Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—A rally was held outside the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on the morning of Sept. 8 to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature.

The rally was sparked by a letter sent from the Consulate to all members of the California Senate that warned that support of SJR 10—a resolution sponsored by Senator Joel Anderson that condemns the Chinese Communist Party for its ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners—would harm relations between the two governments.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient Chinese spiritual practice in the Buddhist tradition.  It consists of living according the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and performing gentle, meditative exercises.

In 1999 there were 70 million people practicing Falun Gong in China, according to a survey done by the Chinese state, or 100 million, according to Falun Gong practitioners.  In July 1999, however, then-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin banned the peaceful practice and enlisted the nation’s entire security apparatus, media, and judiciary to participate in a massive persecution campaign that continues to this day.

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners in front of the San Francisco Chinese consulate during a rally to protest the Chinese regime's interference in California's legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners in front of the San Francisco Chinese consulate during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Organ Harvesting

The most disturbing element in this brutal campaign is the compelling evidence that shows Falun Data prisoners of conscience are murdered to supply organs for transplantation in China.

The China Organ Harvesting Research Center reports, “China now performs more organ transplants than any other country in the world, despite having few donations.” The Center asks where all of these organs come from.

In 2016 former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia/Pacific) David Kilgour, investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, and international human rights lawyer David Matas released “Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update,” which offers “a meticulous examination of the transplant programs of hundreds of hospitals in China, drawing on media reports, official propaganda, medical journals, hospital websites and a vast amount of deleted websites found in archive”, according to the report’s website.

The report shows that the Chinese regime is performing 60,000 to 100,000 transplants per year as opposed to 10,000 per year (the Chinese claim). The Chinese regime has engaged “in the mass killings of innocents, primarily practitioners of the spiritually‑based set of exercises, Falun Gong, but also Uyghurs, Tibetans, and select House Christians, in order to obtain organs for transplants.”

Also in 2016 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 343, “Expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”

Pulling the Resolution

SJR 10 takes note of H. Res. 343 and condemns the Chinese Government “for any government-sanctioned persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the People’s Republic of China.” With both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, it was unanimously approved last week by the Judiciary Committee. The next step should have been a vote on the Senate Floor.

Unexpectedly, the Senate voted to refer SJR 10 back to the Rules Committee-essentially blocking it from coming to a vote in the Senate.

Speaking at the rally, Senator Anderson blamed the shelving of his bill on a “a vicious letter sent by the Chinese Consulate to discredit Falun Gong Practitioners.” The letter threatened that SJR 10 “may deeply damage the cooperative relations between the State of California and China.”

Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime's interference in California's legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Senator Anderson speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Dated Sept. 1, the letter was sent to all California Senators the day after 200 human rights activists gathered at the State Capitol to support the unanimous approval of SJR 10 by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The same day this letter was received, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon moved to pull the resolution from the floor.

Phone calls and emails from the Epoch Times to Jonathan Underland, press secretary to Senator De Leon, asking for the Senator’s comments about this issue were not returned.

Outraged that his bill was not allowed even to be heard, at the rally on Friday Senator Anderson decried this “alarming interference with our legislative process by a foreign power has silenced the voice of human rights.”

Other states—Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania—have each passed resolutions similar to SJR 10 within the past few years.

Against Genocide

Senator Anderson said, “We should stand together against genocide. This is not a party issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

Speaking on the Senate floor every day the week of Sept. 4-8, he attempted to attach SJR 10 to other measures, including a similar bill that condemns the Chechnya government’s persecution of the LGBT community. He was not alone in this attempt. Noting California’s long history of showing support for human rights resolutions, Senator Stone, a Republican from Temecula, urged his colleagues to let SJR 10 be heard.

“We commonly do resolutions in support of human rights.  I think that this is a missed opportunity—one that makes us look hypocritical—that murder in one sense is justified as opposed to murder in another,” Stone said on the Senate floor.

Their pleas fell on deaf ears.  SJR 10 remained shelved.

