Thousands Expected in Washington DC this Weekend as Falun Gong and Supporters Rally for an End to the Persecution
Members of Congress, Former U.S. Ambassador to Speak at Rally on Tuesday
WASHINGTON DC, July 18, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center)–Three years ago tomorrow, Mr. Ji Liewu, the 39-year-old Director of China Nonferrous Metals Corp, had settled into bed for a good night’s sleep in his home in Beijing. Little did he know it would be his last spent at home. At 5 a.m. the next morning, 30 police officers banged on his door and, much to the shock and dismay of Mr. Ji and his wife, proceeded to ransack their home. Like many Falun Gong volunteers throughout the country that night, Mr. Ji was then violently hauled away and held at a local police station.
On December 26, five months later, news reports announced that Mr. Ji was handed a 12-year prison sentence during a closed-door trial. Others were sent to forced-labor camps without trial or placed under house arrest, all for simply practicing the ancient Chinese exercise and meditation discipline known as Falun Gong.
What followed these initial raids was a brutal persecution of Falun Gong throughout the country that will enter its fourth year this Saturday.
Rally in the U.S. Capitol in Solidarity to End the Persecution in China
Traveling from Seattle, Boston, Houston, Chicago and many other cities in the U.S. and beyond, thousands are expected to converge on the U.S. capitol this weekend to take part in a series of public events exactly three years after China’s president officially launched the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
“I’m going to Washington DC to support basic human morality,” says Ms. Yiqin Chen, an electrical engineer from Ames, Iowa. “I hope more and more people can see who we are because the persecution of Falun Gong is not just a human rights violation happening in China against Falun Gong. What Jiang Zemin is doing attacks every human being because it goes against the basic principle that our cultures and societies are built upon-morality.”
Among the activities planned is a “candlelight concert” on Saturday evening outside the Lincoln Memorial, a large-scale candlelight vigil around the Washington Monument on Sunday evening and a rally on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Members of Congress will speak during the rally.
China Extends Persecution onto U.S. Soil, Violating Homeland Security
Unlike last year’s rally, however, the focus of this year’s activities will not be solely on what is happening in China.
“Agents of the Chinese government have brought Jiang’s persecution campaign right here into our lives in this country,” notes Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Adam Montanaro. “So, this year’s activities will highlight this issue as well. The illegal activities carried out by Chinese officials here in the U.S. are a blatant violation of our constitutional rights as well as a violation of homeland security.”
Indeed, on April 3, 2002, nearly 50 American citizens and U.S. residents 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.
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.”
“After all the horror that Jiang Zemin has unleashed on the people in China, I thought for a while that it just couldn’t get any worse,” commented Ms. Jin Youming, who recently received her Master’s degree from South Eastern University and is now living in Washington DC. “However, over the last year or so, practitioners of Falun Gong here in the U.S. have received death threats, been physically assaulted, have had private conversations recorded and played back to them by unidentified callers–I never would have thought a foreign power would attempt, let alone get away with, what Chinese officials have been doing here in the U.S.”
Practitioners Prepare Hand-made Lotus Flowers for Representatives
Many gathering this weekend in Washington DC also seek to recognize the support of members of Congress.
Leeshai Lemish, a university student from Los Angeles, sits in a room filled with partially made paper lotus flowers. “A few of us in Los Angeles decided to make paper lotus flowers to deliver to our representatives in DC before the rally this Tuesday,” explains Leeshai. “The lotus flower is a unique flower because it grows in murky ponds and muddy places, and yet rises out of the mud and filth — beautiful and completely untainted by its surroundings. I think this captures a lot of the spirit of Falun Gong in China and around the world right now–we have been immersed in the filth of persecution and horrific propaganda for three years, but we have remained true to non-violence and conducting peaceful appeals in accordance with the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.”
Leeshai and some fellow practitioners of Falun Gong in the Los Angeles area say they plan to deliver the flowers to their representatives personally. “You know, it’s been tough for them too,” Leeshai continues. “China’s president, Jiang Zemin, has numerous ways of putting pressure on anyone who tries to speak out for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners both at home and abroad. Some of our Congress people have been a strong voice for freedom of belief and conscience despite that pressure.”
Ms. Anna Chen, a software engineer from Boston, says practitioners from her area are making similar preparations. “When I heard about the lotus flower idea, I thought it was perfect,” says Ms.Chen. “It allows us to demonstrate a little of who we are and at the same time, offer our thanks to our representatives.”
Activities this weekend include a candlelight concert at the Lincoln Memorial (Saturday, 8:30pm-10:30pm), a large-scale demonstration of the Falun Gong exercises at the Washington Monument (Sunday, 4:30pm-6:00pm), followed by a candlelight vigil (7:30pm-10:30pm). The main events will be Tuesday, which includes a march from the Chinese Embassy to the US Capitol (Tuesday, 10:00am-12:30pm), followed by a rally on the Lower West Terrace Lawn (Tuesday, 12:30pm).
Joined by members of Congress, speakers will include Falun Gong practitioners whose names were on a “blacklist” of Falun Gong practitioners from around the world reportedly compiled by agents of the Chinese government. Others who have been directly affected by the persecution with also speak.
Events contact: Terri Wu, (202) 550-0562