China protests descend on Green

As the world’s attention turns to Beijing for this summer’s Olympic Games, the New Haven Green played host to a face-off between supporters of the Chinese government and opponents of its human-rights record.

But after Yale stepped in, the protest — for one side, at least — became about more than just China.

Protesters supporting the Chinese government in advance of the 2008 Olympic games convene on the Green on Saturday.
Ge Yang
Protesters supporting the Chinese government in advance of the 2008 Olympic games convene on the Green on Saturday.

The pro-Chinese demonstration, which was a counter-protest aimed at the procession of the Human Rights Torch relay through New Haven, was originally approved by Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry to occur Saturday on Old Campus, according to e-mails obtained by the News. But Friday at 5 p.m., Assistant to the President Nina Glickson wrote the organizers to inform them that their permit had been revoked. The demonstrators were offered an alternate date and time to hold the rally on campus, but they instead chose to move their activities to the Green, organizers said.

The Human Rights Torch is a worldwide movement that started a year before the 2008 Games in response to the Chinese government’s rejection of the organization’s request to release Falun Gong practitioners and other dissidents.

With the demonstration relocated across College Street, the Yale Police Department beefed up their Old Campus presence and the gates remained locked Saturday morning past their usual hours.

University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who is in charge of Yale’s security operations, could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

In a column in Monday’s News, Qin Han MUS ’09, one of the event’s organizers, said it was “unfortunate” that Yale “failed to commit itself” to “core [societal] values” of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The pro-Chinese protest, consigned to the Lower Green, consisted of about 400 people who convened for the counter-demonstration starting a half-hour later, organized by the Yale Initiative of Asian and International Relations and the Committee for Supporting Beijing Olympics at Yale. Volunteers clad in red and white gathered on the Green brandishing Chinese flags and signs that blasted critics of China.

Between 100 and 200 of those critics were gathered across Temple Street on the Upper Green on Saturday to protest China’s suppression of the Falun Gong movement, Tibetan policies and support for the Sudanese government. That crowd consisted mostly of area residents and six Yale students, according to Edwin Everhart ’09, a co-coordinator of Amnesty International, which originally sponsored the demonstration but withdrew its support after hearing the “hawkishness” of the speeches, he said.

The demonstrations remained peaceful, but tensions mounted when the human-rights demonstrators paraded a Human Rights Torch down Temple Street as a symbolic rebuttal to the Olympic flame’s global journey in recent weeks. The gesture drew jeers and shouts from the pro-China demonstrators clamoring behind a rank of city police officers.

The police blocked off the portion of Temple Street bisecting the Green and directed drivers down Elm Street. As the marchers passed the pro-China rally, some held signs depicting handcuffs in the pattern of the Olympic rings. The mood became frantic as cheers of “We Are China!” from the pro-China demonstrators fueled shouts and exchanges between the two groups.

“China is using the Olympic Games as an excuse to escalate persecution against minority groups,” said Min Deng, a postdoctoral associate at the School of Medicine who helped organize the protest, after the event.

Many of the pro-China demonstrators became visibly upset as the human-rights protestors walked by. A Yale graduate student who only identified himself as Bryan was near tears as he shouted at the marchers.

“We don’t know why someone wants to split up our home country,” he said after the protesters had passed. “Who are we bothering? We are having a peaceful celebration of our Olympic games. We Chinese want to be a part of the international community.”

Such aggressive tactics on the part of the human-rights demonstrators also upset Everhart, he said. The speeches — some of which advocated for regime change in China, or compared the Beijing Olympics to the so-called Nazi Olympics in Berlin in 1936 — did not reflect Amnesty International’s position, he said.

“The organizers of the event took a tone that was not conciliatory and, from our perspective, not productive, not useful and altogether too extreme,” he said.

Everhart said he was pushed over the edge by a speech from John Kusumi, director of the China Support Network, which referenced an “interim government” that would presumably replace the Communist Party after its overthrow. Everhart said he thought he could clarify Amnesty International’s position in his own remarks, but he then was informed that his speech would be cancelled. At that point, he and the other Amnesty representative decided to pack up their table and withdraw their support.

“I wish we had told them why,” Everhart said Sunday night. “We basically lied to them about why we were leaving — I wish we had stood our ground and booed the guy.”

Kusumi could not be reached for comment Sunday night. But Zhen Yu Sun, a member of the Committee to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China, which organized the demonstration, said the opinions expressed in the speeches do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizers.

“We can’t control people’s speeches,” she said. “This protest is about human rights — we don’t have the right to examine their script.”

The pro-China gathering was intended as a celebration of China and the Olympics in light of such criticism, said Jie Chen GRD ’08, one of the event’s organizers.

“The theme today is to support the Olympics,” Chen said. “It is really a celebration for the entire Chinese community in New Haven.”

The demonstrators began the rally by walking laps around the Green, holding up signs reading “Keep Politics out of Olympics” and “Say No to the U.S. CIA Campaign against China.” Children, some dressed in traditional dance clothing and others in white-and-red T-shirts, waved miniature Chinese flags. A group of women clad in lotus-flower dresses practiced a dance routine.

“Beijing is putting on a huge effort to open these Olympics for everyone to see how great China is,” said Xi Luo GRD ’09, one of the demonstrators.

Many of the pro-China demonstrators interviewed said politics should be kept separate from the Olympics. Qian Sun GRD ’11, an engineering student in the graduate school who originally hails from Shanghai, attended the rally with his wife, Bing Hu. Hu held a large cardboard sign that read “The Greeks even halted wars during their Olympics. Why not us?” and waved a Chinese flag.

“We have volunteered to come here to show our support,” Sun said. “It is the Olympics, not Olympolitics.” Pointing to the sign, he said, “All the nations in history have come together for these Games, we are ashamed that we cannot do the same today.”

The Human Rights Torch Relay will eventually reach 40 U.S. cities before leaving the country next month. In a proclamation issued Saturday, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. declared April to be Human Rights Torch Relay Month.

Comments

  • Bin Wu

    If there are political persecution and human rights abuses, Beijing should improve. You cannot simply turn down criticism by saying "Olympics is not political". One has to be clear that abuses come first, then there is criticism. The most effective way to make Olympics "non-political" is to stop the human rights abuses.

  • zhenyu Sun

    Clarification and Apology: The reason that Edwin Everhart could not get the chance to speak on the stage is because the Rally ran out of time before the Parade begun. He was not the only one who could not speak at the Rally. We did not mean not to let him speak because we did not know what his remark would be. It just happened that way. I sincerely apologize about the poor planning. I am glad he made his points clear here in this article. Thanks for yale Daily News for providing the chance.

    We do not boycott Olympics. We do not have any political purposes. All we do is about human rights. It is about humanity. Improving human rights and stopping persecuting Chinese people in China are very important and good for every Chinese people. Because the persecution happening to the victims today will happen to someone someday if the regime would not stop its human rights abuse. If we do not do our job today, when should we do it? The victims are suffering every minute in China. They are jailed, tortured and killed for their belief, their opinion, their petition for lost land and properties and their organs. Can we wait to speak for them till after the cerebration of Olympics? They are human beings. They deserve to exercise their rights—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Believes, Freedom of Assembling, Freedom of Press.

    Even though the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agreed to improve its human rights practices as a condition for hosting Olympics, human rights in China has gotten much worse and the CCP is using the Olympics as a reason to crack down even harder on the people it already was persecuted.

    As Beijing Olympics slogan says “One world, One dream”. Chinese people have their dream too ---“Same World, Same Human Rights”. Beijing Olympics should follow the Spirit of Olympics. We support China hosting A Olympics without CCP’s abusing on its own people and its own citizens. CCP does not equal China. CCP does not represent Chinese people for it always persecutes Chinese people in its history.

