Jan 8 2015

Shen Yun Website Attacked from China

A large-scale cyber attack aimed at bringing down the Shen Yun website occurred during the first week of January, coinciding with Shen Yun’s first performances of the 2015 season. The DDoS attack from mainland China employed massive resources, believed to be from hackers backed by the Chinese Communist regime.

See official Shen Yun press release


Aug 12 2014

Ethan Gutmann’s New Books is Out – The Slaughter

Congratulations to Ethan Gutmann on publishing is monumental The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to its Dissident Problem.

This book is, in spite of its daunting title, a good read and a page turner. It’s narrative nonfiction at its best, and if you’re familiar with Gutmann’s other writings you know what I’m talking about.

It’s also the best place to go for a third-party, investigative journalist account of Falun Gong – the practice’s rise in popularity in China, the early signs of oppression, the crackdown, the brutal persecution, and courageous resistance.

It is only the only account to place the horrific practice of harvesting organs from Falun Gong believers in recent historical context, going back to practices uncovered in Xinjiang.

This book is a product of years of research that I had the honor to be a part of as Ethan’s assistant and translator. Ethan is a kind but hard nosed interviewer who asks tough questions. His inquisitiveness drove our entire research process, which took us all over the world. It is a definitive book on organ harvesting written by a man who initially was not convinced it is actually taking place. But we had access to exclusive interviews with former Chinese policemen, medical personnel, refugees who escaped labor camps so recently they still had healing wounds, and many other people who took great risks to talk to us. This is their story and it is one you will want to know.

 

The Slaughter

On Amazon

 

 


Mar 30 2014

Chinese Embassy Epic Fail in Berlin

From March 23-26, Shen Yun successfully performed at Berlin’s Stage Theater AM Potsdamer Platz. But the previous month, the Berlin Chinese Embassy began yet another unsuccessful attempt to cancel Shen Yun performances.

On February 4, the embassy’s cultural attaché called the theater’s marketing and sales manager, Mr. Jörg Seefeld, to arrange a meeting. The embassy would not say what the meeting was about over the phone, but asked for it to be the next day. And so on February 5 at 2pm, Mr. Seefeld received two embassy representatives – the cultural attaché and another individual who would not identify himself. The attaché did most of the talking over the next hour.

According the Mr. Seefeld, who later relayed the information, here is how the conversation went:

  • In the beginning, it was all beating around the bush. The embassy expressed interest in learning more about the theater and exploring potential future collaboration with companies from China.
  • Then they said, as if casually recalling it, “hey, we heard you have a Chinese performance.” They started inquiring about it in detail. The initial tone was relatively polite, saying, “Oh, we heard it was the Falun Dafa Association hosting it, is there a contract?” Mr. Seefeld confirmed there was a contract with the association, but when the embassy inquired further about the contract and how much had been paid to secure the venue, Mr. Seefeld would not tell them anything else. He said that the theater’s contracts stipulate that he cannot disclose detailed information to other parties.
  • The embassy appeared very interested in finding out: 1. how much money the Falun Dafa Association spent on booking the theater. 2. Whether the hosting association had booked a date for 2015 and what that date was. Mr. Seefeld would not disclose any further information, even though the venue had done even been booked for 2015 yet.
  • Since the embassy could not get the information they wanted, they changed tactics – they began slandering Falun Dafa. But that did not change anything, as the theater manager had already learned about Falun Dafa ahead of time.
  • The embassy then told the theater to cancel the contract. Mr. Seefeld again refused, saying the contract was already signed.
  • Then came the threats. The embassy said that companies from China would not come to this theater. Mr. Seefeld replied that this was fine, as the theater was already overbooked. Finally, they threatened him that if he ever wanted to go to China he would not be able to get a visa. Mr. Seefeld said he did not have time to go anyway.

That was the end of their strategy, so they left. The next day, the manager called a representative of the Falun Dafa Association and told this story.

The story was then reported in an article by the German The Epoch Times as well as in Berliner Zeitung, in an article that starts: “It sounds like a piece from the Cold War.”

It turns out that was an apt reference. Mr. Seefeld is from East Germany and had been in imprisoned by the GDR’s communist regime. He later said he was infuriated by the meeting and was just holding back his anger. If they were not diplomats, he said, he would have pounded the table and given them a lesson: “You have so many human rights problems in you country, how dare you come here and tell us what to do?”

