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Uneasiness in Chinatown


Radio-Canada, the national French Radio and TV station in Canada, broadcasted at its eight o'clock prime time program Enquete on the evening of October 30 a documentary, Uneasiness in Chinatown (Malaise dans le Chintown in French), which has risen a lot of social attention on the issues of Falun Gong in Quebec.

Please click the following link to view the online CBC program Uneasiness in Chinatown (in French):  http://www.radio-canada.ca/emissions/enquete/2008-2009/Reportage.asp?idDoc=67209 .

Part 1

0:03 Host: During the Beijing Olympic Games, we've heard the news about Chinese Government suppressing Tibetans again and again. But Tibetans are not the only ones that have been suppressed, for Falun Gong practitioners also share the same fate.

0:15 Loic Tasse: Falun Gong has always denied that it has political background; but since they have been suppressed by the government and they have fought against the suppression, so I think they've engaged in a political movement. There's no doubt about that.

0:23 Host: Falun Gong practitioners become increasingly active in overseas Chinese communities and in Chinatown in Montreal as well. The investigation has revealed the little known aspects of Falun Gong and has stirred uneasiness among people.

0:40 Subtitle: Uneasiness in Chinatown

0:45 Narrator: Chinatown located in the intown area of Montreal is a place full of exotic delights with the images of Chinese dragons, stores selling traditional souvenirs, and a lot of Chinese restaurants. At the same time, this is also a place with numerous secrets and extremely tense relationship somewhere in the deep darkness behind the curtain. Since 2000, there have been unusual turmoil and tumults in Chinatown: lawsuits involving hundreds of millions of US dollars, letters with death threats, the illegal gatherings, and to complete the scene, the incompetent police. And the source of all these commotions is Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, a religious group that you can see almost everywhere yet is little known by people. We try to find out who these people really are.

1:32 Narrator: We know little about Falun Gong, and among a few things we do know, it came into being about 15 years ago in China, it self-claims to help people healing both the body and the soul, and it combines Taichi, meditation, and the cultivation of three virtues, that is, truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. It didn't take long for the group to attract hundreds of millions of practitioners.

1:58 Loic Tasse (Expert in Chinese issues, University of Montreal): Falun Gong was founded and then gradually grows in China, but Chinese Government just ignored it at first, and this is the source of all the problems. Chinese Government always puts under strict control all the social groups and organizations with political potentials in China.

2:19 Narrator: So on April 25, 1999, Chinese Government was astonished when it finally realized the actual size of Falun Gong organization. About ten thousand practitioners surrounded the office building of the CCPCC in Beijing, protesting against the government for arresting several practitioners. This happened ten years after the famous Tian’anmen Square incident in 1989; Chinese Government responded quickly and immediately banned Falun Gong by defining it as a cult doing harms to people and against the entire society. A nation-wide campaign against Falun Gong was then launched. Moreover, Chinese Government also listed Li Hongzhi, the founder and leader of Falun Gong, as the wanted. Li then fled to US and now lives in New York.

3:07 Loic Tasse: Chinese Government tried all means to ban the organization and to drive it out of China.

3:14 Narrator: A lot of practitioners ran away from China and settled down in other countries. Some managed to gain the status in Canada as refugees.

3:27 Narrator: In Montreal, they set up their headquarters in a house in the central area of Chinatown, and the house belongs to Kuomintang, the enemy of the Communist Party of China and the ruling party in Taiwan.

3:37 Narrator: The history of Chinese community in Quebec can be dated back to some 125 years ago and there are now several hundred thousand Chinese living here, holding different political beliefs and opinions. The appearance of Falun Gong practitioners broke the vulnerable peace and balance in this place. The practitioners quickly settled down and occupied the only public square in Chinatown. Be it good weather or bad weather, they're always here on the street, publicizing their beliefs.

A Chinese passerby: But you're wasting your time here distributing these flyers.

