A Swiss Falun Gong Practitioner's Testimony: How We Were Deprived of Our Nationality

Refusing to attend a meeting to slander Dafa organised by the Chinese Embassy in Switzerland

My wife and I had an opportunity to learn Falun Gong in 1998. In September of the same year, we listened to Master’s lectures in person at the UN Conference Hall in Geneva, which further strengthened our determination to cultivate Falun Dafa.

I graduated from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1963, and was assigned to the Chinese Academy of Sciences to engage in research and technology related work; the title of my post was Senior Engineer (equivalent to Associate Professor). I was in charge of the management and coordination of postgraduate students’ research projects in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During Hu Yaobang’s working period in the Chinese Academy of Science, I was a secretary to Hu Yaobang. After that, I worked with a famous optics expert and engaged in the coordination and management work of science and technology projects. In a missile experiment project, I served as a vice-director of the optics test team and I was greatly admired by the Commission of Technology and Industry for National Defence. My wife, Pan Shu-Zhen, was an engineer and also worked in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 1987 we came to Switzerland. Because both of us were working in the science and technology field, naturally we wanted to promote the exchange of knowledge between China and Switzerland in the field of science and technology. Therefore, we helped the Chinese Embassy to find some PhD researchers and postgraduates who were doing the cutting-edge research projects and recommended that they exchange their research ideas with academics in Mainland China and organised some academic seminars. The effect was very good. For this reason, the Embassy had banqueted us at that time.

Especially in December 1999, at the time of the ceremony to mark Macao’s return to China organised by the Overseas Chinese Association, the Ambassador and other embassy officials all attended; I recited two self-written poems at the ceremony. Several days later, I got a phone call from the embassy saying that the poems I wrote had been reported to the Overseas Chinese Office of the Chinese State Department, the State Overseas Chinese Committee, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the form of a brief news bulletin because my two poems represented the voice of patriotic overseas Chinese.

In March 2003, before the eve of the UN Human Rights Committee, we suddenly got a phone call from the Embassy, saying that a press conference would be held in Geneva in order to criticise Falun Gong and they required two overseas Chinese to attend. The Embassy thought I and my wife had a higher cultural quality and decided to invite us to attend the press conference. My wife immediately refused the invitation and said we wouldn’t go there because we practised Falun Gong. The Embassy representative was astonished and silent, which proved that the Embassy didn’t know we practised Falun Gong at that time. My wife also said, "It must be wrong for our country to crack down on Falun Gong. Falun Gong has been spread to the public from 1992, until 1999 and there are seventy million people practising Falun Gong. If it were bad, why would so many people practise it? Moreover, you know my health situation. I had a lot of illnesses in the past; I was sallow and emaciated. I had to take both Chinese and western medicine everyday, and I was struggling near to death; After I practised the exercises for fifty days all illnesses were gone without taking any medicine. Now I feel good without any illnesses, just like any other person."

The Embassy official said that, "Now the government forbids the practise of Falun Gong, you just don’t practise it." My wife answered, "How could it be like that. If I stopped practising Falun Gong and maybe return to poor health, would the government take care of me? Moreover, Falun Gong teaches people to become better persons by following the principle of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, to think of others before ourselves in doing anything. There are a hundred benefits without a single harm to both society and the person. What’s wrong with it? Isn’t China afraid of too many good people?" The conversation over the phone call lasted over forty minutes, but it was mainly us talking. At last the official said: “I know Falun Gong is good for the health too, then you just practise at home and do not go to Geneva.”

My wife answered that “We are not against the Chinese government. We go to Geneva just because we want to tell the world that the Jiang group’s persecution of Falun Gong is wrong and to appeal to end this persecution as soon as possible”. This was our first time to tell the truth to the Embassy. From then on we were on the “black list”. Afterwards, a counsellor from the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy, Wang XX, said in an overseas Chinese student assembly that the Yang Lifan couple are silly Falun Gong followers, you should not get in touch with them (let the overseas Chinese students make a clear boundary between them and us).

Our nationality was denied by the Embassy

Our passports expired on December 29th, 2003. On December 16th we went to the Embassy to extend our passports. Due to the need to visit relatives as well as travel to other countries, we applied for a speedy process. After filling the forms we passed them through the window. The embassy staff member, Ms Shen, gave us a receipt and told us to collect our passports next day.

The next day we went to get our passports, the lady took out our forms and passports, said, “Your passports can not be processed because of technical problems.”

I said, “What a joke! How could technical problems happen since the consular department processes passports everyday? What is the technical problem?”

She didn’t answer.

I said, “Is there any official document to show what the problem is? Can you show me?”

She said, “No.”

I said, “Then you can’t just say in a single word to exclude us from my own state and cancel our nationality.”

She said, “You exaggerate too much.”

I said, “It’s not us who exaggerate too much; it’s you. You understand that we won’t have any nationality without valid passports. It’s your job and responsibility to process the passports for Chinese citizens and it’s not right if you don’t do it. Let me talk to your boss.” Then the lady called her director, Ms Yu Shu-fen.

I said, “We were born in China. We regard our country as our Mother. We look for the motherland’s protection. There must be a reason if the motherland does not want to protect us?”

Yu said, “The technical problem is just a technical problem.”

I said, “Is there any official document from the State Department, or any instruction from the Foreign Ministry, or the command from Jiang Zemin to inform you not to extend our passports?, if so, can you show us the document?”

Yu said, “No. we don’t have to show you if we have it.”