To explain the apparent hypocrisy of the California Senate’s condemning persecution of citizens in Checnya, but not in China, Anderson believes one has to follow the timeline:

  1. With bi-partisan support, SJR 10 passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously.
  2. A threatening letter was received from the Chinese Consulate.
  3. The resolution is shelved without ever being heard on the Senate floor.

Chinese Regime Threats

Threats and intimidation from the Chinese regime to American politicians are not new.

The U.S. Congress passed two resolutions—H Con ResR 188 in 2002 and H Con ResR 304 in 2004—that called for the Attorney General to investigate reports of Chinese Consular officials illegal acts of attempting to intimidate elected officials who showed support for Falun Gong practitioners. The resolutions also urged local governments to report to Congress, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State any incidents of pressure or harassment by Chinese agents.

Activities coordinator, Alan Huang speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime's interference in California's legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Activities coordinator, Alan Huang speaks in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco during a rally to protest the Chinese regime’s interference in California’s legislature, on Sept 8, 2017 (Lear Zhou/Epoch Times)

Outraged that the Chinese Government’s power to suppress free speech extends beyond its own borders to California’s Senate Leadership, Senator Anderson has vowed to continue pleading for his bill until it is allowed to be heard.

In an appeal to his colleagues’ consciences, he said: “We should be standing strong against genocide anywhere in the world. There were those who denied the Holocaust. There is no excuse with what we know today to deny the holocaust that is going on in China against Falun Gong practitioners. We need to stand up and say that nobody’s body parts should be harvested for their religious beliefs.”

He addressed directly the citizens of California, asking those who believe the Senate should be on record voting against genocide to call their legislators and tell them they want to see a vote on SJR 10.

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Senator Joel Anderson speaks in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento during a rally to support a resolution condemning the Chinese Communist Party's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, on Aug. 29, 2017. (Mark Cao/Epoch Times)Senator Joel Anderson speaks in front of the California State Capitol in Sacramento during a rally to support a resolution condemning the Chinese Communist Party's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, on Aug. 29, 2017. (Mark Cao/Epoch Times)

SACRAMENTO, CA—Impassioned speeches asking Californians to stand together against tyranny were heard at the State Capitol on Aug. 31 when around 200 Human Rights activists gathered to show support for SJR 10—a resolution that condemns the Chinese Communist Party for its ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners.

State legislators as well as three survivors of the brutal persecution, implored Californians to stand together against the “egregious state-sponsored violence,” as one Senator put it, that is now occurring in China.

On Aug. 29, the resolution had passed the Judiciary Committee hearing unanimously. But then on Sept. 1, the day following the rally, the State Senate unexpectedly voted to refer SJR 10 back to the Rules Committee—essentially blocking it from coming to a vote in the Senate.

Foreign Interference

The action appears to be the direct result of interference by the Chinese communist regime in American governmental affairs.

That morning, the members of the Senate received by email an unsigned letter on the stationary of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.

“We would like to urgently draw the attention of the California legislature to SJR-10,” the letter begins. “This may deeply damage the cooperative relations between the state of California and China.”

Later, the letter points out the high level of trade China has with California, the great number of tourists from China who visit the state, and how China is the largest source of foreign students who attend California’s colleges and universities.

Then it directly asks legislators not to support the resolution, “so as not to sabotage the friendship and sustainable development between California and China.”

The author of the resolution, Senator Joel Anderson, knew that passing an official condemnation of China’s human rights abuses would not be easy.

At the rally Anderson said: “I proudly stand here with everyone to condemn the Chinese Government for their persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. … It takes great courage to stand up against persecution, to stand up against one of the greatest nations in the world—China—and to call them out for their practice of harvesting organs and the genocide they have created against Falun Gong. Together, we’ve taken our first steps towards defending freedom and human rights.”

Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that consists of performing gentle exercises and living by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. First brought to the public in 1992, it spread rapidly throughout China and by 1999 there were 70 million to 100 million people practicing.

Fearing its popularity—there were more Falun Gong practitioners than members of the Communist Party—then Chinese leader Jiang Zemin banned the practice and enlisted the nation’s entire security complex, media, and judiciary to participate in a massive persecution campaign that continues today.  

