand reports from China tell a very different story:

Southern China: Officials at the Zhongba Labor Camp in Guizhou Province locked a woman who practices Falun Gong into a 40-square-foot cell with two male drug addicts. The men ripped off her clothes, sodomized her with icicles and then raped her.

Northern China: Officials at the Daqing Forced Labor Camp in China's northern-most province of Heilongjiang repeatedly force feed Falun Gong practitioners with human feces and beat them with high-voltage electric batons.

Eastern China: Officials in Division Four of the Jinan Female Labor Camp in China's eastern Shandong Province tortured 59-year-old Ms. Yu Lianchun until, according to one eye-witness, "her mouth was twisted on one side, and her face was [beaten] out of shape... Her underwear and breasts were exposed. Her pants were torn open with her lower abdomen exposed, revealing large areas of dark bruises. Her pants were wet from her urine and she was covered in dirt." Ms. Yu was later beaten to her death with wooden boards by eight labor camp workers.

Near Beijing: Officials in the Gaoyang Forced Labor Camp in China's central Hebei Province force Falun Gong practitioners to watch, read and listen to programs demonizing their spiritual faith, often times subjecting them to such brainwashing programs 24-hours a day without sleep for up to five days at a time.

These reports are a small sampling of information received by the Falun Dafa Information Center over the past month regarding the widespread use of torture and brainwashing techniques to coerce Falun Gong practitioners into renouncing their spiritual faith.

Last week, the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China issued its annual report stating "The Chinese Government continues to violate China's own constitution and laws and international norms and standards protecting human rights."

In a bristling rebuttal to the Commission's findings, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said that human rights in China were "in the best period."

Mr. Zhang, says the Foreign Ministry's assertions are revealing:

"While the whole world is condemning China's worsening human rights record this year, and while we continue to receive reports of torture and killings of Falun Gong practitioners on a daily basis, they dare to announce that human rights in China are in 'the best period,'" says Mr. Zhang.

"Information control is the chief weapon of any dictatorial regime, and Jiang has used it well. As these facts are reported and the perpetrators are brought to light, the scale of Jiang's crimes emerges. The nature of the regime, its goals, and its denials to the international community are pretty transparent."

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