Testimony: Taiwanese Falun Gong Practitioners' Experiences in France
Treated poorly during the first visit to France
By Taiwan Falun Gong practitioners Lin Yuxia
On January 26, 2003 Chinese President Hu arrived in France. At approximately 2:30 p.m. a group of people were walking on Avenue des Champs d'Elysee in Paris. I noticed a lot of barricades, policemen and police vans. Soon I saw about 20-30 policemen surrounding several Dafa practitioners. I was about 200 meters (700 feet) away from them.
I turned back and walked towards there, but was then forced to get into a police van. By then it was 3:04 p.m. (Paris time) There were six ladies in the police van; among them five were from Taiwan and one was from Norway. As I didn't know any French, I meditated inside the police van. We were isolated in the rear of the carriage. The transparent partition between the police officers and the captives inside was closed. In the front were two police officers and a driver.
The police van stopped on the roadside for about 75 minutes, during which the Norwegian practitioner tried several times to write a note in English and put it up to the glass partition. She knocked softly on the partition and very politely asked to talk to them. The officers were indifferent, ignoring her and continuing to smoke and talk to each other. When we started to practice the fifth meditation exercise, the van started to move off immediately and we were driven to the police station.
After having been in the cold van for 93 minutes, the police opened the door. Only one practitioner at a time was allowed to exit the van. I was taken into the police station. It was frustrating that I could not communicate with the police. I said to one of the police, "Why do you bring me here?" It seemed that he could not understand me, and just kept speaking French that I couldn't understand.
Soon a policewoman came out to lead each practitioner to the bathroom, one at a time. I was the fifth one. I did not know that I would be searched until entering into the bathroom. Afterwards, each of us had to sit on a chair and wait. Four practitioners' passports were taken away; two who didn't carry their passports were not allowed to leave and were kept longer than the other four practitioners.
It was unacceptable, though I did not commit any crime, that the policewoman forbid me to close the door while I was using the toilet. I had to use the toilet without any privacy -- I could see others and others could also see me. This seriously humiliated me. The policewoman suddenly opened the door even wider during the time I was using the toilet, which shocked me so much. How could they treat me like this?
The time passed by slowly. Another practitioner and I were not allowed to leave until the other four practitioners talked to the police in English, got their passports back and left one by one. I looked at my watch when I stepped out of the police station. It was by then 6:20 p.m. I was disoriented after leaving the police station and could not figure out where I was. What I am sure of is that there was a big hotel next to the police station, and flags of many countries flew from the ground floor. The flag of Mainland China was in the most prominent place.
When I returned to my accommodation, it was already 8:47 p.m. I am a law-abiding foreign tourist in France for the first time. Why was I treated so terribly?
Surrounded by the police on the way to look for the location of a Falun Gong Activity
By Taiwan Falun Gong practitioner Zhou Yixiu
On January 27, 2004, at about 2:00 p.m., I, together with several Taiwan practitioners who were arrested days ago by French police, walked to Invalide because we heard there would be a public event. When we arrived there, we didn't see any practitioners on the open area in front of Invalide, but we did see many police cars. I tried to find the local Falun Gong contact person but couldn't find him.
I felt a little anxious because I told most of the Taiwanese practitioners that there was an event we could attend to peacefully express our hope in stopping the persecution of Falun Gong in China. I was worried that if the police saw so many practitioners gathered together they might arrest us again like they did a few days ago.
I walked to the Invalide subway entrance. Some practitioners started to arrive but no one knew the exact location of the event.
Two local western practitioners arrived 10 minutes later and told us the correct location, Avenue de Lamotte Metne la Tom Mauboury. I asked the practitioners who had arrived earlier to follow them to the right location. I still stood at the entrance of the subway to wait for more practitioners to arrive. Before too long, many practitioners arrived after the event at the Chinese Embassy had finished. Many of them wore blue or yellow clothes with the yellow scarves.
I was just going to tell them to walk toward the right side of the Invalide. Suddenly, many French police officers surrounded us; some were armed police and some were plainclothes police. They ordered us not to move. Many practitioners felt bewildered. Since the incidents from a few days ago when some practitioners had been taken to the police stations, many practitioners started to feel uneasy. Some wanted to leave, but were rudely pushed back. I saw a police officer forcibly holding a female practitioner who was trying to leave. I said, "Soiyz gentile, i est une dam," ("Please be kind, this is a woman") and then the policeman loosened his hands. Two American practitioners, Judy and her American husband, arrived. Judy said to the police loudly, "Don't push me!" She expressed her determination in English and said that such a thing would not happen in the U.S.
A plainclothes policeman made a call to report the situation. Soon more police came. The language issue presented a communication problem. Many practitioners were unhappy about the police who restricted their freedom. They thought they had just walked out of the subway station and didn't know where to go, and there was no reason to to be surrounded like this. A police officer asked whether someone knew French. I became the interpreter. He asked me why we gathered here and what we wanted to do. Since I didn't know the event in detail and just was going to lead the newly arrived practitioners into the direction that the local practitioners told me, I said to him that we didn't do anything wrong but just waited for people, and they didn't have any reasons to take us away.
Later the police seemed to get the information that we were invited to attend an appeal organized by a human rights organization. The location was just near Invalide. They decided to take us there and asked us to get in the police cars.
Some practitioners didn't believe them because of the recent detention event. They told the other practitioners not to be fooled and speculated the police might take us to the police station again. We told the police we could walk there by ourselves.
Later a police officer asked us to line up in a row to walk there. The police cars drove along both sides of us. I told the practitioners that the police were going to lead us to the gathering place, not the police station. Some practitioners still didn't trust the police. Some felt the police's behavior had insulted our dignity. We would find the way by ourselves. Some people refused to go, some wanted to leave, and some reasoned with the police. But we were all forced to go forward.
I walked in front and didn't know exactly what was going on in the back. I just noticed we had to stop often. Some practitioners didn't want to cooperate with the police and were forced to go forward. Some girls were crying. Many sat down and didn't want to continue. I saw that a girl in the back was being carried. I ran to see what happened. The girl was crying and felt weak, and was being held by the practitioners and police. I told the police not to be rude. The police said that she was "Cuise de nerve" ("It's just a case of nerves") and she would be ok. I kept saying, "You scared her."
Later I saw the local contact practitioner whom I had tried to find before arriving. He talked a lot to the police. He told the practitioners sitting on the ground that the gathering place was just ahead. So the practitioners got up and went to the place.
Then I saw the police who had been escorting us leave as well. We arrived at the gathering place.
The French police arrest me on the charge of "violating French law" for holding a small triangle flag with the words of "Falun Dafa is good."
By Taiwan Falun Gong practitioner Zhong Zheng
At 7:00 p.m. on January 27, 2004, I passed by the Chinese embassy. I held a small triangular flag with the words of "Falun Dafa is good" in my hand. The size of the flag is just like those normally used by the tourist guides. I also carried a black bag (30cm long x 20 cm high) on one side of my shoulder with a yellow cloth banner inside, which was the size of 1.2 m x 25 cm with the words of "Falun Dafa is great." When I was passing the Chinese embassy, I was immediately informed, "You violated the French law" and "You are under the arrest." I was searched and was sent to the police station.
In the police station, I asked the police to treat the Falun Gong flag and banner well. I told them the karmic relationship and why they should not persecute Falun Gong. All the police agreed with me.
I was released at 11:00 p.m. that night, but the banner and the flag were still held in the police station. I hope the French authorities return my Falun Gong flag.
January 31, 2004