March 12, 2014 | By Yuzheng
(Minghui.org) Forty minutes of programming that reported the actual facts about Falun Gong was broadcast simultaneously on eight channels to 300,000 cable subscriber households in Changchun City, Jilin Province, 12 years ago. Nearly 100,000 households saw the programs “Self-immolation or Hoax?” and “Falun Dafa Spreads Worldwide.”
Later, tens of thousands of cable subscribers in nearby Songyuan City, a satellite city of Changchun, saw the same programs.
On the 12 th anniversary of this landmark event, we recall the courageous practitioners who broke through the information blockade and overwhelming propaganda in China and showed the people in Changchun the facts about Falun Gong.
Table of Contents
1. Liang Zhenxing, Founder of the Intercept Team 2. An Elite Team 3. The Legend of Liu Chengjun 4. Euphoria in Changchun City 5. Heroes Arrested and Tortured 6. Absurd Trials 7. History Will Remember Them 8. Deaths of the Innovators 9. Freedom Is Not Free
The entire city of Changchun was shocked and euphoric on the night of March 5, 2002.
Eight cable channels in Changchun were tapped into and broadcast Falun Gong truth-clarification videos simultaneously. Astonished viewers called their friends to turn on the TV: “Do you know that the self-immolation on Tiananmen Square was staged? Do you know that Falun Gong has spread all over the world? All the slander about Falun Gong is just propaganda made up by the government…”
“Congratulations!” People were happy for Falun Gong practitioners. Some thought that the persecution of Falun Gong had ended and that the reputation of Falun Gong had been restored.
Many practitioners thought so, too. They went out, telling people the facts about Falun Gong and passing out informational materials. Even the plainclothes officers who were watching them said, “Great job! Keep it up!” People thought the darkest time was over, and they were relieved to be able to breathe the air of freedom.
“You must leave now,” a military officer made an urgent call to his Falun Gong friend. Martial law was enacted, and soldiers were coming. Every policeman in the city was dispatched to search for the practitioners who had tapped into the cable network and broadcast the videos.
The government heads from Changchun City and Jilin Province, who were at the 15 th National People’s Congress in Beijing, were scared and in a panic. An order from Jiang Zemin, the then-head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the director of the persecution of Falun Gong, told law enforcement to arrest everyone involved without mercy. Liu Jing, the then vice public security minister, flew to Changchun to supervise.
Why was the CCP in such a panic? What made them react with such violence? Why did this event have such a deep impact on China and the international community? Why do we regard the Falun Gong practitioners involved as heroes for breaking through the information blockade in China?
Let’s go back 12 years and revisit this amazing event.
Liang Zhenxing, Founder of the Intercept Team
A Wealthy Ne’er-Do-Well Changes
Liang Zhenxing, a successful real estate agent
Liang Zhenxing was a successful real estate agent worth hundreds of thousands of yuan in the early 1990s. (Editor’s note: The average monthly salary of a college professor back then was about 500 yuan.) He lived a life of opulence.
In 1992, Master Li Hongzhi taught Falun Gong publicly in Changchun. Thousands of locals were soon practicing. Liang’s home was near an exercise site at Culture Plaza. He often watched practitioners doing the exercises in all kinds of weather and began to respect them.
He finally joined the exercise site out of curiosity on a winter morning in 1996. He could not believe that the teachings were free of charge. The exercises made him feel good. He read Zhuan Falun, and the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance taught him the real purpose of life.
He quit drinking and other bad habits. His marriage, which was about to fall apart, was repaired. Liang Zhenxing became a new person. He told many friends and relatives about Falun Gong and soon became a contact person for his local exercise site.
The Persecution of Falun Gong and the Peaceful Resistance
According to a government poll, there were more than 70 million Falun Gong practitioners in China before 1999. The rapid growth of Falun Gong rattled the communist party.
On July 19, 1999, all law enforcement was in combat readiness. On July 20, the communist regime issued the order for nationwide arrests. All the public media, including newspapers, radios, TV stations, and the Internet, started to slander Falun Gong.
