NEW YORK—A new group has appeared on the streets of Flushing, a Chinese enclave in Queens: they wear bright red vests, shun discussion, and hand out literature that draws on Chinese state propaganda to vilify the Falun Gong spiritual practice.
Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese meditation discipline, is practiced freely in the United States but has been persecuted in China since 1999. Since then it has also been causticly attacked in the state-run media.
Some of the individuals in Flushing donned hoods and wore dark sunglasses, and hid their faces when photographed. On their red vests were emblazoned an organization whose name slanders Falun Gong and recalls the name of an organization set up in China to spearhead the information warfare campaign in the early years of the persecution of Falun Gong. Scholars writing at the time noted that the ferocity of the propaganda had not been seen in China since the Cultural Revolution.
To many onlookers in Flushing, and to Falun Gong practitioners whose beliefs were targeted in the materials, it appeared that the Chinese Communist Party had brought its hate campaign, once again, to the streets of New York. The CCP’s activities against Falun Gong in the area have persisted for years, practitioners say.
Yi Rong from the New York Falun Dafa Association, which speaks for Falun Gong practitioners in the city, said that along with the flyers, the group members maintain a small table in Flushing where they have display boards slandering Falun Gong. The attacks draw on much of the same style of language as state propaganda, which in one representative instance referred to Falun Gong practitioners as “rats running across the street.”
Falun Gong grew rapidly popular in China in the 1990s. Its emphatic moral principles—truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—and health benefits, attracted up to 100 million adherents.
In 1999, then-Party leader Jiang Zemin, fearing the popularity of the discipline, launched a persecution against it. He established the “610 Office,” an extralegal agency, to pursue the campaign. Rights groups believe thousands have died from torture, and tens of thousands have had their organs removed for transplant while they were alive, dying in the process.
The Chinese regime’s warfare against Falun Gong in Flushing goes back to at least 2008, when hundreds began mobbing and assaulting practitioners that had set up a booth encouraging Chinese to renounce the Communist Party. Videos appeared on YouTube of Chinese men screaming in the faces of Falun Gong practitioners, and ripping away their protest banners.
Soon after the harassment and struggle sessions against Falun Gong began, Peng Keyu, the former Chinese consul-general in New York, was caught in a covertly recorded telephone call admitting that he had helped to organize and encourage the attacks.
City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu was then a city council member in Flushing. On several occasions he met with the leaders of the group that was attacking Falun Gong, but dismissed the Falun Gong group and refused to intervene in the attacks. These actions, as well as the strong support he receives from Chinese regime-affiliated press in the United States, led to suspicions that he enjoys the support of the Chinese Communist Party. Liu is pursuing his mayoral campaign amidst an FBI investigation into campaign finance fraud; two of his chief lieutenants will go to trial on April 15.
Some of the key figures that have led the charge against Falun Gong in Flushing have found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Li Huahong, who used to run her own hate table in Flushing, was convicted of assault in January. Zhu Lichuang, another activist, was also charged and is currently under investigation.
Translated by Amy Lien. Written in English by Matthew Robertson.
Read the original Chinese article.
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