SALT LAKE CITY, January 14, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) – Senior members from the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. visited Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson to urge them to stop Falun Gong practitioners’ public activities during the Winter Olympics, reiterating the Chinese regime's propaganda defaming Falun Gong and those who practice it worldwide.According to a January 11 report from the Deseret News, one of Salt Lake City’s two largest newspapers, the group of Chinese officials was headed by Yafei He, Minister Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.Today, Falun Gong practitioners held a press conference at the Salt Lake City State Capitol to expose this event as part of a growing list of disturbing incidents of Chinese officials pressuring U.S. Government officials regarding their statements and positions on Falun Gong, and human rights in China. The practitioners also related what they believe to be the real reasons behind the persecution and why the Chinese government has invested so much in its attempt to defame Falun Gong.The press conference featured testimonies from five Falun Gong practitioners who were detained in China, as well as a slow motion deconstruction of CCTV video footage covering the alleged "self-immolation" event that Chinese officials site as an indication of the "danger" posed by Falun Gong. The video analysis shows several suspicious elements that call into question the Chinese government’s depiction of those events. Falun Gong practitioners cited an International Education Development (IED) Statement at the United Nations, which classified the Chinese government’s persecution of Falun Gong as "State Terrorism.""The government…attempted to justify its state terrorism against the group by calling it an evil cult that has caused deaths and the break-up of families. In our investigation, the only deaths have been at the hands of the Chinese authorities; families have been broken up because family members have been killed by the regime; people have been broken down, not by Falun Gong, but by extreme torture, incarceration in mental hospitals with brutal treatment, hard labour in labour camps and other such practices. As was reported in the International Herald Tribune on August 6, 2001, the regime admits that it has officially sanctioned violence against practitioners in order to wipe out Falun Gong. The regime points to a supposed self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001 as proof that Falun Gong is an evil cult. However, we have obtained a video of that incident that in our view proves that this event was staged by the government." – IED at the United NationsFalun Gong practitioners in Salt Lake City stated that the Embassy’s defamation against the character of Falun Gong is unacceptable and, in fact, libel: "We demand that the Chinese officials from the Embassy offer a public apology for these groundless lies and slander."The practitioners in Salt Lake continued, "We hope that people will not be fooled by the Chinese regime's propaganda. We ask that people take a close look at this issue for themselves…investigate the nature of Falun Gong, those who practice it, and the effects it has had on millions of people’s lives throughout the world. I think then it will be clear that the real reason the Chinese regime targets Falun Gong so viciously is because the truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance of its teachings ennoble the human spirit, and gives people the ability to strictly adhere to non-violence, regardless of how they are treated. The Communist regime fears this…that is the real reason for the persecution."The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of 343 deaths since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999 – over 20 over those were reported in the last 22 days. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600. To date, over 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps without trial.