 


Feb 11 2011

New Zealand Officials Outraged

(中文:新西兰官员的愤怒

New Zealand Parliament Member Keith Locke and Auckland Council Member Cathy Casey are furious at Chinese letters they have received denigrating Shen Yun Performing Arts and warning them not to attend the company’s shows.

Ahead of Shen Yun’s February 3-5 performances in Auckland’s Aotea Center’s ASB Theatre, the capital’s City Council members received a letter from the consulate of the People’s Republic of China. The letter, dated December 31, 2010 and signed by Consular General Liao Juhua, concludes: “You are kindly requested to stay away from the event and thank you for reading this letter.”

While at least one City Councilor thought the letter was a joke, City Councilor Cathy Casey took exception to the letter and exposed it. She filed a formal complaint with the head of the consular corps in Auckland and also posted and subjected it to ridicule on her Facebook page.

“Nobody tells me to go or not go to a production at the Aotea Centre,” Casey said on New Zealand’s 3News. “China has its own rules. We are a democracy, we have freedom of speech, freedom of association. This breaks every rule.”

According to 3News, all 20 council members received the Consul General’s letter. Casey wants an apology. “This is breach of the partnership between council and the diplomatic corps,” she told The Epoch Times.

On January 24, Parliament Member Keith Locke of New Zealand’s Green Party received a different letter. The letter had a similar message, but was signed by 29-Auckland based Chinese organizations asking him not to attend the performance. In a press release posted on the Green Party website, Locke said he is “concerned that some Chinese organisations in Auckland may be acting in league with the Auckland consulate in this matter.”

In an interview with NTDTV, MP Locke objected to this type of foreign pressure. “It’s the sort of censorship that goes on in China, but it’s not the sort of censorship we should have here in New Zealand.”

The letter is on file and available upon request.

Note: On February 17, a “Spring Fantasy” gala, a performance supported by the Auckland Chinese consulate that also featured a speech by State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Vice Director Xu Yousheng, was held at the same ASB Theatre.

(中文:新西兰官员的愤怒


Jan 28 2011

Korean Chinese Consulate Promotes Shen Yun

(中文:中国驻韩国领事馆推广神韵)

As Shen Yun Performing Arts launched its 2011 tour of Asia, the company received advertising provided gratis by Chinese diplomats. First, the P.R.C mission to South Korea pressured a theater in Busan to cancel Shen Yun’s performances. Then, such a media frenzy ensued that hours after the District Court ruled that the show must go on, Shen Yun played to a sold-out house.

On January 19, Shen Yun’s International Company was scheduled to hold its 2011 Asia debut at the Busan City Cultural Center. As in previous years, the performance was to be hosted by the South Korean Falun Dafa Association.

The Association signed a valid rental contract with the Cultural Center on November 12, 2010. But on December 21, the theater sent the hosting organization a notice saying it was canceling the performance, in effect reneging on the contract. Negotiations between the two parties came to a standstill. Then, on January 16, three days before the performance, the hosting organization held a press conference, not in front of the theater, but in front of the Busan Chinese Consulate.

At the press event, the Falun Dafa Association of South Korea stated that Busan Consul General Hua Bing, Vice Consul General Jin Yanguang, as well as Seoul Embassy Cultural Affairs Officer Wang Chuan, Political Affairs Officer Chen Hai, and other consular representatives had threatened Busan City Hall and the Busan Cultural Association that allowing the Shen Yun performances would damage South Korea’s relationship with China. The Association said that the consulate had also phoned television stations and told them the performances were cancelled, instructing them to stop playing Shen Yun advertisements.

Consular officials had also contacted theaters and local government offices in Shen Yun’s next South Korean destination cities of Goyang (Aram Nuri theater) and Daegu (Suseong Artpia theater). Consular representatives asked them to cancel the rental contracts, but in both cities, the requests were spurned as local officials explained that the city has no right to annul a private contract.

This marked the fifth time since 2007 that P.R.C diplomats in Korea have sought to interfere with Shen Yun performances there. On two previous occasions, the shows indeed ended up being cancelled (see details below). But that was not to be the case this time.

