China’s Persecution of Falun Gong Breaches U.S. Border – Congressman Proclaims a Violation of “Homeland Security”
Scope and Depth of Chinese Government Influence Inside U.S. Raises Alarms
NEW YORK, July 8, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) – Evan Mantyk, a 19-year-old junior at the University of Michigan, lives a relatively quiet life in Lathrup Village – a suburb of Detroit. So it came as a surprise when he recently discovered that his name appeared on a blacklist reportedly assembled by the Chinese government; a blacklist used to screen out people who practice or are supportive of Falun Gong from traveling to cities during visits from Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.
Evan was stopped at the Baltimore airport on June 11th as he attempted to board a flight for Iceland the day before Jiang Zemin was scheduled to arrive for a state visit. “At IcelandAir’s ticket counter, they looked for my name on a list they had behind the counter,” recalls Evan. “I was then told that my ticket had been cancelled and I was not allowed to travel to Iceland.”
Evan was among dozens of people stranded in airports throughout North America and Europe in the days leading up to Jiang’s arrival in Iceland on June 12. IcelandAir ticket counters in these airports were using lists-reportedly supplied by Iceland’s Ministry of Justice-to screen out people who are known to practice or be supportive of Falun Gong. At least one Icelandic paper-The Visir-reported on June 8th that Chinese consular officials in Iceland had supplied the blacklist to the Iceland government.
“I was really surprised when I saw that they had my name,” continued Evan. “I’m not listed as a volunteer on any of the Falun Dafa websites or flyers…I’ve never done anything that would bring attention to myself, such as demonstrating in Tiananmen Square or joining Falun Gong demonstrations in different countries.”
While IcelandAir’s use of such a list clearly raises legal concerns and has sparked at least one lawsuit against the airline thus far, the real concern in Evan’s mind is that while quietly going about his life in a Detroit suburb, he was fingered by unknown persons as a Falun Gong practitioner and his name was then added to a blacklist maintained by the Chinese Communist regime.
Evan believes this is a clear violation of the rights of Americans on U.S. soil by a foreign power, or worse: “How did the Chinese Communist regime get the name of a quiet U.S. citizen living deep in the heart of America?” asks Evan. “Are they doing this themselves? If so, that’s alarming. Do they have people here in the U.S. helping them? If so, that’s even more disturbing.”
Evidence of a Growing Pattern of Illicit Activity by Chinese Officials on U.S. Soil
The apparent monitoring of Americans within the U.S. by agents of the Chinese Communist regime joins a growing list of incidents that indicate Beijing’s reach has, for quite some time, extended well beyond China’s borders in attempting to persecute Falun Gong.
Since the persecution of Falun Gong began in China on a wide scale in July 1999, practitioners of Falun Dafa in Washington D.C. have frequently been the victims of scare and intimidation tactics.
On two separate occasions, Dr. Sen Nieh, a professor at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C, has come home to find private conversations with friends-which took place in public venues such as parks or walkways-recorded on his answering machine. The second of the two instances, reported in the Washington Post on July 20, 2001, was a conversation he had with other Falun Gong practitioners while standing outside a Senate building on Capitol Hill immediately after meeting with a senator’s staff to brief them on the persecution of Falun Gong. “Obviously, they are trying to send a clear message that they are watching us at every moment…they’re trying to scare us,” says Dr. Sen Nieh.
Ms. Jin Youming, who recently received her Master’s degree from South Eastern University and is now living in Washington DC, gets up each day at 3 a.m. to practice Falun Gong exercises in her local park. On March 11, 2001, she received a phone call a few minutes past 3 a.m. On the other end of the line, a recording of a conversation she had with another Falun Gong practitioner during a recent trip to Los Angeles was played back to her. “It sent chills down my spine,” says Ms. Jin. “Not only did the caller have a recording of a private conversation I had on the other side of the country, but he apparently knew what time I get up each morning and so knew exactly when to call.”
In December, 2001, Mr. Lin Zhan Tong’s car was mysteriously fire-bombed while parked near the Chinese consulate in Chicago. Mr. Lin’s car was filled with Falun Gong flyers and other materials, and was frequently used to transport materials for Falun Gong events in the Chicago area.
Falun Gong practitioners have also been physically attacked.
On September 7, 2001, three Falun Gong practitioners were attacked by Chinese men while participating in a peaceful hunger strike across from the Chinese consulate in Chicago. On October 22, 2000, a group of Falun Gong practitioners, including an American, were attacked while demonstrating Falun Gong exercises in a public park located in the center of San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Landmark Lawsuit, U.S. Congressmen Move to Stop Activities of Chinese Officials on U.S. Soil
On April 3, 2002, representatives of nearly 50 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong announced the filing of a landmark civil lawsuit against two government ministries of the People’s Republic of China. The Lawsuit alleges a systematic, and often violent, campaign of criminal activities in the U.S. designed to deprive American citizens and residents of their constitutional rights and privileges.
Regarding the lawsuit, U.S. Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY) commented: “It is regrettable that in our own nation-the beacon for religious tolerance, understanding and respect-agents of the Chinese [government] would conduct themselves in a manner that is clearly in violation of the rights that all people in our great nation enjoy.”
In a June 26 hearing in Washington D.C. on the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) raised the issue before the committee: “We also know that here in this country, there have been threats against Falun Gong practitioners. And this is part of homeland security, I would think. You know, it is not about who comes in, but who’s actually here from the Chinese government, fomenting, and making these threats against American citizens who are Falun Gong…” Representative Smith further asked that the U.S. “check into these threats that are being made against Americans who are Falun Gong…it’s outrageous.”
Calling for a Detailed Investigation
Evan Mantyk does not intend to let these events affect his daily life, including his choice to practice the Falun Gong meditation and exercises. “We have rights because we live in a democratic nation that upholds those rights… Anyone infringing upon those rights on our own soil, especially a foreign government, should be cause for alarm among our [law enforcement agencies].”
Evan says his case is not unique, and that many cases of meddling, surveillance, and even violence by people having ties to the Chinese Consulate have been documented in the US, Canada, and European countries. “I hope our own government is paying attention here. What Jiang has instigated inside China is bloody and criminal – the last thing we want to see is similar activities going unnoticed over here.”