China criticized for violence, killings


Qing Yang had a heart condition that kept his beat irregular. When he began practicing Falun… Qing Yang had a heart condition that kept his beat irregular. When he began practicing Falun Gong, he no longer had to go to the hospital.

His wife suffered from Leukemia, and after she started practicing it she became a lot better as well. His son was also able to recover from a condition that doctors said he would spend the rest of his life dealing with.

His life-changing experiences might be one of the reasons that Yang spent an hour outside the Frick Fine Arts building meditating as other Falun Gong practitioners spoke and held signs to raise awareness of the plight of practitioners in China Monday.

They are members of the National Van Tour Campaign Committee, created by people from Chicago and St. Louis who will drive to Washington D.C., to charge President George W. Bush with talking to Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao about the situation of Falun Gong in China.

Charlie Qian, a volunteer with the National Van Tour Campaign, read a letter that outlined acts that they say are happening in China right now.

He said that thousands of practitioners are being killed and their organs harvested by hospitals over the country for transplants. Qian said that the bodies are cremated so that the government can destroy the evidence.

According to a brochure handed out by volunteers, Falun Gong “is a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice that improves mental and physical wellness through a series of easy-to-learn exercises, meditation and development of one’s heart/mind nature.”

“It is apparent that a massacre to destroy victims and witnesses is happening,” Qian said.

Qian called the alleged acts of violence and economic hardship against practitioners a genocide, and called on the international community for help.

“Our solemn promise of ‘Never Again’ made 60 years ago in response to the Nazi concentration camps still echoes in the civilized world, and yet similar tragedies are happening again amidst our silence,” Qian said.

Qian accused the Chinese government of running concentration camps and killing Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong.

“We urge you to help immediately end the atrocities of live organ harvesting and large-scale massacre of innocent people inside Chinese Communist Party’s concentration camps — and help end a persecution that has lasted for nearly seven years,” he said.

The Country Report on Human Rights Practices released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor inside the United States Department of State, supports Qian.

The 2005 report said that, among others, Falun Gong practitioners were specifically targeted for torture. It also charged the Chinese government with torturing practitioners and having them committed to psychiatric hospitals and forcing them to take mind-altering drugs.

“Since the crackdown on Falun Gong began in 1999, estimates of Falun Gong adherents who have died in custody due to torture, abuse and neglect ranged from several hundred to a few thousand,” according to the report.

Some of the stated goals of the Van Campaign are to force the Chinese government to open up suspected camps and detention centers to random inspection teams made up of international observers and Falun Gong practitioners, and to disband those camps altogether.

They also want the release of all imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners.

Yang said through a translator that he first started practicing Falun Gong in China in July 1999, and he began to notice police officers watching his house. He said he even received calls from Communist party representatives asking him to write a letter denouncing his belief in the practice.

But when he moved to the United States around August 2000, he was grateful for the compassion that people would show to him and fellow protesters at the Chinese consulate in Chicago. He said that people would bring them blankets in the winter and cool drinks in the summer to help.

He also appreciates the atmosphere of open debate in this country, and that things they could never do in China, like protest or complain formally to the government, are both actions they can take here to raise awareness.

He said that Falun Gong has taught him to be a good person, as well as to be truthful to show compassion for others. His new state of health is also something to be grateful for.

“It’s better than giving me a second life,” Yang said. “It’s like learning something out of heaven.”

But his face dropped when he recalled friends and family members detained years ago, people he hasn’t heard from since. He said he couldn’t even find out what happened to them.

“I feel like my heart is bleeding,” Yang said through a translator.