The Testimony of a Falun Gong Practitioner in Switzerland: How We Were Deprived of Our Chinese Nationality (Photos)
Refusing to attend a meeting to slander Falun Dafa organized by the Chinese Embassy in Switzerland
My wife and I had an opportunity to learn Falun Gong in 1998. In September of the same year, we listened to Master Li's lectures in person at the UN Conference Hall in Geneva, which further strengthened our determination to cultivate Falun Dafa.
I graduated from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1963, and was assigned to the Chinese Academy of Sciences to engage in research and technology related work; the title of my post was Senior Engineer (equivalent to Associate Professor). I was in charge of the management and coordination of postgraduate students' research projects in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. I was secretary to Hu Yaobang during his tenure in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. After that, I worked with a famous optics expert and engaged in the coordination and management of science and technology projects. In a missile experiment project, I served as a vice-director of the optics test team and I was greatly admired by the Commission of Technology and Industry for National Defence. My wife, Pan Shu-Zhen, was an engineer and also worked in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 1987 we came to Switzerland. Because both of us were working in the science and technology field, naturally we wanted to promote the exchange of knowledge between China and Switzerland in the field of science and technology. Therefore, we helped the Chinese Embassy to find some PhD researchers and postgraduates who were doing cutting-edge research projects and recommended that they exchange their research ideas with academics in Mainland China. We also organized some academic seminars. The effect was very good. For this reason, the Embassy had banqueted us at that time.
In December 1999, at the time of the ceremony to mark Macao's return to China, organized by the Overseas Chinese Association, the Ambassador and other embassy officials all attended. At the ceremony I recited two poems I had written. Several days later, I got a phone call from the embassy saying that the poems I wrote had been highly praised and reported to the Overseas Chinese Office of the Chinese State Department, the State Overseas Chinese Committee, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the form of a brief news bulletin because my two poems represented the voice of patriotic overseas Chinese citizens.
Photo of Mr. Yang Lifang and his wife, taken in 2003
The author writes in Chinese, "The world needs Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance" for Swiss people
In March 2003, before the eve of the UN Human Rights Committee, we suddenly got a phone call from the Embassy, saying that a press conference would be held in Geneva in order to criticize Falun Gong and they required two overseas Chinese to attend. Since the Embassy felt that my wife and I were highly cultured and had a high standing, they decided to invite us to attend the press conference. My wife immediately refused the invitation and said we wouldn't go there because we practiced Falun Gong. The Embassy representative was astonished and silent, which proved that the Embassy didn't know we practiced Falun Gong at that time. My wife also said, "It must be wrong for our country to persecute Falun Gong. Falun Gong has been spread to the public from 1992 until 1999 and there are seventy million people practicing Falun Gong. If it were bad, why would so many people practice it? Moreover, you know my health situation. I had a lot of illnesses in the past; I was sallow and emaciated. I had to take both Chinese and Western medicines every day, and I was struggling close to death. After I practiced the exercises for fifty days all my illnesses were gone without taking any medicine. Now I feel good without any illnesses, just like any other person."
The Embassy official said, "Now that the government forbids the practice of Falun Gong, you must not practice it." My wife answered, "How could it be like that? If I stopped practicing Falun Gong and maybe returned to poor health as a result, would the government take care of me? Moreover, Falun Gong teaches people to become better persons by following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, and to think of others before ourselves when doing anything. There are a hundred benefits to both society and the person practicing, without any negative aspects. What's wrong with it? Why would certain people in the government be afraid of too many good people?" The conversation over the phone lasted over forty minutes, but it was mainly my wife and me talking. At last the official said, "I know Falun Gong is good for health; then you just practice at home and do not go to Geneva."
My wife answered, "We are not against the Chinese government. We go to Geneva just because we want to tell the world that the Jiang group's persecution of Falun Gong is wrong, and to appeal to end this persecution as soon as possible." This was our first time to clarify the truth to the Chinese Embassy. From then on we were on the "black list." Afterwards, a consul from the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy, a Mr. Wang, said in an overseas Chinese student assembly that the Yang Lifang couple were Falun Gong practitioners, and that students should not get in touch with us. In this way they created a clear boundary between the overseas Chinese students and us.
Our citizenship was denied by the Embassy
Our passports expired on December 29th, 2003. On December 16 we went to the Embassy to extend our passports. Due to the need to visit relatives as well as travel to other countries, we applied for an expedited process. After filling in the forms we passed them through the window. The embassy staff member, Ms Shen, gave us a receipt and told us to collect our passports the next day.
The next day when we went to get our passports, the staff member took out our forms and our passports, and said, "Your passports cannot be processed because of technical problems."
I said, "What a joke! How could technical problems happen since the consular department processes passports every day? What is the technical problem?"
She didn't answer.
I said, "Is there any official document to show what the problem is? Can you show me?"
She said, "No."
I said, "So, in a single word, the Embassy can have us excluded from our own state and cancel our nationality." The staff member said, "You exaggerate too much."
I said, "It's not us who exaggerate too much; it's you. You understand that we won't have any nationality without valid passports. It's your job and responsibility to process the passports for Chinese citizens and it's not right if you don't do it. Let me talk to your boss." Then the staff member called her director, Ms. Yu Shu-fen.
I said, "We were born in China. We regard our country as our Motherland. We look for the motherland's protection. There must be some reason if the motherland does not want to protect us?"
Yu said, "The technical problem is just a technical problem."
I said, "Is there any official document from the State Department, or any instruction from the Foreign Ministry, or an order from Jiang Zemin to inform you not to extend our passports? If so, can you show us the document?"
Yu said, "No. We don't have to show you it, even if we have it."
