On November 21, 2001, fifteen Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners went to Moscow to attend an experience sharing conference hosted by local practitioners in Russia. Here, there is a local marketplace frequented by a large number of Chinese people. The practitioners decided to go there to hand out flyers and clarify the truth about Falun Gong to the local Russians and Chinese. At about 1pm on November 23, Taiwanese and local Russian practitioners arrived at Ismaelovsky Market to hand out flyers. It only took a minute before a few uniformed security agents and some Chinese appeared. They appeared out of nowhere, and escorted the eight Taiwanese practitioners to the Market Management Office, where they were detained and their passports and Falun Gong flyers confiscated. They forced female practitioners to take off their Falun Gong vests, took away their backpacks, and inspected their personal belongings. Taiwanese practitioners protested from the very beginning, asking these people to explain why they thought they had the right to confiscate their private property so rudely. The Russian Market Management personnel and local Chinese ignored their protests and remained belligerent towards the practitioners. In the end, they kept all the Taiwanese practitioners' truth- clarifying and Falun Dafa materials, vests, and Falun Gong banners. When the security agents inspected the practitioners' passports, they discovered they were from Taiwan, so they had to return the passports to them; still they escorted the practitioners out of the Market.
After this incident was over the practitioners found out that Chinese secret agents monitor the Market at all times. When the agents noticed Taiwanese practitioners handing out flyers in the Sun District of the Market, they immediately contacted the Chinese Embassy. The Embassy personnel then pressured the Market Officer to demand the arrest of all Chinese people handing out flyers and have them deported, but they found out that those handing out flyers were actually Taiwanese. This forced them to maintain at least a little civility. Eventually they were released from police custody, and within one hour of the incident, the Russian practitioners reported the incident to the Police Department explaining that it was legal for practitioners to hand out flyers in the Market, and it was illegal for the Market Management to make arrests and confiscate materials. They also contacted a local lawyer and Human Rights Information Centre. The Centre said right away that they were willing to file a complaint with the Russian judiciary office on behalf of the Taiwanese practitioners. Then the Russian practitioners advised major media including the Tradesman Newspaper and Society Newspaper to expose the illegal activities of Chinese Embassy personnel on Russian soil.
On November 27, the local Russian as well as all 15 Taiwanese practitioners went to the Representative Office of Taiwan in Moscow to meet with Ambassador Jin and Assistant Representative Zhan. A lawyer practitioner presented a memorandum and testaments expressing formally that: Taiwan nationals were legally handing out flyers on Russian soil, but they were insulted and manhandled by the Market Management personnel without any public security mandate. Their freedom was compromised; their passports and personal properties were confiscated. These outrageous actions not only infringed upon Taiwanese practitioners' personal freedom and rights, but also broke the local laws of Russia. Since the Representative Office's duty is to protect local Taiwanese residents and tourists, it must not take this incident lightly and should raise concerns with the Russian government in order to make sure that foreign nationals' legal activities are protected and the guilty parties punished. Ambassador Jin said that he was ambassador in Germany before and knew Falun Gong's (good) international reputation. He was impressed by the popularity of Falun Gong around the world but could not understand why practitioners felt the need to always clarify the truth. The practitioners explained the situation to him. In the end, Ambassador Jin agreed to write to the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry to express his concern about the unfair illegal treatment of Taiwanese practitioners, and would also give a copy of the letter to local Russian practitioners to show the Office's sincerity and stress the importance of this matter.
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