Organ Harvesting

The persecution over 18 years has amounted to genocide. At the rally, Anderson used this weighty word and called for it to stop.

“In World War II, there were deniers who said the Holocaust didn’t exist, who said it wasn’t happening. We now know that the Holocaust happened and that millions of Jews lost their lives. I will not stand by and watch millions of Falun Gong practitioners lose their lives,” Anderson said.

“If you feel strongly and you believe that nobody should be persecuted or executed for their body parts because they practice a faith, then you need to call your legislator and tell them that they need to stop genocide in China,” he said.

Anderson was referring to the murder of Falun Gong practitioners to supply China’s flourishing organ transplantation industry.

In July 2006, Canada’s former secretary of state (Asia/Pacific) David Kilgour and international human rights lawyer David Matas released a report, “Bloody Harvest,” which investigated allegations that Chinese state institutions were “harvesting organs from live Falun Gong practitioners, killing the practitioners in the process.”

Kilgour and Matas determined it was true.

Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour presents a revised report about continued murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China for their organs, as report co-author lawyer David Matas listens in the background, on Jan. 31, 2007. (The Epoch Times)

Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour presents a report about the murder of Falun Gong practitioners in China for their organs, as report co-author lawyer David Matas listens in the background, on Jan. 31, 2007. (The Epoch Times)

In 2016, Kilgour and Matas, joined by Ethan Gutmann (author of “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem” ) released an updated report.

The report explains that it represents “a meticulous examination of the transplant programs of hundreds of hospitals in China, drawing on media reports, official propaganda, medical journals, hospital websites and a vast amount of deleted websites found in archive.”

The researchers analyzed hospital revenue, bed counts, bed utilization rates, surgical personnel, training programs, state funding and more, and concluded that China performs 60,000 to 100,000 transplants per year—not 10,000 as the regime claims.

The authors determined that most of the organs come from Falun Gong practitioners, with a lesser number from other prisoners of conscience drawn from Tibetans, Uyghurs, and House Christians.

Call to Action

Rally at the California State Capitol in Sacramento support of resolution SJR 10, which condemns the Chinese Communist Party for its ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners, Aug. 31, 2017. (Mark Cao/Epoch Times)

The rally was part celebration that the resolution had passed out of the Judiciary Committee and part encouragement, to help whip up support for the resolution in Senate.

At the heart of Anderson’s resolution were three statements:

Resolved by the Senate and the Assembly of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature expresses support for Falun Gong practitioners’ 18-year nonviolent resistance against persecution, which exemplifies uncompromising courage and human spirit; and be it further

Resolved, That the Legislature condemns any government-sanctioned persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the People’s Republic of China or elsewhere; and be it further

Resolved, That the Legislature urges the President and the Congress of the United States to condemn any government-sanctioned persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the People’s Republic of China or elsewhere;

Joining Senator Anderson in authoring SJR 10 are four State Assembly members—Democrats Adrin Nazarian and Cristina Garcia, and Republicans Randy Voepel and Tom Lackey—making the resolution a bipartisan effort.

Voepel also spoke at the rally, affirming the importance of the resolution and the message it sends to the Chinese regime.

“It makes the vital statement that we stand against oppression—against a regime that wants to control the minds and bodies of its own people,” Voepel said. “Organ harvesting is big money over there—it’s an underground economy.

“That is pure evil in the world, and I will stand up against evil in any way I can.”  

Three Falun Gong practitioners who now live in California also spoke, sharing heartbreaking stories of being arrested, brainwashed, and brutally tortured simply because they would not give up their beliefs.

randyvoepel

Resolution co-author Assemblyman Randy Voepel speaks during a rally on Aug. 29, 2017 in Sacramento, in support of Falun Gong practitioners’ peaceful resistance in the face of persecution. (Mark Cao/Epoch Times)

They also described how while in labor camps, only Falun Gong prisoners were given regular blood tests and brief medical exams, which was odd since clearly the regime did not care for the health of prisoners it was torturing. They believed these tests were for the purpose of establishing a living organ bank. One medical researcher compared detained practitioners to lobsters in the tank in a seafood restaurant, ready to be plucked out whenever needed.

