NEW YORK—The Chinese communist government’s violent and systematic persecution of Falun Gong inside China is widely recognized.
But outside China, two recent incidents on opposite sides of the globe—in Thailand and Argentina—have demonstrated how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) doesn’t let international borders stop it from trying to deny the rights of Falun Gong anywhere.
Thailand Detains Meditators
In Bangkok on Dec. 15, five adults and three children were arrested and placed in detention. Two children were later released, but six people remain behind bars. They were meditating on the sidewalk opposite the Chinese embassy in Bangkok. Even without any banners, flyers, or other emblems of protest, the presence of meditators was apparently too much for CCP officials.
According to the Thai police, the Chinese embassy called them and requested them to remove the meditating Falun Gong practitioners. Those who were arrested were among a group of people who had been conducting peaceful protests in previous days. They were protesting an incident in China in which policemen tortured and raped two Falun Gong practitioners who had been detained for their beliefs.
The Bangkok protesters had previously been roughed up and harassed by police on Dec. 10, which was, unfortunately, International Human Rights Day.
Also, in a related event on Dec. 14, Thai police in the town of Pattaya beat and detained three Falun Gong practitioners who had been handing out the Epoch Times special report “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.”
Many Thai police have noted that they are sympathetic with Falun Gong, but that they had orders from higher up to make the arrests.
The Thai police Special Branch, which carried out the removal of the meditators, said that it does not grant media interviews.
Worldwide Protests Outside Thai Diplomatic Missions
The series of incidents in Thailand has triggered peaceful protests by local Falun Gong practitioners in many countries. Protests in Taipei, Tokyo, Sydney, and London, and in North America, Houston, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver have been reported.
One of the protesters outside the Thai consulate in New York Dec. 16, Manhattan resident Connie Chipkar, said, “It’s shocking to hear that they would do this again.”
Chipkar mentioned the 2003 detention in Thailand of Swedish Falun Gong practitioner Pirjo Svensson, who stayed locked up in an immigration detention center for 37 days, although never charged with a crime. She was taken from her apartment on the day that Chinese leader Wen Jiabao was arriving in Thailand for a conference.
Chipkar added, “They [the Thai government] must be under the thumb of the CCP.”
Making her point was one of the banners held by the group: “Thai Police Taking Orders from Chinese Embassy.”
Argentina: Thugs Attack while Police Look On
A top member of the CCP, Luo Gan, was visiting Argentina last week. Luo is known to be the head of the notorious 6-10 Office, a Gestapo-like secret organization charged with persecuting and “eradicating” Falun Gong.
On Dec. 13, the Argentinian Falun Dafa Association filed a lawsuit against Luo in Federal Criminal Court in Buenos Aires. The lawsuit charging genocide and torture of Falun Gong practitioners in China was accepted by Judge Octavio. The renowned criminal lawyer Adolfo Casabal Elia and Alejandro Cowes, a civil lawyer, are representing the Falun Gong practitioners pro bono.
The next day, on Dec. 14, local Falun Gong practitioners were peacefully protesting at Congress Square in Buenos Aires, when a bus and several cars carrying about 40 Chinese nationals arrived. These men divided themselves into bands of ten, who then set upon and beat the practitioners. The gang also stole their banners and photo displays.
Other groups protesting there also had their banners taken. Members of other groups who tried to intervene and protect the Falun Gong were themselves attacked.
The police were present but did nothing to stop the attackers. A Falun Gong practitioner was told by a policeman that the police had orders not to interfere with the attack.
During the assaults on the practitioners, bystanders exclaimed, “This is Argentina, not communist China!”
The practitioners who were attacked filed a lawsuit charging physical assault and verbal death threats against the group of Chinese hoodlums, and also against the Federal Police for not fulfilling their jobs of protecting the citizens. The practitioners were again represented by lawyer Alejandro Cowes. The lawsuit was filed and received by the 8th Court on Dec. 16.
Amnesty International Speaks to Argentine Media
The director of Amnesty International in Argentina, Pablo Marsal, made the following statement on Dec. 16:
“Amnesty International has always supported Falun Dafa. It is also not the first time that this group was assaulted in our country. Amnesty International’s annual reports, which are well known around the world, relate the human rights violations in China against different spiritual and social groups. The most striking fact in our country is that, for the second time, we see that a certain group connected to the officials of the Chinese government assaults with impunity, in Argentine territory, in front of the Congress of the nation, a peaceful group which is known all over the world as a spiritual group. For this reason, it is totally incomprehensible.
“The officials of another country are violating our Argentine sovereignty in our country. This is something which may not continue. Of course it is true about what is happening in China and, apparently, the persecution has begun to extend to a country like ours, Argentina, a country which is proud to defend human rights.”
Recent Incidents Part of Long-Time Pattern
Government officials and police in a number of countries have received pressure from the CCP to curtail peaceful protests and other activities of local Falun Gong practitioners.
In June 2002 when the top CCP leader was visiting Iceland, CCP pressure on local authorities caused Iceland to ban entry of Falun Gong practitioners and detain about 75 after their planes landed in Iceland. However, the Icelandic Parliamentary Ombudsman in early December ruled that the government broke Icelandic law by denying Falun Gong access to Iceland.
There have been incidents in numerous other countries, including France, Germany, and Russia, in which CCP pressure, particularly during visits of top Chinese officials, caused governments to violate the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners and, sometimes, break the nation’s own laws.