For four days in mid-May, several familiar Chinese faces were harassing the activities of peaceful meditators in the streets of New York. This scene has played out numerous times for over half a decade, but it’s unclear if the hecklers are actually achieving any objective at all.
Over 8,000 practitioners of Falun Gong celebrated World Falun Dafa Day in New York from May 12 to May 15. Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese discipline that incorporates slow moving exercises and adherence to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
At the numerous activities organized—practice demonstrations in Times Square, a march across Brooklyn Bridge, an experience sharing conference, and a large parade on 42nd Street—about a dozen middle-aged Chinese men and women, typically wearing baseball caps and sunglasses, could be spotted loitering nearby.
The protesters would go up to the Falun Gong practitioners, speak at them at close range, and lift up their placards with words condemning the practice. The practitioners mostly appeared to simply ignore them.
“When they attacked Falun Gong in 2008, they were very forceful, with about 300 followers,” said China Christian Democratic Party representative Lu Dong to pureinsight.org, a Falun Gong news website. “Now there’s only a few remaining.”
Since the Chinese regime launched a sweeping persecution against Falun Gong in 1999, overseas practitioners have been raising awareness of the campaign. At least 3,800 adherents have lost their lives in China, according to the verified cases compiled by Minghui, which likely represent a small fraction of the total death cases in the campaign. Likely millions of others have languished in labor camps, some of whom have been killed for their organs. These facts are highlighted during parades by the overseas Falun Gong community.
Also in attendance at these events are members of the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance. This Beijing-linked group can often be spotted and heard a mile away, cursing Falun Gong, sometimes dressed uniformly in red.
Flushing resident Mr. Lee told pureinsight.org that the co-organizers of CACWA, Michael Chu and Li Huahong, are “like clowns.”
“They’re fighting against the spirit of America—human rights, humanity and compassion,” Mr. Lee said. “They associate themselves with the evil to oppose the spirit and value of America, in the name of freedom of speech.”
Previous reporting by Epoch Times indicates that Michael Chu, a Taiwanese immigrant, is ultimately answerable to the United Front Work Department, a Party organization that works to expand the Chinese regime’s control of overseas communities. The United Front is also known to be an important part of the Party’s intelligence efforts abroad.
Veteran journalist Li Yong, told pureinsight.org that Chu’s close relations with the Chinese Communist Party stretches back to the 1960s. Li, who writes for the Chinese language World Journal, said some Taiwanese people in America “became agents working for the CCP, and even secretly joined the Party.”
Chinese New Yorkers are now familiar with the pro-Beijing group’s activities, and seek to use the law to put a stop to what they consider to be hate speech.
In March, several Flushing residents—either Falun Gong practitioners or residents mistaken for Falun Gong practitioners—have sued CACWA and its principals in federal court.