Reports of Persecution Outside of China
Part XIII: Falun Dafa Information Center 2008 Annual Report
Chinese government efforts to suppress Falun Gong outside of China, and particularly in the United States, increased in 2008. Pro-communist mobs attacked adherents in Flushing, New York, apparently at the instigation of the city’s Chinese Consul General. In September, an arm of the mainland Chinese Anti-Cult Association that has played a central in the persecution of adherents in China was established in New York City.
Over the past ten years, scores of physical assaults, verbal attacks and death threats against Falun Gong adherents by Chinese government-linked individuals have been recorded in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. According to testimony given to the U.S. Congress in July 2005 by former First Secretary and Consul for Political Affairs for the Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney, Australia, Chen Yonglin, such attacks are part of a far-reaching campaign by the Chinese government to malign and suppress Falun Gong in every country where the Chinese government has a diplomatic presence, with a particular emphasis on democratic countries where human rights workers regularly and publicly highlight the Chinese government’s crimes against Falun Gong.
Like the pattern of abuse inside China, the Chinese government’s attempts to suppress Falun Gong in the United States also increased in 2008. Beginning on May 17, a pro-Communist mob of more than 100 people gathered on Main Street in Flushing, New York, assailing Falun Gong practitioners. Several adherents of Falun Gong, including U.S. citizens, were physically assaulted by the pro-communist crowds, with others receiving threats to their lives. Several Falun Gong adherents reported being pelted with bottles, eggs, and stones, and being spit on by the assembled masses The mobs continued to assemble for several days, further instigated by fabricated Chinese state-run media reports that Falun Gong adherents were interfering with charity collections for victims of the Sichuan earthquake. More than a dozen assailants were arrested by local police.
Over the following weeks, a climate was created in the area where nearly anyone who self-identified as a Falun Gong adherent risked being surrounded, heckled, and sometimes threatened with violence by ethnic Chinese mobs.
Judy Chen, a Falun Gong adherent whose two sons were on tours of duty in Iraq, was physically assaulted and threatened on May 17, 2008. Chen reported that the mob cursed at her, calling her a traitor who deserved to die. When she attempted to photograph the scene, a woman grabbed her camera and beat her, leading to bruises on her hand and face. “[The woman] then walked away saying ‘You better be careful, I will kill you. I want to see your face clearly. I want to kill you,'” reported Chen.
Wang Weixing, a 57-year-old artist from Queens and a practitioner of Falun Gong, was in Flushing May 28, 2008 observing the events. When she picked up a Chinese newspaper whose lead story illustrated the connection between the Flushing mobs and the Chinese consulate in New York, within seconds, Wang found herself surrounded by hecklers. One witness claimed she also saw the man punch Wang in the chest, where she later reported suffering severe pain.
Evidence soon emerged that the mobs were not a spontaneous reaction to Falun Gong by local residents, but rather a sophisticated means for the Party to suppress the group, and particularly adherents’ rights awareness raising activities, beyond China’s borders.
On May 22, the Falun Dafa Information Center obtained a recorded phone conversation with New York City’s Chinese Consul General, Mr. Peng Keyu, in which he confirmed his role in encouraging the mob of several-hundred Chinese immigrants to assail Falun Gong practitioners. “They [mob organizers] came over after they fought with Falun Gong [in Flushing] and I shook hands with them one by one and thanked them,” Peng said during the recorded phone conversation.
For the full transcript, see: /article/728/
For video footage of the mob attacks in Flushing, New York and the full recording of the Consul General, see: http://www.youmaker.com/video/sv?id=b8ee83fcab794731814de9230ae03737001
Similar incidents were reported around this time in other cities and New York boroughs:
On Saturday, May 16, ethnic Chinese assaulted adherents at a “Party-Quitting Station” in Tokyo, Japan. As in Flushing, poster displays were kicked or torn down and individuals assaulted.
In Los Angeles on May 20, nonviolent Falun Gong demonstrators outside the Chinese consulate were accosted by ethnic Chinese. The perpetrators again tore down banners and destroyed informational materials. See: /article/536/
In Brooklyn, on June 15, a Chinatown resident attacked Falun Gong adherent John Yu with a steering wheel locking device, breaking his camera and injuring his arm. Later in the month, the assailant was brought up on hate-crime and assault charges by the Brooklyn District Attorney.
See: http://en.epochtimes.com/news/8-6-28/72602.html http://www.nypost.com/seven/06302008/news/regionalnews/gong_assault_hate_crime__da_117853.htm
Increased police presence in Flushing eventually dispersed the crowds, but several individuals who had helped organize the crowds soon setup “information tables” in Flushing, distributing anti-Falun Gong propaganda to passers-by, and continued to incite members of the community to attack Falun Gong. Several subsequent incidents of small groups and individuals berating Falun Gong adherents in Flushing with obscenities and/or physically assaulting them have been reported.
In September 2008, the anti-Falun Gong actions were formalized when three pro-communist organizers believed to have helped organize the mobs in May established a non-profit organization called the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, Inc. The organization’s bylaws specifically state the target of their activities as Falun Gong.
The newly registered group appears to be an extension of an organization originally established in mainland China on November 13, 2000 as the Chinese Anti-Cult Association (CACA). Although it carries a non-governmental organization title, the CACA is a government agency, specifically a unit of the official China Society and Technology Association (CSTA). The Secretary General and Vice-Secretary General in charge of CACA’s operations are full-time government employees, and all CACA branches have their offices inside government buildings.
According to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s (CECC’s) 2008 Annual Report, the CACA “claims to be a ‘non-profit, social welfare organization’…the government’s hand, however, can be clearly discerned in the publications and activities of anti-cult associations.” The CECC’s report also says of the CACA that:
1. It “works in concert with the 6-10 Office (an extra-legal Chinese government agency in charge of ‘eradicating’ Falun Gong) to undermine Chinese citizens’ right to believe in and practice Falun Gong…Local anti-cult associations can be found at the provincial, county, municipal, and neighborhood level. Such associations have emerged as a prominent information channel for the government’s campaign against Falun Gong.”
2. The primary activities of the CACA in China have been found to go beyond the development and implementation of propaganda against Falun Gong. CACA staff also oversee and participate in “brainwashing sessions” held in prisons and detention centers throughout China that use a combination ohf fierce propaganda and brutal torture techniques to “transform” Falun Gong adherents. In 2004, seven human rights lawyers in Geneva filed a criminal complaint for torture against the organization’s vice president, who was attending a United Nations event at the time. He fled the country before the procuratorate could make a decision to arrest him on the charges.
The response of U.S. officials to these events has included calls for an FBI investigation by NYC Councilmember Tony Avella, condemnation of the attacks by U.S. lawmakers, and law enforcement investigations into those responsible for the hate crimes. In an opening statement at a Congressional hearing on the Impact of the Olympics on Religious Freedom in China, Representative Trent Franks remarked: “Most of you have probably already heard about the attacks on Falun Gong adherents, human rights and democracy activists in Flushing, New York last month. …. As the New York City police look into the attacks on these demonstrators, I am very disturbed to even consider that the Chinese government may have been involved in intimidating these demonstrators here in the United States. Sadly, we have the Tian’anmen Square to remind us of what happens to those who protest inside China, but the freedom to peacefully assemble is a cornerstone to America’s freedom and, at the very least, we must do what we can to protect those who choose to express this right while they are here.”
The attacks against Falun Gong adherents in Flushing and the establishment of a branch of the CACA in New York in the form of a non-profit organization in 2008 pose a significant danger to the freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and right to non-discrimination of Falun Gong believers in the United States.