After earlier AGM encounters with Rupert Murdoch, Falun Gong's man in Australia, John Deller, made contact, so I suggested he come to Adelaide for the News Corp annual meeting in October and raise the issue in front of the world's media. John organised his flights to Adelaide, I organised the proxy and then we met for coffee an hour before the meeting and exchanged notes.
John was well prepared and stuck to his guns so we'll let him take over the story from here, starting with the question he asked Rupert:
Falun Gong question at News Corp AGM
"Mr Chairman, my name is John Deller and I'm here as a Proxy holder and I have a question related to a speech by James Murdoch at the Milken Institute conference in California last year where the Los Angeles times reported that he called the Falun Gong spiritual movement, a "dangerous" and "apocalyptic cult" and that it, "clearly does not have the success of China at heart ", and that investing in China required a "strong stomach".
My question is: Does James and News Corp realise the principles of Falun Gong are Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance and that they can only be dangerous if you feel threatened by these principles and that Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a traditional Chinese meditation and cultivation practice.
Mr Chairman, I am also a spokesperson for Falun Dafa in Australia and does James realise that Falun Dafa in no way resembles a cult and that it's freely practiced in over 40 countries around the world, no costs are involved, no donations are accepted, there are no membership lists, all activities are done by volunteers and everyone lives responsible lives in society with jobs and families.
And does James realise he has confused the success of China with the financial and political success of a few individuals and does he realise by making those comments he is effectively supporting the torture and murder of peaceful Chinese citizens who will not relinquish their belief in Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance - even though suffering the brutal persecution directed by the Chinese President Jiang Zemin .
Recently the Canadian MP, Mr Yvon Charbonneau has said the following:
"I consider that this form of terrorism practiced against Falun Gong practitioners in China is no more acceptable than any other form of terrorism".
How it was reported
The Australian press largely ignored the issue but this is how the Dow Jones wire reported it internationally:
News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch Backs Son Over Falun Gong
ADELAIDE, Australia (Dow Jones) – Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corp, said Thursday he agrees with comments made by his son James criticizing the Falun Gong religious movement. James, the chairman and chief executive of News Corp.'s Asian satellite television business STAR, surprised his audience at a Los Angeles business forum early this year when he said Falun Gong was a dangerous and "apocalyptic cult" that doesn't have China's interests at heart. At the News Corp. annual meeting in Adelaide, the Australian spokesman for Falun Gong asked Murdoch whether he realized Falun Gong is a spiritual and traditional Chinese meditative practice. "Does James...realize that by making those comments he is effectively supporting the torture and murder of people in China?" asked John Deller.
Murdoch said that based on his own "limited" knowledge of Falun Gong he "would have agreed" with James' remarks. Having been present when James made the comments, Murdoch said he knew immediately that his son had said something very "undiplomatic."
Also, Murdoch said he will pass the spokesman's remarks to James "so that we may all look at all sides of this controversy with a very open mind." The issue of Falun Gong is delicate for News Corp given its desire to expand into mainland China. The company's interests in China were damaged in1993 by Rupert Murdoch's remarks about satellite television threatening totalitarian regimes. Since then, News Corp has carefully rebuilt relations with China, including the removal of the BBC off Star TV. Among other things, News Corp owns 38% of Phoenix satellite Television Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based satellite channel whose signal is pulled down by Chinese cable stations and apartment compounds.
-Helen Ubels;Dow Jones Newswires
(SK Witcher of the Asian Wall Street Journal contributed to this article)
John Deller's account of what happened
John Deller has been good enough to put together this account of the News Corp AGM exclusively for Crikey and he has also provided some useful background material on the Falun Dafa.
"After the completion of the meeting I met the News Corp Company Secretary Keith Brodie. He was a lovely man and kindly received some information on Falun Dafa and supporting statements from Canadian government members, which he undertook to pass on to the Murdoch executives. Then a little later I met Rupert Murdoch. I thanked him for allowing me to speak in the meeting and commented how in conducting his Chairman's role he had displayed patience and tolerance, which was similar to the principles of Falun Dafa.
As I ascended the stairs to leave the venue I met Lachlan Murdoch in the foyer. He kindly introduced me to three associates standing with him. I understood they were quite important people in the News Corp group. However I did not focus on their names - but focused on their hearts. I could see in their eyes, as in Lachlan, that they had felt the message of Falun Dafa - Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. I commented that I hoped he understood a little more about Falun Dafa. I wonder now can they allow their hearts to open while balancing the role of making money for News Corp. I believe it is possible. That is an aspect of cultivation.
