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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Protest Ensues At Falun Dafa Discussion

At Panel, Groups Clash Over Organ Harvesting by Caroline Kao and David Xia

Never a dull moment...Beijing's long arm...

Columbia Spectator: Issue date: 4/23/07 Section: News - Angry protestors held signs deriding the Falun Gong movement while panelists spoke last Friday regarding allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China.

The event, sponsored by Columbia's Falun Dafa Club and Columbia's chapter of Amnesty International, included talks by David Matas, an international human rights lawyer, and Dr. Charles Lee, a Falun Gong practitioner.

The discussion, moderated by Professor Frank Xie of Drexel University, focused on the findings of an investigation of organ seizures from imprisoned Falun Gong members. The investigation, carried out by Matas and David Kilgour, a former Canadian Secretary of State, also reports that the Chinese government killed many of the harvested victims.

According to an English translation of a Chinese-language e-mail sent the night before the panel by the Columbia University Chinese Students and Scholars Association with the subject of "Urgent call: defend mother land's reputation, deny cult's rumor," the CUCSSA called on its members to interrupt the forum. The e-mail said that the disruption "may entail inevitable body contact," and continued on to read, "...we will use the sea of flags dyed by blood, to beat the cult's high spirit, to defend the reputation and dignity of the motherland!"

At noon, a group of about twenty CUCSSA members walked into Uris with banners, Chinese flags, and signs. The two sides argued until the protesters, the Falun Dafa club, and public safety worked out the terms under which the event could continue. Since it was registered as a public event, the protesters were allowed to attend and keep their signs. Banners and flags were not allowed, and the protesters were not allowed to interrupt the panelists.

Matas-who disagreed with the protesters' claim that Falun Gong is a cult-compared the allegations of organ harvesting to early signs of the Holocaust, and said that his investigation was conducted independently without any influence from practitioners of Falun Gong. According to Matas, there were 41,500 unaccounted-for organ transplants from 2000-2005, which coincides with the reported persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

"We don't know if this is being done with the government's directive," Matas said. He ended by asking the audience, "Do your own research. Come to your own conclusions, but at the end there are problems. China is not a country where there is a rule of law."

While many of the protesters remained silent and covered their faces with signs, some were more outspoken.

"Every country has problems. ... Our image really is distorted by this event," said one unidentified protester.

Panelist Dr. Jingduan Yang, a psychiatrist from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital said after the event, "I'm not here to make China look bad."

"We should all try to help China by helping everyone there to have human dignity and be respected."

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