The Party made up all kinds of lies to attack Falun Gong and instigate hatred of the practice.
“What should we do?” Liang and many other practitioners asked themselves. They knew that Falun Gong was great and that Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance was the truth that they would hold onto for the rest of their lives.
“We have all benefited from Falun Gong. Now it is our responsibility to protect the truth of it and restore its reputation,” Liang told himself.
Back in the 1990s, the way to do that was to go to the National Appeals Bureau in Beijing and register a complaint. At the beginning of the persecution, thousands of practitioners went to Beijing every day, trying to do that.
Practitioners thought that their sincere hearts, pure minds, and detailed efforts to clarify the truth might change CCP policy. It turned out that they were too naïve.
The CCP relies on violence to stay in power. All the practitioners who went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong were arrested and sent back to their hometowns.
The police waited at the National Appeals Bureau to arrest practitioners. Liang and his friends were among them. They were tried and jailed or sent to labor camps, all without due process.
“Three Musketeers” in the Labor Camp
Liang Zhenxing refused to renounce Falun Gong, no matter how he was tortured. In 2000, he was transferred to Weizigou Forced Labor Camp in Changchun, where he met Liu Chengjun and Liu Haibo, whose stories will be told later. The “Three Musketeers” started to fight for truth and freedom together.
Whenever the labor camp slandered Falun Gong, they would stand up and clarify the truth. Even during large-scale conferences in the presence of local government and judicial systems heads, the three men bravely spoke up for Falun Gong. Each time, they were badly beaten, but they still did the same the next time.
To encourage the public to hate Falun Gong, the CCP staged the infamous “self-immolation” on Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001. The Chinese regime blamed Falun Gong for instigating practitioners to immolate themselves. The media also launched a new round of attacks on Falun Gong.
The persecution got worse. Jiang Zemin, then head of the CCP, issued the directive that “Killing Falun Gong practitioners will not incur any responsibilities, and their deaths will be considered suicides.” All kinds of tortures were used on practitioners, and deaths were reported on the Minghui website every day.
Liang Zhenxing and his friends knew that the self-immolation was one of the biggest lies and that it deceived many people. “How can we let people know the truth?” they pondered.
At the end of 2001, Liang was released. At home, he saw the “False Fire” documentary on the Minghui website. The documentary, an award-winner at the 51 st Columbus International Film & Video Festival, exposes all the flaws in the self-immolation with solid evidence and rigorous analysis. It told the truth that people needed to know.
Later, Liang read an article on Minghui that showed how to tap into a TV network and broadcast a video with a VCD player. “This is the approach I have been looking for,” Liang thought. “It is much more efficient than passing out flyers or hanging up banners.”
What Liang needed was a team to bring about this high-tech effort.
An Elite Team
Setting up the Team
Liang Zhenxing shared his idea with fellow practitioners in Changchun and looked for people qualified to carry out the task.
Zhou Runjun, a 52-year old practitioner, had the same idea at the same time. She rented an empty house as a base and helped Liang to establish the team.
Liu Weiming, 32, was a professional at a cable TV network. With his knowledge of electrical engineering, he became the major technical person in the team.
Zhang Wen, 28, a professional electrician, helped Liu Weiming make detailed plots of the cable TV network.
Lei Ming, 26, the “little brother” on the team, was a chef from Baishan City. He was an excellent athlete and could run fast. At Tiananmen Square, scores of police officers tried to catch him after he opened a Falun Gong banner. Lei broke through their lines and successfully escaped.
Li Dehai, 31, was a farmer from Tonghua City. His family was preparing for his wedding before he was wanted by the police and escaped to Changchun. Li was also an athlete and became a major force on the team.
With five major members, the team then grew to 18. Except for the six above, the names and details of the others are still not known.
Different Opinions about What to Do
“Should we do it?” Many practitioners didn’t think that people would like their TV programming interrupted and would develop a negative impression of Falun Gong. Those with different opinions spoke out against Liang’s idea. Liang was under intense pressure.
