August 29, 2015 | By He Yu
Although he has several titles, Chinese media publicized his role in the 610 Office, a secretive organization that directs the persecution of Falun Gong, after he was taken down in December 2013.
Appointed deputy head of the 610 Office when the organization was formed in 1999, Li was also a deputy director of China Central Television (CCTV). In that role, he was in charge of the nationwide propaganda campaign againt Falun Gong to garner public support for its suppression. After Liu Jing retired in October 2009, Li was appointed by Zhou Yongkang as Deputy Minister of Public Security and was in charge of the 610 Office.
As a key player in the organization that drives the nationwide suppression of Falun Gong, Li has a track record of stirring up hate propaganda and violence against innocent practitioners.
Government-Directed Campaign of Slander
Although Jiang Zemin ordered Falun Gong banned in July 1999, it was the nationwide propaganda campaign that turned the public against peaceful practitioners.
Li instructed CCTV to play seven hours of defamatory programs every day. These programs attack Falun Gong’s founder Mr. Li Hongzhi and claim practitioners kill or commit suicide using fabricated footage.
One example is “Focus,” a popular CCTV primetime program about current affairs. For six and a half years, between July 21, 1999 and late 2005, “Focus” featured 102 anti-Falun Gong episodes, according to a 2013 report published by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG). Between July and December 1999 alone, there were 39 anti-Falun Gong episodes, according to the same report.
Another example is CCTV News, broadcast daily at 7:00 p.m. Considered a staple news program, it is the primary news source for the Chinese, whether they live in the city or the countryside. Li extended the program from 30 minutes to 45 minutes to ensure that sufficient anti-Falun Gong content was incorporated into the news.
These defamatory reports were picked up and spread to newspapers and radios by Xinhua News Agency and disseminated overseas through China News Service (CNS), Hong Kong China News Agency (CNA), and Chinese diplomatic agencies.
Second Wave of Defamation
Li’s efforts were very effective in swaying public opinion. In July 2000, he was promoted to deputy director of China’s State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT).
Meanwhile, the persecution began to lose momentum. The brutality practitioners suffered for their belief made many people reconsider the legitimacy of the suppression.
Instructed by Ze Qinghong, head of the Organization Department (1999-2002), and Luo Gan, secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (1998-2007), Li orchestrated the “Tiananmen Square self-immolation“, pushing the propaganda to a new level.
The incident on Tiananmen Square was quickly identified by the Washington Post and numerous overseas organizations as a hoax. The event was also covered by the award-winning documentary False Fire.
But inside China, the fabrication quickly spread–with devastating consequences. Because the staged self-immolation took place the day before the Chinese New Year and included a 12-year-old girl and her mother, the TV program was viewed by a huge audience. The report was carried in newspapers and on television and was even included in school textbooks. The sympathy people had for Falun Gong practitioners turned to anger and hatred.
The popular CCTV program “Focus” acted as a catalyst to fuel hatred against Falun Gong practitioners. In 2001 alone, 39 anti-Falun Gong episodes were aired on the program.
As tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners suffered tremendously for their belief, Li Dongsheng was promoted in May 2002 to deputy minister of the Propaganda Department. As his power increased, his campaign of propaganda was further intensified with violence and torture.
The Persecution Continues
Sixteen years into the suppression, the brutality done to Falun Gong practitioners is astonishing, from arrest, detention, torture, and incarceration in mental hospitals to sexual abuse, forced labor, and live organ harvesting.
Li’s downfall and indictment is not accidental; many high-ranking officials who have actively persecuted Falun Gong have met similar fates, from Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang to Xu Caihou.
Canadian MP Rob Anders said that the justice system will eventually “turn on those people who were the most corrupt and villainous and tyrannical and oppressive with regard to Falun Gong.” He said that those who were most heavily involved in persecuting Falun Gong, “are the ones who overstepped the bounds of decency the most.”
He further explained, “They didn’t just take money. They took dignity, they took integrity, they stole traditions away—they did all these things. They committed incredible human rights violations.” Mr. Anders said he believes that the perpetrators will be held accountable when the communist regime starts to collapse.
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of its Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee, said he supported the wave of criminal complaints against Jiang being filed by the Chinese.
During a congressional hearing on June 25, 2015, he said, “The courage and the bravery of the Chinese people that keep filing these complaints, that keeps them coming out pushing for democracy and accountability on the Party and the government, is awe-inspiring, because so many of them… are punished in some way, and yet they can persist.”
“The Western world, the free world anywhere in the world, should be having their backs, every day of the week and 24/7, to say, ‘We stand with you and we stand with the suppressed,’” Smith added.
Category: Evil Meets with Evil