Testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus: The PRC's Anti-Human Rights Tactics in the United States (Part 7)

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Testimony of Leeshai Lemish
June 11, 2002

Greetings Honourable officials:

There are two reasons why I feel particularly grateful to be able to speak here today. First, I feel privileged to be in the company of those who care about people's freedom and justice wherever they are. Seeing more and more leaders around the world determinedly stand by our side during this difficult time truly moves my heart. Second, I realise how fortunate I am to be able to partake in such an open and peaceful sharing; and that, no matter how soon the persecution ends, thousands of people just like me will never have this opportunity. This really pains my heart. This is also why I went to Tiananmen.

Being brought up in a Jewish family I was extensively educated about the Holocaust. I couldn't believe that such hatred could be generated towards innocent people; that educated people would blindly believe the most ludicrous lies; and that people could be manipulated to put fellow human beings through such suffering. Perhaps more than anything else, I couldn't believe that in the years leading up to the Holocaust, world leaders looked the other way simply in order to protect their money.

Given the chilling similarities between Hitler's Germany and Jiang's China, I decided to speak out. Sitting in a double lotus meditation position at Tiananmen Square, with my friends unfolding a banner reading "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance", I was quickly surrounded by police vans, accompanied by screeching tires, stomping feet and screaming men. However, I felt very calm, and very honoured to be there. One by one we were dragged into the police vans. I was thrown into the van on top of other practitioners, and driven to the Tiananmen police station. At the police station we were all put in a small room.

The policemen began taking people away for interrogation. One policeman tried to grab a woman from France who sat next to me. Knowing how female Falun Gong practitioners are often raped and sexually abused by Chinese police, we demanded that four of our men accompany her. I stood quietly between her and the policeman, and so he grabbed me instead. Later, I heard that she had indeed been sexually assaulted.

I was pulled down a corridor as a tall policeman slapped me in the face several times. With another policeman and behind the closed door, the tall policeman began interrogating me from behind a desk. He wanted to know why we came, how we organised the trip, where we stayed...I told him in Chinese that we simply came to peacefully appeal to their government to stop killing innocent people. I said "we didn't do anything wrong, why are you treating us this way?" The policemen walked up to me and yelled: "I am the police and you will do what I say" demanding that I answer his questions. With an indescribable look in his eyes he hit me hard across the face. He then grabbed my shoulders and kicked me between the legs. He kept threatening and yelling at me. He pushed me against the wall, and then squeezed my nose between his fingers and threw me down on the chairs. He confiscated my passport, credit cards, money, emergency phone numbers, and California Driver's License.

I remember thinking: "I am in a Chinese police station behind a closed door, being beaten by a policeman who is trying to extort information from me. Who will hear me cry for help?" If you place yourself in that situation, you can imagine what it felt like to be taken out of that room and led alone down a dark flight of concrete stairs to the basement, not knowing what to anticipate or expect. There, I was reunited with my friends in a small jail cell from which we could hear two women screaming upstairs. Shortly after, I could barely open my jaw, which was jolted out of place by the policeman. (medical report available)

I was stripped of basic international rights for another 26 hours. I was threatened, verbally abused, and interrogated once again. I know that what I had experienced was only a tiny, tiny part of what my Chinese contemporaries go through every day.

One touching moment that I will always remember was when three of us landed back in North America. I walked barefoot into the airport reception area since one of my shoes was not retrieved from Tiananmen Square. Tears came to my eyes as I saw dozens of Falun Gong practitioners and supporters whom I had never met before waiting for us with welcome signs and beautiful flowers. I sensed a sharp contrast between the cold violence of the policeman who shoved me onto the airplane, and the warm hug I received from total strangers in the airport lobby; a contrast between oppression and freedom.

As you know all too well, our freedom in the United States cannot be taken for granted. I am saddened to report that, even at my Californian college, acts of hatred have targeted my efforts to raise awareness of the persecution in China, sparked, no doubt, by Jiang Zemin's far reaching hate breeding. I hope that we can learn from our past mistakes and encourage others to take a correct stance. A U.S. President has already stated that Jiang Zemin is on the wrong side of history. I would like to ask all U.S. leaders: could we please make sure that we are on the right side of history?

Thank you.

Leeshai Lemish

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