When reporters working for Washington Post
newspaper publisher Katharine Graham uncovered the Watergate Scandal, she could rely on an independent system of justice to support her from the pressure from the President and intimidation from Federal judges. Yet, when Liu Chengjun spread the truth about Falun Gong, what he faced was not protection from the justice system, but persecution in the name of justice! Graham could make the decision to continue publishing the reports to let the public know the truth; yet after Mr. Liu succeeded in once in tapping into the state-controlled TV network, he didn’t have a second chance to speak. Graham was not labeled as “leaking national secrets” and sent to prison. Yet, Liu was accused of seriously damaging public security, disrupting social order, and violating people’s rights and interests. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Graham revealed an election scandal that didn't relate to the loss of human life. Yet, Liu tried to stop thousands of people from being killed in the bloody suppression of Falun Gong. Graham only faced verbal and written intimidation, yet Liu faced Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s secret order to kill without mercy.
On March 24, 2002, after Liu Chengjun had been abducted and was in custody, a police officer shot Liu twice in the legs. Later, Liu’s hands were cuffed and his feet were shackled. A Xinhua News photo from April 1, 2002 showed that Liu couldn’t even sit upright due to all of the torture that he received. This picture was published by Xinhua News Agency, which is a Chinese news agency that almost always glosses over the atrocities of Jiang’s regime. It was not hard to realize that Liu’s actual situation was much more serious. In the beginning of May, he was transferred to the Tiebei Detention Center. They tried to extract a confession from him using torture. He was put through a Chinese torture method called “the tiger bench,” in which he was roped to a small bench in a painful squatting position for 52 days.
When he was put on trial, Liu was so weak people had to carry him into the courtroom. As expected, Liu was found guilty, and sent to Jilin prison. Even though Liu was tortured to the point where he was covered in blood and could hardly speak, Jilin prison officials still didn’t agree to let him out on bail for medical treatment. (There are laws in China that allow for a prisoner to be bailed out when a prison does not have the ability to provide proper medical care). Ultimately, Liu was tortured to death.
If China ‘s press were not wholly owned and controlled by the government, if there was even a vestige of press freedom, Liu would not have had to override state TV propaganda broadcasts to reveal the truth. If the Chinese government were not trying to cover up hideous human rights abuses, Liu would have had no need to risk his life to save others.
When Graham passed away in July 2001, President Bush wrote, “The nation’s capital and our entire nation today mourn the loss of the beloved first lady of Washington and American journalism, Katharine Graham. Her legacy and influence spanned many different arenas, from powerful publisher, to quiet philanthropist, to accomplished businesswoman, to Pulitzer Prize winning author, to gracious and loyal friend.”
Liu was not as lucky as Graham; his bloodied and broken body was cremated seven hours after his death. Most people in China do not know that he lived, acted heroically on their behalf, suffered, and died. Instead of being honored, as Graham was, Liu was convicted as a criminal.
From Liu, we not only see the ethos of the Chinese national spirit, of laying down one’s life for a just cause, but we also see Falun Gong practitioners’ courage in fearlessly revealing the truth even when their lives are at stake. History will witness the day that the truth of Falun Gong is revealed to the whole world. Perhaps at that time people will realize the meaning behind Falun Gong’s principles “Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance,” and perhaps people will see the atrocious and bloody nature of Jiang Zemin’s suppression, and perhaps people will understand the magnificence of Liu Chengjun’s feat.
In Beijing, roads Zhang Zizhong Road and Tong Linge Road are named after generals who died in war, to memorialize these national heroes. There is a road named after Mrs. Graham in the greater Washington, D.C., area. Maybe one day there will be Liu Chengjun Road in Mainland China to memorialize this hero who died for freedom.
Until that day comes, it is the duty of every person who values freedom and justice to tell the world of the horrible persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, to end this bloody persecution before it claims more innocent lives.
The memory of Liu Chengjun, and freedom fighters throughout history, demands no less.