Archive | January, 2008

Alexander Dvorkin: Alliance between Scientology cultists and Falun Gong

11 Jan

http://www.facts.org.cn/Views/200801/t76150.htm 

Alexander L. Dvorkin, Ph.D. is a famous religious study expert and travels thousands of miles annually to lecture about the dangers of sects and cults. But the trip in Ukraine in the end of 2007 was different from others for Falun Gong’s attending. What did happen? Dr. Dvorkin will tell you.

From Dr. Dvorkin:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

24-27 of December 2007 I was in Odessa (the Ukraine) where I, as usual, had delivered a series of lectures on cults and participated in a local conference “Totalitarian Cults – a threat to Person, Family, Society, and State”.

I would not have even written about it (I conduct no less than 20 of similar lecture trips annually), if something new would not have happened during this trip. This new was the activity of the Ukrainian Falun Gong adepts who picketed all my lectures together with Scientologists. I am quite used to Scientology pickets but this time it was Falun Gong, acting exactly as Scientology would and handing out anti-Dvorkin leaflets and thick folders of Scientology compiled black PR against me. Scientologists were present there too, but they silently stood behind, letting Falun Gong do a dirty work for them. It is a first case of such clear cooperation of two cults that I have seen.

I also should say that it was a big mistake of Falun Gong: I have not planned to even mention them in my lectures but now I had to dedicate a large part of my lecture time to them…

Anyhow, I thought it would be helpful for all to know about this new and unholy alliance.

Center of Religious Studies
Ozernaya st 42, office 428 Moscow 119361 Russia
Tel./Fax: (+7 495) 785 3634

http://www.iriney.ru/

Related comments:

1. TruthSetsYouFree: Wed, 02 Jan 2008

Yes, Falun Gong is also a very criminal cult. China did 100% right when they banned that evil establishment. The rest of the world needs to learn from China, how to control subversive elements, organizations with an agenda contrary to the society at large.

2. Hartley Patterson  gerry@gerryarmstrong.org  Thu, 3 Jan 2008

The cult of Scientology has also cooperated with the Nation of Islam and the Raelians, and has several pet ‘christian’ ministers willing to praise the Tech.

Original text from: http://www.ureader.de/msg/151210069.aspx

Introduction of Alexander L. Dvorkin from International Cultic Studies Association

Alexander L. Dvorkin, Ph.D. is Chairman, Department of Sectology, St. Tichon’s Orthodox Theological Institute, Moscow, Russia; Director of Information and Consultation, St. Irenaeus of Lyon Center (which collects information on sects and cults and offers free consultations on the subject); and Vice President of Dialog Center International. He teaches Sectology at the largest theological school of higher education in Russia and travels thousands of miles annually to lecture about the dangers of sects and cults. He has over 300 publications, mostly on Church history and on sects and cults, in 15 languages of the world. He is the author and/or editor of eight books, including two national bestsellers (10 Questions to an Obtrusive Stranger and Sectology: Totalitarian Cults). He is Editor-in-chief of Prozrenie (Recovery of Sight) magazine – a biannual cult-awareness publication of the Russian Orthodox Church.
http://www.icsahome.com/infoserv_profile/dvorkin_alexander.asp

Prof. Alexander Dvorkin translated for Gerry Armstrong on November 10, 2004 on an international conference “Totalitarian Cults and the Democratic State” held in Novosibirsk, Russia (November 9-11, 2004)

In his article “Cults and the cultic lobby in the Russian Federation, 2007”, Prof. Alexander L. Dvorkin said, “I should say that two groups: Scientology and Falun Gong (Falun Dafa) have been leaders in using ‘human rights’ community in their own goals. By the way, both of them cooperate very actively with each other. Falun Gong (which, incidentally in Russia consists mostly of ethnically Russian adepts) have been pursuing its own personal vendetta against Chinese government, and has successfully recruited most of ‘human rights’ community to fight their battle.” (http://griess.st1.at/gsk/fecris/INGO ALD EN.htm)

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Los Angeles Times: Chinese New Year Spectacular is not exactly art

11 Jan

http://www.facts.org.cn/Reports/200801/t76074.htm

Promotional fliers for NTDTV’s Chinese New Year Spectacular describe the show as a celebration of “The Renaissance of Divine Chinese Arts”. What’s the true face of the so-called Chinese New Year Spectacular? Los Angeles Times reported for you on January 7.

