- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Two Falun Gong demonstrators were shoved out of the Chinese Embassy in Northwest yesterday after entering the building's lobby to hand-deliver a statement of protest.
The demonstrators, part of a group of Falun Gong practitioners who have been holding a hunger strike protest near the embassy since Friday, entered the lobby at about 1 p.m. They carried a statement they hoped to leave for Chinese Ambassador Yang Jiechi that objected to the "extended illegal imprisonment" of 130 Falun Gong practitioners in the Masanjio labor camp in the Liaoning province of China.
But moments after they were admitted to the controlled-access building, Shean Lin and April Zhang were shoved back toward the exit by an embassy worker who entered the lobby from a side door. The man pushed Mr. Lin several times, speaking loudly in Chinese, before retreating into the embassy. He could be seen through a glass wall picking up a telephone.
When Mr. Lin placed the brown envelope containing the protest statement on a counter in the lobby, the man slammed down the telephone, retrieved the statement, opened the embassy's outer doors and flung the statement onto the sidewalk. The envelope caught a breeze and landed at the man's feet. He picked it up and threw it out again.
"We basically said, 'We want to deliver a letter,' and they started pushing us," said Mr. Lin. "They cursed us and saw the letter and threw it out."
Mr. Lin and Mrs. Zhang were finally escorted out of the embassy by a U.S. State Department official and a sergeant from the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division.
Demonstrators captured the incident on videotape.
Across the street, in the park the demonstrators call "Tiananmen Garden," the sergeant suggested to a group of about 30 Falun Gong supporters, including 10 who are participating in the hunger strike, that they mail the protest statement . He warned them they could be arrested if they try to enter the embassy again.
"Let me tell you right now that your members should not be attempting to enter the embassy," the sergeant said. "You're not welcome to come inside and demonstrate. It's that simple."
Embassy spokesman Zhang Yuanyuan said yesterday that demonstrators were not permitted to enter the Chinese Embassy. He called the hunger strike "a political farce put up by a bunch of Falun Gong die-hards."
"We don't recognize the Falun Gong, so we don't recognize their actions outside the embassy," Mr. Yuanyuan said.
The Chinese government banned Falun Gong in July 1999, calling practitioners, who often gather in public places to perform yoga-like exercises, an "evil cult." Dozens of Falun Gong leaders were arrested after weeks of demonstrations throughout China after the ban, and the demonstrators say 265 persons have been tortured and killed since the ban began.
Practitioners say Falun Gong is a meditation sect that emphasizes refining the body and mind through special exercises.
Six practitioners from Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., decided Wednesday to travel to the District to begin the hunger strike. Four more practitioners have since joined. The protest was inspired by reports that the 130 practitioners imprisoned in the Masanjio labor camp began their own hunger strike almost three weeks ago.
One demonstrator admitted yesterday he was feeling weak from a lack of food but reaffirmed his commitment to continue.
"If I die for the 130 people, it's worth it if they can be saved," said Sam Li, a former Chinese government tax auditor who was imprisoned in China for two months last year for practicing Falun Gong. "We basically just try to endure the hunger. In China they're probably being beaten up right now."
The attempt to deliver the statement was the second since the hunger strike began Friday. Demonstrators first slipped it through the space between the embassy's doors. Moments later, they say, the door was opened and the statement was thrown out.


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