  • True China Lover

    I love China but not the communistic regime. I support real Olympics in China for Chinese people, not for the communistic party. The current Beijing Olympics has become been abused by the communistic regime, not good.

  • Marcus Gale

    Please print comments from John Kusumi below.They are on topic, non abusive, and respond to sentiments expressed about him in your article. This is an issue of fairness in journalism.
    Hello. It is odd to take in remarks that you attributed to Edwin Everhart ’09. In your article, it seems implied that he wanted to boo my speech, made at the Human Rights Torch Relay on the New Haven Green this past Saturday. It also seems that he felt slighted by the organizers. Let's cycle through some clarification on three salient matters.

    (1.) The pro-China protest across the way on the Green. I was not involved nor aware of it in advance, hence I was surprised to see it there. (Although, I am aware of pro-CCP demonstrators who have visited past activities for human rights, so I expected some kind of presence from the pro-CCP side.)

    I do not object to their right to be there and to protest; that is the freedom that we have here and which is lacking in China. In a democratic environment, the other side is allowed to be there.

    (2.) Mr. Everhart was not intentionally slighted nor mistreated by the organizers. The format of our program should have been marching first, rally second. Somehow, the New Haven event got planned with rally first, and marching second. The marching was coordinated with the police department and involved street closures, hence it was unmovable as a block of time in the schedule.

    In broadcasting that's known as a hard break -- a cutoff time that cannot be moved. "Sorry, we're out of time" was an applicable phrase at this rally, and the moderator faced a growing demand to add more speakers into the program. Only so many speeches will fit into two hours, and I expect that this accounts for Mr. Everhart being told, "Sorry, we're out of time."

    (3.) Booing my speech? Well, everyone else was applauding, so Mr. Everhart would have stuck out like a sore thumb. At the China Support Network, are we hard-line against the regime of the Chinese Communist Party? Yes. Should that be characterized as "extreme"? No. We take a "Reaganesque" approach. We don't mind confronting that government, of a nuclear-armed communist superpower. However, if one thinks back to the Reagan years--and that may require that you're older than 35--the word for this was not extreme; the word for this was mainstream. America has been down this road before. We faced down a nuclear-armed, communist superpower before.

    We need to do so again. As for Everhart, it is more likely that Amnesty International would disown his booing. CSN has shared the stage with Amnesty before, and been invited into their programs, as recently as this month. (It was a different chapter of Amnesty, at a different campus.) Everhart should be a compatriot in the cause of human rights, not of "conciliating" ourselves with human rights abusers. So, I flatly disagree with stances that appease the abusers. At least at other campuses, Amnesty has more backbone than that.

  • world prayer

    The Human Rights Torch is truly a message of hope for those in China who are suffering persecution, unjust imprisonment, torture, and even death for their personal beliefs. The Olympic stadiums in Bejing are built on the blood and bones of millions, flying a blood red flag, under a bloody black sky. The free world should be ashamed the Olympics were given to China. In August 2008, I will be praying for the whole world.

  • L.Chen

    Dear Zhenyu, I totally agree with what you are saying. But watch out, brother (or sister), don't be used by someone else whose intention is NOT human rights for Chinese people. Obviously, you have already been used. Every Chinese wants freedom, but most of them know that it's not a good time now and that the people from whom you are asking for help are not very reliable.

  • Yalie 07

    I'm sick and tired of hearing about China pride (especially since last year's painful baccalaureate address by President Levin)…and I'm CHINESE!

  • Anonymous

    I don't know who this John Kusimi character thinks he is, but insulting the Amnesty chapter and students (no matter how weird they are-sorry Everhart I'm still not over your exotic article) at Yale is not going to make him very welcome on this campus in the future.

    If no one wants to support you Kusimi, its because your views are too radical, not because the Amnesty chapter here doesn't have "backbone." Every government in the world commits wrongs, is it your mission to overthrow all of them?

    From what I understand, the Amnesty chapter at Yale works to help stop abuses and rectify wrongs that have been committed, not overthrow governments.