What the fliers don’t say is that NTDTV — New Tang Dynasty Television — is a New York City-based, nonprofit satellite broadcaster operated by a staff that includes members of a relatively new spiritual sect called Falun Gong. The production has met with controversy at virtually every stop of its tour because of the perceived connection between the Chinese New Year Spectacular and the religious group.

“It is not something that the producers squeeze in to get you to convert to Falun Gong; it’s not like that at all,” According to Simone Gao, one of the show’s producers.

In fact, Falun Gong members have raised hackles in the mainstream Chinese-American community — in part because some consider Falun Gong a fringe group or cult religion and in part because of the group’s in-your-face approach to spreading its message.

Those who practice Falun Gong frequently congregate in public places, display banners or take to the streets to distribute printed materials that detail ways in which Falun Gong practitioners say they have been persecuted or subjected to human rights violations in China,sometimes including graphic images of physical abuse.

“I think some of the tactics used by the Falun Gong are not very welcome,” says Peter Kwong, a sociology professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and professor of Asian American Studies at Hunter College. “They are very aggressively pushing their agenda to the extent that some people think it is giving China — and the Chinese in general — a bad name.”

The Falun Gong, Kwong adds, has a reputation for being less than open about its connection to events or institutions. “They have their free newspapers on the street corners, in every language possible; at the same time, they are trying to get themselves involved in issues that project them as part of the mainstream,” he says. “This show is one of those moves they have taken.”

Others say that though Falun Gong practitioners call themselves a religious group, their main message has been political — and some believe that politics, not culture, dominates in the Chinese New Year Spectacular.

“Most of the Chinese community think it’s linked too much with political events,” says Michael Cheung, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Assn., based in downtown Los Angeles. “I saw the show last year at the Kodak Theatre. Some of the content reflects politics and human rights; it is not exactly art.”

Press material sent to The Times about the Chinese New Year Spectacular makes clear its connection to New Tang Dynasty Television — although no specific mention is made of the broadcaster’s relationship to the Falun Gong.

But one letter from a press representative offers as an interview subject the show’s emcee, 29-year-old Israeli-born Leeshai Lemish, detailing the story of how Lemish was “beaten in detention and deported” for joining 35 other people from 12 countries in 2001 in “the first international protest” of the abuse and mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

As to why the Falun Gong is not mentioned in fliers being circulated to the public, representatives for the Chinese New Year Spectacular say that such mention is not necessary. Although some involved in the show practice Falun Gong, they say, the religious group is not a financial backer of the show, which is funded by New Tang Dynasty Television and private investors.

Cheung of the Chinese Benevolent Assn. says that while he does not believe the show’s producers actively seek converts to Falun Gong, “they try to send a message.” He adds, however, that the Chinese American community is aware of New Tang Dynasty Television’s ties to Falun Gong so it knows what to expect.

“We are not surprised, when we see this show, that they are trying to send a message,” Cheung says. “We understand because we know who they are, and most people are not surprised by what they see.”

(Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2008)

Los Angeles Times: Activists fail to stir opposition to China’s float

3 Jan

http://www.facts.org.cn/Reports/200801/t73822.htm 

The shell of the Rose Parade float celebrating the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games sits in a sprawling warehouse complex in Azusa.

In a matter of hours, it will be adorned with thousands of carnations and roses, outfitted with fireworks and accompanied by 124 costumed Beijing opera singers, acrobats, traditional dancers and plate spinners down Colorado Boulevard.
 
Critics of China’s communist government hoped to use the elaborate float and its worldwide stage at the Rose Parade on Tuesday as a rallying point for protests about the nation’s human rights record.

But despite months of news conferences and protests, China foes have done little to change the parade’s plans and have generated little support — or interest — from Southern California’s large Chinese American community.

The lukewarm response underscores the increasingly close relationship Southern California shares with China. There may be no other time in which China has commanded as much influence and interest as it does today.

