Falun Gong Practitioners Hold Press Conference Outside U.N.
Say South Korea Needs To Uphold Human Rights
while listening to another practitioner recount her brutal treatment in labor
camp outside of the U.N. in East Manhattan on Tuesday. (Amal Chen/The Epoch
NEW YORK—On Tuesday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
received the 2011 World Statesman Award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Also on
Tuesday, dozens of Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside the United Nations
on Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to call on President Lee to halt life-threatening
deportations of practitioners from South Korea to China.
On Sept. 6,
Seoul immigration authorities and local police arrested 26-year-old Mr. Jin after the couple’s asylum
application was rejected. Mr. Jin’s wife, Ms. Ma, is also in danger of
deportation but is currently out of custody. Jin is being held in an immigration
detention center, and faces imminent deportation.
Since 2009, after a visit from Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda chief
Li Changchun, South Korea has sent at least 10 Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) refugees back to
China, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC). Currently, 56
others have been denied asylum.
The deportations violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the U.N. Refugee
Convention; South Korea is a signatory of both.
“If he (President Lee)
really sends the practitioners back to China to suffer,” said Yahui Jia, a
38-year-old Falun Gong practitioner who escaped from China in 2010, “and the
award is going to him today for human rights and democracy, isn’t that
Jia shared a chilling story of persecution and torture,
including not being allowed to eat or go to the bathroom for days at a
“An example of brutal torture, especially for females, is they use
electric batons to shock the sensitive regions, like the waist area and other
areas,” she said through a translator, appearing to barely hold back tears at
the haunting memories.
Jia’s daughter was 8 when Jia was first arrested,
and “since then, she lost happiness,” becoming sullen, and unlike other children
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that involves doing
meditative exercises and living according to
the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Standing, slow-moving
exercises were alternated with sitting meditation before and after the press
conference on Tuesday, part of a weeklong protest.
According to the FDIC,
Falun Gong practitioners are the largest group of prisoners of conscience in the
world, numbering in the hundreds of thousands at any time. They have confirmed
over 3,300 deaths resulting from persecution.
A Chinese Communist Party
(CCP) official with the sports administration indicated early in 1999 that there
were 100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China. In July 1999 the Chinese
Communist Party began a campaign to “eradicate" the practice.
Practitioners fear President Lee may be under political pressure from
the CCP that has been behind similar situations in the past.
sure,” said 27-year-old Seog One Ha, a Korean native and current Columbia student. “[But] he should understand that
cooperating with such a malicious persecution is [a] bad record that cannot be
canceled in the future.”
Asked if he thinks the situation could be
changed due to increasing public awareness, such as a Sept. 20 Wall Street
Journal article about the deportations, Ha said, “Yes.”
have delivered letters of appeal to the
Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the South Korean consulates in New York and San
Francisco, and all levels of the South Korean government.
Calls made to the main South Korean Consulate in New
York were not answered; the Appeal of Conscience Foundation also could not be
reached as of press time.