USF’s Falun Gong club’s graphic photo exhibition drew attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s religious and cultural oppression and struck a responsive chord with students and faculty Wednesday.
The exhibit, held in front of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, featured pictures highlighting the CCP’s history of authoritarianism. The event also included a wide variety of photos ranging from the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 to the torture of Falun Gong practitioners in 2005.
In addition to the photo exhibit, club members handed out copies of “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,” a collection of articles on the “uncensored” history of Communist rule in China.
“Today we would like to raise awareness and also collect signatures for our petition,” Falun Gong club President Ying Ziang said. “We would like to send this petition to Congress to urge them to have a hearing and condemn the Falun Gong persecutions publicly.”
Criminology student Esther Nunez said it was hard to pass by the demonstration without being shocked.
“What attracted my attention was the pictures of these people being electrocuted and tortured for what they believe in. Falun Gong, it’s a practice that they do. It’s disturbing, just disturbing,” junior Esther Nunez said.
Although the display covered a range of Chinese cultural repression, the main focus was the alleged organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in present-day China.
According to a prepared statement read aloud by USF College of Marine Science research scientist Sherwood Liu: “Since July 20, 1999, the CCP has implemented a genocide policy against Falun Gong practitioners. … Tens of thousands of innocent Falun Gong practitioners were sent to forced labor camps, jails and mental institutions, where they were beaten, drugged and sexually abused.”
Not all Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to physical torment. Some are intimidated economically.
In an interview, Liu imparted his personal experience with totalitarianism. He spoke of his parents, who converted to Falun Gong in 1998. After converting, they had a “much better family relationship and great health,” Liu said.
However, their happiness was short lived, as the CCP forced them to give up Falun Gong.
“(The CCP) made a few threats to my parents, Liu said. “One, if they didn’t give up the practice of Falun Gong, they will cut their pension. Second and most severe, if you do not quit the practice, your grandson will not go to college and your son will lose his job, which will make their family miserable.
“The older people in China love their children more than themselves and would sacrifice themselves for their children, so this is much more serious.”
Liu also conveyed the story of his parent’s neighbors, who were imprisoned for a year for their beliefs.
“The old couple that lived in the apartment above my parents were brought to the brainwashing class against their will and signed a letter saying, ‘I will not practice the Falun Gong.’ Then my parents brought a letter here from them saying, ‘Those words were written against my will,’ and they were sent to a Web site outside (China).
“Somehow National Security found this couple in their small city there from the statement. For one sentence or two sentences, they were in a forced labor camp for one year. At least these people are still alive.”