On January 18, 2011, the hosting organization submitted a petition to the Busan District Court’s Second Administrative Department. The following morning, as the court was reviewing the case, Shen Yun’s artists and technical crew arrived at the Busan theater ready to set up that night’s performance. As happened in Moldova last spring, the crew was not allowed into the theater and was forced to wait outside locked doors. Around noon, the District Court’s ruling reached the theater, with the verdict that Shen Yun be allowed to perform. After a breakneck setup completed in less than half the usual time, Shen Yun performed to a full house.

Shen Yun’s three performances in Busan were sold out, and the rest of its performances in other Korean cities were full as well. Ticket sales, which were initially slow, were suddenly boosted by Korean press coverage of P.R.C diplomats trying to tell Koreans what they can and cannot watch. The fiasco led not only to outrage, but also curiosity about Shen Yun. It turns out that P.R.C officials provided Shen Yun with free, wide-scale promotion.

On the second day of performances in Busan, audience members included Chinese who made the special trip over to watch the show. One man interviewed by The Epoch Times, surname Zou, stayed to watch two performances. He said he had been a longtime fan of Shen Yun tenor Guan Guimin. “I got to hear Mr. Guan’s voice again. It was so beautiful. I used to listen to his songs when I was in China. I can’t believe that after so many years I get to hear him sing again. I’m so lucky!” Mr. Zou left the theater with multiple copies of the program to give to his family and friends back home.

********

Previous documented incidents in Korea:

February 2009: Shen Yun was scheduled to perform at Universal Art Center, which is run by a religious foundation. But the Chinese Embassy in Seoul threatened the theater that if the show is not canceled, they will not issue visas for members of the Korean foundation who conduct business in China. The embassy also threatened that the foundation will risk economic loss of hundreds of millions of dollars that they invested in China if they allow the Shen Yun’s show to take place. The show was canceled, but the case was brought to court, the cancellation was overturned and the show successfully performed.

February 2008: Shen Yun shows, hosted by the Korean Epoch Times, and scheduled to be performed at Kyung Hee University’s Grand Peace Palace, are canceled. The reason given was an overlapping schedule with other university activities. But pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Seoul was evident and the case was brought to court. The hosting organization won the case and the show was performed.

February 2008: Shen Yun shows scheduled at the KBS Busan Hall (owned by the state-run KBS TV) to be hosted by the Sonata Planning Agent for Performing Arts were cancelled due to fear of diplomatic frictions with the Chinese regime. The case was brought to court, with the decision upholding the legitimacy of the show’s cancellation.

April 2007: The Keox Auditorium Hall, which belongs to the Korean government organization Trade Center, was scheduled to hold Shen Yun’s show, hosted by New Tang Dynasty Television. On March 16, NTDTV was notified of the show’s cancellation. The case was brought to court under the allegation that the show was canceled due to Chinese embassy pressure. NTDTV won the case, but the theater refused to open the doors for the show, and it ended up being canceled.

(中文:中国驻韩国领事馆推广神韵)


Jun 30 2010

Shen Yun erhu player’s husband ‘sentenced’ to 18 months of forced labor

On May 11, the Chairwoman of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights Ms Heidi Hautala wrote to the PRC Ambassador to the European Union to inquire about Jiang Feng. Jiang, the husband of Shen Yun’s erhu virtuoso Mei Xuan, had disappeared in Shanghai while trying to board a flight to reunite with his wife.

In her letter, Ms. Hautala wrote: “it is widely believed that Mr Jiang Feng was abducted by security agents and is being interrogated and abused in custody.”

In reply, the PRC Ambassador to the EU, Song Zhe, confirmed that Jiang had been jailed. An excerpt from his letter reads:

The rest of Song Zhe’s letter goes on about Chinese rule of law and there being “no basis to the so-called claim that Jiang is ‘subject to abuse’.” Jiang had previously been imprisoned for three years and Mei Xuan for four. Both had been tortured regularly throughout their imprisonment.

This was the first word of Jiang’s whereabouts in nearly three months since his February 18 disappearance. PRC authorities did not even notify his family and Mei Xuan had to find out where her husband is through the European Parliament.

Through the assistance of kindhearted people, Mei Xuan has since learned that Jiang Feng is being held in the Number 3 Brigade of the Anhui Xuancheng Forced Labor Camp. In this camp prisoners work in a coal mine as de facto slaves. Now, in addition to torture, brainwashing classes, and exhaustion, Jiang Feng faces the dangers of China’s most fatal profession.


