Reference Article: Testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus: The PRC's Anti-Human Rights Tactics in the United States (Part 5)
Testimony of John Li
Interference at Caltech Falun Club
June 11, 2002
My name is John Li. I am an American citizen and have been living in the United States for 13 years. I am also a practitioner of Falun Gong and the president of Caltech Falun Club. I am here today to share with you the interference the Caltech Falun Club experienced in February, 2000, 2001 and 2002. As my testimonial will illustrate, the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles attempted to suppress our constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to associate and assemble peacefully.
In February of 2000, Caltech Falun Club, a club devoted to providing free information and workshops on Falun Gong for Caltech local community, organized a Falun Gong workshop at Baxter Hall of Caltech. The purpose of the workshop is for people who are practicing Falun Gong to exchange their experiences in their mind & body improvement after doing the practice, and enable those who are interested in learning the practice to get a better understanding of it.
According to Ramanuj Basu, the Audience Services manager of Caltech Public Events Office, on February 18th, 2000, two days before the scheduled event, the Chinese General Consulate in Los Angeles called Caltech Public Events Office, and spoke with him. The caller introduced himself as Liu Wansheng, an official from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles. As an official from the Chinese Consulate, he attempted to use his position to persuade the University to cancel the already scheduled workshop of the Caltech Falun Club.
According to Mr. Basu, Liu said, "I am representing the Chinese government. He went on to say, "Falun Gong is illegal in China". When Mr. Basu told him that he was not the appropriate person to deal with this matter, Liu proceeded to call the Vice President's Office of Caltech.
The same day, I received an email from the vice president of Caltech, Christopher E. Brennen, who said that his office received a request from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angels asking him to cancel our annual workshop at Caltech. I was surprised because I knew that the US Constitution guarantees its citizens and residents freedom of speech and freedom of belief. I was troubled by the Chinese government's1 blatant interference in US law, and of course disturbed by their interference in US citizens' practice of Falun Gong.
My concerns were shared by many. For example in the front page article published in the Pasadena Star News on February 24th, 2000, titled "China asks Caltech to cancel workshop: Communists objected to Falun Gong event", the reporter quoted Hall Daily, the assistant vice president for government and community relations of Caltech, "...Students have the right to have activities on campus using certain facilities and that, despite the fact that Chinese government is concerned about legality in its own country, it's an issue of free speech in this country."
In spite of the University's refusal to cooperate with the Embassy officials, nonetheless the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles again attempted to interfere with our right to practice our beliefs freely in the United States. In February of 2001, the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles threatened the manager of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium to cancel our event. If they failed to comply, they were told they would lose business from the Chinese concerts. The manager reported the situation to the Pasadena Police Department immediately, and our event proceeded as scheduled, thanks to the help of the Pasadena Police Department. This incident was reported in a report entitled "China tried to prevent Falun Gong conference" on February 20th, 2001, by Pasadena Star News. In that report, the author, Elizabeth Lee stated, "This isn't the first time Chinese officials have lobbied against such events in this area." She also quoted the vice mayor, Paul Little as stating: "Apparently, the Chinese government is trying to leverage our sister city relationship into fodder for their repression of religious practitioners in their country."
The Chinese government continues to interfere with our freedom of beliefs, and the co-extensive right to practice Falun Gong here in the United States. For example, in February of 2002, the manager of San Gabriel Civic Auditorium received a letter from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, asking him to cancel our conference and our concert at the auditorium on February 23, 2002. This was the third annual conference of Falun Gong organized by Caltech Falun Club, and practitioners who are professional musicians and dancers prepared a concert for our community. After their request was denied, the Chinese government called the city manager and Mayor of San Gabriel City, to again attempt to stop our event at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium.
Their behavior is highly disturbing, not only because of their direct interference in US citizens' constitutional rights here in Los Angeles, but because their interference is part of an ongoing pattern (it occurs everywhere) and plan. As others will describe in greater detail, the People's Republic of China will not allow Falun Gong to survive anywhere in or outside of China. There have been numerous secret meetings of high ranking embassy and consulate staff in Beijing, China to plot and effectuate their plan to import the persecution of peaceful practitioners overseas. Please help us stop them from realizing their evil plans.
1 Note: Many high ranking government officials, Communist Party members, and military officers were practitioners of Falun Gong before Jiang Zemin and a few of his cohorts launched their persecution in 1999; so for the sake of accuracy, we attribute the current illegal suppression of Falun Gong in China to the "Jiang regime" rather than the "Chinese government."
Category: Opinion & Perspective