David Xu was a financial software engineer in China. His good friend was tortured to death while imprisoned in 2011. In April 2016, Xu feared it was his turn.

Kidnapped from his home, he was taken to a brainwashing center where he endured extreme torture. The most frightening moments for him were when his blood was taken. He was well aware of the regime’s practice of harvesting the organs of Falun Gong practitioners and was terrified for his life. He went on a hunger strike for 18 days before he was released.  

Safe in America, he can’t stop worrying about his friends and family back in China. “Even though I escaped, It is hard for me to find peace in my heart because there are still so many Falun Gong practitioners in prison there.”

His story is echoed by Jie Li and Yolanda Yao. Speaking to the crowd, they both shared chilling stories of imprisonment, torture, and mysterious blood tests. They saw fellow practitioners beaten mercilessly, and then saw them disappear.  

Yolanda Yao, now a resident of Sunnyvale, had to give up her PhD studies because of the persecution. She was arrested in 2011 and spent two years imprisoned. “Words cannot describe the pain I have felt. I experienced firsthand the brutality of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Those were the darkest moments of my life.”  

Imprisoned in the Beijing Women’s Labor Camp, she spoke of being subjected to around-the-clock brainwashing sessions and unrelenting mental and physical torture. Forced to sit in a child’s chair for 10 to 11 hours every day, her legs and feet would swell immensely, resulting in severe bruising and ulceration in her back and hips.

She was also forced to perform to slave labor in summer temperatures surpassing 100 degrees, and was once soaked in pesticide when the 70-pound barrel she was carrying on her back leaked all over her.

The most horrific thing she experienced, however, were the blood tests she and fellow Falun Gong practitioners were given three times a year. Like Xu, she was aware of the forced organ harvesting, and was certain that their blood was being tested to evaluate them as potential candidates.

Although she is safe in California, her heart is still in China with her elderly parents who are both imprisoned for their beliefs. “The suffering and torment I experienced in the labor camp still haunts me to this day. It horrifies me to know that my parents are suffering the same fate.”

Her only solace is the hope that through international pressure and individual actions they will be released. She ended her speech with a plea:

“I humbly ask for your help in raising public awareness of this brutal persecution and hope that together we can bring an end to 18 years of harassment, torture, killing, and most heinous of all, forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.”

State Assembly Member Tom Lackey shares his hope that the people of California will stand together and oppose these crimes. “That you have a government that would actually approve such a hurtful and wicked practice is just unimaginable. These people have no control—those of us who do need to speak very loudly so we can influence the government and pressure them to change this policy so that lives can be saved.”

Additional reporting by Stephen Gregory

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Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—Late in the crisp, mostly cloudless morning of Oct. 22, thousands of people took part in a march meant to help end a bloody persecution taking place in China.

While the occasion was solemn, the march put on by practitioners of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong was bright and colorful. Led by a marching band in blue uniforms, the parade featured floats, practitioners clad in yellow or wearing traditional Chinese costumes, and a drum corps in bright yellow uniforms that brought up the rear.  

Many of the participants had just finished meditating at the UN Plaza before getting into formation to start the parade at 11 a.m. They then made their way from the Plaza through the commercial districts and Chinatown.

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

A woman in traditional Chinese dress demonstrates the meditation exercise of Falun Gong. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong was first taught in China about a quarter century ago, and is now practiced in 76 countries worldwide, plus Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, and Taiwan, which is independent of China but by treaty is considered part of one China.

Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong incorporates five slow-moving qigong exercises with traditional spiritual teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. After its introduction to the Chinese public, Falun Gong became massively popular, with state estimates putting the number of adherents at 70 million in 1999. Falun Gong sources say the number was over 100 million, or one in 13 people in China.

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

The head of the Communist Party, however, became hostile towards the peaceful, apolitical group, a development that in July 1999 culminated in an all-out campaign to eradicate Falun Gong. Millions have been detained, and thousands of individual deaths in custody from torture and abuse have been verified.

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

More disturbingly, human rights investigators have come forth with evidence that the persecution of Falun Gong gave the Chinese regime a massive pool of living donors, to be killed on demand in a lucrative organ trade catering to both local and foreign customers.

