Human Rights Torch Relay
May 23, 2008
|NYPD officers confront an angry mob in Flushing, New York, making at least two arrests of individuals assaulting Falun Gong adherents.|
Violence and vandalism suggest communist authorities exploiting Sichuan earthquake aftermath for political ends
NEW YORK — The Falun Dafa Information Center reported Wednesday that mobs of hundreds have been assembled in Flushing, New York, daily since Saturday, May 17,to assail Falun Gong practitioners even as millions throughout China mourn.
This and similar incidents occurring on the same days elsewhere, coupled with aggressive coverage from state-run media in China, suggest that Beijing authorities are orchestrating these events, post-earthquake, as a means of channeling emotions against political targets.
Several adherents of Falun Gong, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, up to 70 years of age, and including a mother whose two sons are serving in Iraq with the U.S. military, have been physically assaulted by the pro-communist crowds, with others receiving threats on their lives. At least two arrests have been made by Queens police; hate crime charges are allegedly pending. Other Falun Gong members have been pelted with bottles, eggs, and stones, and been spit on by the assembled mass. (Details of the events are below.)
The incidents, which are paralleled by happenings in Japan and Los Angeles, and possibly elsewhere, during the same four-day period, appear to have been coordinated by China’s authorities and are the culmination of escalating aggression towards Falun Gong and other forms of dissent in recent months. In the run-up to the Olympics, Chinese communist-backed student groups have, notably, harassed and threatened Tibet activists and turned to violence in South Korea, where rights activists were pummeled by a pro-communist Chinese throng.
“Each week we’re seeing acts of increasing belligerence like this, and Falun Gong has become a principal target,” said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang today. “It is simply preposterous to see American citizens—and specifically, Americans who are trying to uphold values like liberty that are dear to our country—get threatened, berated, and assaulted in their own backyards by mobs who are directed by a foreign dictatorship.”
Much suggests that the gatherings and assaults in Flushing were pre-meditated, organized, and trace back to Beijing. Many Chinese student organizations and provincial associations are known to be linked to, and mobilized by, communist authorities in Beijing.
The seething throngs arrived, and left, seemingly on cue; witnesses report the group operating in what appears to be shifts, with groups leaving and arriving as if scheduled. Members of the pro-communist pack were equipped with identical red flags. Certain individuals stood out as ringleaders, leading the group in chants, directing actions, and inciting members. Certain others brandished professional cameras, and appeared to be gathering information on Falun Gong participants and supporters. An eyewitness reported that many—perhaps dozens—of mob members had identical iPhones, wrapped in the same green-tinted, transparent, waterproof enclosures.
Chinese journalists were also reportedly dispatched from China to the weekend’s events; this, at a time when the nation’s attention is fixated on the tragedy of Sichuan province. One woman at the Flushing scene identified herself as a reporter sent from Changchun Television, a state-run media entity in northeastern China. A second individual, a male, identified himself as a Beijing journalist assigned to take photos.
The mass gatherings have been aggressively reported by China’s state-run press, with a heavy political twist. The mob scene has been cast as a spontaneous backlash against Falun Gong by patriotic Chinese, who, according to one PRC paper, Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao), “could not tolerate” Falun Gong’s alleged indifference to the earthquake and “not fighting against the disaster… not donating a penny.”
“It’s almost like one big, bogus publicity stunt,” said the Center’s Erping Zhang. “Beijing seems intent on exploiting the tragedy of the earthquake and its emotional aftermath to stigmatize and attack Falun Gong. They’re trying to turn Falun Gong into a political rallying point. It’s a shameful way of diverting attention from very real problems inside China at this time.”
Significantly, similar operations appear to be under way in other regions around the world. On Saturday, May 16, ethnic Chinese assaulted another “Party-Quitting Station”, this time in Tokyo, Japan—some 8,000 miles away. In Japan, as in New York, poster displays were kicked or torn down and individuals assaulted.In both cases the same station, or booth, had been incident-free for years, prior to this one weekend.
In Los Angeles on May 20, nonviolent Falun Gong demonstrators outside the Chinese consulate were similarly accosted by ethnic Chinese. The perpetrators again tore down banners and destroyed informational materials.
“This is clearly a centrally planned and engineered scheme, and there’s no doubt who is behind the scenes. It’s the same dictatorship that has deployed scores of angry Chinese to drown out dissenting voices wherever the Olympic torch goes, or whoever tries to speak out about Tibet or Falun Gong,” said Zhang.
At least one Chinese source familiar with these matters alleges that Zhou Yongkang, Secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, is behind the overseas pro-communist groups.
