November 22, 2001
Clearwisdom reporter: Welcome back! We are very moved by your heroic acts. Can I ask you a few questions about your appeal at the Tiananmen Square?
Adam & Alejandro: Certainly.
Clearwisdom reporter: First, could you please tell us a little about yourselves?
Adam: I would be happy to. My name is Adam Leining. I am a marketing consultant, and a Falun Gong practitioner from San Francisco. I have practiced Falun Gong for 2.5 years. I was one of the Falun Gong practitioners who participated in this appeal.
Alejandro: My name is Alejandro Centurion. I have practiced Falun Gong for 2.5 years as well. Currently, I am a resident in neurology at Stanford University Hospital. I have also participated in the appeal at Tiananmen.
Clearwisdom reporter: When did you initially have the thoughts to go to Beijing Tiananmen? And why did you go there to do the appeal?
Alejandro: I first thought about it a year ago when some fellow western practitioners were considering going to have a peaceful appeal at Tiananmen. That event didn't take place. A couple of months ago, I heard that German practitioners were planning to go, so I decided to join them to make it an international appeal. I think Jiang Zemin's regime has been deceiving its citizens with its vicious propaganda. Going to Tiananmen is a good opportunity to clarify the truth that Falun Gong is practiced in over 40 countries around the world and is highly respected internationally.
Adam: I also thought about going to Tiananmen more than one year ago. The inspiration was to scrutinize the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong by western standards of free press. At the same time, westerners are in the unique position to respond to the persecution. They can observe what's happening in China with an outsider's perspective and demonstrate that Falun Gong is internationally respected. I have been increasingly appalled by the shameful violence and deceitful tactics of China's regime. Going to Tiananmen is an opportunity to appeal directly to China's leaders and declare to the world that Falun Gong is good.
Clearwisdom reporter: Can you describe what happened at Tiananmen Square on that day?
Alejandro: We arrived at Tiananmen Square around 2:00pm on Tuesday (11/20) afternoon. We took group pictures. We lined up in 3 rows. The practitioners in the front row sat down in lotus position doing righteous thoughts, the practitioners in the back unfurled a banner which read in both Chinese and English "Truth, Compassion, Forbearance." In less than 30 seconds, police vans drove toward us and surrounded us. The police and the plainclothesmen dragged, kicked, punched and pushed us into the police vans. I didn't see the entire course of the incident, but I think the videotape has recorded and shown those details.
Adam: When the police were pushing us into the vans, we passively resisted. Some practitioners continued to send righteous thoughts. Each one of us had 2 to 3 policemen grab us and force us into the police van. A Canadian practitioner opened a banner and shouted "Falun Dafa is Good!" Three policemen rushed to him. One kicked him in his chest. That practitioner was finally carried to the van forcefully. Another Australian female practitioner lost consciousness on the ground. The police dragged her toward the police van. I saw a policeman slapping a British female practitioner's face. When we were in the police van, we tried to reason with the police and we told them that good is rewarded with good, and evil is met with evil.
Clearwisdom reporter: The Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson said that they treated you all humanely and fairly? Is that true?
Alejandro: That is not true. I asked to speak with the US Embassy before handing them my passport, and they yelled at me, "No questions should be asked." When they transcribed the interrogation in Chinese and asked me to sign it, I resisted, as I didn't know what they had put down. The police officer was furious. He hit my head and kicked my chair. A German practitioner warned him in Chinese that if he did that again, we would expose his act to the international media. The police pulled the German practitioner from his chair and pushed him 6 to 7 meters until he hit the wall. An Israeli practitioner was kicked in the groin when he refused the police's demands. A few Swedish women were forcefully pushed downstairs to the cage in the basement. An Australian practitioner's hand was swollen, and I suspect that he might have a fractured bone. But the Chinese police didn't offer any medical care. Although the treatment we received was lighter compared with the tortures that Chinese fellow practitioners suffer, I absolutely disagree with what they said to the media about the so-called "humanitarian way" that the police treated us.
Adam: I saw one practitioner from Hawaii get punched in the face and have his hair pulled when he was interrogated. A few women practitioners were slapped in the face. It was obvious that the police wanted to appear that they treated us well, as they realized that this would be a big story and there would be a lot of media coverage. Also all the 12 countries' embassies were notified (by our friends). They (the police) later brought us bags of food and water, with cameras ready to photograph the seemingly "friendly" treatment. However, when the practitioners were interrogated, they were pushed, kicked, punched and abused. We feel we shouldn't have been arrested in the first place.
