Texas Falun Gong Practitioners: Look Who's Coming to Town
Recent news reports (CNN.com, the San Francisco newspapers, others) have said that the Chairman of China, Jiang Zemin is expected to come to Houston just before his visit to President Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas, in late October. What do we know about our guest-to-be? What kind of man is he? How did he get to where he is?
The first thing is, he shouldn't be called "President," although he likes to be called that and officially changed his title so it translates roughly to that. A political President is the elected head of a country. There is no such process in China. Jiang was appointed by the Communist Party elders. Given that, one should refer to Jiang Zemin only as what he truly is, such as the "Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party," "Head of the Chinese military," and "Head of the Central Government in China." So we should call him "Chairman" or "Chief" or "Head" of China. But not "President."
How did Jiang earn the favor of the elders?
On the fourth of June, 1989, thousands of Chinese students were slaughtered on Tiananmen Square. As heavily-armed tanks trampled the young and defenseless students, the smell of blood in the air became so strong that it still saturated the air even after the Beijing Fire Department had hosed down the square for three days with high-pressure water hoses. During this time, Jiang Zemin, then the mayor of Shanghai, used his hard-line political tactics to win the trust of the elders of the Chinese Communist Party and ascended to the throne of China, a country of 1.2 billion people. A week before the Tiananmen Massacre, Jiang shrewdly shut down a liberal newspaper in Shanghai. During the same week, he placed those supporting liberal solutions under house arrest . Based on these two major "contributions," the elders bestowed on Jiang the power to rule over the Communist Party, the Chinese military and the Chinese government so he could preserve the dictatorship of the Communist Party.
Eight years later in 1997, while Jiang smiled and waved at Harvard University, the student leaders who participated in the Tiananmen Democratic Movement were still in prison, enduring relentless torture. When a western reporter asked Jiang what he thought about the 20-year-old female student leader who was gang-raped by five male prisoners while in prison, Jiang replied without any hesitation, "She got everything she deserved."
This is the "statesman" who rules China now. Let's look at the environment that shaped him and what he has been doing lately, especially the horrendous persecution of Falun Gong that he initiated and controlled -- an evil persecution against a peaceful body-mind practice and those who rock-solidly follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
Blacklist -- Contagion of Evil
Let's think about that "Contagion of Evil" for a minute. It has taken many generations of unceasing effort and sacrifice by many brave men and women to build the type of free society we have here and now. But only a few decades back, in the 1950's, there was a major threat to the livelihoods, social standing and even the freedom of innocent civilians. That campaign was called McCarthyism and one of its more appalling manifestations was the "Blacklist" of people who, someone thought, held views that were not totally approved by Senator McCarthy and his allies. No one knew what methods were used to compile it but a place on that list was often a harbinger of major adversity for loyal and upright citizens. Eventually justice prevailed in this country and, although careers and lives were ruined, the witch hunt ended.
Now it's back. There's a new Blacklist. But this time it has been compiled by agents from outside of this country about citizens of many free countries, including our own U.S. This time it's coming from the Chinese Communists. Here's an account of what happened to one U.S. citizen, from Houston:
True account by a Houstonian: On the Blacklist!
I am just your average American. I have a 9 to 5 office job and drive a 97 Geo Prism. I share a home with my husband at a quiet Houston suburb. I enjoy watching football and am forced to watch baseball because my husband is a huge fan. I also enjoy reading and cooking. I am sorry to say that there is nothing remarkable about my daily life. And yet something rather remarkable (in a bad way) happened to me three months ago. I discovered that I have been watched and followed by agents who work for a foreign government and operate covertly right here in Houston. Does it sound like a bad mystery novel? Unfortunately it is not fiction and happens to be all too real.
How did I bring myself to this mess? You see, I happen to enjoy doing a traditional Chinese exercise called Falun Gong. Every time after I complete its 5 sets of gentle exercises, I feel that I have been cleansed from inside out. You know how your skin feels after taking a long hot shower, right? That is just how I feel after doing the exercises; the only difference is that the feeling comes from the inside. My health has improved so much after I started to practice Falun Gong. On top of the health benefit, the simple yet profound Falun Gong principle of "Truthfulness Compassion Forbearance" has guided my daily life and led me to always strive to do the right thing. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. But all in all, after I began to practice Falun Gong, I like myself more, and my friends and family like me more.
