NEW YORK — Western media reports over the last several days have largely characterized the Communist Party’s decision to close the widely-scorned Re-education Through Labor (RTL) system as progress in the area of human rights. However, a new campaign, which aims to brainwash millions of Falun Gong practitioners across China — through psychological and physical torture — demonstrates Beijing’s mechanisms of suppression remain as functional and utilized as ever.
“It is common for the Chinese Communist Party to make an apparent change on the surface to help bolster its image, while behind the scenes, it’s business as usual,” said Levi Browde, executive director of the Falun Dafa Information Center. “We are seeing Falun Gong practitioners being sent to either prison (after show trials) or to ‘legal reeducation centers,’ otherwise known as ‘brainwashing centers,’ which are even more opaque and arbitrary than the labor camp system. The torture and abuse people face in these centers can be just as horrific as a labor camp.”
“Announcing the closure of labor camps is just a change to the facade. Genuine improvement in human rights for Falun Gong practitioners and others across China remains unrealized.”
One day after the labor camp closures were announced by Beijing, the Epoch Times Newspaper published a collection of 56 circulars from official agencies across China, revealing that a renewed, nation-wide campaign to eliminate Falun Gong is underway. Carrying out the 2013 to 2015 Final Battle on Education and Transformation is the scientific decision made by the Party Central based on the current struggle, indicates one official website. “Convert all the unconverted Falun Gong adherents by the end of 2015 and continue the propaganda criticizing Falun Gong,” indicates another.
The use of brainwashing centers is expanding across the country, just as some labor camps are closing or changing functions. For example, statistics by Minghui.org, a Falun Gong website that catalogues grassroots reports of abuse, indicates that the number of confirmed brainwashing cases in a single Hebei Province city has grown from 50 to over 350 in the first ten months of 2013.
Such trends put Falun Gong practitioners and other detainees at greater risk because brainwashing faciltities are even less legally codified than the RTL system. Having no official existence, brainwashing centers are known to have been arbitrarily set up in facilities as varied as schools, apartments, or even old Buddhist temples.
The Falun Dafa Information Center calls on human rights groups to investigate the renewed, three-year campaign against Falun Gong practitioners. The Center also encourages journalists stationed in China to investigate this campaign, and include these facts in relevant reports about China’s human rights. Especially when Beijing makes an announcement of this nature, it does a disservice to readers when they are left unaware of how the Chinese regime continues an onslaught of persecution, even while closing the doors of some labor camps.