What do we truly value? How do we reconcile the torture and murder of people in China because they ask for the freedom to believe in Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, with our own actions which at best, by ignoring the persecution, we are allowing it to continue - and at worst, by endorsing the Chinese regime we are directly contributing to it? I hope at least one influential heart within News Corp or another global group can awaken to this. I hope someone can see the inner dividend that flows to a brave heart who can see clearly through the fog - who can speak up with benevolence - who can see truly what self -interest really means.
To awaken to the self within us - that is not the thinking mind, that is not the physical body - that is the self-interest that truly benefits us all - and that is true leadership. The kind, gentle people in China who are brutally tortured for their beliefs and practicing Falun Gong have found that interest in their true self. They will not submit to Jiang Zemin's crazed campaign to control the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.
In a free country with a free press, surely the least we can do is acknowledge their human rights and support them. There will still be the opportunity to make money and do business in China. Business will go on, but on what basis? If we are reviled by people making huge profits from the for-knowledge of the terrorist plane crashes in the US, why are we not also reviled by the prospect of endorsing an atheist communist regime which is torturing tens of thousands for their beliefs with at least 295 dead? I have heard that when Lang Hancock was asked why he did business with Caecescu in Romania, he reportedly said, "Business is business". Equally, 'murder is murder' - and we should be clear of who and what we are supporting.
It is a sad reflection on our times if the current Chinese President can be an arbiter of justice in the eyes of the world and can control the decisions of global corporations. If you are corrupt and your relatives have all benefited from your corruption and the corruption is endemic, through all levels of the government - then you have much to fear when 70 million people throughout the military, the communist party, the government, the business community and across all levels of the society - are practicing Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. This was the situation in China.
To some people it may seem odd to live your life by the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. I find it odd to live ones life solely by such transient principles as economic rationality and market forces. Of course any principal of good business is prudent to apply in that context. But the situation facing the world today can be a reflection of our moral ineptitude and confusing business principles with the higher principles we need to sustain our peaceful coexistence on this earth. Falun Dafa helps millions of people to find their peaceful heart and the true meaning of life.
The following is part of a practitioner's story from China when they were imprisoned for their belief in Falun Dafa:
"In my jail cell I didn't blame the prisoners for fighting with each other. Instead, I reasoned with them: 'Returning evil actions with evil, people can only learn evil because you release the evil you endured from others to somebody else. But if you return the evil with Goodness, people can learn Goodness and see a bright future. Since the police pretended to be nice to you while they aren't really kind in their hearts, you can feel their evil and it is evil you have learned. That's why forced labour re-education can't change a person's nature. However, Falun Dafa can change a person fundamentally, making him inclined toward Goodness forever, and making him forever yearn for Goodness and look towards Goodness.' After I said this, the prisoners stopped fighting from then on and became more considerate of each other."
I hope more people can understand and speak up for the noble people suffering in China to protect the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.
John Deller - October 2001
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
Q: What is Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong?
A: Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is an ancient practice for mind and body, originating in pre-historic China. The practice involves some slow, gentle movements and a meditation. It is easy to learn, enjoyable to practice, and free of charge. A central component of Falun Gong practice is studying the universal principles of Zhen Shan Ren, which translated into English is Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance.
Q: Who is Mr. Li Hongzhi?
A: Mr. Li Hongzhi introduced the practice of Falun Dafa to the general public in China in 1992. He then taught the practice publicly for two years in China, after which the practice continued to grow primarily by word-of-mouth. In keeping with Chinese tradition, Mr. Li is sometimes respectfully referred to as "Master" or "Teacher." He is not accorded special treatment, nor does he accept money or donations from students of Falun Dafa. He has ensured that the practice be available to all people, and without any terms or conditions. Mr. Li has given occasional public lectures over the past few years in various countries, including Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the USA.
Q: Who practices Falun Dafa, and how do they find it beneficial?
A: Falun Dafa is practiced by people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds, in more than 40 countries worldwide. Almost everyone who practices reports significantly improved health, reduced stress, and increased levels of energy.
Q: I'm interested in trying it out or learning more about it how can I get started?
A: All practice sites offer free instruction, and everyone is welcome. To find a site near your home, you can visit http://www.falundafa.org on the Internet, or call 1-877-FALUN-99 in the USA. All materials can be downloaded for free from the Internet. You can download and print out all the books on this website for personal use. There are also instructional books and video tapes available from bookstores, you can visit http://www.universepublishing.com/ to order them.
Q: How can I obtain a copy of Falun Gong book and exercise video tape?
A: The Universe Publishing (Yih Chyun Corp.) is dedicated to publish, distribute books, audio/video materials related to Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), you can order from them. Their website: http://www.universepublishing.com. In Australia you can also contact www.falundafa.org.au and follow the links to Books.
Information on the Situation in China
You may have heard about a massive crackdown against Falun Dafa currently going on in China. Exactly what is happening, and why has the Chinese government unleashed its fury against a practice that is so obviously peaceful and non-threatening? We hope we can help shed some light on these questions for you.