When Jiang Zemin first ordered the official crackdown of Falun Gong on July 20 of 1999, like many other people, I thought that the Chinese government had simply made a mistake and it would soon rectify the situation. Yet during the three years, the intensity of the persecution has been steadily escalating. There have been 477 documented cases where Falun Gong practitioners were persecuted to death in China. We all know how tightly information is controlled in China. For every death case that has been reported and made known to sources outside of China, there could easily be 5, 10, or even more deaths of Falun Gong practitioners that have gone unreported.
For the longest time, I was not sure of what I could do to help. When I read about the terrible cruelty that the Chinese Falun Gong practitioners are forced to endure day in and day out, tears often streak down my face and I felt that my heart was about to break. But still I felt powerless and helpless over the situation. When I heard that Jiang was about to visit Iceland in June of 2002 and practitioners there were going to hold a peaceful appeal urging him to stop persecuting Falun Gong, I saw this as an opportunity to do something. I purchased a ticket on Icelandair with my own money and arranged to use several days of my vacation time to participate in the appeal. When I flew from Houston to Baltimore International Airport to catch the Icelandair flight that would take me to Iceland on June 13, something unthinkable happened. Even though I had a valid U.S. passport and confirmed planet ticket that I had purchased only a week earlier, I was told that that my ticket has been cancelled because my name was on some list. The exact same thing happened to another U.S. citizen from Houston and more than 100 other Falun Gong practitioners who are citizens of the United States, Canada, the UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Australia. According to a June 8 report in Iceland's The Visir, this list was compiled and supplied to Icelandic officials by the Chinese government long before Jiang Zemin's scheduled arrival.
Before the trip to Iceland, I had mainly been practicing quietly at my home or in Memorial Park near my home. My name was never listed as a volunteer contact person on Falun Gong websites or in other materials that would identify me as a Falun Gong practitioner. Yet, somebody had identified me and put me on this list, and this was apparently done from within the city limits of Houston. How did they obtain my private information? Who else is being watched by the Chinese government, and what else are they doing here in the state of Texas?
Rae Song, A Houston resident
Comments on Evil Contagion
What is truly alarming is that this was not an isolated incident. Falun Gong practitioners were also stopped in airports in US including Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington DC, and at airports of countries including Denmark(Copenhagen), Iceland, Germany (Frankfurt), France (Paris), UK(London), Sweden (Stockholm). It is clear that the Chinese regime has expanded its reach far beyond their borders. These Falun Gong practitioners are doing something purely out of their sense of righteousness in their hearts, doing everything at their own expense, using their own money and their own hard-earned vacation time, to bring awareness of the atrocities going on in China to the world's eyes and ask the world to join them in appealing to the Jiang regime to end the senseless and cruel persecution. This is exactly what the Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin fears the most -- having his crimes exposed on a global scale.
Our freedom of speech and freedom of belief as United States citizens are inviolable rights that our forefathers have earned through great sacrifice, and it is something to be treasured and protected. What has happened here is a clear invasion of our rights as United States citizens by the Chinese government on American soil. They made a list of Falun Gong practitioners and their travel plans, and then openly used it. One's personal beliefs are supposed to be one's own business in this country. How did they obtain this private information -- have they tapped our phones, dug into our mail, put secret microphones in our homes and cars, aimed surveillance cameras and microphones at us as we go about our daily business, or something yet more insidious? All this under the cover of diplomatic privilege. I am a native born U.S. citizen and was refused a Visa to enter China by the Chinese Consulate because they suspected I was a Falun Gong practitioner. How did they come to know so much about me, a 57-year-old statistical analyst who leads a very quiet life? How did they gather the information about 19-year-old Evan Mantyk, a first year student from the University of Michigan, who was on the Icelandair blacklist? What else are they doing? Who else are they targeting? Now these agents of evil are reaching out across the world to stamp out people's rights to freedom of belief. Can we allow the contagion to spread? Where will it stop? We need to draw the line and join together to stop the persecution that's happening in China, in Texas, and everywhere else in the world.
Please send a postcard or fax the notice below to the Mayor and/or your City Councilman. Ask them to proclaim to the world, including the Chairman of China, that the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China and the harassment of practitioners all over the world has to STOP NOW.
Dianna Roberts, Ph D, a Houston resident