A library in Meraker, Norway, strongly rejected the demand to remove some books from its shelves, made by the leaders of a skiing delegation from communist China.
“We have freedom of speech in Norway, so that was completely out of the question,” library Manager Anne Marken told the local Adresseavisen newspaper, in response to a request from the totalitarian regime.
The heads of the Asian team of more than 40 Chinese athletes and 15 cross-country coaches were in Meraker conducting a preparation program for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The leaders of the Chinese sports group showed up at the library several times, and warned that if any of their skiers were caught reading any of the regime’s banned works, they could be sentenced to jail or forced labor camps, Norway Today said.
The manager who did not give in to the pressure, according to the Norwegian newspaper, explained that in recent weeks the library recorded several incidents related to Chinese literature.
Among the requests for censorship from the Chinese delegation was the book of teachings of the prestigious spiritual discipline of the Buddha School, Falun Gong, which has received mentions and awards all over the world. A work whose prohibition—dating back to 1999—had even been repealed by the Chinese communist regime in 2011.
“We have had three different inquiries from individuals who have asked us to remove that book. Two to three other books are also mentioned from our collection. They have said that if any of the Chinese skiers are caught with these books, they are afraid that they would risk being sent to labor camp or prison in China,” Marken told the newspaper.
“I have said that the books in the library are open to them. We cannot remove the contents of the library because of such requests,” she said.
What’s behind the petition?
On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party, fearing it would lose control over the population, launched one of the cruelest and bloodiest persecutions in its history against the traditional and spiritual Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa.
The popularity of the discipline was booming at that time and even the Party was lauding its benefits in reducing public health expenses and the encouraged people to practice it.
According to different estimates, in a short time between 70 million and 100 million Chinese citizens began to practice it and its influence multiplied every day. However, this unsettled the then communist leader, Jiang Zemin.
Therefore, on June 10, 1999, in order to crush the peaceful movement that was interfering with the Party’s unique thinking and circumventing the constitution, Jiang established the infamous 610 office.
This organization was created outside the legal framework, and as described by the nonprofit organization Freedom House, “It operates outside the state system without any official recognition. At its core, the 610 office is an extra-ministerial, plainclothes security force of the Chinese Communist Party focused on the repression of the Falun Gong spiritual group.”
Torture, forced removal of organs and deaths
The persecution has led to the confirmed deaths of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, although according to some independent research the figure could be much higher.
According to reports published daily on the Falun Gong news website, Minghui.org, or statements by the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament—among others—over the past 20 years a high number of Chinese citizens continue to be tortured and even killed for their organs because they do not renounce a belief that, today, is practiced by people all over the world.
In fact, Falun Gong books have been translated into more than 40 languages.
Despite the abundant evidence, both in this case and in the case of the torture, rape, and brainwashing of Chinese Muslims in the Xinjiang concentration camps in western China, the Chinese Communist Party denies all allegations.
It is worth mentioning that as the Chinese regime makes its way and reasserts its influence on foreign soil, there are incidents in which they do not hesitate to demand that other governments, agencies and entities bow to communist policies.
However, Beijing argues that foreign governments do not stop interfering when they comment on sensitive issues such as police repression in Hong Kong or others, which for Westerners represents a clear violation of freedom of expression, said Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times‘ chief foreign affairs commentator.