The San Gabriel Valley is home to one of the largest Chinese American communities in the nation and a growing business class that has made Southern California the chief trading region with China in the United States. To many, the 12-hour or longer flight to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou is more of a commute than a voyage.

Business ties between the two countries forge quickly, and though many here believe China needs to improve its approach to human rights, more attention is paid to fueling the economy to improve the lot of ordinary Chinese.

“We haven’t talked about it,” said Cat Chao, host of a popular Mandarin-language talk show on KAZN-AM (1300), about the Olympics float. “The majority of Chinese think the Olympics is bigger than human rights and that human rights are already improving. They’d rather see China improve on issues like pollution.”

Philip Young, president of the local Chinese American Citizens Alliance, said he planned to attend the Rose Parade. But he’ll be there to cheer his teenage son and daughter in the Arcadia High School marching band, not to applaud or dismiss the Beijing float.

“China needs to improve its human rights record like any country, but to pick the Rose Parade as the forum is inappropriate,” Young said.

“I’m really turned off. As a Chinese American, I’m proud China is having the Olympics. It’s their coming-out party. After 20, 30 years of economic improvement, it’s sad that some still see China as a threat and not an opportunity,” he said.

Even local supporters of independence for Taiwan — who rarely miss a chance to condemn China’s government — have largely stayed out of the parade debate.

Some Taiwan activists will hand out fliers at the parade. But after much debate among community leaders, they decided it was too risky to criticize the float because it had such broad backing among local Chinese, some of whom they rely on for support.

“If we come out and protest this float in public, we may anger many Chinese people in L.A.,” said a leading local Taiwanese activist who wanted to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the internal debate. “They consider the Beijing Olympics a point of pride. We don’t want a war between the Chinese and Taiwanese in L.A.”

At the heart of the issue is a float celebrating China’s first Olympic Games — apropos, tournament officials say, because the upcoming parade’s theme is “Passport to the World’s Celebrations.” Backers say China’s government had no role in building the float, and that it was paid for by Pasadena-based label maker Avery Dennison Corp. and a coalition of Chinese American business people and philanthropists.

Many of the donors, including Avery Dennison, have significant business interests in China, but through representatives they have denied that those relationships played a role in their decision to fund the float.

A disparate group of activists banded together to block the float but failed. The Pasadena City Council dismissed the recommendations of its own human relations commission to issue critical remarks on China’s human rights record.

And after weeks of negotiations, activists failed to reach an agreement with Pasadena police to allow an event on or near the parade route to counter the Olympics float.

Left with no other option, protesters have pledged to turn their backs on the float when it passes them along the parade route on New Year’s Day.

The activists acknowledged that they have struggled to generate widespread support in the Chinese American community. But they believe their failure comes less from support of the float than out of fear.

“Most Chinese don’t dare to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party,” said John Li, president of the Caltech Falun Gong Club, one of the original critics of the float. “They worry their business [with China] can be influenced if America puts pressure on China’s human rights record.”

Li said he’s tried to persuade fellow Chinese on the Caltech campus to join him, but he said the fear of government retribution drives them to silence.
“I ask them if they want their children to be persecuted for having different beliefs” when they return to China, Li said. “Our job is to wake them up. I feel more and more are waking up. For example, in the past the Chinese media kept silent reporting on human rights. But now I see more and more of them coming here.”

Part of the problem may be who’s delivering the message. Though the protesters represent a variety of interests — including those for Tibetan independence and critics of China’s hand in Myanmar, also known as Burma — no group has had a more polarizing effect than the Falun Gong, which has been the chief instigator behind the opposition in Pasadena.

The group, which is loosely bonded by a belief in Chinese breathing exercises, is outlawed in China as a spiritual cult.

Adherents have been imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities who deem the group a threat to their ideological hegemony.

Despite evidence of their mistreatment, they have failed to generate lasting sympathy from the Chinese American community at large, where some label the Falun Gong as a fringe group.

“They’re visible because they have devoted members, but they don’t have a large following,” said Yong Chen, who teaches history and Asian American studies at UC Irvine. “The perception among many people is that the Falun Gong is not equivalent to human rights.”