Tang Feng, a practitioner in Changchun, was respected by most local practitioners due to his solid cultivation and strong belief. Those who didn’t agree with Liang Zhenxing asked Tang to speak to Liang and discuss the feasibility of their plan.
Tang and Liang met at a busy farmers’ market. After a long conversation, Tang was moved by Liang’s courage and compassionate spirit to clarify the truth. Tang also agreed that tapping into the TV network and broadcasting truth-clarification videos was feasible.
Tang later explained his understanding to fellow practitioners and gained their support.
Liang Zhenxing knew that this was the right thing to do. The public had the right to know the truth. He also knew the risk and the price he might have to pay. His family, in addition to himself, might be endangered.
However, reading the deaths reported on the Minghui website and facing the people who had been deceived by the lies, Liang decided to set his personal safety and peace aside for the greater good.
All members in the team had the same solid will.
Liang Zhenxing was in charge of purchasing supplies and equipment. Zhou Runjun cooked for everyone and took care of practical matters. Liu Weiming was in charge of training the team members.
On February 16, 2002, Liang heard that practitioners in Anshan City, not far away from Changchun, had tried to tap into the local TV network, but failed. Liang and his team asked themselves, “Will we succeed?”
“We have learned all the necessary techniques. As long as everybody cooperates well, we will succeed,” Liu Weiming told everyone.
It was time to rehearse.
The team went to a remote village. Zhang Wen and others climbed up the electric pole and tapped into the TV network. Liu Weiming played a mock video and sent members to nearby houses to check the results. Every channel showed the mock video. The rehearsal was a success.
In February 2002, almost everything was ready. On February 27, a friend of Liang’s called him and asked him to come to his company on business.
It was a trap. The police were there waiting for him, and Liang was taken away.
Liang knew that their secret had been leaked, because he had done nothing else. He was tortured 24/7 for information. Liang didn’t give in. However, he was worried about his team: “Are they all safe? When will they act? Will they succeed? Will people know the truth?”
The Legend of Liu Chengjun
Rising to the Occasion
Many team members were nervous when they heard of Liang’s arrest. Would he be OK? Would he be able to endure the torture? Would their base be discovered? Should they move or simply cancel their plan?
Liu Chengjun, one of the “Three Musketeers,” was not worried. He knew Liang well. Liang would never sell the team out, no matter what.
There was no official leader or director among them. Liang was a coordinator, and everybody cooperated based on teamwork. So the team didn’t collapse just because Liang was arrested. As long as somebody played the role of coordinator, the project would still move forward.
Liu Chengjun rose to the occasion and became the new team leader.
Assigning the Tasks
On the night of March 3, five days after Liang was arrested, Liu Chengjun called a meeting. He said, “A group of practitioners will be tried on March 6. We should let people know the truth about Falun Gong before that and support the arrested practitioners. Can we act on March 5?”
“Of course.” Four sub-teams were created.
Liu Weiming agreed to be in charge of the main branch in Changchun.
“Sun Changjun, can you take care of another main branch in Changchun?” Liu Chengjun asked.
“It would be difficult. The other main branch is hard to control. I am afraid that I cannot handle it. Also, I am in charge of writing the technique details for the Minghui website. I am not done yet,” Sun Changjun said.
“OK then. Zhang Wen, can you do it?” “No problem,” Zhang Wen, the professional electrician, answered.
“Li Dehai, you take one person, and I’ll take another. We will go to Songyuan City. I am familiar with the situation there. We will take care of the two main branches there.”
“Lei Ming, you will assist Zhang Wen; and Chang Changjun, you help Liu Weiming.”
“The rest of you cover us with your righteous thoughts. At 7 p.m. on March 5, we will tap into these four main branches and start broadcasting simultaneously.”
Time was tight. The four sub-teams tested and re-tested their equipment. Zhou Runjun prepared official-looking work clothes for everyone.