Falun Gong practitioners: We're not wasting our time.

4:20 Narrator: Crescent Chao is the boss of the first local weekly newspaper in Chinatown and has lived in Canada for nearly three decades. He is also the first in Chinese communities speaking out openly against Falun Gong.

4:33 Crescent Chao: They practice Falun Gong, that's fine and none of my business; but they shouldn't have cheated and annoyed people like that. We should have a clear and better understanding about the origin of this organization and its leader, Li Hongzhi, who claims himself as the God of the Universe.

4:50 Subtitle: Picture of Falun Dafa

4:56 Li Hongzhi is the Father of Falun Gong ideology

5:03 David Ownby (Center for East Asian Studies, University of Montreal): He says that he's Buddha; but there're many Buddhas in Buddhism, so he sometimes tells others that he is Jesus. In other words, he believes that he is the most important god in the universe.

5:16 Narrator: David Ownby has spent nearly a decade in studying Falun Gong and its leader. He is an authority in the field.

5:23 David Ownby: Most people believe in Falun Gong because they suffer in real life. So if you interview Falun Gong practitioners, especially the old ones, you'll find that what made them a practitioner is cancer, some disease, or painful personal experience. But they believe that Falun Gong can do more by improving their physical health.

5:52 Narrator: Li Hongzhi tells people that human beings have been destroyed by something from the outer space, and the root is modern science and medicine. In order to cure their diseases, practitioners have to use the Falun (the wheel of Fa) in their abdomen. (With the video clip about Li Hongzhi treating patients at an early stage)

6:07 David Ownby: Li Hongzhi said that, if people believe and join in Falun Gong, he would plant the wheel of Fa in their abdomen and the turning of the wheel would purify their body.

6:21 Narrator: Thanks to Li Hongzhi, practitioners can also have super-powers.

6:28 Loic Tasse: With these super-powers, practitioners will be capable of treating diseases, of living a long life, and of appearing in two places at the same time; these are the powers that Falun Gong practitioners, especially the leader of the organization, claim to have or to grant to practitioners.

6:48 Narrator: In September 2001, a conflict broke out in the Chinatown. Crescent Chao published an article contributed by a former Falun Gong practitioner, who wrote on the newspaper of Chao that certain beliefs of Falun Gong were harmful to health and that the leader of Falun Gong and those around him were guilty. (With the picture of Chinese Press published on that day)

7:16 Subtitle: Scenes taken by amateur cameramen on November 6, 2007

Narrator: Falun Gong started to strike back and sued Crescent Chao in the name of slander, trying to let the public know about the attack launched against them by Chao. They accused Crescent Chao of being a spy sent by Beijing authority but Chao denied.

7:39 Crescent Chao: They said I betrayed Canada and the society and I would never accept that. This is a serious matter. As for Chinese people, spy is the enemy of the country and I don't want to be the enemy of Canada.

8:04 Narrator: Many businessmen in Chinatown are willing to talk about the uneasiness caused by Falun Gong in this place, but they refuse to do so in front of the camera.

8:14 Journalist: They said they couldn't talk about these issues in front of the camera; otherwise, they would be harassed. Being harassed, do they exaggerate a little bit here? What do you think; will they really be harassed by Falun Gong?

David Ownby: Being harassed, you'll know it's true if you've been through all these. The practitioners will keep calling you and coming to your door. There's nothing violent here, but they make you so uncomfortable.

8:42 Narrator: May Chiu understands the silence of the businessmen very well. She's a lawyer and has fought for the rights of Chinese people for a long time. This is a clip of her face-to-face talk with former Premier Minister Paul Martin in 2006.

8:57 May Chiu: On the one hand, people are afraid of Falun Gong; on the other hand, they're afraid of Chinese Government too. Between two confronting powers, people just don't know what to do and which side to take.

