‘Unsilenced’: Chinese dissident film director details CCP threat

Philip Lenczycki, DCNF

  • The newest film by Chinese film director, Leon Lee, highlights the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to eradicate Falun Gong.
  • Despite residing in the West, as a prominent dissident Lee has been hounded by the CCP.
  • Lee’s previous documentaries explore the CCP’s human rights violations, such as organ harvesting and reeducation through labor camps.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) perpetrated mass atrocities against minority religious movements decades before the recent, highly-publicized crackdown on Uyghurs, a new film from an award-winning director reminds audiences.

In an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, Peabody Award-winning director Leon Lee discussed his new film “Unsilenced” and detailed why Americans must care about what happens in China.

“Unsilenced” focuses on the 1999 CCP crackdown on Falun Gong, a religious movement founded in the 1990s that is loosely related to the meditative practices of qìgōng and tai chi.

Highlighting the brutality which underpins the CCP, “Unsilenced” depicts the society-wide ramifications of the party’s thirst for power, while underscoring how not even loyal Communist Party members are safe from the consequent violence of intra-party wrangling.

“Because the entire nation has been forced to get involved in cracking down on Falun Gong and other groups — whether in the workplace, in school, or with neighbors — everyone has been forced to abandon their conscience and accept that they themselves will be complicit in doing what is wrong,” said Lee. “Thus, in order to eradicate 70 to 100 million people the CCP has also had to destroy morality, justice, and the entire social structure of China. The persecution of Falun Gong went way beyond religious persecution … it destroyed China.”

Similar to how the world struggles to address the plight of Uyghurs today, the injustices inflicted upon Falun Gong practitioners in the early 2000s likewise failed to decisively capture the globe’s attention, according to Lee.

“Obviously, we should care about what’s happening to other human beings,” Lee said, before offering an alternative perspective to that expressed by Golden State Warrior owner, Chamath Palihapitiya, who on Jan. 15 during the All-In Podcast said “nobody cares” about “what’s happening to the Uyghurs.”

“There’s almost no dispute the CCP censored information about the discovery of the coronavirus in Wuhan,” said Lee, “but, imagine if the CCP had taken a different stance, if they’d been transparent and worked with the international community. Think about how many people died of COVID. Knowing this, would anyone dare say we shouldn’t care about what’s going on in China?”

Supporting his position, Lee shared several experiences detailing how the CCP’s global reach had affected him personally.

During a 2015 film festival in California, the festival’s director told Lee he’d been visited by two agents of the Chinese government who asked to review “all the Chinese films in the festival’s line up.”

“After the festival director showed them the Chinese films, they weren’t satisfied,” said Lee.

The CCP agents specifically inquired into one of Lee’s films, but when the film director told them the film was Canadian “the two men just stood up and left,” said Lee.

The film in question was “Human Harvest,” the 2014 documentary exploring the CCP’s organ harvesting operations for which Lee won the Peabody Award.

“Human Harvest” examines how the CCP’s organ harvesting operations attracted global attention in light of the sheer number of patients flying to China to receive transplants.

In March 2020, the scale of the CCP’s program was laid bare when the CCP was found guilty of inflicting “torture” and “crimes against humanity” upon Falun Gong and Uyghur prisoners of conscience by the judgment of the China Tribunal, a non-governmental investigation examining “forced organ harvesting” in China.

The China Tribunal concluded between 840,000 and 1,260,000 organ transplants were conducted in China during the 14 years following the CCP crackdown on Falun Gong featured in Lee’s film “Unsilenced.”

According to Lee, the CCP’s visit to the California film festival was not an isolated incident.

Lee’s 2018 documentary, “Letter From Masanjia,” tracked the fallout from the 2012 discovery of a note hidden within a Halloween decoration in Oregon.

Hand-written by a prisoner within the Masanjia re-education camp in eastern China, the note read: “Sir, if you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you for ever.”

Lee told the DCNF how the CCP also interfered with a 2019 showing of “Letter From Masanjia” in Seattle.

“A student organization organized a screening of ‘Letter From Masanjia’ at the University of Washington and the Chinese student association there sent an email to their members encouraging a protest,” said Lee. “We all know the Chinese student associations have close ties to the Chinese embassies or consulates and often take directions from them.”

Lee said the Chinese students from the association that attended “made a scene.”

Yet, despite these ugly episodes, Lee remains hopeful.

“I often talk about the tuìdǎng movement,” said Lee, referring to a Falun Gong initiative which urges CCP members to renounce their membership.

“In the beginning I was very skeptical, but last time I checked, it was 380 million people. I contacted those who maintained the website and asked them to show me some data, because as a documentarian I wanted to know if it was true. Well, from what I can tell it’s real,” said Lee.

“When the right time comes these are the people that will make a difference,” Lee said. “It could be a very small action, but it might also lead to significant changes. I think that’s what’s keeping CCP leaders up at night.”

“All we really need to do is understand the true nature of the CCP and deal with it accordingly. The CCP is anti-humanity. In China alone 80 million people have been killed since the CCP took power.”

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