- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Two D.C. practitioners of Falun Gong protested with a group yesterday in front of the Chinese Embassy on Connecticut Avenue NW, asserting that they were illegally detained and persecuted in Beijing on Valentine's Day.
The Chinese government believes the practitioners were there only to disrupt and damage Chinese New Year celebrations, according to news reports.
Donna Scott Ware and Brian Marple were among 11 Washington-area residents who were detained with about 60 practitioners in China last week when they planned to stage a protest, or appeal, in Tiananmen Square against the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
"I felt deep sorrow in my heart for the Chinese people and wanted to let them know the truth about Falun Gong that it is truthfulness, compassion and tolerance," said Mr. Marple, a Georgetown University freshman majoring in the Chinese language, explaining why he decided to go to Tiananmen Square.
Falun Gong, which describes itself as a personal, physical meditation for good rather than a religion, claims the Chinese government has killed more than 1,600 practitioners since the movement went worldwide in 1999. According to Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom in the 1300 block of 18th St. NW, China's government aims to repress religious expression outside of its control.
Falun Gong practitioners have appealed directly to the White House and through U.S. senators and representatives to President Bush, who is in China this week. They encourage President Bush to urge Chinese President Jiang Zemin to end the campaign to eradicate Falun Gong.
No reaction was seen in the Chinese Embassy yesterday as some of the detainees displayed protest banners, went through the mild physical exercises while meditating, and spoke about their experiences.
"The plainclothes police officer pulled my hair and shoved me into the van at the same time," said Mrs. Ware, 36, a technical writer living in Capital Park near the waterfront. "I didn't see my husband again until we were forced onto the plane."
Mr. Marple, 19, of Whitefield, Maine, said, "When I and another practitioner nearby began to sing the Falun Dafa Hao song, the thug slapped me hard in the face multiple times. When a nearby elevator opened, he kicked me in the back, shoving me into the elevator with his foot … slamming my head into the wall."
A black-and-blue mark was still visible under the left eye of Mark Gardner of Los Angeles, who said "a number of police" pinned him to the ground "before I could unfold my banner." When they told him to put his head down between his legs, "I refused to cooperate," he said.
David Lee Jerkey, of Tacoma, Wash., displayed a maroon shirt, its buttons missing and the left sleeve tattered as a result of his encounter with police. "I never experienced such viciousness, sheer hostility in my life," he said.
Most of the Chinese officers were in their early 20s, Mr. Jerkey said. "They're just following orders, just like in Nazi Germany in the 1940s."
Other area residents who were detained are Robert Nappi, 47, a postal service employee from Alexandria; Heide B. Malhotra, early 60s, of Vienna; software engineer Duwon Kang of Chantilly; gym manager Keith Ware, 43, husband of Donna; public relations firm manager Nathea Lee, 45; Jeff Priore of Alexandria; Heide B. Malhotra of Vienna; German citizen Bjorn Neumann, 33, and Steven Reani of Capitol Hill.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide