PEACEFUL PROTEST: Two women sit outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Tuesday to protest the persecution of the meditation practice Falun Gong. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was scheduled to be at the Hotel to attend meetings during the U.N. annual General Assembly. (The Epoch Times)
Wen Jiabao is in New York City for the General Assembly convention. He will speak at the U.N. Millennium Goals conference and meet with U.S. President Obama.
"We urge the international community to pay attention to the severe persecution in China since 1999," said Rong Yi, one of the organizers of a rally that held in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on Tuesday morning. The rally was composed of dozens of Falun Gong practitioners who were practicing the Falun Gong exercises, while several others held up banners, and distributed informational pamphlets about the persecution to passersby.
"We urge the premier to bring to justice those who started the persecution...and we urge the international community not only to pay attention to China's economic role, but also push the Chinese government and pay attention to the human rights disaster in China," said Rong Yi.
Some of the Falun Gong practitioners at the rally were direct victims of the persecution and managed to escape from China and obtain refugee status. Ms. Zhang, an elderly Chinese woman is one of those victims. She used to work for the Ministry of Commerce in the Chinese regime. In 2001, she was sent to a forced labor camp for one year and four months for practicing Falun Gong. Since she refused to give up the practice she was kept in the labor camp for another year. Later she managed to cross the border to Thailand, alone, where she stayed for a year. She now has asylum status from the U.N.
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There were also Falun Gong practitioners in front of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue on Tuesday, where Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa was schedule to be.
“We never ask for anything, we only ask to legally practice our meditation, have freedom, and not be persecuted,” said Lili Xiao.
When Xiao heard about the persecution of Falun Gong in 1999 she became interested to know why the Chinese Communists wanted to persecute it. Thus, she started reading the book "Falun Gong," and then to practice the exercises. As a result, she was cured of health problems, which she had had for years.
“A lot of people, don't know what is happening in China. We want the world to know that innocent people are killed in China, and still are,” said Xiao.
In July of 1999 China’s Communist Party launched a campaign of arrests, violence, and propaganda with the intention of “eradicating” the practice, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center, a New York based organization monitoring human rights in China. The campaign has since grown in violence and scope, with millions having been detained or sent to forced labor camps. The center has verified the details of over 3,000 deaths and over 63,000 cases of torture of Falun Gong practitioners while in the custody of Chinese authorities.
There were also other rallies nearby, which took the opportunity of the General Assembly convention. A rally of Nepalis nearby, called to save the Himalayan mountains from global warming, stating that the melting of ice on the Himalayan mountains can damage the entire eco-system of southern Asia. Another small demonstration was held by an Iranian opposition group against the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.