The report “Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update,” released in June, estimates that 1.5 million transplantations whose most likely source was Falun Gong practitioners were done in the years 2000-2015. The report also concludes that in most cases transplanting one organ meant killing one donor.

Because of the total media blackout in China that obscures the scale of the ongoing persecution that Falun Gong practitioners face in China, public events like parades and rallies are crucial for raising awareness.

A woman from New York speaks to passerby about the persecution of Falun Gong in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

A woman from New York speaks to passerby about the persecution of Falun Gong in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

“It’s something I didn’t know about,” said retired doctor Richard Brooks, talking about the persecution. “I find it hard to understand why that would happen in the first place.”

Kathy and her husband Aaron Thompson were visiting San Francisco from Texas. “It’s very moving,” she said, saying that she had heard about Falun Gong before but didn’t know that the persecution was still continuing, or that they were victims of China’s organ harvesting industry.  

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

“They’re showcasing their culture while raising awareness about the persecution,” her husband said. With regard to organ harvesting, he said “the first thing I was thinking about was Hitler and what he did to the Jews.”

According to a volunteer helping organize the event, 3,000 people were in the parade, while the police counted 5,000. A Falun Gong conference is scheduled for Oct. 24, and the parade is one of several events taking place prior.

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling for an end to the persecution in China. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

A Practitioner’s Story

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong is often spread by word of mouth. 

“A parade like this is what made me start [practicing Falun Gong]” said participant Joe Knox.

He saw a parade in Los Angeles and thought: “There’s a meditation practice that’s being persecuted. Well, there must be something about this meditation practice.”

“The most profound change is huge increase in tolerance,” Knox said about how practicing Falun Gong had changed him. “So if I’m driving on a freeway, for instance, and somebody cuts me off, before I might have gotten angry and now I don’t even think about it. So a lot of the things that would normally have bothered me years ago don’t even phase me at this point.”

Joe Knox. (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Joe Knox, a Falun Gong practitioner from Los Angeles. (Petr Svab/Epoch Times)

Know used to do a lot of athletic activities, like break dancing and surfing, and suffered a lot of injuries. The lingering effects of the injuries went away after he started to practice.

“It’s almost like I have a whole new youth to work with,” Knox said. “All my joints healed up really nice. Everything feels like I have a greater sense of energy.”

As an inner-city high school teacher, he often deals with children that face big challenges and also pose big challenges to him. The increase in tolerance he’s experienced after starting to practice helps him to better do his job. “I’m able to be a support for them,” he said.

“I really feel like a sense of moral obligation to be here and feel it is an honor to be here,” he said. “Since I benefited so much from the practice, I need to be here to make sure that people know about it, that people don’t get killed for practicing it, and people realize how good it is, because it has such a bad propaganda behind it from the Communist Party [of China].”

“It’s not just a Chinese thing. It’s a global thing, a human thing.”

 

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China, which started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Max Chua from Malaysia came to San Francisco just to partake in Falun Gong events and to help bring awareness to the practice and to the persecution in China. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Max Chua from Malaysia came to San Francisco just to partake in Falun Gong events and to help bring awareness to the practice and to the persecution in China. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

sf-falun-gong-benjamin-chasteen9227-20161022

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Over 5,000 practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong from over 30 countries march in a parade in San Francisco on Oct. 22, 2016, bringing awareness to the practice and calling an end to the persecution in China that started on July 20, 1999. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

With reporting by Larry Ong and Petr Svab

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  • Author: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/leo-timm/" rel="author">Leo Timm</a>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</a>
  • Category: General

Rose Pak. (Epoch Times)Rose Pak. (Epoch Times)

News Analysis

San Francisco political operator Rose Pak, recently returned to the city from an extended stay in China, has frequently been accused of hidden ties to the Chinese government. These charges have have been prompted by incidents such asher refusal to allow Falun Gong practitioners to participate in the annual Chinese New Year parade she controls as “de facto head” of the city’s Chinese Chamber of Commerce and allegations that she controls local elections on behalf of moneyed mainland Chinese interests.

