WASHINGTON—Pro-Chinese Communist Party mobs have been attacking Falun Gong practitioners in New York frequently since May 17. In the largely Chinese district of Flushing, Falun Gong practitioners have been subject to verbal death threats, cursing, and destruction of Falun Gong banners and materials.
The mobs have included as many as 600, and sometimes these attacks have escalated into physical violence. At least seven have been arrested by New York Police Department on charges of assault.
The non-profit World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) possesses a recording of the Chinese Consul General of New York, Keyu Peng, who is heard boasting that he secretly encouraged and directed the attacks occurring on U.S. soil.
The recording has been turned over to the FBI to verify whether or not the identity of the speaker is indeed Peng. Meanwhile, events in Flushing have raised a chorus of indignant voices in high places.
Attorneys for Falun Gong are looking at whether the inciting of assaults on the spiritual practice fall under the definition of a hate crime. On Monday, forums were held at the National Press Club and on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
At the National Press Club, the recording of the consul general was played for the first time in public. Additionally, a video of the attacks was shown. The scenes from Flushing evoke the Cultural Revolution in Chairman Mao's heyday. Roaming bands of ethnic Chinese surrounded a Falun Gong practitioner and yelled in Mandarin, "Eradicate Falun Gong," "Die, Falun Gong," and "Beat Falun Gong to death."
Attorney Terri Marsh, Executive Director of the Human Rights Foundation, said that these threats and assaults are "hate crimes, no question about that." Marsh seized upon one phrase in the video as particularly hateful: "You are animals, not human beings at all."
The press conference also heard directly from Judy Chen, a witness and victim of the attacks. Chen is a retired business owner living in Flushing and mother of two sons serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. She has been a volunteer, for the past four years, at a Service Center to Quit the CCP booth in front of the Queens Library in Flushing. Response to the Service Center volunteers had been peaceful in the past.
Chen said, "Starting from May 17, dozens or sometimes hundreds of pro-Beijing mobs would suddenly appear at our booth, verbally and physically assault us. During the first incident, lots of them had red Chinese communist flags in hand."
Chen's suspicions were that the assaults were orchestrated by the regime when Chinese-language media known to be controlled or heavily influenced by the Chinese Communist Party appeared. "Some of the pro-Beijing media that had never covered our information booth in the past years also showed up," said Chen.
Chen became very upset as she described the assault by a middle-aged Chinese woman, cursing her and scratching her. "After assaulting me with her fists, she yelled, 'I'm a U.S. citizen. I will kill you,'" Chen recounted. Then the man next to her said to Ms. Chen that he had a good look at Chen's face and threatened, "Be careful! I can kill you."
Dumbfounded and scared, Ms. Chen asked herself, "Am I in China or America?"
One of Ms. Chen's two sons, Lance Corporal John Lee Caldwell, 26, was home on leave and accompanied her to the forum to support his mother.
Voices of Justice
Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow at think-tank the Hudson Institute, spoke next and said that death threats like this should not be tolerated in the United States. He said that Congress is already getting concerned. Representative Frank Wolf from Virginia wrote a letter to the Director of the FBI, in which he cites the attacks in Flushing as allegedly linked to the Chinese consul general, and calls upon the FBI director to investigate the matter.
"This must not take place in America," Wolf concluded in his letter.
Horowitz said to Ms. Chen, "We need to get the tape [i.e., telephone recording] validated, have Consul General Peng declared persona non grata, and he will be sent out of the country."
Chip Byers, a Washington, D.C.-based commander for Sons of the American Legion, spoke at the afternoon forum. Sons of the American Legion supports families of American war veterans. Byers responded to video footage in which members of the communist mob were calling Falun Gong practitioners "traitors."
Byers spoke directly to Ms. Chen, mother of two Marines in Iraq, saying, "You are a naturalized U.S. citizen. You aren't a traitor. You're an American hero!"
A veteran diplomat like Mark Palmer was surprised at the level and nature of the harassment coming from the Chinese communists on American soil. Ambassador Palmer, who is currently vice chairman of Freedom House and author of Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025, was ambassador to Hungary during the final years of the Cold War, and as a diplomat in the State Department was quite familiar with Soviet tactics.
"As the senior person in charge of our relations with the Soviet Union in President Reagan's years, I do not recall the Soviet Union or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ever did this sort of stuff," Palmer said.
"They funded the U.S. Communist Party and they had front groups but they never tried physical violence and threats of death to intimidate Americans. This is really unprecedented what the Chinese communists are trying to do to us as a people."
Ambassador Palmer has also been on the receiving end of harassing phone calls for the last four or five years. Recently, on Thanksgiving, Palmer said he was awakened at 2 a.m. and then disrupted 22 more times until 10:00 a.m. by phone calls that were determined to have originated in China. He told Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Christopher Hill, who objected to the Chinese embassy.
The calls ceased for awhile, but then started up again, Palmer said.