Chao was more blunt. “A lot of Chinese think it’s voodoo stuff,” she said.

Adherents admit their toughest skeptics are fellow Chinese. But winning them over isn’t necessarily crucial. Latching on to an event as widely viewed as the Rose Parade has already proved beneficial, they say.

“All the human rights activists know the first and most difficult step in stopping persecution is to get exposure,” said Shizhong Chen, a Falun Gong practitioner heavily involved in the opposition campaign. “What happens in Pasadena adds to the exposure. Leading up to the Olympics, such opportunities will [arise] more and more . . . This serves as a kickoff event for human rights causes.”

Reporters Without Borders recently unveiled a billboard on the corner of Arroyo Parkway and Del Mar Boulevard in Pasadena that depicts the Olympic interlocking rings made of handcuffs. Underneath, it reads “Beijing 2008.”

At one point, a caravan of supporters protested outside the house of Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who has been accused of engineering the idea for a Beijing Olympics float and led the City Council’s refusal to issue a resolution expressing concern over China’s human rights record.

Since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on student demonstrators, human rights groups have accused China of mistreating those who oppose the ruling Communist Party. They charge Beijing with a litany of abuses, including imprisonment without proper trial, torture and the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International released a report saying China had failed to live up to its promises to improve human rights in the lead-up to the Olympics by detaining activists, stifling domestic journalism and clearing the streets of Beijing of petty criminals and vagrants in preparation for the Summer Games.

But defenders of the float have argued that the entry represents the athletic spirit of the Olympic Games, not China’s government.

Riding several entries behind the Olympic float in a 1911 Pope-Hartford touring car will be the mayor, who hopes the float will bring greater mutual understanding between the United States and China.

“Relations between the U.S. and China are so numerous and so substantial that people find it difficult to engage in daily life — where every other product in your hand is made in China — and at the same time suggest that there should be total condemnation of China and the Chinese government,” he said.

“We all recognize that China is a player on the world scene.”

Falun Gong activists make appeals

3 Jan

The Beijing 2008 Olympics float was focused during the 2008 New Year’s Day Rose Parade. Tournament of Rose Parade and Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard has resisted the sabotages from Falun Gong. Media presuppose that the failed Falun Gong wouldn’t be willing to give up, they would make appeals as usual. According to Whittier Daily News reported on December 29, 2007, they will be lost their lawsuit in the end.

Members of the Covina City Council heard a convincing plea last month familiar to many officials in San Gabriel Valley cities.

Bin Li, a local Falun Gong practitioner who was asking the City Council to pass a resolution condemning the Chinese government’s persecution of her group. 

Reacting as most people would to Li’s plea, Covina Mayor John King promised council members would vote on a resolution at the following meeting.

Two weeks later, enthusiasm for the resolution faded quickly after Councilman Walter Allen quoted passages from the group’s founder that condemned marriage and reproduction between races.

After hearing those ideas, council members hastily voted the resolution down.

In the San Gabriel Valley, Falun Gong activists have appeared at meetings since at least 2001 trying to gain support for resolutions against China, according to city documents.

Baldwin Park, Azusa, La Puente, Alhambra and Covina are among the cities the group has visited, but Pomona is the only city that has passed a resolution condemning China.

John Li, a spokesman for local Falun Gong groups, said his group at Caltech has about 500 associated members, but was unsure how many practitioners there are in L.A. County.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, originated in the early 1990s in China as a health and exercise movement based on Buddhist teachings. But it also has religious overtones with a founder who has condemned homosexuality as “unnatural” and said that different races go to different heavens.

The group’s founder, Li Hongzhi, fled the country in 1999, as did many other practitioners.

In 1998, Chinese officials estimated the group had 40million practitioners (Note: two million practitioners in authoritative source) in China, and the Falun Gong estimated its numbers at 100million worldwide, according to a Falun Gong Web site.

However, several regional representatives of the group said they have no idea how many practitioners there are in the United States.

Experts familiar with the speeches and writings of Li Hongzhi say he has dropped references to some of his more controversial views since establishing the United States as his group’s home.