  • Charles Liu

    YDN please take a closer look at the event. I believe it is not a grassroot protest, but anti-Chinese hysteria orhestrated by our government against its minority citizens.

    This Falun Gong-sponsored faux torch relay has congressional link.

    Susan Prager, the outreach director of HRTR, is also the communications director of "Friends of Falun Gong", a government founded non-profit that has funneled over 6 million dollars to Falun Gong groups to promot their intensely anti-Chinese political message.

  • Support Olympics without CCP

    To Charles Liu:

    Do you have tax paper that indicates "Friends of Falun Gong" is founded by the U.S. government or any other governments? Please provide proof on this before you could make such claim.

    How did you draw the conclusion that Falun Gong is anti-Chinese? As far as I know that this group is anti-CCP and the CCP is anti-Chinese.

    On the banner of HRTR, I saw Chinese that said "Support the Chinese People to Hold Olympics without the CCP".

    Do you think that the CCP can represent the Chinese people? Please take a closer look at the history. The CCP came from Europe and it has been destroy the Chinese traditional value and culture. Its leader Chairman Mao repeatedly said that China had too much population which could be reduced by war or other means or Chinese woman should be sent overseas. The CCP has never regard the Chinese people's lives as precious. Why do you think that the CCP equals to China or the Chinese people?

  • Charles Liu

    Yes, Form 990s for "Friends of Falun Gong" can be found on GuideStar.org, a clearing house of non-profit disclosure, that attest to these facts:

    1) FoFG is founded by fmr. Congressman Tom Lanto's wife, and Ambassador Mark Palmer, co-founder of National Endowment for Democracy;

    2) In recent 5 years FoFG has given various Falun Gong groups over 6 million dollars.

  • Peace lover

    To comment #11
    Ow! I am so glad to know that there is someone or some organization openly supporting FoFG to anti-persecution and end the killing! That is great! It is a humanity act. I admire their courage and support their justice action. I wish more people would do the same thing! It is much better than supporting the Communist regime to kill people inside and outside China!

  • Zhenyu Sun

    Dear L.Chen,

    I have heard this kind of saying all the time. People are probably used to it. It is a pattern: whenever the western nation criticizes the CCP’s human rights abuse, it says you are anti-Chinese, anti-China and you are interfering China’s internal affair. Whenever the overseas Chinese condemn CCP’s crimes against humanity, it says you are unpatriotic, you are used by the anti-China force, you discredit to China or you do politics. In a word, the CCP Only allows itself to abuse people and violate people’s rights But never allows people to say anything or criticize its crimes. Otherwise, it will put all those labels on you and use Chinese people’s patriotism to against you. If you look at the cases happened surrounding Beijing Olympic Torch and Human Rights Torch, you would understand.

    The two groups of people should not have any problems or conflicts in between. They are exercising their rights ---supporting Beijing Olympics or supporting Human Rights. They all enjoy Human Rights—freedom of expression that the Human Rights supporters are fighting for Chinese people including those who support Olympics. It does not make sense for the two groups to against each other. It is the CCP who purposely classified people as patriotic and unpatriotic and make people hate each other.

    The CCP is very skillful at stirring up hatred and inciting struggle among the masses. Even no hatred, the CCP can create Hatred. In the end, the victims are always the people who involved in the struggle. The Party is always the greatest leader. Therefore, I truly recommend you to read Nine Commentary on Communist Party and learn the true nature of the CCP. Do not become the victims of the struggles stirred up by the CCP.

    Upholding human rights is the responsibility of every citizen on the earth. It is a beautiful thing. Any individual, organization or government who supports human rights is for the interest of people, including Chinese people. We should appreciate them for their kind heart instead of following the CCP’s propaganda to against them. The CCP never cares about people’s rights but its ruling power. Accusation of “human rights be used” does not make sense.

