US House Committee on Human Rights Holds Hearing about Chinese Government Pressure on US Officials and Harassment of US Citizen Falun Gong Practitioners and Supporters (Photo)
(Clearwisdom.net) On Tuesday, June 11, 2002, the US House Committee on Human Rights held a hearing about Chinese Government pressure on US officials and the harassment of US citizen Falun Gong practitioners and supporters. Congresswoman Lynn C. Woolsey presided over the hearing. Three groups of witnesses testified before the committee. One was a group of three local government officials from New York and California. Another group consisted of four US citizens who had been harassed, and their lawyers. The last group was comprised of human rights specialists. Their testimonies described Chinese government attempts to prevent local US government officials from issuing proclamations for Falun Gong, interfering with university Falun Gong clubs' teaching the exercises on campuses and accounts of the physical intimidation of Falun Gong practitioners, etcetera.
Mr. Stan Bogosian, the former mayor of Saratoga, California and current city councilman testified. He said that the Chinese government is trying to influence the US government officials to prevent them from supporting Falun Gong and keep silent on the Falun Gong issue. In November 2000, he issued a proclamation to Falun Gong for their contribution to the local community and supporting their right of freedom of gathering. Not long after, Chinese officials from the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco came to the city hall and requested the mayor to cancel the proclamation. But they were rebutted. They requested the city government to be silent on the Falun Gong issue but were rebutted again. Soon the mayor found that the Chinese Consulate carried out similar activities in other cities such as Alhambra, where local officials were also asked to cancel their proclamation.
Mr. Bogosian said that the Chinese government's interference in US local government affairs should not be tolerated. Major US companies have huge investments in China. The temptation of profit leads them to ignore what is happening in China because they are afraid of losing business in the new rising market. Mr. Bogosian said that we should remember the lessons of history to avoid paying the price of turning a blind eye to the current issues.
Mr. Chris Dally, of the sixth district committee, San Francisco, testified that his issuance of a proclamation honoring Falun Gong was protested by the Chinese Consulate. Soon after this incident, the mayor of San Francisco visited China and attended high level meetings, including meeting Jiang. Mr. Dally called on the House Committee on Human Rights to try its best to safeguard Falun Gong practitioners and the US local government officials supporting Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Sheldon Leffler, former New York City councilor, described how Sing Dao Daily and China Press published baseless slanderous articles against Falun Gong and caused damage to Falun Gong practitioners' reputation, as well as to the financial and spiritual aspects of their lives. He represents Friends of Falun Gong in their lawsuit against these two Chinese media. He pointed out that there are 2.4 millions Chinese in America and most of them read Chinese newspapers. However, these newspapers are to a large extent under the control of the Chinese government. These media have become propaganda tools of the Chinese government. This kind of thing should not occur in a democratic country.
Four US citizen Falun Gong practitioners narrated their experience of being harassed by the Chinese government because of their practicing Falun Gong. One practitioner received two death-threatening calls. Chinese Consulate officials intimidated a Falun Gong association on campus for organizing a Falun Gong open forum. A practitioner was mistreated violently by the Chinese police for a peaceful appeal in Tiananmen Square. Another practitioner was physically attacked while attending a local Falun Gong activity.
A civil rights lawyer from Washington DC pointed out that the actions of the Chinese officials and their agents constitute crimes. He said, "The basic rights that the constitution entrusts to Falun Gong practitioners are being deprived. We need to take them back."
The Chairman of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy proposed that the Congress take the following actions based on the facts mentioned above:
- Request to the State Department to put forward a strong protest to China to protest Chinese diplomatic violations of basic human rights in the US.
- Request that the State Department cooperate with Chinese Americans to identify Chinese officials carrying out violent repression, and refuse them permission to visit the US.
- Initiate a resolution to support the basic rights of Chinese religious believers, especially Falun Gong practitioners.
The two-hour hearing showed the people in attendance the Chinese government's infringement of the constitutional rights of US officials and citizens. Congresswoman Woolsey said, "The issue is far from over, we need to continue working hard. We will pass a meaningful resolution."