May 28 2010

Who locked us out of Moldova’s theater?

We left Istanbul early in the morning on May 23. We reached the Bulgarian border around lunch and got through customs three hours later. From there up and down the roller-coaster, ill-maintained Balkan Mountain roads and to the Romanian border. Two and a half hours later we headed to Bucharest on roads that immediately made us miss Bulgaria. An over-night stop, a flat tire, and many potholes later we arrived at the Moldovan border and, after the routine three-hour delay, approached our hotel in the capital of Chisinau at 3am.

Four hours later we headed to the theater to setup for the show that night. But at 8am, when we arrived at the backstage entrance with the truck ready to offload, we were stopped at the door. “You are not allowed in.” “ There is no show.”

We waited for the theater director, Valeri Sircanu, who had told us the show would take place in spite of the pressures, to arrive. Sircanu, a young woman dressed in a pinstripe business suit pulled up in her Audi, brushed past us and darted into the hallway, shooing away our approaches with a flip of her hand behind her back as she disappeared into the theater. A few moments later she came out, rushed into her Audi and screeched away. She never returned, but in her stead came security guards who locked the door.

Hosting organization representative Tatiana Chiriac trying to enter the theater according to Shen Yun 's contract to perform there on May 25 (photo courtesy of Annie Li)

The backstage entrance had probably never seen such action before. Tatiana Chiriac, head of our hosting organization, the Moldova Falun Dafa Association, and a former judge showed up. She asked for an explanation why her contract with the theater was reneged. None was given. ProTV, Publika TV, and other media started piling in. They interviewed Shen Yun performers, but were also blocked at the theater door.

ProTV interview Shen Yun dancer Jessica Quach behind the National Theater's backstage entrance (photo by Annie Li)

This scene carried on into the afternoon and then approached showtime. At 6:45pm, when dancers usually finish the pre-show warm-up and go change into their bright costumes, when the musicians usually change into their tuxedos and black skirts, when backstage usually vibrates with our sopranos’ voices – we stood silently on the front steps of the square Soviet-style theater looking out at the plaza in front of us in the heart of the capital.

Shen Yun performers on the theater's footsteps at showtime (photo by Annie Li)

Hundreds of audience members, elegantly dressed as you would for a night at the nation’s opera house started pouring in. A boy wearing a vest and little bowtie looked confused. A woman who took a 30-hour train from Moscow was holding back tears.

The hosting organization held a makeshift press conference, their volunteers, who also came from Romania, Ukraine, and Belarus, held banners with still-fresh paint that protested the Moldovan theater and government giving in to pressure from the Chinese embassy.

Hosting organization holds a makeshift press conference with Shen Yun performers in the background on the theater footsteps (photo by Annie Li)

As audience members began figuring out what was going on, they came up to our dancers with bouquets bought at a flower market several blocks away.

(photo by Annie Li)

(photo by Annie Li)

Some ticket-holders rounded the corner to the box office and asked for a refund. As you see in the photo, it was impolitely refused.

Ticket office (photo by Annie Li)

Almost an identical scene repeated the following day, with audience members taking the microphone to vent their frustration. This time, the ticket office was locked. A sign had been put up – the theater holds no responsibility for refunding tickets. If you want your money back, contact the hosting organization representative (the one who was the victim of breech of contract), Tatiana Chiriac; here’s her phone number.

From the information I’ve been able to gather so far from meeting with a Moldovan government representative and from media interviews, here’s what appears to have happened:

–       The director of the National Theater, Valerie Sircanu, revealed that she had received daily visits from the Chinese embassy. She admitted this on several occasions, although later, on live television, she denied ever being contacted by the Chinese authorities.

–       The Ministry of Culture sent a letter to the theater director recommending that they cancel the show. On the same live talk show with Jurnal TV, the minister himself denied any Chinese authorities involvement.

–       A Foreign Ministry representative, who had served with the Moldovan embassy in Beijing, instructed the theater director that it was the ministry’s position that the show should be canceled.

–       The Chinese embassy also visited the mayor’s office to ask them not to support Shen Yun.

Oh, did I mention that last July the PRC promised Moldova a $1 billion loan (Reuters article)? At the time of the show’s cancellation, the Moldovan government is still eagerly waiting the check to come in.