    You said that it is not a good time to demand the CCP to improve its human rights. But it is the CCP who promised to improve its human rights when it applied for bid of hosting Olympics. But it broke its promise. In opposite, it uses Olympic as a excuse to escalate the persecution. “There have been 1,878 arrests across 29 provinces, major cities, and autonomous regions since January 1 of this year. In Beijing alone, 156 arrests are known to have taken place.” (http://faluninfo.net/displayAnArticle.asp?ID=9517). More recently, according to Amnesty International, in preparing for the Games, former Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang issued the following order in the context of “successfully holding the Olympics: “We must strike hard at hostile forces at home and abroad, such as ethnic separatists, religious extremists, violent terrorists and the Falun Gong. But in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing police have used abusive detention practices such as RTL (Re-education Through Labor) to 'clean up' the city.
    (http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA170522007?open&of=ENG-2S2)

    Do you think it is not a good time to ask the CCP to keep its promise and stop those human rights violation immediately? What time you think it is good? Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    "Charles Liu", aka, "Bobby Fletcher" posts in response to every blog or article that has anything remotely to do with Falun Gong and has done so for years as an apologist for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), using its language verbatim in many cases. It is believed that he is part of a team of trained disinformation agents assigned to discredit the practice or anyone who supports it. For more about him, please see the article below, which appeared in the April 9, 2007 edition of The Western Standard.

    As to the assertions he makes below, and has made on other blogs, here is the truth:

    Regarding Friends of Falun Gong (FoFG) as being a "government founded non-profit":

    FALSE: FoFG's founders were all private citizens. They included Congressman Tom Lantos' wife, and Ambassador Mark Palmer, the co-founder of National Endowment for Democracy. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit organization, not a government organization.

    Ambassador Palmer had the experience of working with dictators, having been involved in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Hungary where as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary he helped persuade its last dictator to leave power.

    Mrs. Lantos lived through the Holocaust- a genocide that murdered most of Hungary's 600,000 Jews in 1944.

    In 1999 they were some of the first to see parallels between the CCP's attempt to eradicate Falun Gong and the crimes of other tyrannical governments. They took the initiative to step forward and speak out against the persecution, and helped form an organization to support the rights of people who practice Falun Gong. They knew what it meant to the victims were they to remain silent, as the world did in 1936.

    Regarding FoFG being government-funded:

    FALSE: Friends of Falun Gong has not ever received any funds from the US, or any other government. All of their funds have been from private citizens that would like to see the persecution of Falun Gong come to an end.

    Ms. Prager is an unpaid volunteer at FoFG. She has spent her lifetime speaking out against injustices to her fellow man and would logically want to support an effort to continue and broaden that work through the HRTR.

    Regarding criticism as being "anti-China":

    FALSE: FoFG does not have an "intensely anti-Chinese political message." There is a distinction between the Chinese Communist party and China, something the CCP works hard to blur. Criticism of the CCP is not for the people of China, but for their government, elected by nobody, that creates and blames enemies to distract its people from the brutality of its own crimes and the misery they cause. The people of China and Chinese culture are to be admired by all; unfortunately, information they need to understand why the world is criticizing their homeland is blocked. In free societies one can criticize a government for wrongdoing. In China you cannot. There is now a charge of western media "bias". If the CCP would open its doors to Tibet and other regions, as it is required to do, the world would be able to validate CCP claims that everything is fine. That it doesn't undermines the credibility of its this assertion.

    The Chinese "Communist" Party, the ruling party in China, is a recent import from the West. As much as the CCP would like you to believe they are China and represent China they are just the illegitimate party ruling China through the use of violence and intimidation. The tyranny and atrocities of Nazi Germany have been recorded in the history books. The despots of the CCP will receive similar recognition for their atrocities. Inside China they are responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, the brutal repression of Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and Uighurs. Around the globe it supports other totalitarian regimes in their genocide against their citizens; Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, etc.

