Western Democracy Bends to Totalitarian Regime, Bans Ethnic Chinese During Dictator’s Visit
Visas Denied, Cancelled After Initial Approval
“This whole thing is very eerie… and sad.” says Mr. Tao Wang after taking a call from the Danish Embassy in Washington DC telling him that his visa to travel to Iceland could not be granted because the head office of Iceland’s Immigration Services just passed down an order barring all Chinese and Taiwanese passport holders from traveling to Iceland before June 18.
Jiang Zemin, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, is scheduled to visit Iceland from June 12-16, the fourth stop on a five-nation tour through Eastern Europe and Iceland.
As of June 6, at least ten U.S. residents holding either Chinese or Taiwanese passports have been denied visas to Iceland. “I think it’s nothing short of a democratic nation bowing to a Communist dictatorship,” Mr. Wang added. “Pressure from Jiang has made them act like a totalitarian regime themselves…virtually banning an entire ethnic group of people from entering the country. Looking at the bigger picture we have to ask ourselves, ‘what role should a western democracy play under these circumstances? How will history judge such behavior and why is Jiang so afraid of his own people?'”
Mr. Wang had applied for an Icelandic visa in the early afternoon of June 6th. When he submitted his application form, the visa officer asked him if his going to Iceland had anything to do with Falun Gong, but then added that he could come back to pick up the visa on Friday. Five minutes later on his way home, Mr. Wang received a telephone call from the visa officer telling him that his Icelandic visa would not be processed before June 18th.
During the conversation, Mr. Wang says, the visa officer revealed that the refusal to process his visa was not directed at him alone, but was related to the visit by senior Communist Chinese officials to Iceland from June 12 to 16. Mr. Wang quotes this officer as saying: “All persons carrying Chinese and Taiwan passports shouldn’t even think about getting a visa (for Iceland) before June 18th.”
Mr. Wang says that in order to travel to Iceland, he already asked for vacation time at his company and had booked his airplane ticket because the Iceland visa agency required him to do so.
John Liu, a computer engineer in New York said on June 6th that he was notified to go to the Danish Consulate the previous day to pick up the passport and completed Icelandic visa for a friend of his who is a professor with the State University of New York in Buffalo. Upon arriving at the consulate, however, a visa officer told him that he temporarily could not return his friend’s passport because they had just received written notice from the government of Iceland that entry visas for all persons carrying a Chinese or Taiwanese passports must directly contact the Icelandic immigration agency. The officer in charge of visas showed Mr. Liu the fax document of the notice. Mr. Liu’s friend holds a Chinese passport.
The Icelandic Embassy to the U.S. in Washington, D.C. does not handle entry visas. These affairs have always been handed over to the diplomatic agencies of other nations in the U.S.
A secretary in the Iceland Embassy said on June 5th that with regard to the issue of entry visas, they are currently in contact with the Iceland immigration agency. However, any appointments with the Embassy can only be made starting next week.
Russia, Estonia and Other Nations Also Under Pressure from Jiang
Reports from St. Petersburg, Russia – Jiang’s first stop on this 5-nation tour – say that Russian officials have contacted the local Falun Gong practitioners, warning them that they will be arrested if any attempt of public demonstration near Jiang is made.
Two ethnic Chinese who hold Canadian passports have been denied visas to Estonia, the second stop of Jiang’s trip.
Sources familiar with Jiang’s trip indicate that Chinese Communist officials are very nervous about Falun Gong practitioners and supporters making public, peaceful protests. In April of this year, while Jiang Zemin was visiting Germany, more than 400 Falun Gong practitioners conducted peaceful protests at numerous points during his trip. At the time, Chinese Communist officials threatened to terminate the visit if the legal, peaceful protests continued. Germany, a democratic nation that normally allows peaceful protests and demonstrations, was pressured to guard against all persons of Chinese ethnicity. German officials were also pressured to prohibit people in the areas where Jiang Zemin was visiting to wear clothes with either yellow or blue on them as these two colors are often used during Falun Gong demonstrations.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance.” It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.
With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China’s President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999, fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiang’s regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.
The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of over 419 deaths since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600. Over 100,000 have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps without trial.