Clearwisdom reporter: The Chinese government has claimed that the 37 foreigners who went to Tiananmen Square are not Falun Gong practitioners. They were paid to go there. What are your comments?
Adam: That was the made-up story. The Chinese government has been embarrassed in front of the international community. As in the past, they try to fabricate stories to misinform the public and to defame Falun Gong. We each made our own travel arrangements and paid our own way. Everyone did so out of his/her own conviction because we felt it was important to appeal against the torture and killings of innocent people and to affirm that Falun Dafa is good.
Clearwisdom reporter: Some media reported that the Chinese witnessing the event were so shocked, "Foreigners also practice Falun Gong?" Falun Gong cultivation is rooted in ancient Chinese history. What has inspired you to start practicing Falun Gong as westerners?
Alejandro: I was always fascinated by Chinese culture and traditions. As a medical professional, I have always been interested in understanding Eastern approaches to health. I had studied various healing arts, Taichi, yoga and other qi-gong. When I first heard about Falun Gong via media, I was shocked that 100 million people practice Falun Gong. My personal experience in the past two years has reaffirmed that this is a very powerful cultivation system for body and mind. Its tremendous benefits have also been reaffirmed through medical studies.
Adam: I studied "Dao De Jin" and Buddhist teaching before. When I read Zhuan Falun, I knew immediately that the Teacher is very good and very pure. My body went through a purification process when I read Zhuan Falun. I knew it was very good and very powerful.
Clearwisdom reporter: With your courageous act, what messages you were hoping to communicate to the Chinese people who are deceived by the Chinese (Jiang Zemin's) Government's propaganda?
Adam: We hope to let the Chinese people know the truth of Falun Gong. Many of them have been deceived and brainwashed by Chinese propaganda. When we talked to the police we met, we could see some of them have changed their attitude toward Falun Gong.
We want the Chinese people to know that Falun Gong is good and is embraced by people all over the world. Our appeal is against the persecution and the human rights violations. We are not against China or the Chinese people. We cherish the traditional culture of their country. Falun Gong is rooted in the ancient Chinese culture, and they should cherish it as well.
Clearwisdom reporter: The Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson also claimed that you guys had violated certain Chinese laws. Did you ever think about the legal aspects before you went there? Did you ever think you would be arrested?
Adam: The Chinese government has tortured, raped, murdered, and illegally abused psychiatric medicine on Falun Gong practitioners. It is the most serious crime against humanity and the most severe violations of human rights of millions of innocent people. We were appealing to the leaders of the Chinese government to end the killing and torture. Our act was protected by the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights, especially Articles 19 and 30.
We only planned to sit to meditate for 15 minutes and silently raise a banner with the words "Truth, Compassion, Forbearance." This should not be a disruption of social order or against any laws. Appealing for human rights is not a crime. It is a humanitarian obligation. Our act was to save innocent lives. It is the Chinese government who disrupted the social order by driving their vans across the square to arrest us, almost hitting some innocent bystanders.
We knew there would be risk of arrest because we knew how unreasonable the Chinese police were toward Chinese practitioners. But we were prepared to endure this in order to appeal for Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Clearwisdom reporter: How are your families and friends responding?
Alejandro: I didn't tell either of my parents before leaving because I didn't want them to be worried. When I called my mother after I arrived at San Francisco, all she wanted to know was that I didn't get hurt. She thanked me for my consideration that I didn't tell her in advance. Both my parents were supportive after hearing about the event.
Adam: I called my parents from Tokyo airport after being expelled from China. They said that they had read about the news. They were happy to hear from me and they said they love me. They understand what I did and why. When we got through the SFO airport customs, we were pleasantly surprised that over 100 friends were there welcoming us home with flowers. We were very touched. We think we did the right thing.
Clearwisdom reporter: Now that you are back home, what will you do next?
Alejandro: I will continue my efforts to clarify the truth of Falun Gong and to expose the crimes of the vicious persecution until the persecution comes to an end.
Adam: I'm going to continue to do what I can to assist the practitioners in China and to help bring this persecution to and end.
Clearwisdom reporter: Thank you very much. Your courageous acts have inspired all of us. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.