Sources of Statistical Information
Death toll: Over 2,800 confirmed, actual number believed to be between 5,000 and 10,000
In October 2001, government sources inside China reported that the actual death toll was well over 1,600. On October 14, 2001, the confirmed death toll was 323. If the actual death toll shows the same increase as the confirmed death toll has, then we would expect the true death toll today to be well over 5,000. Due to extreme difficulty in discovering and verifying information in China related to wrongful deaths, this higher figure also likely understates the true death toll.
Hundreds of thousands sent to forced labor camps
On July 4, 2001, the Australian Broadcasting Company reported "close to half" of those held in the labor camps were Falun Gong. In 1997, two years before the persecution of Falun Gong began, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention estimated 235,000 people were held in China's labor camps. The Laogai Research Foundation, however, estimates that today there are between two and four million held in the laogai ( http://www.laogai.org/news/newsdetail.php?id=1880 ). The true number of Falun Gong practitioners held in labor camps then -- as of July 2001 -- would seem to be somewhere between 117,000 and 1-2 million. Reliable sources from China, however, have said for some time that the actual number is "hundreds of thousands." Given the reliability of these sources in the past, the Falun Dafa Information Center has decided to use this more conservative figure.
There is really no clear way to determine this figure. What is known is that there were 70-100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China prior to the crackdown in July of 1999 (see next section). Thus, it is quite feasible that millions or even tens of millions have been detained at some point during the last five and a half years of the persecution.
By the end of the first four months since the persecution started in China, the world's media was reporting 35,000 had been detained. As the persecution enters its fifth year, most China experts who have significant amounts of data on the persecution of Falun Gong estimate the figure to be between "hundreds of thousands" to "millions." Thus, the Falun Dafa Information Center has adopted the most feasible quantify, which is "millions."
Number of practitioners in China in 1999: 70 to 100 million
These numbers are based upon Chinese government statistics openly acknowledged prior to the crackdown in July, 1999 as a result of a survey conducted by the Chinese government in that latter part of 1998. Other sources picked up the numbers that were widely circulated at the time (see news excerpts below). After crackdown in July 1999, however, the Chinese regime began spreading a much lower number -- 1 or 2 million -- in an apparent attempt to downplay Falun Gong's presence in Chinese society.
4/27/99, The New York Times
In Beijing: A Roar of Silent Protestors, by Seth Faison
"...the Government's estimate of 70 million adherents represents a large group in a nation of 1.2 billion"
4/27/99, The New York Times
Notoriety Now for Movement's Leader, by Joseph Kahn
"Despite that elusiveness, or maybe because of it, Mr. Li has become a guru of a movement that even by Chinese Government estimates has more members that the Communist Party. Beijing puts the tally of his followers at 70 million. Practitioners say they do not dispute those numbers, but they say they have no way of knowing for sure, in part because they have no central membership lists."
4/26/99, The Associated Press
Growing group poses a dilemma for China, by Renee Schoof
"But with more members than the Communist Party -- at least 70 million, according to the State Sports Administration -- Falun is also a formidable social network..."
Falun Gong is practiced in over 60 countries around the world
The practice of Falun Gong has no organization nor membership. To practice Falun Gong, one simply needs to learn the exercises and read the Falun Gong books, both of which can be done by downloading video instructions and books for free over the Internet. Thus, it is impossible to gauge the exact number of people who practice Falun Gong around the world (unless a formal survey is conducted, such as the one done by Chinese authorities in China in 1998). However, as the practice has spread throughout the world, volunteer practice sites have appeared in almost every major city. These sites are organized by volunteers so that people can practice Falun Gong together in their local parks and people can come to learn the practice. As of August 1999, there were over 40 countries listing volunteer Falun Dafa practice sites on the main website of Falun Dafa, www.falundafa.org. As of 2003, the number had risen to over 60.
What is the reliability of Falun Dafa Information Center sources in China?
As indicated above, there were 70-100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China when Jiang Zemin launched the crackdown in July 1999. These people came from all walks of life, including high-ranking military and government officials. Many in China have used public means, such as demonstrating in Tiananmen Square, to call for an end to the persecution. Others have quietly worked in the background to supply timely and reliable information on the inner workings of the persecution in China and on those who are carrying it out. The following is a just a few samples of the information we received in the past that proved accurate...
A History of Forewarnings from Reliable Sources in China
"6-10" Office Plants Seeds for Using Child Murder Story Against Falun Gong
In April, multiple sources in Changchun reported that local "6-10" Office officials were spreading rumors among the schools of the city that Falun Gong practitioners were planning on murdering children. Sources say this was an attempt to set the stage for pinning related crimes on Falun Gong. The Falun Dafa Information Center (Chinese) issued a news release based on this information on April 9.
On May 13, state-run media widely reported a story of a woman who killed her daughter in front of 40 other people, all of which the state-run media claimed were Falun Gong practitioners. Associated Press, however, issued a report later that day noting that "State media have issued numerous similar reports, none of which have been independently confirmed." Additionally, the killing reportedly happened on April 22, but was not reported by the state-run media until May 13 - the day celebrated around the world as World Falun Dafa Day. "There was no indication why the government waited three weeks to report [the] death," the AP report said.
Thousands Arrested, Dozens Dead Revealed by Sources Early On
Following a March 5, evening broadcast of programs supportive of Falun Gong in northeastern China, sources in China indicated that an unprecedented sweep through the city of Changchun was underway. On March 26, the Falun Dafa Information Center issued a news release stating that sources revealed over 5,000 people believed to be practitioners of Falun Gong had been detained in the vast and unprecedented police sweep through Changchun. Sources also reported that dozens or more might be dead already as a result of police brutality.
Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action in the weeks that followed the broadcast, but because of the tight control over information about the rampage, it would be another seven weeks before an independent party could verify the arrest of at least 2,000. On April 25, Associated Press reported on the independent party verification:
BEIJING - Under intense pressure from Beijing, authorities have detained 2,000 followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual practice in a northern Chinese city after a defiant television broadcast by the group, a rights organization said Thursday. More than 150 followers in Changchun have been sent to "re-education through labor" camps, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said. Changchun's women's labor camp alone has admitted 80 Falun Gong followers over the last six weeks, the Hong Kong-based center said.
"Suicide" Plot to Frame Falun Gong Revealed
On December 16, 2001 the Falun Dafa Information Center issued a news release stating a reliable source inside China had revealed that Chinese officials will begin a propaganda initiative starting Monday, Dec. 17, that frames up Falun Gong by way of a suicide case.
"We received this information late last night," said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Dr. Shiyu Zhou at the time of the news release. "Chinese officials have used this tactic many times before - they take cases of suicide, murder, and other horrible acts, and use the state-run media to pin them on practitioners of Falun Gong so as to incite hatred towards Falun Gong among the Chinese people." Dr. Zhou added, "Of course, China's officials heavily guard any information about these cases, so it's both difficult and dangerous for us to get further details about this new initiative, but we can say this came from a reliable source and must be taken seriously. We need to follow this closely."
The next day, the top story on China's state-run CCTV reported on a man who allegedly killed his father and wife, and injured his own mother on Nov. 25 in Beijing. China's state-run media did not release the news, however, until 20 days later (December 17).
The reported labeled the man a Falun Gong practitioner, and included interviews with him in which he spoke in unfamiliar terms about Falun Gong. Dr. Zhou noted that the story was deceptive: "What [the murderer] said does not make any sense but could be very deceiving as he uses some strange terminologies that will cause people to believe he actually practices Falun Gong."
4 Days Before Anthrax Scare, Sources Reveal Jiang Will Capitalize on Terrorist Fears
On October 14, 2001, the Falun Dafa Information Center (Chinese) reported that Jiang Zemin had internally labeled Falun Gong a "terrorist organization," and ordered that "terrorist incidents" be created and attributed to Falun Gong. The creation of such incidents would undoubtedly further the regime's efforts to criminalize and demonize Falun Gong, breeding public hatred and fear.
On October 18, 2001, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), the Associated Press and other media issued reports, citing Chinese foreign ministry sources, that an alleged "Falun Gong book" suspected of anthrax bacteria contamination was received in the mail by an undisclosed American company in Beijing. No details were given about the package, including where it originated.
On the October 18, the Falun Dafa Information Center issued a news release in which spokesperson Adam Montanaro stated, "If the Chinese regime is using the anthrax scare to frame-up and attack Falun Gong, which it clearly looks like, then this is very disturbing. Would someone who sends a package like this include literature that identifies him?-that's absurd. But on the other hand, that's exactly how someone might choose to frame Falun Gong. It's highly suspicious." "The timing of this incident," Mr. Montanaro continued, "seems suspicious as well." The incident occurred as many of the world's leaders were visiting Shanghai during the APEC meetings.
Sources Forewarn of Labor Camp Show Tours
On April 26, 2001, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported that sources said the Masanjia Labor Camp in Liaoning Province was among a few facilities being readied to receive foreign and Chinese media to 'interview' selected Falun Gong Practitioners. Almost a month later reporters were invited to the Masanjia Labor Camp to witness freshly painted walls, prisoners decked out in new jump suits complete with their names written on the back in Chinese and English (it was not clear why prisoners needed their names written in English inside a Chinese labor camp), enjoying an apparently clean and healthy environment.
What the visiting media were shown on this tour lies in stark contrast to numerous first-hand reports from former prisoners at Masanjia who attest to violent beatings, horrific torture and numerous deaths that have occurred from persecution at the labor camp. Regarding this tour, Falun Dafa Information Center spokeswoman Gail Rachlin said, "This whole exercise smacks of Nazi show tours of a Czech Concentration camp in 1944 which was turned into a movie set to mislead the world. We fear the same thing may be happening again."
What is the Full Story?
Last December while the number of deaths confirmed by the Falun Dafa Information Center topped 300, government sources inside China revealed that the actual number was well over 1,600. More recently, other sources in China say the number could be 4,000 or even far greater. The control of information in and out of Mainland China about human rights abuses remains strong, proving difficult and dangerous to circumnavigate. Thus, despite the access to reliable sources, evidence suggests that news agencies and human rights organizations have only barely scratched the surface of what's really happening in China.
The true extent of the tragedy remains largely unknown.
(You can right-click to copy these links for reference to a specific section above)
- Death toll: Over 500 confirmed, over 2,500 actual
- Over 100,000 sent to forced labor camps
- Hundreds of Thousands Detained
- Number of practitioners in China in 1999: 70 to 100 million
- Falun Gong is practiced in over 50 countries around the world
- What is the reliability of Falun Dafa Information Center sources in China?
- "6-10" Office Plants Seeds for Using Child Murder Story Against Falun Gong
- Thousands Arrested, Dozens Dead Revealed by Sources Early On
- "Suicide" Plot to Frame Falun Gong Revealed
- 4 Days Before Anthrax Scare, Sources Reveal Jiang Will Capitalize on Terrorist Fears
- Sources Forewarn of Labor Camp Show Tours
- What is the Full Story?
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT THE FALUN DAFA INFORMATION CENTER
Contacts: Gail Rachlin (+1 917-757-9780), Levi Browde (+1 646-415-0998), Erping Zhang (+1 646-533-6147), or Christina Chai (+1 917-386-5068).
Fax: 646-792-3916 Email: , Website: http://www.faluninfo.net/