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Former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai is seen during the closing ceremony of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 14, 2012. A few days later Bo Xilai was arrested. His trial will take place on Aug. 22, 2013 in Jinan. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
The long-awaited trial of Bo Xilai, the former Chinese Politburo member who suffered a spectacular political destruction last year, will be held on Aug. 22, according to the latest official reports. But the crimes Bo is being charged with—“bribery, corruption, and abuse of power”—are only a portion of the things he got up to, according to official statements and political analysts.
Organ harvesting, corpse peddling, and a coup attempt are among Bo’s other alleged activities, but they will not be featured as part of the carefully stage-managed trial.
Official statements from last year had accused Bo Xilai of six crimes, three more than the actual indictment. The official investigation approved by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, part of whose results were published in August of 2012, said that Bo had “violated organizational and personnel discipline,” maintained improper sexual relationships with women, and was suspected of being involved with “other crimes.”
“Insider trials of this kind sometimes touch on Party and national secrets, there are some things that they certainly cannot publicize,” said Gao Yu, a senior journalist and commentator in China, in an interview with New Tang Dynasty Television. “The parts that come out in the open trial, the three accusations, are those that he has acknowledged and confessed to.”
Among the crimes that will not be brought up in court is a coup attempt that Epoch Times learned about from internal sources in China, reports about which were also carried by several overseas Chinese-language media. Bo Xilai was said to have plotted the coup with former domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang and other high-ranking Party members.
The Washington Free Beacon quoted a senior U.S. official as saying Bo Xilai’s former right-hand man, Wang Lijun, “possessed invaluable knowledge of the current Chinese power struggle, and the efforts of the hardliners like Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai to upset the smooth succession of Xi Jinping.” In February 2012 Wang had attempted to defect to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, where he was debriefed during his more than 24 hours in U.S. custody.
Bo Xilai’s activities, Xinhua’s official statement said, “did enormous damage to the reputation of the Party and the country, and created an extremely vile impact inside and outside China, causing great losses to the cause of the Party and the people.”
The “vile” side of Bo Xilai’s activities has mostly not been acknowledged or appeared in any of the official statements.
For example, Bo Xilai was the Party Secretary of northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, and before that the mayor of Dalian, Liaoning’s second-largest city, at a time when the harvesting of organs from prisoners of conscience, specifically practitioners of Falun Gong, is thought to have taken place at significant scale in that region. He was also allegedly behind the ease with which several body plastination factories, which pump corpses full of plastic and then put them on display, were able to operate and obtain bodies from the Public Security Bureau in Dalian.
Bo Xilai was a well-known political protege to Jiang Zemin, the former leader of the CCP, who in 1999 launched the violent campaign against Falun Gong, a group of over 70 million practitioners of qigong, a traditional form of Chinese exercise and moral discipline.
Jiang Weiping, a Chinese journalist who reported aggressively on Bo when he was mayor of Dalian and was then jailed for eight years for revealing state secrets and inciting subversion, said in an interview that Bo was told by Jiang Zemin that he had to “show your toughness in handling Falun Gong… it will be your political capital.” The anecdote was related to Jiang Weiping through an intermediary.
Bo Xilai oversaw the expansion of labor camps in Liaoning, and by 2004 presided over one of the highest provincial death tolls of Falun Gong in China. Liaoning Province was also the pioneer of some of the more brutal methods of torture, including sexual torture, which were then promulgated to other labor camps.
According to Ethan Gutmann, an author who is writing a book about the persecution of Falun Gong, Bo Xilai played an important part in the persecution when he was in Liaoning and Dalian.
Gutmann writes: “When Bo Xilai ascended to governor of Liaoning, he ordered a massive expansion of detention facilities of all stripes, particularly in locations such as Jinzhou, Dalian, and the now-notorious labor camp Masanjia near Shenyang.
“Uighurs, certain Christian house sects such as Eastern Lightning, and Tibetans may have been targeted for organ harvesting, but witnesses consistently report that Liaoning became infamous as a vast holding-pen for young, ‘nameless’ Falun Gong—those who refused to identify themselves, to avoid getting their families into trouble.”
Bo Xilai in 1999 gave a medal and award certificate to Gunther von Hagens, whose business was the plastination of bodies whose ultimate source—whether consenting subjects or unconsenting executed prisoners or prisoners of conscience—has been a matter of controversy.
Wang Lijun, who was linked to Bo Xilai in Liaoning Province, had personally been involved in the harvesting of organs. In a candid speech that was deleted after the Epoch Times reported about it, Wang bragged about carrying out “thousands” of “on site” transplantations, a process that he said was “soul stirring.” Experts consulted said most of the victims were probably prisoners of conscience, given the circumstances surrounding his remarks.
Zhang Jian, an independent commentator on current affairs in China, told NTD Television that it would be “impossible” for the accusations of organ harvesting and corpse trafficking to be brought against Bo Xilai in open court, because it would be an enormous indictment of the regime itself.
That also goes to explain the lightness of the punishment Bo Xilai is expected to receive: only 15 years, according to the Chinese-language BBC and other overseas Chinese media. There was a compromise made between Bo Xilai’s side and the authorities, Zhang said. If he were given the death sentence, the Party’s secrets could be exposed overseas by Bo’s associates.
“Bo Xilai has so, so many secrets that people outside do not know,” Zhang said. “And a lot of these secrets are the Achilles’ heel of the Chinese Communist Party.”