It appears that at our press event in front of the theater we also had a few friends of the Chinese Communist Party eager to make a good impression. Take a look at these two photos – the second taken an instant after they realized we were photographing them. The photo is a little blurry, but you get the idea.

(photo by Annie Li)

(photo by Annie Li)

See Moldova’ Jurnal TV report here.


May 11 2010

Personal Encouragement at EU

Flowers. Hugs. A letter from the EU to the PRC embassy – that’s how our Belgium run ended today in Louvain-La-Neuve.

Earlier this morning, our erhu virtuoso, Mei Xuan, and I visited the European Parliament to seek support for her husband, Jiang Feng. Jiang disappeared in China while boarding a flight in Shanghai on his (luckless) way to reunite with his wife in New Jersey. Mei Xuan believes he was abducted by secret 6-10 Office agents with the purpose of pressuring her to stop performing with Shen Yun.

We were warmly received by three people who are dedicating their careers to fighting for the rights of people they will probably never meet. They listened to Mei Xuan’s story –

how she and her husband were arrested when the persecution of Falun Gong first began; how he had been jailed for three years and, days before his release, she was picked up off the street and sentenced to four years; how she had been handcuffed to a chair for 75 days and not allowed to sleep; how she was tortured and knocked unconscious many times; how she saw her friends die in prison one after another; how she had escaped to the United States; how she and her husband, married for over ten years, had only been given a chance to spend a few months together; how they were to be reunited; how he disappeared, and how worried she is about him now, because she knows what they do to Falun Gong practitioners.

And when she was done with the basics, they simply told us – we would like to write a letter to the Chinese authorities about this case. We will draft it this afternoon.

We invited them to see our last performance in Louvain-La-Neuve, just outside Brussels, that night and rushed to the theater.

Mei Xuan played beautifully. She always does – an amazing feat considering she has no idea where her husband is and whether, while she is in the spotlight on the world’s most famous stages, her husband is under the interrogation lamp being tortured for a false confession.

But maybe it was something about having spent the day with her, translating her story, that made her moving music that much more stirring. Even the silent pauses between her notes were charged with conviction. The applause roared as she finished her own composition: “The Calling.”

Right after the show, at 11:00 pm, a security worker approached me backstage saying three people were waiting for Mei Xuan. As we worked our way around the curtain to the audience we saw our new friends with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. On top of the flowers was an envelope with a copy of the letter that they had already sent to the PRC Ambassador to the EU.

No one seemed wiling to part – they were touched by Mei Xuan and Mei Xuan was touched by their compassion and encouragement.

I must also mention that, while I didn’t have the honor to meet the representative, someone from Amnesty International also presented Mei Xuan with a flower bouquet at that how. Amnesty had just issued an “urgent action” about her husband’s case. The card on Amnesty’s flowers read: “We fully support you.”

Here’s a copy of the letter from the Chairwoman of the European Union’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Ms. Heidi Ms Hautala.


Feb 23 2010

Our erhu player’s husband abducted in China

I’ve known erhu player Mei Xuan for three years – we’ve spent much of that time touring together with Shen Yun Performing Arts. Those who have seen her perform will remember that she plays the two-stringed erhu with tremendous emotional depth. Perhaps some of it stems from she has been through – Mei Xuan, a Falun Gong practitioner, spent spent four years as a prisoner of conscience in China. But her suffering doesn’t end there.

The persecution of her faith has also forced her to be separated from her husband of ten years. Late at night, after our shows, you could often find Mei Xuan sitting alone in the hotel lobby, calling her husband back in China. Until now.

Last Thursday, her husband checked in at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport, ready to board a flight for Newark, NJ, to be reunited with his wife. He passed through security and disappeared. He never made it on the plane. Airport employees suggested he was taken by the 6-10 Office, the special police force running the persecution of Falun Gong.

See the full Epoch Times story


Jan 26 2010

SHEN YUN FORCED TO CANCEL HONG KONG SHOWS

STATEMENT FROM SHEN YUN PERFORMING ARTS

RE: SHEN YUN FORCED TO CANCEL HONG KONG SHOWS

NEW YORK, January 24, 2010 – Shen Yun Performing Arts regrets to inform that seven sold out shows in Hong Kong have been cancelled due to Hong Kong authorities’ last-minute denial of entry visas to several of our key production staff. Continue reading