“Shifting political winds” have long been observed in San Francisco, as Beijing has sought, bought, and gained influence in the city’s large and once staunchly pro-Taiwan Chinese American community. Beijing’s hand is suspected in the murder of pro-Taiwan Chinatown community leader Allen Leung in 2006. In such tales of political intrigue in Chinatown, Rose Pak’s name is never far away.

Pak is long-suspected of being a key player on Beijing’s team in San Francisco. Her accusers have included Falun Gong practitioners in San Francisco as well as city supervisors Aaron Peskin and Chris Daly. Pak has always denied any such ties to the Chinese government.

Pak does, however, have very specific and demonstrable ties to the Chinese government. Under her Chinese name, Bai Lan (白兰), Pak is an overseas executive director with the China Overseas Exchange Association (COEA), a foreign affairs organization under the direction of the Chinese government’s State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO).

COEA poses as a “non-governmental organization” while acting in fact as an overseas propaganda agency of the Chinese state and the Chinese Communist Party. As political scientist Ming Xia observes, “The Party commands, controls and integrates all other political organizations and institutions in China.”

COEA’s leadership is composed entirely of Chinese Communist Party officials representing various foreign affairs and “overseas propaganda” agencies of the Chinese government. OCAO director Qiu Yuanping (裘援平), a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, is also the executive vice-president of COEA. The president of COEA, Han Qide (韩启德), is also the vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee; and the vice-president of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification (CCPPNR).

These agencies, as Taiwan affairs analyst J. Michael Cole notes, are engaged in an increasingly aggressive propaganda campaign in the United States aimed at undermining U.S. support for a free and autonomous Taiwan. As the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) further observes in detail, these agencies operate as parts of the Communist Party’s “global united front strategy” in activities including its worldwide persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, outlawed in China since 1999.

In her capacity as an overseas executive director with COEA, Rose Pak greeted Qiu Yuanping on a visit by Qiu to San Francisco in February 2014, then appeared again in a featured spot with Qiu the following month at an assembly of the CPPCC National Committee in Beijing. Present also at Pak’s meeting with Qiu was OCAO deputy director Tan Tianxing (谭天星), likewise a ranking Communist Party member. The content of the assembly was focused squarely on China’s national interests, in particular “safeguarding and promoting reunification of the motherland.”

Pak’s attendance at the CPPCC National Committee assembly was prominently noted by the Beijing People’s Government Overseas Chinese Affairs Office; and by the Communist Party Central Committee’s United Front Work Department, which works closely with agencies such as OCAO, COEA, CCPPNR, and their associated overseas groups in asserting Beijing’s global influence.

Pak previously appeared in Beijing for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2009, and for the “Fifth World Conference of Overseas Chinese Friendship Associations” in 2010. Despite the “friendly” name of the 2010 conference, this was an event led entirely by Chinese Communist Party officials; and likewise dedicated entirely to asserting China’s national interests abroad, in particular “to safeguarding China’s national unity and territorial integrity and to realizing the complete reunification of China.”

Pak also appears in 2010 with numerous Communist Party officials on the governing board of the “Guangdong Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries,” a front organization run by the Guangdong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office.

Pak’s pro-China activities in San Francisco include participation with other U.S. “overseas compatriots” in anti-Japanese “save the Diaoyu Islands” protests in 2012. Here, Pak joined other pro-China San Francisco personalities in “condemning Japan’s despicable occupation of the Diaoyu Islands, telling the United States not to interfere,” and calling on all “overseas Chinese” to stand up and “defend the homeland.”

The Diaoyu Islands – known in Japanese as the Senkaku Islands – are a handful of uninhabited rocks under Japanese possession for more than 120 years, and hardly a major concern for people living in the United States. For Beijing, however, they are a handy tool for stirring up Chinese nationalism and diverting people’s attention from the much greater problem of mainland China’s threat to democracy in Taiwan.

In her capacity as an overseas executive director with COEA, Rose Pak also appeared in December 2014 at a welcoming event in San Francisco for arriving Chinese consul-general Luo Linquan (罗林泉). Appearing with Pak as a COEA “consultant” was Mr. Chi Honghu (池洪湖), founding chairman of the San Francisco Bay Area Committee to Promote the Reunification of China (舊金山灣區中國統一促進會, CPRC-SF), an overseas chapter of CCPPNR in Beijing. Chi also appeared with Pak welcoming OCAO director Qiu Yuanping to San Francisco in 2014.

