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What is Eutelsat really terminating?
The Tragic Consequences of Ending the only Uncensored TV Broadcast into China
Simon Veazey, The Epoch Times
LONDON - Lambasted as "a craven sacrifice of principle" by the International Federation of Journalists, Eutelsat's decision to cut its broadcast of New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) into China has vast consequences. After the only uncensored transmission over China goes silent on 15th April, the most significant screams of protest will not be those of rights groups, but those echoing round the labor camps in China.
Founded in 2001, NTDTV is the only non government-controlled Chinese language TV station to broadcast into China. Last year, it signed a contract with Eutelsat, a French-based satellite company, enabling its programs to reach China without interception on Eutelsat's W5 satellite. However, last month, Eutelsat announced its intention not to renew the groundbreaking contract, which expires on April 15th.
Widespread condemnation from media watchdogs and rights groups such as Reporters Without Borders and the IFJ has panned Eutelsat for sacrificing press freedom and its own integrity under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These criticisms have been echoed by 63 Members of European Parliament in letters to the Chairman of Eutelsat, and by similar actions from Members of Congress in the United States.
But comments from the Chinese viewers and other observers speak of an even greater, potentially historic significance.
In a letter to Eutelsat, one Chinese viewer comments, "Due to your cancellation of NTDTV's signal, we will not be able to obtain true and accurate news from the outside world. This is equivalent to the crime of murder to the Chinese audience. Do you know the implication of your actions?" Another statement from an NTDTV viewer pleads with Eutelsat, "New Tang Dynasty TV is the hope for democracy in China! Please do not be short-sighted!"
Those Chinese viewers know that this battle over the airwaves is not just an issue of ideology, integrity or principles. This battle over the truth in China is a life and death struggle for the future of the Chinese people. It is not just about press freedom. It is about freedom from incarceration in labor camps, systematic torture and brutal murder. It is about freedom from brainwashing and mind-control that rape the spirit and strip out human conscience and dignity.
Since the inception of NTDTV, it has been singled out and suppressed politically, financially and diplomatically by the CCP. All satellite companies who made business partnerships with NTDTV have been greatly pressured by the CCP. In addition to political and diplomatic threats, the CCP also entices these companies with rich profit incentives in order to terminate their agreements with NTDTV and stop the programs of NTDTV. There is little doubt that Eutelsat has come under crushing pressure from the CCP as it claws desperately for its own survival.
Why is the CCP so afraid of NTDTV? The answer is of course, that it reports the truth about China. In a recent press conference, Chairman Joe Zhao explained the philosophy of the station: "We started the NTDTV satellite channel because we believe that anyone, anywhere has the right to communicate with anyone, anywhere...We believe especially that people of Chinese origin need a forum for dialogue as never before, just as the citizens of China need free flow of information with the rest of the world."
A wholesome, innocent and attractive philosophy in the free world - but a terrifying threat to the CCP.
Broadcasting through Eutelsat's W5 satellite, NTDTV can reach 50 million receiver dishes in China. Of course, the number watching is potentially many times greater. With their family and friends, these are 50 million households the CCP cannot afford to know the content of NTDTV's programs.
The CCP's initial hatred of NTDTV stemmed from its honest reporting on the issue of Falun Gong, a peaceful traditional practice of meditation whose 100 million followers became the victim of a crusade of violent and systematic human rights abuses in 1999.
When Jiang Zemin joined forces with the CCP to persecute Falun Gong, as he threw thousands of innocent people into labor camps and detention centers, he initiated a vast campaign of hate propaganda against them. In demonizing Falun Gong, he tied the future of the party to its success or failure in achieving his goal of "eliminating Falun Gong." The truth about what is essentially an innocent meditation practice became a ticking time bomb for the CCP.
The Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI) provides verified details of over 1,100 deaths since the beginning of the persecution [editor's note: the death toll has reached over 1,600 by April 12, 2005]. Conservatively estimating the number of practitioners in labor camps at one hundred thousand, FDI also notes, "Three years ago, government officials inside China, reported that the actual death toll was 5 times the number of the confirmed cases. Since the summer of 2003, expert sources have put this figure in the range of ten thousand."
NTDTV's coverage of Falun Gong is a powerful antidote to the poisonous lies injected into people's brains by the machinery of the CCP and offers real hope for an end to the suffering of tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in labor camps and detention centers.
In December 2003, a U.N. tribunal for Rwanda convicted three Rwandan media executives of committing and inciting genocide with their words on government-sponsored radio. Judge Pillay commented, "Without a firearm, machete or any physical weapon, you caused the death of thousands of innocent civilians."
Such is the power of media. The Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI) in New York draws a parallel in a lawsuit filed against Chinese T.V. Station Director Zhao Zhizhen, who was charged with genocide. Attorney Terri Marsh describes how Zhizhen was responsible for creating "a climate of hatred, fear and violence against persons who practice Falun Gong in China and abroad, using the same propaganda tactics deployed in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, in Rwanda during the genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutu, and in China during the Cultural Revolution."
This cry of genocide has been taken up by human rights lawyers, politicians and well-known figures around the world. If FDI's view of the role of propaganda is accepted, then anything that undermines, challenges or displaces this propaganda has the potential to reduce or prevent genocide. Conversely, the withholding of the truth must carry with it the responsibility of assisting in crimes against humanity. This is the real decision which Eutelsat is facing: to implicate itself in genocide or to be part of its end.
The role of NTDTV in reducing the persecution of Falun Gong has been praised by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG): "Were there a TV station like NTDTV half a century ago, which had the courage to report the Nazi's genocide of the Jewish people and call on the world to stop the atrocity, how many Jews would have been saved from the genocide?"
WOIPFG does not blame Eutelsat for its failure to renew the contract but lays responsibility squarely with the CCP: "All the CCP officials who have plotted and involved in menacing Eutelsat to stop renewing the contract, will be taken as accomplices of genocide." Eutelsat is seen as another victim of the CCP's lies and manipulation, pulled into the intrigues of a sick-minded regime and its campaign of genocide.
NTDTV's revelation of the truth about Falun Gong is a nightmare for the Chinese Communist Party. But with the recent publication of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, the truth has taken on a form which the CCP has no way to handle - a direct exposure of everything the CCP has done and everything the CCP is. NTDTV has also been airing the avalanche of withdrawals from the CCP set off by this publication, currently surging past 750,000.
Put these factors together with the atmosphere of disillusionment many China-watchers have noted following the death of Zhao Ziyang, and a picture of a pivotal period emerges; a period in which 50 million households being outside the information blockade is no small matter.
In the electronic media age, power has shifted from the world leader hovering over the nuclear button to the media mogul poised at the transmission switch. The present time is a key moment for the future of China. Whether it asked for it or not, Eutelsat is a key player, holding sway over the future suffering or freedom of millions of people.
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