Current Chinese leader Xi Jinping has an unlikely critic in Luo Yu: after all, they were childhood friends.
Like Xi, Luo is the son of a former Chinese revolutionary, Luo Ruiqing. Their fathers knew each other well during their years in the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
As a princeling, Luo Yu rose up the ranks of the Party, to become a high-level commander in the People’s Liberation Army.
Shortly after the events of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Luo defected from the CCP and now resides in the United States.
He has some words of criticism for Xi. To date, he has written and published 22 open letters addressed to Xi, urging him to bring real reform to China.
“Measures should be taken to allow a free press, end one-party rule, and make the judicial system independent. Officials should be elected to office by public voting, while efforts should be made to achieve nationalization of the military,” Luo wrote in a letter published in the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily on Aug. 22.
He also repeated his plea to bring former CCP leader Jiang Zemin to justice.
From endorsing the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy movement on June 4, 1989, to initiating the ongoing persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, Jiang has committed numerous crimes against humanity. Xi Jinping must have Jiang tried in court for his crimes, Luo said.
“Only be doing so will you be a true leader of the country,” he wrote.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient self-improvement practice that involves meditation and living according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice’s benefits to physical and mental health led to its widespread popularity, with more than 70 million adherents in China by 1999, according to a state survey. Practitioners say their numbers reached more than 100 million.
Jiang perceived Falun Gong’s presence as a threat to his authoritarian rule and began a campaign to eradicate the practice in July 1999. The official press office for Falun Gong, the Falun Dafa Information Center, estimates that millions of Falun Gong adherents have been arrested and detained since the persecution started, often enduring torture and abuse while imprisoned.
Luo also pointed to the mounting evidence of state-sanctioned organ harvesting for the transplant surgery industry, with the majority of victims being Falun Gong practitioners.
“You have came into power for four years already. However, this criminal system of forced organ harvesting is still operating. History will document this,” he wrote in an open letter published in March.
Falun Gong practitioners and their relatives in China have begun submitting legal complaints to the CCP’s Supreme Court and Supreme Procuratorate since May 2015. So far, more than 200,000 people have sought to use China’s courts to bring Jiang to justice, according to statistics released by Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
With China’s 19th National Congress having commenced in Beijing on Wednesday—when Xi is to preside over the major political conclave that will unveil the Party’s next generation of top leadership—Luo has once again urged his friend to lead the country in the right direction.
“He must lead China on the path to democracy. That is the only way out for China,” he told The Epoch Times.
Additional translation by Julia Ye