"Falun Gong is not a China issue. Falun Gong is an international issue, we won't stop until the killing stops."
NEW YORK, February 14th, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center)
- According to reports by Reuters, AFP, and Bloomberg, more than 40 western Falun Gong practitioners from around the world who staged a peaceful appeal on Tiananmen Square in Beijing today were met with an unprecedented level of violence and brutality from Chinese police in dealing with foreigners. At approximately 2:00 PM Beijing time, numerous small groups of western practitioners began unfurling banners and calling out "Falun Dafa is Good" in Chinese. Some ran through the square, chased by Chinese police who tackled them to the ground, and then pushed or dragged them to nearby police vans. Each group's demonstration occurred approximately 3 minutes apart. The entire demonstration lasted approximately 15-20 minutes, according to witnesses. The Chinese government called the event an effort to damage Chinese New Year celebrations. "It is the torture and murder of innocent Chinese people that is tarnishing New Year celebrations," stated Jason Loftus, an engineering student recently returned to Canada after his appeal in Tiananmen Square earlier this week. "It is the deception of an entire nation to hate an innocent group of people and to participate in persecuting them that is the real crime. We are not against China. In fact, we go to Tiananmen Square for the people of China." As the Lunar New Year celebrations unfold, at least 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners continue to suffer in Chinese labour camps and detention centers, according to Amnesty International. At least 1,600 have been confirmed to have died in police custody according to sources in the Chinese government.
Several western media who witnessed the demonstration described the arrests as "very brutal." According to an AFP report, one woman demonstrator who appeared to be in her 20s, "had her face pinned against a van seat in a semi-prone position for some minutes by a policeman who had his knee jammed against her back. She was later allowed to sit up, but when she tried to open a window the uniformed policeman struck her hard across the face with his open hand, causing her head to jolt backwards."
Earlier in the day, 14 European Falun Gong practitioners were taken into custody by force after Chinese police broke into their hotel rooms. One woman from the U.K., Rosemary Katzen age 42, was grabbed by the hair and dragged during the raid, losing a large clump of hair.
An International Issue
Levi Browde, a Falun Gong practitioner from the U.S. who was detained on Monday, February 11th, for making a peaceful appeal on Tiananmen Square commented: "As Western practitioners, we go to Tiananmen Square with the hope that our peaceful appeal will bring an end to the torture and murder of innocent people and help to awaken a society that is being torn apart by lies and deceit." Mr. Browde continued, "Falun Gong is not just a China issue. Falun Gong is an international issue, and we won't stop until the killing stops."
Mr. Browde, along with Mr. Loftus, held a secret press conference in their Beijing hotel room on Monday to show a new investigative video about last year's self-immolation incident to western media stationed in Beijing. The video presents evidence extracted from China's state-run broadcasts, CNN statements, and a report by the Washington Post, which, combined, suggest the incident was in part, or entirely, staged, and then used in a worldwide propaganda campaign to demonize the Falun Gong spiritual practice. Later that same day, Mr. Browde and Mr. Loftus appealed on Tiananmen Square with two banners and a laptop computer playing the investigative video. They were immediately detained, held in prison cells overnight and deported the next day.
On February 11, 2002, U.S.-based human rights group Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released a report analyzing seven top-secret Chinese government documents detailing an official crackdown against large, non-authorized Christian churches, Falun Gong and other religious and spiritual groups nationwide. The documents provide "irrefutable evidence that China's government, at the highest levels, aims to repress religious expression outside its control, and is using more determined, systematic and harsher criminal penalties in this effort," says Freedom House's press release.
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