UN General Assembly Convenes in New York

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
September 19, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Zhang Lianying (R) holds a photo of herself in a hospital bed after brutal treatment in Masanjia Labor Camp, next to her is her husband Niu Jingping (L). The couple stood across the street from the U.N. building in East Manhattan on Sept. 19. (Zack Stieber/The Epoch Times)
Zhang Lianying (R) holds a photo of herself in a hospital bed after brutal treatment in Masanjia Labor Camp, next to her is her husband Niu Jingping (L). The couple stood across the street from the U.N. building in East Manhattan on Sept. 19. (Zack Stieber/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK— The U.N. General Assembly, comprised of 193 members, opened its 66th session on Sept. 13, while the apex of the convention—termed “high-level meetings”—began Monday and will run on Sept. 20 and 22.

President Obama landed at JFK International Airport Monday evening and is scheduled to speak to the General Assembly on Wednesday. Mayor Bloomberg will deliver remarks at the High Level Meeting on Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases on Tuesday afternoon.

Other high-level meetings will focus on land degradation, desertification, drought, sustainable development, and poverty eradication; and a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

The document is dubbed “the international community’s blueprint for action to fight racism,” according to the U.N. website.

Protests

Several groups gathered outside the United Nations headquarters in east Midtown, at a designated place for protests in Dag Hammerskjold Plaza. About 30 practitioners of Falun Gong (also know as Falun Dafa), a spiritual discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, filled one of the barricaded areas, alternately performing standing exercises and sitting in meditation.

They were there to draw attention to South Korea’s recent repatriations of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners back to China. Since the practice is banned in China, there is immediate danger if Chinese Falun Gong practitioners are returned to their home country.

Zhenjie Yu is a practitioner who escaped from China, after being sent to labor camps three times since 1999, the year the Chinese regime began illegally persecuting the practice. She described being handcuffed to a wooden bedpost and forced to squat for nine consecutive days without sleeping, and being slapped with high-voltage electric batons that were known as “popcorns” because they crack skin.

Another time, after being violently force-fed, her blindfold was taken off. “When she looked down, her clothes were covered with blood,” she said through a translator.

Her brother is still in a labor camp, sentenced to 15 years, and her brother-in-law received a 10-year sentence.

“She came here today … to tell the Korean government not to send Falun Gong practitioners back to China,” explained the translator, “because when the practitioners are sent to China, their life will be in danger, even organ harvesting. Because of her true-life experience, she knows the evil of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).”

Zhang Lianying, who also escaped from China, told a similar story. Lianying and her husband were arrested and endured unimaginable torture in a labor camp. Lianying held a picture of her daughter crying, taken when her parents were still in the labor camp. They now have political asylum.

The practitioners delivered an appeal to the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which will award South Korean President Lee Myung-bak with the 2011 World Statesman Award on Sept. 20. The Falun Dafa Association will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day.

Other protests groups included dozens of Vietnamese protesting against the current communist regime in Vietnam, and a group of Chinese raising awareness of undercover CCP military officers being sent to countries like the United States, Canada, and Australia. They also claimed that their houses have been taken away and demolished by the Chinese authorities.

Another group outside the U.N. on Monday protested for justice for Johnny Jean, who was allegedly raped by U.N. troops from Uruguay stationed in Haiti. “What makes this so tragic is we have a videotape,” said Mirta Desir, an attorney in New York, citing a short video that has been posted to the Internet. Uruguay has apologized for the incident, but the group seeks more, including a change to the judiciary system that relies on home countries to prosecute those who may have committed a crime.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.