U.S. Department of Justice Decree an Important Step in Ending Chinese Communist Party Persecution of Falun Gong Overseas

New York City Chinese Restaurant Cited for Discrimination in Refusing to Serve Falun Gong Patrons

NEW YORK—The U.S. Department of Justice filed a consent decree on Thursday acknowledging that a Chinese restaurant in Flushing had acted inappropriately when refusing to serve Falun Gong practitioners in 2008 and that the restaurant will take various actions to prevent future discrimination. The decision represents an important precedent in resisting Chinese Communist Party (CCP) efforts to extend the persecution of Falun Gong beyond China’s borders, the Falun Dafa Information Center said Monday.

On three separate occasions during May 2008, employees of the Lucky Joy restaurant in Flushing ejected ten patrons, both Chinese and Caucasians, including an eight-year-old girl, because members of their parties wore shirts displaying the tenets of Falun Gong or other wording expressing support for the persecuted group.

Following an investigation conducted jointly by the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York that found such actions to be discriminatory, the restaurant’s owners admitted wrongdoing. They have also resolved to take various measures—including a mandatory training for all employees and development of internal policies and monitoring mechanisms—to prevent a recurrence of such an incident in the future. 

“It’s disgraceful that a person would be refused service in a restaurant for doing nothing more than exercising their right to wear clothing with a religious message,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in a press release issued Thursday by the Department of Justice. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously protect the rights of persons of all faiths to be free from discrimination in Flushing and across the country.”

Discrimination and hate incitement against Falun Gong practitioners has been a central tactic used by the CCP in its efforts to wipe out the traditional Chinese discipline. Inside China, discrimination remains pervasive, including in employment and education. Outside China, Chinese businesses and prominent figures in overseas communities routinely come under direct or indirect pressure from the CCP to take action against Falun Gong practitioners.

CCP efforts to stir anti-Falun Gong sentiment come in the form of propaganda and misinformation in media consumed by overseas Chinese communities. They also suface via direct pressure from regime representatives—including high-ranking diplomats—who use economic incentives, appeals to nationalism, and outright threats to turn individuals outside of China, both Chinese and Westerners, against Falun Gong. The aim is to isolate practitioners, restrict efforts exposing rights abuses against practitioners in China, encourage self-censorship among Chinese and Western academics and journalists, and gain international support for the suppression of Falun Gong.

“At a time when the Communist Party is continuing its efforts to extend the persecution of Falun Gong beyond China’s borders, the intervention of the Department of Justice in this case is particularly opportune and important,” said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang. “Falun Gong practitioners are not the only victims in this incident. Overseas Chinese business owners are caught between a rock and a hard place, as the Communist Party uses economic carrots and sticks to force them to violate U.S. laws. The Justice Department’s actions serve as important assistance to overseas Chinese in resisting pressure from the CCP to discriminate against Falun Gong.”

Additional background and links

Over the past ten years, scores of physical assaults, verbal attacks and death threats against Falun Gong practitioners by Chinese government-linked individuals have been recorded in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. In October 2003, the U.S. Congress passed House Concurrent Resolution 304 expressing concern over Communist Party harassment of Falun Gong practitioners and their supporters on U.S. soil. (news)

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 CCP 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 regime’s crimes against Falun Gong.

Beginning on May 17, 2008, a pro-Communist mob of more than 100 people gathered on Main Street in Flushing, New York, assailing Falun Gong practitioners. Several practitioners of Falun Gong, including U.S. citizens, were physically assaulted by the pro-communist crowds, with others receiving death threats. 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 practitioners were interfering with charity collections for victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Media reports at the time cited a recorded conversation with the city’s Chinese Consul General in which he describes his direct role in encouraging the mobs to attack Falun Gong practitioners. (news). Over the following weeks, a climate was created in the area where nearly anyone who self-identified as a Falun Gong practitioner risked being surrounded, heckled, and sometimes threatened with violence by ethnic Chinese mobs. It is in this context that on three separate occasions at the end of May 2008, employees at Lucky Joy refused to serve three groups of practitioners who entered the premises, informing them that Falun Gong practitioners are not welcome in the restaurant.

The residual effects of this incident continue today, with several pro-communist community members actively patrolling the streets of Flushing handing out pamphlets vilifying Falun Gong practitioners.

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