Friday, April 28, 2006

Members of a Chinese spiritual group came from all over the state Thursday to hear the woman who yelled out in protest during a ceremony at the White House for Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Wang Wenyi, a 47-year-old pathologist, reporter and mother of two from New York City, told a group of about 30 Falun Gong practitioners that she couldn't stay silent upon seeing Hu with President Bush last Thursday during an event she was covering as a reporter for the Epoch Times. Wang and other Falun Gong followers accuse the Chinese government of sponsoring the harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong detainees in China.


Wang shouted out last week that Hu should put a stop to the persecution of Falun Gong, and was arrested. Wang now faces charges in federal court of intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official, according to the Associated Press.

"People are being slaughtered for money every minute," Wang said Thursday during a news conference at the Wellesley Inn in Clifton. "Myself - a doctor who took the oath to save life - how could I not speak out at that moment?"

The Epoch Times, a Falun Gong-affiliated publication based in New York City, published stories in March accusing the Chinese government of detaining large numbers of people and harvesting their organs. Two of the key sources that the newspaper relied on also spoke at the conference, wearing sunglasses and identifying themselves only by assumed first names because they said they feared retribution if they revealed their identities.

One of the speakers identified himself as Peter. He said he was a Chinese national and had worked in Shenyang, China, as a producer for a Chinese-language television station in Japan. Peter said he found enough proof between 2003 and 2006 to believe that people were being held and surgeons were removing their body parts in the Sujiatun District.

Peter said he got his information from sources, including Chinese doctors who allegedly told people posing as potential transplant recipients that they could receive live organs from healthy sources. When questioned, he said he had never seen a detainment camp.

"I have never seen a surgery," Peter said. "If there's only a 1 percent chance this could be true, I want everyone to know about it, because I believe this is my responsibility as a journalist."

Another speaker, who identified herself as Annie, said she and her husband worked at the Sujiatun hospital between 1999 and 2004. Annie said she learned that her husband, a neurosurgeon, was taking corneal transplants from Falun Gong followers, some of whom were alive. She said she and her husband, who eventually refused to perform the transplants, have since fled the country.

The people in the audience said there are many Falun Gong adherents in North Jersey. Roger Lope, a West Paterson chiropractor, leads exercises every week in his home office and estimated there are 200 local adherents of the spiritual movement, which focuses on meditation and exercises. The Chinese government identified the group as a [...] and banned it in 1999.

Li Ke, a software engineer from Basking Ridge, said she had started practicing Falun Gong seven years ago after hearing about allegations of human rights abuses by the Chinese government against the group. Li said she felt sympathetic because she said she was shot in the ankle and knee in 1989 during the student protests in Tiananmen Square, when the Chinese army opened fire on peaceful protesters.

"That thing made me think that if they can do something like that in broad daylight in front of the world, they can do anything," Li said about how the Tiananmen experience influenced her.

"I'm of course in support of Falun Gong, but more importantly, I'm in support of human rights," said Paola Dangelico, of Cresskill. Dangelico, who is not Chinese, said she took up Falun Gong two years ago.

Meanwhile, Wang said that she is undaunted about facing the charges.

"If we keep silent, such an atrocity will continue," she said.