Editor’s note: several residents of Dragon Springs, the Falun Gong community in Deerpark, N.Y., have written to Epoch Times to dispel misunderstandings propagated in a recent political campaign. Here is one such letter.
Recently, I have read and heard people say that Dragon Springs (DS) violated some regulations or codes of Deerpark. I don’t know the whole story, and especially not the story from Dragon Springs’ side. Please allow me to express my doubts about these accusations and claims because some of them apparently lack common sense.
When we talk about laws and regulations, we need to bear in mind that laws are not only used to maintain social order or safety, but also to maintain justice. The purpose of having laws is not only to restrict people, but also to protect humanity. Fundamentally, laws serve people, people do not serve laws.
Human beings are at the center. If we can agree on this, we can understand why Dr. Martin Luther King would risk imprisonment to violate segregation laws in the South. We can also understand why fire trucks can go the wrong side of the road, and other vehicles have to yield their right-of-way, because we know other people’s lives are in danger.
Wild statements I heard include statements like: DS built 99.99 percent of their buildings without permits. This is obviously untrue. On the other hand, even if there are one or two exceptional cases (though I have no idea one way or the other), it may seem that DS and the people there are going about their ordinary busy lives, but actually they are using this religious center to save or rescue millions of people in mainland China that are in danger all the time. Many people at DS are volunteers who receive no pay.
Many people here in this town live in peace and have no real idea what is going on in China. Freedom in the United States, we all know, is not free. But we always enjoy it and don’t even feel it because we are so used to it.
In China, it is a totally different story. No matter whether it is the Bush administration or Obama administration, they all release an “Annual Report on International Religious Freedom,” where we can find information like this: “Police continued to detain current and former Falun Gong practitioners and to place them in re-education through labor camps (RTL) without trial or in mental health institutions. There is no credible information on just how many Falun Gong practitioners were imprisoned over the past decade, but some international observers claim that they may be as many as half of the total number of the 250,000 Chinese detained in RTL camps.” (Source: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom http://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/resources/AR2009/china.pdf )
Here I want to make two points. The persecution is NOT just “alleged” (as some people, most likely misguided themselves, are saying), but very real. Secondly, a labor camp is not just a prison. It is full of slave labor, unspeakable tortures, brainwashing, and even live organ harvesting.
My Mom’s Story
I just want to tell you one story about what happened to my mom. Falun Gong is a meditation practice that teaches the principles “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.” It is very peaceful and beneficial to mind, body, and spirit.
My mom used to be very ill and quit her job when she was only 45 because she was too weak to go to work. When she was 49 years old, she got to know Falun Gong, and recovered from her decades of illness in less than a month.
When the Chinese Communist Party banned Falun Gong due to its popularity in 1999, my mom, an ordinary housewife, decided to appeal peacefully to the government. She made a banner with her appeal to end the persecution and unfurled it in Tiananmen Square.
She was beaten to the ground and thrown into a detention center. In a cell of approximately 150 square feet, 27 people were squeezed into a jail cell. Most of them were Falun Gong practitioners. Before they slept, everyone had to undress as much as possible, and stand chest-to-back. They had to line up and leave no space standing chest-to-back; they had to count together “1-2-3” and lay down at the same time. Otherwise, there would have been no room for them to sleep. After several months detention without any trial, she was transferred to a labor camp and jailed there for one year.
There are too many tortures to fit in this short letter, and the situation in the labor camps are much worse. I just want to give one figure here. On Sept. 12, 2012, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R) said, “Thousands [of Falun Gong practitioner] have been killed and their organs ripped out of their body while they were still warm and transplanted into the bodies of rich Chinese and foreign accomplices.” (For those who are interested, please continue to read the US Government Publishing Office record http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg75859/content-detail.html )
At Fei Tian Academy of the Arts (FTAA) and Fei Tian College (FTC), which are located at DS, there are orphans of this persecution. DS needs to guarantee their safety even here in United States.
People may disagree and claim that the United States is safe, but the reality is the opposite. The vice-president of FTC, Dr. Peter Li, was attacked in his home in Atlanta in 2006. I will try to make the long story short.
The Chinese regime censored the Internet by building the “Great Firewall of China.” Popular websites like Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and many thousands of media websites are all blocked even today. The purpose of this Great Firewall was to “jail” the internet users in China, preventing them from accessing information outside of China.
Dr. Peter Li, whose mentor was a Nobel Prize Laureate, led a project to help Chinese people to circumvent the Internet censorship and gain access to the truth. On Feb. 9, 2006, two Asian-faced people invaded Dr. Li’s home, taped his mouth and hands up, beat him up and ransacked his house. They didn’t take any valuable jewelry or cash, but only took away his computer and disks.
With such experiences, people here at DS must be very cautious to protect these kids. And meanwhile, people at DS do everything they can to rescue their persecuted fellow practitioners in China.
One way they can do so is through performing arts. The performing arts are a good way of communication. They can be strikingly beautiful and can convey the message very well. People in China who were fortunate enough to watch the Shen Yun production no longer believe in the demonization and propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party.
I don’t have statistical data to measure how powerfully it changes people’s minds, but I know that art is tremendously powerful. The Dark Ages were ended by the Renaissance. In my opinion, Shen Yun Performing Arts is a Renaissance of pre-communist Chinese culture.
Everyone who reads this letter, please consider. If we are aware how brutal and large-scale the persecution is, and if we know people at DS are not there to do business and become rich or to have a good time, but are using this center to rescue people and mitigate the persecution, could you please, Deerpark residents, yield a little of your convenience, just as we yield our right-of-way to fire trucks?
DS is not asking for too much, and just asking the bare minimum understanding of what they are doing, and for a little convenience in helping to rescue people in mainland China.
In the end, a few words about me: I am from China. After my mother was thrown in the labor camp, I was fortunately admitted by George Mason University (GMU) as a graduate student. I came to the United States in 2000, and obtained my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from GMU in 2007. I then became an adjunct professor in GMU between 2008 and 2012. In 2009, I became an adjunct instructor in FTAA, and came to teach as a volunteer during the weekend. I became a full-time assistant professor in FTC in 2014.
I appreciate this beautiful land, which protected Protestants who came here on the Mayflower. I somehow believe this beautiful land of America will carry its founding traditions forward with strength and longevity, as it protects people who are here to serve humanity in the long run.
Shujia Gong teaches at Fei Tian College.