ATLANTA—It was 98 degrees on July 1 and the fountains at Centennial Park were full of laughing children. On the south end of the park, across the street from Philips Arena and CNN, a group held huge, colorful banners in Chinese and English.
One blue, untranslated banner said, “Don't allow yourself to be buried along with the Chinese Communist Party,” according to Isabel Qian. She explained that the character for “buried” has no exact English equivalent. It refers to the ancient custom of entombing servants and soldiers with their dead kings.
The group was marking the milestone of 23 million people resigning from the Chinese Communist Party. Mrs. Yao, formerly of Shanghai, explained what moved her to stand on a sidewalk holding a sign. “I have been going to these rallies for the past few years,” she said, adding that as a Christian she feels she must speak up for human rights. “The Bible tells us to love the people.” She said she was inspired by the courage of attorney Gao Zhizheng, who spoke up for human rights in China and was silenced in 2006 when authorities detained and tortured him, then threatened his family. “I hate this! It is wrong,” said Yao.
She wanted to honor Gao by continuing to speak up. She added that since the CCP took over power in China, so many people had been killed. Eighty million people died during political campaigns, she said. Mrs. Yao is an American citizen who left the Mainland more than twenty years ago. Others had more recent ties with their country of origin.
Jenny Sun held one end of the “Don't allow yourself to be buried” banner. She expressed unease. In the year 2000 in Qinqdao, she was practicing Falun Gong in a fellow student's room at 6:00am. Police came in and took the students away for questioning, demanding to know who had organized the practice. Later, she was put under house arrest for two weeks. A teacher was assigned to sleep in the room with her and monitor her.
She stood on the Atlanta sidewalk with a banner because she had come to believe that convincing Chinese people to reject the Communist Party was a way to end the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. “I have been a party member.” She asked a friend to quit for her in 2005, while she was still in China. She heard of the movement to reject the party and sent an email to a friend in the United States asking her to resign in her name.
“We try our best to tell the government the truth but the persecution becomes … worse. So I think to tell the people to quit is a good way to stop the persecution.”