“Don’t worry,” said Zhou Runjun, “I will clean up this house and move everything out. It will be an empty house again.” The base, with no furniture, had been home for every team member.
Liu Chengjun’s Story
Liu Chengjun had now become the main coordinator.
Liu Chengjun (first on the right) and his family. His sister, Liu Lin, is in the middle.
Liu Chengjun was 31 in 2002. He was tall and strong. In his hometown of Nong’an, he had been an infamous bully. Nobody dared to challenge him. But practicing Falun Gong fundamentally changed him from a goon into a gentleman who believed in and lived by the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. His family and friends witnessed the power of Falun Gong through his transformation.
After the persecution began, Liu went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong several times. He was arrested and jailed every time. On October 1, 2001, he went to Beijing again. This time, he opened a Falun Gong banner on Tiananmen Square and shouted “Falun Dafa is good” to the tourists.
Police and plainclothes officers tried to catch him. He ran and shouted. After running three times around the square, he was caught.
He refused to give his name despite being tortured. He started a hunger strike in protest. The police tied his hands and feet to a bed and force-fed him. They damaged his face, nose, mouth, and throat.
Even so, he still tried to tell them the facts about Falun Gong. The police gave up and asked, “What can we do to make you start eating?” “I want a copy of Zhuan Falun .”
Zhuan Falun is the main book of Falun Gong. When the persecution began, the communist party confiscated and destroyed copies of the book all over the country, because they knew that people who read the book and learned the truth about Falun Gong would see through the Party propaganda.
Many police officers hid the book. Some of them read it and changed their impression of Falun Gong.
Liu Chengjun won this time with his life. A policeman gave him a copy of Zhuan Falun . He was released later, because there were so many practitioners appealing for Falun Gong in Beijing at that time, and all the detention centers, labor camps, and police stations were full. Many practitioners refused to tell their names, and some of them were released.
After being released, Liu Chengjun knew that appealing was useless. He started to produce Falun Gong truth-clarifying booklets and flyers by himself. He carried the materials in a pick-up truck. Along Highway 302, he distributed the materials to people in his hometown, Nong’an, and counties nearby. He gained a nickname, “Pick-up Truck.”
It was risky, and he was arrested again. In the detention center, the police tried to beat him. Liu Chengjun, tall and strong, stared at the police and said, “Don’t you dare!”
They were scared. Stories and rumors about Liu, true or false, started to spread in the detention center: “He can swallow a whole bun in one bite” “He was the head of an underground gang.” “He has connections with high ranking government officials.”
Actually, Liu Chengjun would not fight back. He just wanted to scare the police. As Zhuan Falun teaches: “As a practitioner, the first thing you should be able to do is to not fight back when you are beaten or sworn at—you must be tolerant.”
Liu Chengjun never strayed from this teaching from the beginning of his cultivation to the end of his life, although he was badly tortured later.
On a cold October night, everybody was asleep. Liu Chengjun climbed the wall of the detention center and escaped. The detention center was afraid that their superiors would hold them responsible for Liu’s escape, so they told the public that they had released Liu.
Later, Liu Chengjun was arrested again when he handed out Falun Gong informational materials. He was held in a labor camp, where he met Liang Zhenxing.
Fast forward to the night of March 5, when Liu and his fellow practitioners were about to tap into the TV network.
Liu Chengjun and Li Dehai took two practitioners and went to Qiangguo County in Songyuan City. They successfully tapped into the two main branches of the TV network and broadcast the Falun Gong videos.
On their way home, they saw police cars racing in the direction of Songyun City with their sirens on.
After returning to Changchun, Liu Chengjun wanted to know the results of their heroic act. He went out by himself. The next morning he came back, excited. With tears in his eyes, he told every member of the team, “It was a big success!! Thank you, everyone!!
“People are talking about the truth of Falun Gong everywhere, even out in public, like on buses. The broadcast lasted more than 20 minutes on one branch and 30 minutes on the other! The videos played to the end, and people learned the truth. The whole city is in shock.”
(To be continued)
Category: Personal Accounts of Early Days