NEW YORK, October 29, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) -- Thousands of Falun Gong supporters and practitioners gathered at each stop of Jiang Zemin’s visit to North America over the past week, calling for an end to the three-year campaign of terror in China. Peaceful appeals were carried out around the clock in Chicago, Houston, and Los Cabos, the major stops in Jiang’s tour of North America last week.
Practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from around the world hold a peaceful appeal day and night in front of Jiang’s hotel in Chicago.
"We are here to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners suffering under Jiang’s persecution in China," commented Adam Montanaro, one of the volunteers taking part in the appeals. "Jiang is being treated as a visiting dignitary, but his crimes against humanity over the last fifteen years place him closer to Milosevic -- one of the worst violators of human rights in our century."
Peaceful Appeal in Four Cities, Vigils Around the World
In Chicago, rows and rows of people who practice Falun Gong sat in silent meditation around the clock outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel downtown where Jiang stayed. Banners fluttering in the wind and rain called for an end to the three year persecution, many of them held by friends and family members of those who have been killed by torture in China under Jiang’s edict to "eradicate Falun Gong" by any means. Jiang, demanding that the protestors be kept from his sight, reportedly did not leave his hotel during his time in Chicago."
Two days later in Houston, over two thousand people gathered outside the Hotel Intercontinental to continue the peaceful appeal. Every street around the hotel was lined with people holding signs and sitting in quiet meditation. They remained there, around the clock, despite the unseasonable cold, wind, and rain. On the morning of the 25th, many of the demonstrators traveled the four hours to Crawford, Texas, where Jiang was to visit President Bush’s ranch.
A billboard and truck bear the message of Falun Gong in Houston during Jiang’s visit: Truth, Compassion, Forbearance. All Falun Gong materials and events are sponsored and attended by volunteers.
In support of Falun Gong, the Mayor of Austin declared October 25th "Falun Dafa Day." Houston had previously honored Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, declaring him an "Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador" in May, 1994, and declaring October 12, 1996, as "Li Hongzhi Day."
Peaceful appeals were also held in Los Cabos, Mexico, where Jiang was attending the APEC summit.
The participants in the appeals came from as far as Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, and all around the U.S. Around the clock appeals were held in major cities around the world, including Munich, Berlin, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, France, Switzerland, London, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, and Austria.
At many of the appeals, a loud group of Chinese nationals -- the "welcome team" -- were bussed in by the Chinese embassy. These individuals were reportedly offered incentives in exchange for welcoming Jiang with pre-printed banners and organized cheers. The various perks, however, which reportedly included free meals and tickets to a celebrity basketball match, were seemingly insufficient, as the "greeters" continuously took lengthy breaks, even when Jiang was expected to pass by, and ran for the busses every time the rain and wind picked up, leaving their Chinese flags lying in the mud.
Voice of America reported last week that members of the "welcome team" were directed to sign a document relinquishing their First Amendment rights or else face a $5,000 fine. The document also allegedly required greeters to report any contact with Falun Gong practitioners to the group leaders.
Thousands of people who practice and support Falun Gong gathered in Crawford, Texas, to appeal to President Bush to raise the issue of Jiang’s three-year persecution in China. Jiang’s decree to wipe out Falun Gong has resulted in the wrongful deaths of hundreds in China.
Genocide Lawsuit Filed Against Jiang, Local Hotels Cancel Reservations Under Pressure
During Jiang’s visit, he and his body guards were served with a lawsuit (read report) charging him with genocide and exploiting his official position to commit atrocious human rights violations in direct violation of the values enshrined in the constitutions, international treaties, and laws of all civilized nations today. The week before, other plaintiffs filed another case against Jiang in the International Criminal Court.
Interestingly, signs of Jiang’s pressure tactics (read report) also surfaced in Houston, where reservations held by Falun Gong practitioners at a local hotel were cancelled at the last minute. Since then the American Civil Liberties Union has entered negotiations with the hotel’s attorneys on behalf of the practitioners of Falun Gong who held the reservations.
The "black list" surfaced again in Mexico. The black list, a list of Falun Gong practitioners around the world apparently maintained by the Chinese government, is provided to other nations along with pressure to restrict their travel and rights to public protest. Upon entering the country, travelers found their names registered with the Mexican police as "dangerous person[s]."
In light of the record of completely peaceful Falun Gong appeals around the world throughout the more than three years of persecution in China, Jiang’s propaganda and blacklist are entirely unfounded and in many cases illegal (read report).