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Silent protest in Taichung hopes to be the loudest

Silent protest in Taichung hopes to be the loudest

Taichung, Dec. 21 (CNA) When the motorcade carrying Chen Yunlin, China's top negotiator with Taiwan, arrived at a Taichung hotel Monday, he was welcomed by loud air horns and chants of "Taiwan, China -- one nation on each side." What he did not hear but could definitely see were numerous banners held high by Falun Gong practitioners, who comprised the bulk of the protesters kept at a distance by barricades.
Falun Gong is a system of spiritual beliefs and practices founded in China by Li Hongzhi in 1992. Before it was banned in China, there were 70 million to 100 million practitioners in China, according to the group's Web site.
"This is not really a protest. We're here to voice our opinion and express our views that Falun Gong practitioners are still being suppressed in China. And it's a wrong thing to do, " said a protest leader surnamed Chen.
Mr. Chen was among around 1,000 Falun Gong members who were scattered around different intersections and open areas surrounding the Windsor Hotel where Chen Yunlin is staying.
Coming from different parts of Taiwan, the Falun Gong demonstrators were easily differentiated from the so-called "political protesters", who can be identified by their loud chants.
"We probably don't say much publicly, but our determination is strong, " the Falun Gong's Chen said.
The group remained silent for much of the day, standing roadside and holding banners up to 10 meters long reading "Stop suppressing Falun Gong, " "The world needs truthfulness, compassion and forbearance" and "High-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials were prosecuted by a Spanish judge." A huge balloon also flew outside the hotel with an attached banner saying "stop suppressing Falun Gong." On Nov. 18, a Spanish judge indicted five high-ranking CCP officials for their role in crimes of torture and genocide committed against Falun Gong practitioners.
Among the defendants is former Communist Party boss Jiang Zemin, widely acknowledged as the chief instigator of the campaign.
On Dec. 17, an Argentine judge indicted and ordered the local Interpol branch to seek the arrest of two high-ranking CCP officials -- Jiang and Luo Gan -- for crimes against humanity committed against Falun Gong practitioners.
"We were always peaceful in expressing our views. With our fellow practitioners still being suppressed in China, the cases in Spain and Argentina and the arrival of Chen Yunlin, we feel that this is a good time to get our messages out, " the Falun Gong's Chen said.
Hundreds of Falun Gong members practiced their rituals in a lot located across the Windsor Hotel on Monday. Chen said they will remain there for 72 consecutive hours.
Falun Gong members will also gather at Sun Moon Lake, a well-known scenic spot in the central Nantou County especially popular with Chinese tourists, when the Chinese negotiator visits there Thursday, Chen said.
The Falun Gong spokesman also noted that the police have been friendly to its group of demonstrators, Chen noted.
"They still asked a lot of questions, but that's their job. I understand that, " he said, observing that the Falun Gong has seemingly become a sensitive issue for the government because China is not happy with the group.
Taiwan's government should do more to support the group and condemn China's persecution, said a practitioner surnamed Liao, who preferred not to reveal her full name.
Liao said she has been hoping for more support from the government, particularly from President Ma Ying-jeou, who according to Liao never hesitated to show his support for the group in the past but had failed to do so since assuming office as president.
"I thought this is a human rights issue and President Ma always advocated human rights as a universal value, didn't he? On top of that, he signed two United Nations human rights conventions this past year. Honestly, I'm disappointed with him, " Liao lamented.
The Falun Gong Web site says that more than 3,300 practitioners are confirmed to have died in China as a result of abuse in police custody or other forms of persecution since 1999.
According to the U.S. State Department, there are 600,000 Falun Gong practitioners in Taiwan, making it the largest contingent of practitioners outside of China.
(By Chris Wang)




Updated : 2022-05-29 01:11 GMT+08:00