First Amendment at the Grand Canyon (Photo Essay)
GRAND CANYON, Ariz.–Falun Dafa practitioners set up a display this month hoping to tell Chinese and other tourists about a situation they said the Chinese communist regime is concealing.
“We are trying to raise awareness because the Chinese don’t get any truth inside their country because their media is all propaganda, propagandized,” said Mel Etherton, one of the display’s organizers. Banners at the canyon said “Falun Gong is Good” and “Stop the Killing of Falun Gong for Organs.”
The group chose the canyon for its fame. “The Grand Canyon is a popular destination for Chinese tourists,” said Fen Ho, an Arizona Falun Gong practitioner. In China, students are taught about “the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the Grand Canyon is one of them.”
“It is very important that they know what is going on inside their own country and the crimes that are being committed, so that they can then change their heart and maybe do something about it,” Etherton said.
“In particular, we wanted to raise awareness not only to the Chinese but to Americans and persons from around the world about the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners that is going on [as part of the persecution in China], one of the worst crimes that is happening on our planet today.” According to the Falun Dafa Information Center website, “Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that is Buddhist in nature.
Tiananmen Square Anniversary
According to Canadian human rights activists David Matas and David Kilgour, the Chinese communist regime sponsors organ harvesting from unwilling political prisoners, especially Falun Gong practitioners. Their book, “Bloody Harvest”, details what they learned over yearslong investigations.
Etherton got a First Amendment permit to have the display. All National Parks set aside areas for people to exercise their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly. The display coincided with June 4, the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. That event is censored in China.
She said she felt that the awareness efforts were very successful. “We’ve really touched a lot of people, a lot of people have stopped and asked questions, and were surprised and didn’t know this was going on. Many people even thanked us for coming. I feel we’ve been pretty effective for our first try here at the canyon.”