“My understanding is that since 1999 the Falun Gong in North America are trying to whitewash their past views and normalize the organization in the eyes of the public,” said Maria Chang, a UC Berkeley political science professor who wrote a book on the Falun Gong.

Falun Gong has dedicated volunteers and activists in major cities across the world, and has not been shy about using litigation as a tool to protect its interests.

The group lacks a central national organization, according to Gail Rachlin, a volunteer spokeswoman in the New York organization, and lawyers who have represented Falun Gong groups usually work pro bono.

Local chapters have filed numerous lawsuits against Chinese officials for human-rights violations. They also sued the China Press, a pro-China paper that takes an anti-Falun Gong point of view, claiming defamation, in 2003, but lost.

They have also sued San Francisco after the group wasn’t allowed to march in its Chinese New Year’s parade and threatened lawsuits against other groups that they say have taken an anti-Falun Gong line.

Group members also have been active in protesting the Bedding Olympic Games float in Pasadena’s Rose Parade.

Paul Talbot, the former mayor of Alhambra, said he was accustomed to seeing group members occasionally at City Council meetings.

“Over the years we’d have them show up regularly,” said Talbot. “We sympathized, but a little city does not have to step into foreign policy.”

Though Alhambra did not pass a resolution, Talbot did declare a Falun Gong week in 2000, honoring a local group that met regularly in the city.

Shortly thereafter, Talbot issued a public apology to the Chinese Consulate and said the city did not mean to endorse the views of the Falun Gong.

When asked to comment, Talbot answered: “I think I actually confused Tab Chi and the Falun Gong when we made the proclamation. … I had no idea what I was getting into.”

Alhambra officials also struggled with what to do about a Falun Gong request to march in a Chinese New Year’s parade in 2005.

Chamber of Commerce officials denied the request, said Talbot, because of the political nature of the group.

The same rationale applied to denials of the group’s annual request to march in parades in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Only in San Francisco did the group file a lawsuit, which claimed Falun Gong was being discriminated against.

“We just wanted to be in the parade, not to make a political statement,” said Sherry Zhang, a volunteer spokeswoman for the Bay Area Falun Gong group that filed the lawsuit.

She noted that the group did participate in the 2004 parade when it applied under the name of “Falun Dafa,” an alternate name used by the group. She argued that nobody accused Falun Gong of behaving politically in that parade.

The Falun Gong group lost the lawsuit in February, though Zhang said they plan to file an appeal.

A regional chapter in New York threatened a lawsuit against a domain name provider that hosted an anti-Falun Gong Web site.

Samuel Luo of San Francisco, who runs the Web site www. exposingthefalungong.org, sought help from the American Civil Liberties Union in 2005 after his domain provider received a letter demanding they reveal the identity and contact information of Luo.

The complaint was more focused on denouncing the content of Luo’s Web site rather than raising a legal objection.

The letter called his Web site “defamatory” and “highly immoral,” and accused Luo of “endorsing the inhumane treatments and killing of Falun Gong practitioners.”

Their legal objection, according to the letter, was that Luo had infringed on their trademark by using the term “Falun Gong” on his Web site. That “clearly did not violate trademark law” the ACLU explained in its response to the group.

“They want to shut me down just because I criticize them,” said Luo.

In the summer of 2005, Luo and another presenter were set to speak about the Falun Gong at a conference at the International Cultic Studies Association in Spain.

A few weeks before, group officials told Luo they were forced to cancel his speech because a lawyer representing the Falun Gong in Spain threatened to sue them.

“Any action that validates, supports, or gives credence to the (Chinese Communist Party’s) propaganda, lies, and defamation about the practice of Falun Gong is in itself collaborating in the genocide and tortures,” wrote attorney Carlos Iglesias Jimenez in a letter to the association.

Ming Xia, a political science professor at the City University of New York, said he thought few Americans know much about the Falun Gong.

“Politicians can make themselves look good by taking on a Chinese regime that is unpopular,” said Xia. “That is why the Falun Gong have done very well here.”

(Whittier Daily News, December 29, 2007)

Original text from: http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_7840130