Part 2

0:06 Narrator: In November 2003, the court session on the lawsuit of slander against Crescent Chao was opened at the Supreme Court. As the defendant, Chao faced the accusation of 230 Falun Gong practitioners, each demanding 100,000 dollars, with a total claim of 23 million dollars. At the courtroom, we heard that there are no more than 1,000 practitioners in Canada and less than 100 in Quebec. Falun Gong tells people that they don't have any organization and never ask donation from practitioners, that all their activities and events are held on a spontaneous and voluntary basis. But according to our investigation, Falun Gong is actually a well organized group with strong financial support. Their march band is like their name card, and during the annual Canadian National Day celebration ceremony held in Montreal. Their band will get a lot of public attention, which serves as a good opportunity for them to win public sympathy. The practitioners will hand out pamphlets among the crowd, but the content of these materials is not to promote their belief, but to reveal how Chinese Government monitor and torture them and even sell their organs.

1:24 Loic Tasse: Falun Gong has always denied that it has political background; but since they have been suppressed by the government and they have fought against the suppression, so I think they've engaged in a political movement and there's no doubt about that.

1:37 Narrator: Falun Gong practitioners also have their own newspaper Epoch Times, but when you go through these papers, there's no clue telling you that they are published by Falun Gong, for all the articles focus on one theme: to criticize Chinese Government. The Epoch Times is published in 17 different languages and operates offices in 30 countries. In Montreal, we can find three editions of the paper in French, English, and Chinese. All of these are free of charge.

1:59 David Ownby: During last decade, the practitioners have become somewhat paranoid. They believe that all the journalists have prejudice against them so they gradually give up expecting positive coverage from media. It seems to them that all the journalists tend to adopt the same attitude as Chinese Government. So they decide to publish newspaper by themselves to publicize their beliefs. In this way, they can get to the public directly without resorting to the journalists and the media.

2:36 Narrator: During last few weeks, we've tried to arrange an interview with Olivier Chartrand, one of the editors-in-chief of the Epoch Times. He refused to accept our interview but promised to us that his newspaper is absolutely independent and objective. Yet we found that the names of all the Chinese shareholders of the Epoch Times in Montreal were on the list of Falun Gong practitioners demanding the 23 million dollar claim against Crescent Chao.

3:14 Narrator: Besides the march band, radio and newspaper, Falun Gong even has a TV station to broadcast their programs. New Tang Dynasty Television was founded six years ago and its network covers a total of more than 70 cities in the world, including Vancouver; Toronto and Montreal were among the new members of the network. And again, we found that the names of all its Chinese shareholders in Montreal were on the claim list against Crescent Chao. The same with their radio and newspaper, these TV programs tell the public how many Communist Party members have quit the party after reading their books, and again, there's no way to verify these numbers.

3:58 Loic Tasse: We have to understand that this is a campaign of publicization and a war of media between Chinese Government, Communist Party, and Falun Gong. As for Falun Gong practitioners, these resources make it possible for them to respond to Chinese Government by all means, and media is one of them."

4:25 Narrator: But they've got yet another more secret means, that is Chinese New Year Spectacular. Their performance team has a chance to present entertainment programs on the most luxurious stages in more than 60 cities in the world. In middle January, the team arrived in Montreal and planned to give four performances at the Cultural Plaza.

4:56 Narrator: Just the same with their newspapers, radio, and TV station, Falun Gong practitioners carefully cover the real intention, which is to publicize their progress and to overthrow the ruling Communist Party of China. But still, some programs are more explicitly in revealing their real intention.

5:10 Subtitle: The sacred master of Falun has come to the man's world and he brings truth to people by turning the wheel of Fa and rebuilding the man's world. The cheatings and lies lasting a half century have built the red wall and these women were arrested because they have practiced Falun Gong. The corrupted dynasty led by Communist Party of China will soon collapse…

5:20 Narrator: One will surely get the political information contained in the program at the first sight.

5:27 May Chiu: People went to watch these programs and would know that Falun Gong was behind all these, trying to exert their influence and get more support.

