Emotions run high at Falun Gong parade


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Click for more photos from the parade

Hundreds of Falun Gong followers marched down the streets of Flushing recently to protest what they claim is persecution against them.
Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual custom that was established in 1992, is practiced by millions worldwide. According to the web site www.falundafa.org, “cultivators of Falun [Gong] strive to cultivate their “xinxing” (mind-nature, or character) and remove their attachments to become kinder, more honest and more patient people.”
Opponents of the Falun Gong call it a dangerous cult that is trying to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It was banned by the Chinese government in July 1999, and the tensions surrounding the practice are high.
The recent earthquake in China caused more tension between Falun Gong practitioners and its opponents. The followers held a protest parade last month in Flushing after the earthquake hit because they believe China knew about the May 12 disaster before it happened and did not warn its people. Opponents say that Falun Gong practitioners marched to celebrate the earthquake’s destruction.
“They are angry, they beat the drums to celebrate the natural disaster and anger the masses,” said Xiandong Shi, a Flushing doctor. Falun Gong practitioners “have mental problems.” He added, “China is more free than here.”
Lucy Yeh disagreed. “China’s Communist Party is not reasonable,” she said. “Communist Party is so nasty.”
Cindy, who did give her last name and said she was a Falun Gong practitioner, stood by the crowd listening to Dr. Shi and repeatedly shouted, “Chinese Communist spy!”
Amir Talaizadeh, who said he has been practicing Falun Gong for seven years, also thought the parade opponents were being paid by the CCP.
“There are people getting paid here,” he said as he pointed to men who wore signs that read “Cult.” “If you stick around for 30 seconds, you’ll see how violent they are.”
As he spoke, two individuals circled, their eyes locked on him and a reporter.
The anti-Falun Gong efforts are coordinated, he said. “There’s a large degree of surveillance.” He believes these individuals are working with the New York Chinese Consulate.
“It’s a rumor,” said New York Chinese Consulate spokesperson Ma Yuan. “The Chinese people that are protesting follow their own judgment.” She added that people are very angry about an apparent incident a few weeks ago in which Falun Gong practitioners clashed with people collecting earthquake donations.
Falun Gong practitioners are persecuted, marchers said, even in a country that guarantees freedom of religion.
Dr. Damon Noto, a Falun Gong follower since 2000, made that clear during the rally that followed the parade. “We’re here simply to let people know that persecution of Falun Gong is still occurring in Mainland China and in Flushing.”