I said, “This is your job. You should give us a satisfactory explanation.”

Yu said, “It’s just a technical problem and we can’t process it.”

I said, “What technical problem?! A technical problem is an artificial excuse. The real reason is that we are Falun Gong practitioners!”

Actually the technical problem did not exist at all. They had cut our photos to the correct size and glued them to the form we handed over. It shows that they checked the “black list” during the process of processing the passport, then stopped doing it and using the technical problem as an excuse..

Yu responded in a rush, very nervous, both hands and mouth were trembling, "It is you who said that”

I said, “Please ask yourself, what is the reason?”

Yu didn’t answer.

We then said that we practise Falun Gong in Switzerland, Falun Gong is formally registered and has been granted permission from the Swiss government. Then we told her the truth, starting from the principle of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance, Falun Gong teaches people to be good persons, the facts that practising Falun Gong can improve people’s health and lift people’s moral standard; We also explained the facts about the Chinese government’s praise of Falun Gong at the beginning stage to Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong; the truth about many people in over sixty countries all over the world are practising Falun Gong, the facts that Jiang Zemin extended the persecution overseas, intentionally separated overseas Chinese into two groups, practising Falun Gong and not practising Falun Gong to crack down on one group, to be close to another group and to spread hatred among overseas Chinese. This is undoubtedly another new accusation against Jiang Zemin splitting the overseas Chinese population.

Yu said at this time, "This is the Chinese Embassy. You’re disturbing our work and I’m going to call the police.”

I said, “Fine. Please do it! We are Chinese citizens. We ask you to extend our passports but you refuse to do so. You do not give us a reasonable explanation either. It’s just right and proper for the police to hear about it.”

Of course she knows that justice is not on her side, so she didn’t dare to call the police.

The Swiss census registry department couldn’t understand the Embassy’s conduct

During this period of time, we felt anxious because the problem is related to whether we could legally stay here. We had to inform the related Swiss government department that we lost our Chinese nationality because we practise Falun Gong. The Chinese Embassy refused to extend our passports due to some “technical problems”. The officials in the Swiss government could not understand this, and they said, "You are Chinese citizens, why does the Chinese Embassy refuse to extend your passports? Your belief is your choice and this is your freedom." I told them that the Chinese Embassy said it’s just a technical problem and couldn’t do it. They laughed, which made us feel embarrassed. Finally, they asked us to go back to Chinese Embassy and ask for a document to explain why your passports could not be issued.

The Chinese Embassy regards this as interfering in Chinese internal affairs

On January 14th 2004, we went to the Chinese embassy again. A man who sat behind the counter said that your questions can only be answered by Director Yu. I told Yu that the related Swiss government department needs a letter of proof from the Chinese Embassy regarding the failure of the extension of our passports.

Yu said, “This is interfering in Chinese internal affairs”

Internal affairs is an embodiment of the Chinese government’s policy and law. It implies that not extending passports for Falun Gong practitioners is a diplomatic policy set by the Chinese government, but not the so-called technical problem.

We went back to see Yu Shu-fen once again. No matter what we said, she still refused to extend our passports, and said, “Technical problems are technical problem! See what you can do!”

I said, “Then please write a document saying that you could not issue the passports to us because of the technical problem, and sign your name on it.”

Yu said, “Why should I sign my name?”

I asked Yu, “Do you know if you do not extend our passports, we would lose the right of residence here, and you block our subsistence?”

Yu answered, “Yes, I know.”

The word “Yes” reflects the evil nature of the persecution towards overseas Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese Embassies and is the same as Jiang’s policy of “destroying them physically, defaming their reputations, and bankrupting them financially”; it just wants to persecute you and makes you become a stateless refugee; makes you jobless; cuts off your financial sources, renders you unable continue your studies nor visits relatives and friends in China; and when you return your to your country they will arrest you and put you into prison.

We pointed out: for overseas Chinese to hold a Chinese passport is the most basic human right. The conduct of the Chinese Embassy in refusing to issue or extend Chinese passports is not only a violation of China’s constitution, but also the violation of international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations.

Yu said, “You can sue me whenever you want to.”

Yet, I still said, “I regard you as my fellow citizen. Why should I sue you? I just want to sort out our passport problem.”

After going back I thought of her words. In order to protect overseas Chinese most basic human rights as well as preventing this kind of unreasonable things from happening again, at least I should reveal the fact to the United Nations, which is the Chinese Embassy has refused to issue and extend the passports of many overseas Chinese citizens.

The Swiss Labour Union appealed on our behalf

After our passports were refused, the labour union we belong to expressed its great sympathy and support to us. The person in charge of the capital Bern's branch, Mr. Ruedi Keller, wrote to the Chinese Embassy in person and sent a duplicate to the Swiss Foreign Ministry. Some Swiss friends also wrote to the Chinese Embassy and urged the Embassy to postpone the refusal of our passports. Being Chinese citizens, we felt so much sorrow that we needed foreigners to help us to obtain the basic right of holding a Chinese passport which is supposed to belong to us. What a sadness!

However, we deeply believe that our motherland, a country with several thousand years of cultural civilisation, would not shut the door against her children who are far away from home and believe in Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. Today’s situation is a temporary phenomenon, which is the result of the manipulation by the evil head in our human world, a man who is narrow-minded and jealous. One day, when the evil head is named in the Shame Column, our motherland will open her warm heart and say to us: come back, my children far away from home. At that time, we will embrace our beloved motherland.

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