    FYI: A little about Mr. Charles Liu:

    Article: China's sympathizers launch a high-tech disinformation campaign
    Kevin Steel/Western Standard, Pg. 24: April 9, 2007

    He posts his messages everywhere under several different names on Internet blogs and discussion groups. He writes letters to the editor anywhere and sends e-mails to anyone--anyone who might take seriously shocking evidence that the Chinese government "harvests" and sells live organs from political prisoners. His main message is that the Falun Gong--the group which first brought evidence of live organ harvesting to light--and the Epoch Times newspaper that broke that story are spreading propaganda against China's Communist government. And he's not even Chinese. He is Charles Liu, a 40-year-old Taiwanese-born technology consultant who lives in Issaquah, Wash., and does business in China.

    Liu has been so active and so pro-Beijing in his writings that some Falun Gong supporters--in particular Epoch Times reporter Jana Shearer—have accused him of being an agent for the Chinese government, waging a disinformation campaign against them, trying to confuse people, and deliberately wasting everyone's time.

    It's a charge that upsets Liu, who dismisses it as "a bunch of kooky friends making unfounded accusations. It's just a bunch of blog BS." As for why he devotes so much energy to attacking the Falun Gong and the organ harvesting allegations, he says, "My position is that I simply don't agree with their brand of politics, because I observed their politics turning from anti-Communist party, to anti-China, . . . and recently it's morphed into this anti-Chinese hysteria and that's going to be hurting people," he says. As an Asian-American, he says he decided to speak up.

    He doesn't really explain, when asked, why he started a blog last year called "The Myth of Tiananmen Square Massacre" under the name of Bobby Fletcher (one of his online aliases, which he also uses to comment on the Western Standard's online blog). On that blog, he pushes the minimal 250 casualty figure that the Chinese government has always maintained died that night in 1989 (more reliable estimates put the figure at at least ten times that).

    Liu's actions mirror disinformation campaigns waged by the Chinese government in the past. Typically, these include the deliberate spreading of false or misleading facts to sow confusion or doubt among the conflicting accounts. The classic example is the Tiananmen Square massacre; the Chinese government has maintained that no one died in the square itself, that there was only pushing and shoving on the streets around the square, resulting in a few military casualties. Overseas, the CCP relies on its United Front Work department, part of the Chinese intelligence service, to propagate its message. During the Cold War, the Soviets employed many overseas flunkies through their Disinformation Department.

    Former Canadian MP David Kilgour, who co-authored a report on China's macabre organ harvesting industry, has received many propaganda e-mails from Liu. For instance, Liu has written repeatedly that a U.S. congressional committee looked into the organ harvesting allegations and found nothing.

    "[David] Matas and I gave evidence to that subcommittee and got support from both the Republican chairman and the Democratic vice-chair," says Kilgour. "I just came to the conclusion he was trying to waste my time, and I have other things to do."

    Winnipeg-based human rights lawyer, and Kilgour's co-author, David Matas, really doesn't know what to make of Liu. "I don't know who he is, but what he does is spend a lot of time replicating nonsense to defend the Chinese government," Matas says.

    The only concern Matas has is that Liu seems to know who he and Kilgour met with in the United States to discuss their report. Matas discovered Liu had sent e-mails to politicians--and their staff--prior to the meetings. "The only people who would have that information would potentially be the Chinese government. I can't imagine how Liu would know we were meeting with those people," Matas says. "We're not super-secretive, but you can't find information on the Internet or in any public place about who we're meeting with, where and when." He himself has received at least 10 e-mails from Liu, all of which he's ignored. Maybe Matas is onto something with that approach.

    http://kevinsteel.org/2007/04/09/sowing-confusion/

  • John S

    "“unfortunate” that Yale “failed to commit itself” to “core [societal] values” of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly"

    Welcome to China. I mean Yale. I mean Yali Daxue.

  • A Paul

    http://news.google.com/news?q=Kilgour+Matas It's not hard to see Kilgour and Matas's schedule, considering that FLG spammed the hell out of it.

    And worth noting is http://falungongpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/04/epoch-times-reporters-gone-wild.html. The pot calling the kettle black eh?