I said, "This is your job. You should give us a satisfactory explanation."
Yu said, "It's just a technical problem and we can't process it."
I said, "What technical problem?! A technical problem is an artificial excuse. The real reason is that we are Falun Gong practitioners!"
Actually the technical problem did not exist at all. They had cut our photos to the correct size and glued them to the form we handed in. It shows that they checked the "black list" in the course of processing the passports, then stopped the procedure using the excuse of a "technical problem."
Yu responded quickly, very nervous, her hands and mouth trembling, "It is you who said that."
I said, "Please ask yourself, what is the reason?"
Yu didn't answer.
We then began to clarify the truth, saying that we practice Falun Gong in Switzerland, where Falun Gong is formally registered and has been granted permission from the Swiss government. We told her the facts; starting from the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, we told how Falun Gong teaches people to be good persons, and that practicing Falun Gong can improve people's health and lift people's moral standard. We also explained the facts about the Chinese government's praise of Falun Gong during the early years of its introduction, to Jiang Zemin's persecution of Falun Gong. We explained the truth about how many people in over sixty countries all over the world are practicing Falun Gong, the facts that Jiang Zemin has extended the persecution overseas, and how he and his followers have intentionally separated overseas Chinese into two groups: those who practice Falun Gong and those who don't. These actions are all to persecute one group and to spread hatred among overseas Chinese people. The situation with our passports is undoubtedly another new example of Jiang Zemin trying to split the overseas Chinese population.
Yu Shu-fen said at this time, "This is the Chinese Embassy. You're disturbing our work and I'm going to call the police."
I said, "Fine. Please do it! We are Chinese citizens. We ask you to extend our passports but you refuse to do so. You do not give us a reasonable explanation either. It's just right and proper for the police to hear about it."
Of course Yu Shu-fen clearly knew that justice was not on her side, so she didn't dare to call the police.
The Swiss census registry department could not understand the Embassy's conduct
During this period of time, we felt anxious because the passport problem was related to whether we could legally stay in Switzerland. We had to inform the related Swiss government department that we had lost our Chinese nationality because we practice Falun Gong. The Chinese Embassy refused to extend our passports due to some alleged "technical problems." The officials in the Swiss government could not understand this, and they said, "You are Chinese citizens, why does the Chinese Embassy refuse to extend your passports? Your belief is your choice and this is your freedom." I told them that the Chinese Embassy said it was just a technical problem and couldn't do it. They laughed, which made us feel embarrassed. Finally, they asked us to go back to the Chinese Embassy and ask for a document to explain why our passports could not be issued.
The Chinese Embassy regards this as interfering in Chinese internal affairs
On January 14, 2004, we went to the Chinese Embassy again. A man who sat behind the counter said that our questions could only be answered by Director Yu. I told Yu that the related Swiss government department needed a letter of proof from the Chinese Embassy regarding the failure of the extension of our passports.
Yu said, "This is interfering in Chinese internal affairs."
"Internal affairs" is an embodiment of the Chinese government's policy and law. It clearly implies that not extending passports for Falun Gong practitioners is a diplomatic policy set by the Chinese government, not a so-called technical problem.
We went back to see Yu Shu-fen once again. No matter what we said, she still refused to extend our passports, and said, "Technical problems are technical problems! See what you can do!"
I said, "Then please write a document saying that you could not issue the passports to us because of the technical problem, and sign your name on it."
Yu said, "Why should I sign my name?"
I asked Yu, "Do you know that if you do not extend our passports, we would lose the right of residence here, and you are therefore blocking our means of subsistence?"
Yu answered, "Yes, I know."
The word, "Yes," reflects the evil nature of the persecution towards overseas Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Embassies. It is an extension of Jiang's policy of "Destroying them physically, defaming their reputations, and bankrupting them financially." This policy is intended to persecute Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong, making them become stateless refugees, unemployed, with no financial resources. This policy renders law-abiding Chinese citizens unable continue their studies nor visit relatives and friends in China; and when they do return to their own country they will be arrested and put into prison.
We pointed out the fact that for overseas Chinese to hold a Chinese passport is a most basic human right. The conduct of the Chinese Embassy in refusing to issue or extend Chinese passports is not only a violation of China's Constitution, but also a violation of international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations.
Yu Shu-fen said, "You can sue me whenever you want to."
Yet, I still said, "I regard you as my fellow citizen. Why should I sue you? I just want to sort out our passport problem."
After going back home I thought of her words. I felt that in order to protect overseas Chinese people's most basic human rights as well as to prevent this kind of unreasonable thing from happening again, I should at least reveal the facts to the United Nations; I should tell them that the Chinese Embassy has refused to issue and extend the passports of many overseas Chinese citizens.
The Swiss Labor Union appealed on our behalf
After our passports were refused, the labor union we belong to expressed its great sympathy and support for us. The person in charge of the labor union branch in the Capital city of Bern, wrote to the Chinese Embassy in person and sent a duplicate letter to the Swiss Foreign Ministry. Several Swiss friends also wrote to the Chinese Embassy and urged the Embassy to reconsider the refusal of our passports. Being Chinese citizens, we felt so much sorrow over the fact that we needed our non-Chinese friends to help us to obtain our basic right of holding a Chinese passport. How sad!
However, we deeply believe that our motherland, a country with several thousand years of cultural civilization, would not shut the door against her children who are far away from home and believe in Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. Today's situation is only a temporary phenomenon, which is the result of the manipulation by this most evil person in our human world, a man who is narrow-minded and jealous. One day, when Jiang's name is inscribed on the Column of Shame, our motherland will once again open her warm heart and welcome back her children far away from home. At that time, we will embrace our beloved motherland.