Chinese Film Projectionists, Once Propaganda Stalwarts, Say They’re Through With Party

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Originally published in the Epoch Times on June 19, 2013

Canadian Falun Gong practitioners participate in a parade to celebrate people who have quit the Chinese Communist Party, such as the 5,000 film projectionists. (picture source: Epoch Times)

After a buildup of frustration at a lack of pensions and dissatisfying petition results, an unknown number of film projectionists, who worked for decades to assist in the screening of pro-Party propaganda films, have said they plan to renounce their membership in the Chinese Communist Party.

Over 8,000 film projectionists, many of them Party members, live in rural parts of Hunan Province, where Mao Zedong plotted his revolutionary guerrilla activities before taking the helm of the Party. About thirty years ago, these villagers used to travel through the towns in the area to set up screenings of Communist Party propaganda films.

“We have all worked for the Communist Party for more than 30 years; a tenth of us have passed away,” said a senior film projectionist, speaking to Epoch Times. “These people had dedicated their youth to the Communist Party, but they couldn’t die in peace. Many people have said they will quit the Party.”

He added that about 5,000 of the projectionists have come to a collective agreement to quit the CCP publicly, and go to Beijing to seek redress for their mistreatment.

As times changed, the projectionists were outpaced by technology which made their jobs obsolete. Forced to return to their villages, they took up the jobs of their parents’ generation as impoverished farmers, but received no state benefits for their decades of service.

The projectionists sought pensions as compensation for their past loyalty to the Party. 2,000 senior film projectionists petitioned local officials on June 14 to follow through with state welfare laws, according to the China Human Rights Defenders’ website.

But the reception was less than polite. “No official came to greet us,” a representative who wished to remain anonymous told The Epoch Times. “It was so hot that day that more than 40 elderly petitioners had to be taken to the hospital for treatment… People were infuriated.”

Instead, police chased away the petitioners and arrested six activist representatives. The six were later released and sent home.

From the police response to the petitions, and because of the detention of another local activist, the film projectionists decided to quit the Communist Party. Senior projectionists plan to travel to Beijing to seek redress for their grievances.

The chance that Beijing will pay the pensions is unlikely, said Tan, director of the Provincial Bureau of Letters and Calls, who stated in an unusually frank interview that the projectionists’ problems would be only resolved “if the Communist Party is no longer around.”

Local officials offered to pay projectionists a monthly stipend of 500 to 600 yuan ($80 to $97), but projectionists derided the sum, stating that they would need at least 1000 yuan a month, which officials likewise refused.

According to people with knowledge of the case, officials from the Ministry of State Security recently intervened. They visited a number of the representatives of the projectionists, for “chats.” these past few days. The Communist Party had overpowered all these people, as they dare not to say anything on the phone anymore.

Research by Ariel Tian. Translation by Frank Fang.


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