Further details have emerged about the shooting of a Falun Gong practitioner in South Africa.
The gunman in the drive-by shooting used a military AK-47 assault rifle. William Wang, an Australian citizen who witnessed the attack Monday evening, said that the incident happened very quickly and that the gunman fled immediately. He didn’t have time to jot down the license plate number, but did see that the weapon used was an AK-47 rifle.
Another Australian, David Liang, was seriously injured in the attack. He was driving one of two cars en route from the Johannesburg airport to the capitol of South Africa, Pretoria, around 8:30 p.m. Monday when a white car with three young African men tried to pass them. One of the men fired at least five shots into the vehicle, disabling it.
Mr. Liang was taken to the hospital with bullet wounds and a shattered foot. He is being treated at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital where Dr. Sinevici is in charge of his treatment. The doctor confirmed that the bullets were quite powerful and went through the bones of Mr. Liang’s feet. He said that for Mr. Liang’s right foot to recover fully the bone structure would have to be stabilized and measures would have to be taken to prevent infection.
Mr. Liang is one of nine Falun Gong practitioners visiting South Africa from Australia to appeal to visiting Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and Commerce Minister Bo Xilai. Falun Gong practitioners planned to sue Zeng for genocide while he was in South Africa. Zeng is believed to be heavily involved in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, which has resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths from torture. Bo was served with a lawsuit alleging human rights violations while on a visit to the United States in April. The person who served the lawsuit was attacked by men traveling with the commerce minister.
Relatives and friends of the Australian Falun Gong practitioners held a press conference outside the Sydney Chinese Consulate Wednesday morning (Sydney time). Li Ying and Maureen Wei, the wives of Grant Lu and William Wei spoke at the press conference. The two men were traveling with Mr. Liang Monday evening.
The car driven by David Liang is riddled with bullet holes. (Epoch Times photo)
The women were at work Tuesday afternoon when they heard the news that the car their husbands were traveling in had received at least five bullets from another passing vehicle. Details were sketchy, but they knew that their husbands had been in a car that was shot at, and that someone was badly injured. Ms. Li was unable to get through to her husband Mr. Lu by phone, and Ms. Wei, also unsure of the specifics of the event, had difficulty explaining it to her young daughter.
“I tried to explain to her what actually happened to her father, and she was very, very worried,” said Ms. Wei. “I don't know why, but she keeps asking me 'what did Daddy wear to South Africa'? And I couldn't remember, and I told her that I would find out after Daddy gets home safely.”
Falun Gong practitioners believe the attack was ordered by Zeng and Bo. Australian Falun Dafa Information Centre spokesperson John Deller said: “Zeng and Bo have received recently these other lawsuits against them, and this response we've seen in South Africa where practitioners have been shot at is typical. The same sort of tactics they employ in China to intimidate, threaten and kill people who try and expose the brutalities that they are responsible for in the persecution of Falun Gong.”
In Washington, DC, where Bo was served with the lawsuit in April, more than 50 Falun Gong practitioners and supporters gathered outside of the Chinese Embassy to reveal details of the shooting. They believe that this is the most severe case of persecution overseas that has happened yet. Jim Giragosian, a Falun Gong practitioner from Manassas, Virginia, said that practitioners in the U.S. have had their cars broken into and in one case fire bombed. He also said their phones were tapped and their conversations replayed over their answering machines, their homes have been broken into, they have been threatened with death for filing lawsuits, they have had visas refused, their families in China have been threatened, and they have been blacklisted when traveling to other countries.
“This is not an isolated case of interference,” Giragosian explained. “This is happening all around the world.”
Dr. Sen Nieh speaks at Falun Gong press conference in Washington, DC. (Photo/Judy Chao)
Dr. Sen Nieh, a spokesperson at the event, concurred, saying that the incident was pre-meditated. He explained that both Zeng and Bo have given orders in China to persecute and torture Falun Gong practitioners. He said, “This is an act of terrorists, an act of persecution.”
In Sydney, Mr. Deller noted that the shots at the car were just aimed at David Liang, who was the only person in the car wearing clothing identifying him as a Falun Gong practitioner. Mr. Liang was wearing a bright yellow and blue jacket emblazoned with the words “Falun Dafa.” He also pointed out that the shooting occurred at a spot where robberies often take place.
“The luggage was in full view in the car, and the attackers did not rob them. So obviously they had another motive,” said Mr. Deller. “So the practitioners, the victims of this shooting, are quite right to link this shooting to the presence of Zeng and Bo in China, and their fear of being exposed by lawsuits.”
Both Ms. Li and Ms. Wei had no reservations in saying that the attacks were because their husbands practiced Falun Gong. Ms. Li has experienced the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong first hand, having spent two years in a forced labor camp in China where she says she was hung up by her arms for several days straight, and force-fed. Both women say they often receive abusive phone calls which they believe are because of their families' practicing Falun Gong. Several days before Mr. Lu left for South Africa, Ms. Li says he received several abusive phone calls, the details of which he did not want to tell his wife. A month earlier, Mr. Lu's van, which had Falun Dafa messages painted on it, was progressively vandalized over a two-day period.
“As we all know, more than 900 people have been tortured to death in China [for practicing Falun Gong], but I didn't expect this kind of thing would happen overseas as well,” said Ms Li.
Authorities in South Africa have begun to investigate the case. Police Captain Borman said that the location of the shooting is somewhat distant from the airport and the city, which makes investigation difficult. The police have not come to any conclusion about the shooting.
The Falun Gong practitioners said they want to urge all governments to help them uncover incidents such as the shooting in South Africa and to stop the persecution of Falun Gong, both in China and overseas.
Benjamin Hurley reported from Sydney, with Christine Parker reporting from Washington, DC. Additional information from the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times.