HONOLULU—It takes all sorts to make an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. There are the heads of state from around the world, for example, talking about the economy and signing big deals. And then there are the human rights protesters who also stream in from around the world, discussing, among other things, the brutal suppression of their beliefs.
Falun Gong protesters were still outside the Hawaii Convention Center on Nov. 12 as meeting participants wrapped up for the day. They smiled, held banners, and meditated quietly.
More than 140 practitioners of the discipline turned up for protest action, based on estimates by Hawaii police and Falun Gong practiitoners themselves. Since Hawaii is home to only a small Falun Gong population, the vast majority had footed the bill for their own plane tickets and accommodation.
“There are participants from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, California, and so on. We are delighted that so many people are joining us,” said Ben Maloney, a Falun Gong practitioner from Hawaii, pleased with the turnout.
They came because, even after 12 years of persecution, Falun Gong practitioners take every opportunity to raise the profile of the human rights debacle that their peers experience daily in China.
The peaceful set of spiritual teachings--founded on truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, and a set of five exercises--became a target for persecution in its native China in the late 1990′s. With an estimated 70-100 million people practicing, the spiritual discipline had ostensibly become too popular to be tolerated by the Chinese communist regime. According to the Falun Dafa Information center, at any given point there are at a minimum 500,000 practitioners in China’s labor camp and prison system. At least 87,000 cases of torture, and thousands of deaths have been documented at the hands of the Chinese regime.
So, Falun Gong practitioners came to Honolulu to demand for the persecution to stop.
“We want everyone to step up,” said Falun Gong practitioner Chen Yingting from Taiwan “We’d like to use this opportunity during the APEC to let the world leaders know the terrible things the Chinese communists are doing.”
On Nov. 10, they got the point across pretty well.
A couple of Falun Gong protestors spotted Shui Junyi, a well-known host of the Communist Party’s mouthpiece broadcaster CCTV, walking around inside the Sheraton hotel. They followed him to the Moana Surfrider, where the Communist Party’s news center is set up for its APEC coverage. They waited. Soon, Wang Jun, China’s managing deputy minister of the Ministry of Finance, showed up. Wang sat down with Shui for a news conference, surrounded by reporters from AP, Reuters, and Chinese media.
As Wang Jun was giving his opening speech, a Falun Gong practitioner standing behind him unfurled a large banner protesting the persecution of Falun Gong. Then, Ge Lifang, a petitioner from Shanghai, unfurled another banner that read: “Chinese Communist Party: please return the property that you have snatched.” Two more Falun Gong practitioners pulled out a banner saying “Falun Dafa is good.”
Chinese officials at the scene appeared to be mortified. Shui quickly wrapped up the interview and took off. Wang, abashed, was not far behind.