5:42 Narrator: Among the audience there are several statesmen, such as Quebec Governor Jean Charest and the mayor of Montreal. But their staff in charge of the general affairs offices told us that the governor and the mayor attended the event because the organizers held back their relationship with Falun Gong. In Quebec, the official source confirmed that the government would never support Falun Gong ever since, and the news resulted in different opinions among local Chinese in Montreal. We tried all the means but in vain to arrange an interview with the producers of these programs in both Montreal and New York.

Narrator: The gathering organized by Falun Gong practitioners is another source of controversies among Chinese in Montreal. This kind of gathering held at the open square in Chinatown becomes increasingly common. This spring, about twenty practitioners held high their post boards in turns, telling passersby that a total of 35 million members have already quit the communist party, but this number can never be actually verified and cannot convince the PhD candidate of McGill University either: "I'm not interested in these things and I'm not interested in the communist party. I just don't care, but please tell the truth."

6:59 Narrator: The businessmen in Chinatown often complain to the police about these demonstrators, but their efforts have proved to be fruitless, for the police can do nothing about it. We've got a report here and it says, from 2003 to 2007, Falun Gong practitioners have been in the sight of the police for repeatedly breaking the city law, but every time the practitioners were summoned, the police had no way to punish them, for they couldn't identify the organizers among practitioners.

7:30 Narrator: For example, at a gathering held in this April, we recognized Lucie Zhu, the spokeswoman of Falun Gong and one of the plaintiffs accusing Crescent Chao for slander. During last few weeks, we have tried to arrange an interview with her, but she refused to talk to the camera and said she was not the organizer of this gathering.

8:00 Loic Tasse: One thing we're pretty sure about is that, since these practitioners refuse to say anything about Falun Gong organization, people will inevitably doubt about it. And with all these secrets about Falun Gong, people will as questions: who gives them the money and what they are really up to?

8:25 Narrator: People that we interviewed would usually ask the same question, for Falun Gong needs a lot of money to support all these social activities and these media people as well.

8:36 May Chiu: I think they get the money from their members and some organizations against Chinese Government and against the communist party. They support Falun Gong so as to realize their own goals and to debase Chinese Government at the same time.

8:57 Crescent Chao: Some countries support Falun Gong with their own political purposes and will benefit a lot from it; I think the US and Taiwan might take advantage of Falun Gong.

Part 3

0:02 Host: We always hear the news that many Chinese Falun Gong practitioners were murdered and had their organs removed and sold. Is this true or fabricated by Falun Gong leader to cheat people and win support? Our investigation continues.

0:17 Narrator: On December 7, 2005, Falun Gong suffered a great failure, for the Supreme Court turned down the claim of 230 Falun Gong practitioners against Crescent Chao. The judge believed that some Falun Gong beliefs were cheating and dangerous, and that the organization refused to listen to any criticism. Among 230 plaintiffs, 18 appealed to a higher court.

0:45 Falun Gong member: At the same time, the police are torturing hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, whose organs were removed and sold while they were still alive.

0:56 Narrator: Several weeks later, Falun Gong went back with more explosive and sensational news: 4,000 Falun Gong practitioners were dismembered alive in China and their organs were sold in the market. Since then, Falun Gong practitioners represented at the public square the scenes of practitioners being tortured, imprisoned, and having their organs being removed and sold in China. At Parliament Hill, with the help of their media, Falun Gong practitioners will ask people to sign on their petitions so as to urge the parliament to condemn the policies of mainland China. We came across once again Lucie Zhu, the organizer of the activity, but she said no to our camera once again.

1:45 David Kilgour: Read our report and you'll be astonished. You'll know all these are real and actually happening every day.

1:50 Narrator: In Taiwan, Falun Gong even managed to get the support of David Kilgour, Canadian liberal member of parliament and former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia Pacific region. In 2006, on the request of some of his Falun Gong friends, he published a non-on-site investigation report, claiming that: "I've found 33 proofs. As for the free people, the smart people, and those knowing the world well, these are the facts."