Like Pak, Chi has a noted history of anti-Falun Gong activities in San Francisco, including joint opposition with Pak as “community leaders” to allowing Falun Gong participation in the annual Chinese New Year parade. In addition to his leading role in CPRC-SF, Chi also plays a leading role in an organization known as the “Chinese American Association of Commerce” (美國華商總會, CAAC), which appears to be simply the same organization under a different name. Qiu Yuanping met with both on her visit to San Francisco in 2014, and the two organizations have appeared jointly with officials from the Chinese consulate-general in San Francisco.

In 2001, CAAC joined Chinese consular officials in opposing a Northern California Falun Gong group’s registration with the State of California as a non-profit religious organization. Jingjun Chin (秦境均), the “old man in red” arrested for assaulting Falun Gong practitioners in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 2012, was previously interviewed and photographed by a Chinese blogger at CAAC’s office in 2008. CAAC’s possible relationship with Jingjun Chin, and with anti-Falun activities including violent attacks on Falun Gong practitioners, appears to warrant further investigation.

Rose Pak and Chi Honghu also share a close relationship with former Chinese consul-general Peng Keyu (彭克玉), noted for his recorded admission that he had personally instigated violent attacks on Falun Gong practitioners in New York in 2008. In mainland Chinese media Pak and Chi appeared together at a 2004 welcoming event for Peng when he arrived to take up his post as consul-general in San Francisco, at a 2006 Chinese National Day flag-raising ceremony including a photo of Chi and Peng raising the red flag of China over San Francisco, and at a 2007 farewell event for Peng on his departure to take up his post as consul-general in New York.

At all these appearances, Peng praised Pak, Chi, and other “overseas compatriots” for their patriotism, their adherence to the “one-China” policy, and their opposition to Taiwan independence. Prior to Peng’s tenure in San Francisco, Pak and Chi appeared together in 2002 at a Chinese National Day flag-raising ceremony with the previous consul-general, likewise promoting “love for the motherland, Chinese national unity, and opposition to Taiwan independence.”

The overriding theme in all of these activities is the national interests and unity of the People’s Republic of China, not those of the United States of America, the State of California, or the City of San Francisco. On June 1 this year current Chinese consul-general Luo Linquan appeared at a 15th anniversary event for CPRC-SF to praise Chi his and group again for their work “uniting Chinese people, promoting the reunification of China, and opposing Taiwan independence.”

One might almost think that they regard San Francisco not as an American city, but as an overseas colony of the People’s Republic of China: A quaint little Beijing-by-the-Bay, with clean air, cable cars, and walk-away crab cocktails for the pleasure of corrupt Chinese Communist Party officials.

Mark C. Eades is a writer and researcher on China and Asia-Pacific affairs with the Foreign Policy Association (FPA). Based in Shanghai from 2009 to 2015, he is currently working in Bangkok, A previous version of this article appeared at FPS’s Foreign Policy Blogs, June 9, 2016.

