"What we are seeing is a hate crime."
-- Erping Zhang, a spokesman for the Falun Dafa Information Center
NYPD officers confront an angry mob in Flushing, New York, making at least two arrests of individuals assaulting Falun Gong adherents.
NEW YORK — The Falun Dafa Information Center reported Wednesday that mobs of hundreds have been assembled in Flushing, New York, daily since Saturday, May 17, to assail Falun Gong practitioners even as millions throughout China mourn.
This and similar incidents occurring on the same days elsewhere, coupled with aggressive coverage from state-run media in China, suggest that Beijing authorities are orchestrating these events, post-earthquake, as a means of channeling emotions against political targets.
Several adherents of Falun Gong, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, up to 70 years of age, and including a mother whose two sons are serving in Iraq with the U.S. military, have been physically assaulted by the pro-communist crowds, with others receiving threats on their lives. At least two arrests have been made by Queens police; hate crime charges are allegedly pending. Other Falun Gong members have been pelted with bottles, eggs, and stones, and been spit on by the assembled masses. (Details of the events are attached.)
The incidents, which are paralleled by happenings in Japan and Los Angeles, and possibly elsewhere, during the same four-day period, appear to have been coordinated by China’s authorities and are the culmination of escalating aggression towards Falun Gong and other forms of dissent in recent months. In the run-up to the Olympics, Chinese communist-backed student groups have, notably, harassed and threatened Tibet activists and turned to violence in South Korea, where rights activists were pummeled by a pro-communist Chinese throng.
“Each week we’re seeing acts of increasing belligerence like this, and Falun Gong has become a principal target,” said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang today. “It is simply preposterous to see American citizens—and specifically, Americans who are trying to uphold values like liberty that are dear to our country—get threatened, berated, and assaulted in their own backyards by mobs who are directed by a foreign dictatorship.”
Much suggests that the gatherings and assaults in Flushing were pre-meditated, organized, and trace back to Beijing. Many Chinese student organizations and provincial associations are known to be linked to, and mobilized by, communist authorities in Beijing.
The seething throngs arrived, and left, seemingly on cue; witnesses report the group operating in what appears to be shifts, with groups leaving and arriving as if scheduled. Members of the pro-communist pack were equipped with identical red flags. Certain individuals stood out as ringleaders, leading the group in chants, directing actions, and inciting members. Certain others brandished professional cameras, and appeared to be gathering information on Falun Gong participants and supporters. An eyewitness reported that many—perhaps dozens—of mob members had identical iPhones, wrapped in the same green-tinted, transparent, waterproof enclosures.
Chinese journalists were also reportedly dispatched from China to the weekend’s events; this, at a time when the nation’s attention is fixated on the tragedy of Sichuan province. One woman at the Flushing scene identified herself as a reporter sent from Changchun Television, a state-run media entity in northeastern China. A second individual, a male, identified himself as a Beijing journalist assigned to take photos.
The mass gatherings have been aggressively reported by China’s state-run press, with a heavy political twist. The mob scene has been cast as a spontaneous backlash against Falun Gong by patriotic Chinese, who, according to one PRC paper, Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao), “could not tolerate” Falun Gong’s alleged indifference to the earthquake and “not fighting against the disaster… not donating a penny.”
“It’s almost like one big, bogus publicity stunt,” said the Center’s Erping Zhang. “Beijing seems intent on exploiting the tragedy of the earthquake and its emotional aftermath to stigmatize and attack Falun Gong. They’re trying to turn Falun Gong into a political rallying point. It’s a shameful way of diverting attention from very real problems inside China at this time.”
Significantly, similar operations appear to be under way in other regions around the world. On Saturday, May 16, ethnic Chinese assaulted another “Party-Quitting Station” (see attached), this time in Tokyo, Japan—some 8,000 miles away. In Japan, as in New York, poster displays were kicked or torn down and individuals assaulted.
In both cases the same station, or booth, had been incident-free for years, prior to this one weekend.
In Los Angeles on May 20, nonviolent Falun Gong demonstrators outside the Chinese consulate were similarly accosted by ethnic Chinese. The perpetrators again tore down banners and destroyed informational materials.
"This is clearly a centrally planned and engineered scheme, and there’s no doubt who is behind the scenes. It’s the same dictatorship that has deployed scores of angry Chinese to drown out dissenting voices wherever the Olympic torch goes, or whoever tries to speak out about Tibet or Falun Gong,” said Zhang.
At least one Chinese source familiar with these matters alleges that Zhou Yongkang, Secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, is behind the overseas pro-communist groups.
The Falun Dafa Information Center is deeply troubled by the escalating pattern of intimidation and violence. Of concern is also the right to information of ethnic Chinese who should be able to frequent sites such as the Flushing Party-Quitting Station free of coercion or threat. If China’s communist rulers fear what such information reveals, it should curb its political persecutions and abide by international norms, thus having less to hide, rather than seek to stifle such facts.
The Center also calls upon all elected officials and relevant federal bodies to immediately take measures to protect those who are targeted by such abusive tactics; investigate the happenings in Flushing and elsewhere; and take active measures, including legislation, to ensure they do not occur again.
Victims of assault named above as well as others are available for media interviews upon request. Attached are further details of the incidents. A short news clip with footage of the incident (in Chinese) can be found here.