The Falun Dafa Information Center is deeply troubled by the escalating pattern of intimidation and violence. Of concern is also the right to information of ethnic Chinese who should be able to frequent sites such as the Flushing Party-Quitting Station free of coercion or threat. If China’s communist rulers fear what such information reveals, it should curb its political persecutions and abide by international norms, thus having less to hide, rather than seek to stifle such facts.
The Center also calls upon all elected officials and relevant federal bodies to immediately take measures to protect those who are targeted by such abusive tactics; investigate the happenings in Flushing and elsewhere; and take active measures, including legislation, to ensure they do not occur again.
Victims of assault named above as well as others are available for media interviews upon request. Below are further details of the incidents. A short news clip with footage of the incident (in Chinese) can be found here.
Details of Incidents in Flushing, New York, May 17–20, 2008
Incidents in Flushing began on Saturday, May 17, when some 40 individuals gathered outside the Flushing branch of the Queens Borough Public Library to celebrate the disavowal of Chinese communist rule by compatriots back in China. Some 37 million there have reportedly quit the communist party in recent years, with each new million added to the figure being commemorated as a milestone. Those assembled included leaders of local Chinese organizations, democracy and human rights activists, and Falun Gong adherents.
Similar gatherings had been held over the past four years, free of incident, and a small group of individuals had manned a booth at the same spot meant to facilitate breaks from the Party by overseas Chinese. The booth is said to have been staffed daily in recent months, all along free of incident. Similar “Party-Quitting Stations” have been set up in densely populated Chinese areas elsewhere outside of China.
The group, which gathered outside the library at 12 noon on the 17th, soon found itself dwarfed by throngs of ethnic Chinese, who gathered opposite, across the street. An estimated 300-plus assembled. Witnesses describe the group as seething with anger, and focused almost exclusively on Falun Gong. Chants denouncing Falun Gong and its founder—including “death to Falun Gong!”—and not the event at hand, were belted out by the group. A glass bottle was soon hurled, along with various plastic beverage containers. At one point the assembled mass brandished red flags, which had apparently been distributed.
One Falun Gong adherent present, surnamed Wu, age 70, was physically assaulted after attempting to distribute an informational leaflet. After a pummeling, Wu heard the assailant on his cell phone say, “Call more people to come, $90 for each person!”
Throngs of ethnic Chinese similarly assembled again outside the library on May 18, 19, and 20. On the 18th the Party-Quitting booth was physically surrounded by the group, and a number of informational materials were vandalized and seized by the mass. Police disbanded the crowd, only to see it return again, as if on cue, on the 19th when the booth again opened at 10a.m. The group this time came equipped with stones and eggs, the latter of which it hurled regularly, and in several instances spit on persons staffing or supporting the booth.
One woman who practices Falun Gong, Judy Chen, 48, of Flushing, was assaulted on Monday by a Chinese woman in the pro-communist pack. Chen had attempted to take the woman’s picture after she berated and swore at Chen, who regularly staffs the Party-Quitting booth, only to have her camera seized and smashed. The assailant proceeded to slap Chen about the face and claw her (photo). Chen reports having been told, “I’ve had a good look at your face… and I’m going to kill you.” Chen is a naturalized citizen and has two sons, both of whom are in the U.S. military and currently serving in Iraq.
On Tuesday the 20th violence again erupted, this time with greater force and frequency; witnesses report as many as four assaults taking place. Upwards of 400 ethnic Chinese were assembled, and again seized and destroyed materials. One of those assaulted was Zenon Dolnyckyj, of Flushing, age 30, who practices Falun Gong. A second is also a Falun Gong adherent, Wenzhong Yu, age 53. Yu was badly beaten by ethnic Chinese at the scene, and had to go to the hospital for lacerations to the ear (photo1 / photo2).
Queens police arrested two men in connection with Tuesday’s assaults, Guang Chen, 46, and Wen Q. Li, 33. Both stand charged with assault, and may be prosecuted for a hate crime. The victims’ identity as Falun Gong members is believed to have been the crimes’ motive.
For more information on this issue…
“Beijing’s Obvious Hand at the U.S. Olympic Torch Run” http://www.humanrightstorch.org/news/2008/04/17/beijings-obvious-hand- at-the-us-olympic-torch-run/
“Student Organizations or Government Front?” http://www.faluninfo.net/displayAnArticle.asp?ID=9498
“Chinese Regime Looks to Student-Spies to Push Agenda in Canada” http://en.epochtimes.com/news/7-7-19/57787.html
“Quake Quiets the Critics of China’s Human-Rights Record” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121121202564703765.html?mod=googlenews _wsj
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