December 26, 1999 – A Crackdown And A Coup
December 26, 1999 – the day after Christmas and it was business as usual. Hours after the spirit of peace, fellowship and goodwill toward man was over, China staged crackdowns and speedy trials of four key leaders of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group. The leaders were accused of a wide range of crimes from stealing state secrets to causing deaths and were given one-day trials by the People’s Court in Beijing. The four defendants were sentenced to periods of between 7-18 years in prison. The Chinese government had been concerned at how Falun Gong had gained adherence within the political establishment. All of the defendants had been Communist Party members. The 18-year sentence was given to a former Deputy Director of The Public Security Ministry. The Government said Falun Gong had caused the deaths of some 1400 people. Practitioners of the spiritual sect, who they say have died after refusing medical help when ill. The four defendants at this day’s trial were also charged with masterminding a protest outside the Chinese leadership Compound in April of that year.
And on the other side of the world – two days after a former Army chief staged a coup, the deposed President of Ivory Coast fled to Togo. A Togolese official said Henri Konan Bedie was likely to move on to another country with his family in a few days. A French Foreign ministry official said Bedie would not be stopped from going to France, the former colonial ruler of Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire).
And Space Shuttle Discovery was making plans to land back home. The crew of the shuttle released the Hubble Space Telescope the day before and were in the process of checking weather reports, making sure of a safe landing. The only possibility of problems was the forecast of gusty winds in Florida, come landing time. Forecasters thought the wind direction would create a headwind along the Kennedy Space Center‘s 15,000 foot long runway, which wasn’t seen a posing a problem.
And that’s just a bit of what happened, this day after Christmas; December 26, 1999 as reported by NPR News.