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The motive clear, the means chilling
South Africa Shooting of Falun Gong Fits Disturbing Pattern
Mengsheng Gu, FDI
7/19/2004

Has it really come to this? Could it be that the Jiang protégé sitting aside the Chinese Communist throne as Vice President, Zeng Qinghong, hired gunmen in South Africa to do his bidding? Assassins, that is, to murder peaceful, unarmed demonstrators who might upstage his visit?

In a week that saw the documented Falun Gong death toll (from torture and abuse in Chinese custody) top the 1,000 mark (reports), the facts coming out surrounding a chilling attempt (news) on five lives in South Africa suggest that indeed, Zeng and the Jiang Zemin faction are willing to go that far. And have.

The gaping, blood-soaked holes in David Liang’s feet – the work of an AK-47 bullet that tore through more than just his car door – tell in no uncertain terms how far, both in degree and distance, Jiang’s group is willing to take its campaign to “eradicate Falun Gong.” While the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) intimidation tactics, and even violence, beyond China’s borders have become all-too-familiar to practitioners of Falun Gong – with crimes ranging from vandalism to fire-bombed cars and physical assault – the South Africa shooting would seem to mark an alarming escalation.

But why now? Why in Africa, of all places? And why Zeng? A few facts are needed first as background.

David Liang, an Australian who practices Falun Gong, was in South Africa with eight others from his country. They had not only the practice in common, but a background of activism in support of Falun Gong’s rights in China. And, in Liang’s case, had been targets of CCP aggression before: Liang’s car had been vandalized repeatedly in Australia, and his name was found on a CCP blacklist, barring him from travel to Hong Kong. Another passenger had been the victim of similar vandalism, and before leaving for the trip received two threatening phone calls. The group had traveled to South Africa to serve Zeng Qinghong and colleague Bo Xilai with a lawsuit for their human rights crimes and to raise awareness about the persecution in China.

During a roughly two-hour spell at the Johannesburg airport after arriving in South Africa on June 28, the group noticed a suspicious individual who stayed in close proximity to them the whole time, perhaps following them. Not long after setting out on the highway to Pretoria, at about 8:30pm local time, a white car with three occupants, black men, pulled near one of the group’s two cars, driven by Liang. Liang was the only person wearing Falun Gong clothing.

A gunman in the white car then sprayed Liang’s car with bullets, puncturing the vehicle’s tires and piercing its radiator, forcing the car to slow. The car had been traveling around 70mph. The unidentified car then pulled parallel and opened fire again, this time hitting the body of the car five times, severely injuring Liang and running the car off the road. The gunmen stopped their car for a few seconds to watch Liang and company go off the road, then sped away.

The South African police force’s Serious Violence and Crime unit is investigating the case as attempted murder. All circumstances thus far suggest the incident certainly wasn’t a run-of-the-mill attempted robbery, much less a random act of violence.

For one, the Falun Gong group had only just arrived in the country, and had no grievances with any locals. Moreover, the location where the shooting took place, according to police, was not a high-crime area and rarely saw violence against Chinese.

Secondly, if this were an attempted robbery, one wouldn’t expect the gunmen to take off immediately after the shooting. They had managed to stop and disable the vehicle, were well armed, and were staring down several unarmed, wounded, helpless tourists, for all purposes. Never mind that an AK-47 would constitute overkill.

Thirdly, regarding the AK-47 assault rifle, a weapons analyst has suggested that the firing pattern – two quick, accurate, short bursts of 3-5 bullets – is decidedly that of a trained operator; a novice would not have such control and would have difficulty releasing less than the full magazine of 30 bullets. But what business would a trained marksman have using such a rifle randomly on five Chinese traveling the highway? Why just take out the vehicle and a passenger or two?

It is only in the context of the Jiang faction’s campaign against Falun Gong that the assault and its peculiar details become intelligible.

Considering that an intricate web of intimidation tactics targeting Falun Gong has unfolded beyond China’s borders, the attempted murder in South Africa could almost be seen as a new, and radically more frightening, fold in a pattern of violence (reports). The aim – be it hiring thugs in San Francisco to beat Falun Gong practitioners or slashing car tires in Canberra – has always been to scare, silence, and stop Falun Gong rights activists. The shooting, in this light, is consistent with policy.

The second important feature is the main figure involved on the China side, Zeng Qinghong, nicknamed the “Black-Masked Assassin” by CCP insiders for his tactics in removing political opposition. Zeng, who oversees much of China’s secret police, collaborated with Jiang to establish the notorious Falun Gong control office, the “6-10 Office” – the body charged with destroying Falun Gong. At Zeng’s command thousands have suffered unlawful arrest, detention, torture, and enslavement.

It’s not hard, then, to imagine that Zeng would hire assassins to gun down a few Falun Gong practitioners in South Africa, effectively saving him the dishonor of a genocide lawsuit. That Jiang and other Party brass would allow such violent, drastic means, is no less a stretch of imagination. And almost on cue, as if to remove any shadow of a doubt for us, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa responded promptly to the assault – an assault, in fact, on a group of Chinese people – not in humane fashion, but political. Instead of expressing sympathy or concern for the victims, as one would expect, they proceeded to denounce Falun Gong.

The Falun Dafa Information Center calls on the international community to join in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, this terrible act, and in preventing similar acts from recurring.


Background


Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa (about), is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance." Practiced in over 50 countries worldwide, Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture. With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China's then-Communist leader, Jiang Zemin, outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999 (report). Since that time, Jiang's regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it. The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of 1,000 deaths (reports / sources) since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. In October 2001, however, Government officials inside China reported that the actual death toll was well over 1,600. Expert sources now estimate that figure to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have been detained, with more than 100,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps, typically without trial.



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