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Never Again.
These words are often uttered after an atrocity beyond humanity’s comprehension has taken place. Taken as a motto by many Americans after the unspeakable evils of Nazi Germany in WWII were revealed and as a rallying cry after the horrific events of 9/11, still the primal outrage that ignite such statements soon fade and we find ourselves inexplicably uttering those bitter words yet again.
And yet again the situation is before us. Have we learned from history’s lesson?
Thirty-one-year-old Bay Area resident, Yolanda Yao, was like any other college student, pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at Beijing Normal University until the afternoon of Oct. 23, 2011 when all sense of a normalcy was irreparably taken and with it long held hopes and dreams extinguished.
Yolanda Yao with classmates at Beijing Normal University, Environmental College Sep. 2010. (credit: unknown)
That day, according to Ms. Yao, she and three other college friends were having lunch in the apartment of one of the friends when they were besieged by police and taken to the Beijing Changping District Dongxiaokou police station where she faced over 12 hours of unrelenting interrogation. When she wouldn’t renounce her beliefs she was transferred to the Beijing Changping District detention center and locked in a cell with 20 other prisoners.
Ms. Yolanda Yao practices a gentle mind-body meditation system called Falun Gong. Falun Gong involves four slow moving exercises and a meditation practice and living according to the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Gong is practiced peacefully everywhere around the world by over 100 million people who have experienced innumerable health benefits and elevation in moral character.
Everywhere that is except for China.
In China it is illegal to practice Falun Gong and the simple act of meditating in a park or at home can become a life or death choice. In 1999 the then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin began brutally suppressing the practice, a suppression that continues to this day. Millions of families have been torn apart, and there has been untold loss of life and property and unimaginable suffering.
A Living Hell
Recalling her days of detention, Ms. Yao had these words: “a living hell.”
“Looking back at the darkest 20 months in my life, over 600 days and nights might not seem too long, however to a person who suffered constant physical and mental torture, it felt like it was never going to end.”
At night she slept on a cold wooden floor, huddled together for warmth in the crowded cell and monitored around the clock by other prisoners, waking up to excruciating back pain. Meals consisted of spoiled cabbage mixed with mud and sand and only one cup of water a day. This continued for a month until she was transferred to Beijing Women’s Labor Camp.
Conditions at the labor camp were significantly worse. Ms. Yao describes the desperation she felt “like crawling in a freezing dark night without ever seeing any light.”It felt like it was never going to end.— Yolanda Yao
“The policemen at the labor camp used all means necessary to force Falun Gong practitioners to give up the practice. They forced us to sit on a child’s chair for over ten hours every day. This caused legs and feet to swell, and at the end our back and hip would bruise, and even worse, they would ulcerate.” The use of toilets was also severely restricted leading to incontinence, urinary tract infections, and in severe cases ruptures.
According to Ms. Yao, she was forced to do heavy labor in summer temperatures surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit and in winter when temperatures in Beijing are well below freezing outside. Sleep deprivation is widely used on Falun Gong practitioners held prisoner, and Ms. Yao was no exception, often getting only 3 hours of sleep each night before the grueling physical labor began.
“The guards forced us to use a rickshaw to pull excrement. There are many dunghill maggots, liquid excrement flowed everywhere and exuded stench.” Due to the high temperature, dehydration and forced labor, Ms. Yao was on the brink of passing out many times. On one occasion Ms. Yao was soaked in pesticides when the 70-pound barrel she was carrying leaked.
Inside the walls life consisted of cleaning the filthy latrines, showers in cold water even in winter, or going weeks without bathing. Around the clock brainwashing sessions were the norm as prisoners were forced to watch propaganda videos slandering the practice and its founder and coerced to sign guarantees that they would stop practicing Falun Gong or face additional tortures.
The CCP’s campaign of propaganda and lies against Falun Gong has extended outside its borders, infiltrating even democratic countries with many people being unable to discern the truth from lies.
Many Falun Gong practitioners protested the inhumane treatment by going on hunger strike only to be sent to labor camps hospitals to be forcibly feed through the nose. This along with numerous torture practices including beatings with electric batons, being submerged in sewer water while locked in a tiny metal cage, or gang rape has led to 3925 documented deaths.
Because of the difficulty of getting information out of China, the deaths from torture and abuse are believed to be much higher. In addition, researchers estimate that the unimaginable act of harvesting organs from still living practitioners for use in transplantation has killed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.
Urgent Rescue
It was pressure from international human rights organizations that saved Ms. Yao’s life. Pressure from abroad eventually toppled the infamous labor camp system in Mainland China in 2013, ending Ms. Yao’s detention and decades of bloody state-sanctioned torment in the form of “re-education through labor.”
Now Ms. Yao’s nightmare has resurfaced. This time it’s her parents, Guofu Yao and Xin Liang, that face an uncertain future. The pair have not been seen since they were taken by force from their home on Dec. 5, 2015 by a group, according to eye witnesses, of more than 30 plainclothes police.
“My heart was broken into pieces,” Ms. Yao remembers when hearing news of her parents’ arrest.

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