It must first be understood that the Chinese government, run by the Communist Party, is officially atheist, so anything of a spiritual nature is discouraged and often outlawed because it is not in keeping with Communist ideology. For us in nations with democratically elected governments, freedom of belief is considered to be one of the most basic universal rights, but in China, such fundamental human rights are rarely protected.
On April 25, 1999, more than 10,000 Falun Dafa practitioners held a legal, peaceful gathering in Beijing outside the Chinese leadership compound, Zhongnanhai. The assembly was prompted by reports of violence and harassment previously inflicted upon Falun Dafa practitioners by Chinese police in the city of Tianjin, as well as an unjustified ban on publishing Falun Dafa materials. The assembly was peaceful and orderly, and after participants presented their case before Mr. Zhu Rongji, Premier of the Chinese State Council, they quietly returned to their homes.
The event clearly shook the Chinese leadership because they hadn't anticipated that so many people could have gathered so quickly in the heart of the capital. Not since the Tiananmen Incident in 1989 involving many Beijing students had so many people gathered together to make an appeal to the government, and the government's reaction to that particular incident was, of course, swift and brutal.
On the night of July 19th, 1999, police raided the homes of hundreds of practitioners and dragged them off to prison. The next day, Falun Dafa was officially declared illegal in China. From that moment forward, a massive government campaign was formed to suppress and destroy Falun Dafa. The state-controlled media worked overtime to spread false information to the public, and they also sent out their propaganda through the Chinese embassies stationed around the world. The purpose was to mislead the public and cover up their severe human rights abuses against Falun Dafa practitioners as thousands were rounded up and held in detention for interrogation, torture, and so-called "re-education."
To date, the Chinese government has used any method available to terrorize and pressure people to renounce their faith. They have pitted society and family members against each other through threats and heavy fines, and thousands have lost their jobs and their homes. Millions of Falun Dafa books and tapes have been publicly burned and destroyed. Access to all Internet websites regarding Falun Dafa have been blocked or jammed in China, and those who send out accounts of the beatings and abuse they experience while in detention have been arrested and jailed for "leaking state secrets."
Practitioners are denied legal representation and have received sentences up to 18 years in prison in show trials. Tens of thousands have been sent to forced labor camps with no trial at all. Even worse, many Falun Dafa practitioners are being committed to psychiatric wards and forcibly medicated with powerful psychotropic drugs causing serious harm to their bodies. This is a tactic used in the Soviet Union under Stalin as a way to make the public think that the victims are mentally insane and therefore they deserve to be locked up.
To date, there are more than 295 documented cases of otherwise healthy practitioners being beaten and tortured to death while in detention, although sources from within the Chinese government have leaked information putting the number at over 1,000. During the last two years of violence and torture, Falun Dafa practitioners have shown unparalleled kindness and forbearance. Not a single practitioner has struck back or physically retaliated against police. Worldwide, all practitioners have used only non-violent, peaceful, and legal means to appeal. This kind of conduct, in the face of such torment and injustice exhibited on such a large scale, has spoken eloquently to the world about the fundamentally peaceful and compassionate nature of Falun Dafa.
What Can You Do to Help?
The best way you can help is to let people around you know what Falun Dafa is: Let them know that it is a practice based on ancient philosophies that helps people gain better health and peace of mind. China's biggest weapon against all spiritual practices is to call them 'cults' because the derogatory connotations of that word is often enough to put people on guard, and in the case of Falun Dafa, it is a label that is completely inaccurate. Practitioners lead normal lives and participate actively in their communities. The practice is an individual choice and is centered on the improvement of one's self. There are no obligations, and everyone is free to come and go as they choose.
Falun Dafa is more accurately thought of as a "cultivation practice," which is a concept that may be somewhat new to us in the West. Many other self-cultivation practices similar to Falun Dafa have been practiced in China for many centuries, as they have provided health, wisdom, and peace of mind to countless generations. As these arts become more familiar in the West, our vocabulary for them will expand.
Also let people know what is happening to Falun Dafa practitioners in China. Get copies of the two-part video "Falun Gong: The Real Story" and invite your friends and colleagues to screenings. Write to your government representatives so they know that their constituents are concerned about the human rights situation in China.
"We are not against the government now, nor will we be in the future. Other people may treat us badly, but we do not treat others badly, nor do we treat people as enemies. We are calling for all governments, international organizations and people of goodwill worldwide to extend their support and assistance to us in order to resolve the present crisis that is taking place in China."
- Li Hongzhi, July 22, 1999
For further information and resources regarding the situation in China try Amnesty International or www.FalunInfo.net which contains general-interest news about Falun Dafa, updated daily by practitioners.
Copyright © 2020 The Mayne Report. All rights reserved