2:21 David Ownby (Center for East Asian Studies, University of Montreal): I read his report carefully. Since it's hard to get the first-hand testimony, they had to resort to indirect sources. Their conclusion might be true. I think what David Kilgour said might happen in China, but I see no evidence proving these things happening on and aiming particularly at Falun Gong practitioners.

2:59 Narrator: If people read the pamphlets of Falun Gong, they might think that the Human Rights Watch will surely endorse the report of David Kilgour. But what we have learned is not the case.

3:11 Anne Sainte-Marie (member of Amnesty International): In order to verify these news, we talked to local human rights activists and journalists and spent months working on it. But our final conclusion is that we couldn't verify these numbers.

3:28 Narrator: We even went to Washington to visit Harry Wu, a famous Chinese dissident who had spent nearly two decades in a labor camp in China. Several years after being released and in order to reveal the hard life in labor camps, he took great risk to return to China, and these following video clips were taken by himself and those close to him.

3:56 Narrator of Harry Wu’s video: Chinese Government admitted that the number of death penalties totaled at one thousand each year, but Amnesty International and other human rights organizations believe the actual number is much bigger. He (Harry Wu) is also the first in the world revealing that Chinese Government removes organs of death convicts.

4:19 Narrator of Harry Wu’s video: The organs will then be sent to hospital immediately, where the patients, usually foreign patients, are waiting to have transplant surgeries. Mr. Wu wants to find evidence proving that in these organ removal cases, Falun Gong practitioners are the main targets for Chinese Government. He sent five investigation teams to China and let's see what he finally found.

4:38 Harry Wu: Nothing founded, nothing at all. I even went back there myself and talked to the hospital executives, security staff, doctors, and nurses, none of them has ever heard about that kind of thing. All are lies.

5:01 Narrator: About one month after David Kilgour published his report, Crescent Chao published a special edition and distributed the newspaper in all Chinatowns in Canada, telling the public that Falun Gong practitioners fabricated the news about organ removal. At the same time, Chao also published some articles against Falun Gong originally released on the media of Chinese Government.

5:29Narrator: In February 2007, someone sent a letter of death threat through post to Crescent Chao: "If you keep doing these things, you'll die and I'll burn down your office."

Journalist: Why would they say things like that?

Crescent Chao: I'm not sure; but what I learned from the letter is that someone wanted me stop fighting against Falun Gong.

6:00 Narrator: The police investigated the threat case, but due to insufficient evidence and the inability to locate the sender, they could do nothing but to seal the document and the case.

6:10 Narrator: On May 13, Falun Gong lost the lawsuit once again, for the higher court decided that Crescent Chao had right to criticize the doctrines of Li Hongzhi. According to the court decision, to slander means to wrongly accuse someone of being guilty or doing something harmful without any supporting evidence; but since Crescent Chao didn't aim at anyone in particular in his article, the court decided to turn down the appeal of Falun Gong practitioners.

6:43 Narrator: This is just another failure for Falun Gong, as its practitioners in New York and Toronto bringing other newspapers to the court with a total amount of claim at several hundred million US dollars also lost their cases in succession.

6:59 Narrator: For seven years, people living in Montreal Chinatown have been hopeless witnessing the battle between Crescent Chao and Falun Gong, the battle that is far from being concluded, for the opponent is just too strong and persistent.

7:18 Narrator: Practitioners keep demonstrating outside the office of Crescent Chao, while Chao can do nothing but turn to the police for help, the effort that has been proved to be useless. And this is the last straw, for he finally decided to sue the Epoch Times for slandering his reputation by calling him the spy bought over by China.

7:46 Narrator: Our investigators tried in vain to interview the leaders and the spokesman of Falun Gong, for they will no longer accept any media interview.