Friday, June 5, 2015

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”  – Anne Frank

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The Jewish girl Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne Frank was one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Newly Crowned Miss World Canada Says Father Threatened in China

By Matthew Little, Epoch Times | May 21, 2015

Anastasia Lin campaigned for title on human rights platform, now faces direct threat against her family

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Chinese security forces have moved quickly to silence newly crowned Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin, threatening her father who lives in China that if she keeps up her human rights advocacy he and the rest of her family in China will pay for it.
Lin, who won the national beauty pageant on May 16 and will go on to represent Canada at the Miss World contest, received a distressed phone call from her father in Changsha, Hunan Province on Wednesday night, May 20, telling her he had been visited by Chinese security forces.
Until then, he had been thrilled with her win.
“At the beginning my dad was so happy because all those Chinese media were reporting about my win, and he was forwarding the news—in my hometown they were really proud,” said Lin who grew up in Changsha.
“He told me he was getting 100 to 200 messages every day congratulating him.”
“But then suddenly my dad told me to stop doing what I am doing,” she said. Something changed.
Family and friends told Lin that news stories about her started disappearing from the Chinese Internet. Any of the stories that mentioned her human rights advocacy were apparently blocked by China’s Internet censors.
Then Lin got text messages from her father telling her that security forces threatened to put him through Cultural Revolution-style criticism.
“They said they would turn on my family like in the Cultural Revolution, where a father does not recognize a son and son would expose the father,” said Lin.

“My dad was really scared. He said, ‘You must stop what you are doing now, otherwise we will just go our separate ways.’”
Although frightened by the call, Lin said she was not surprised. Like many human rights activists with family in China, it’s a threat she knew she might face.
“I don’t want to put my family at risk, but it is precisely because of them, because of this situation, that I have to keep doing what I am doing. Otherwise, all I have done before is in vain.”

Heart for Human Rights

Born in China, 25-year-old Lin campaigned for the title of Miss World Canada on a human rights platform, pledging to continue her work in Canada for religious freedom and that she’d be a “voice for the voiceless.”
A theatre major with a minor in history and political science from the University of Toronto, the model and actress has built a career acting in films that expose human rights issues in her native China.
Her first film dealt with the controversy of the poorly built schools that collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake killing thousands of children. She played a student who was killed in one of the collapsed schools.
She also stars in the Canadian-produced television series “Big Shorts,” a satirical take on Chinese state-owned television station CCTV, and recently starred in “Red Lotus,” which is in post-production. The film tells the tale of a female Falun Gong practitioner in China imprisoned for her beliefs.
Lin also practices Falun Gong, a Buddha-school meditation practice that was banned and subjected to severe persecution in China after it attracted some 100 million adherents in the early 1990s. The persecution still continues today.
Lin said the “Red Lotus” role was particularly moving and she doubted at times whether she could play it. “I had to interview many people, victims of human rights abuses,” she said.
She was unsure she could really play the role of someone who had been through imprisonment and torture and remained steadfast in their belief. Playing the part made a big impact on her.
“It was almost like the more hardship they went through, the more grounded they were in their faith,” she says.

‘Exporting Tyranny’

Until Wednesday night, that role and those interviews were the closest she had come to being directly threatened by the Chinese communist regime. Speaking about the call from her father, her voices hovers between fear, calm, and outrage.
Lin came to Canada when she was 13 and was deeply affected by what she describes as “the spirit of freedom” here.
Lin says she will use the Miss World Canada title to push harder regarding human rights issues and that she plans to engage governments and officials who have authority to address the human rights problems in her homeland.
The fact that she had won hadn’t even really sunk in when her father called.
Lin says she will be reaching out for help and support from the government and friends. She is worried for her family in China, but believes silence would just embolden the regime.
She said it is important to speak out about the threats against her family. She said if she keeps silent it will encourage the people threatening her dad and they will know they have a way to control her.
“If I speak out, I think it will protect my family, because the last thing those security people want is international coverage that they are threatening innocent people in China just because their daughter in Canada talked about human rights.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

From Europe to Brooklyn: Hundreds Stream Across Brooklyn Bridge for Human Rights in China

By Larry Ong, Epoch Times | May 13, 2015
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Falun Dafa practitioners cross the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn into Manhattan, New York, on May 13, 2015. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—They flew in from over the Atlantic to Brooklyn, and silently marched across one of America’s oldest suspension bridges bearing a simple, poignant message: People in China should be free to meditate.
On a clear, breezy Wednesday morning, nearly 600 practitioners of the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong set off from Cadman Plaza Park and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to Foley Square. Mostly from Europe, they hailed from 47 nationalities.
They wore yellow T-shirts with the words “Falun Dafa is Good” and the hashtag “#Free2Meditate,” and carried brightly colored banners that read: “Falun Dafa: Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance” and “Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong in China.”
The march is part of World Falun Dafa Day celebrations this week, where an estimated 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners from all over the world are taking to the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan to remind New Yorkers that millions of peaceful meditators in China aren’t free to keep their faith.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, involves slow moving exercises and the observance of moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Although the practice provided health benefits for millions of Chinese after its introduction to the public in 1992, the Chinese Communist Party launched a sweeping suppression in 1999—millions were persecuted, vilifying messages were spread in international media, and tens of thousands are suspected of having been executed in a state-run organ harvesting program.
“We hope that people in New York will note the severity of the persecution in China,” said Jana Skovajsova, a 31-year-old translator and interpreter from Czech Republic.

A Solemn March

“We want to let Americans know about the heinous crimes being committed by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Betty Hunter, a Brooklyn resident who organized Wednesday’s march.
Hunter, a retired law firm librarian, feels that a solemn, silent march is a good way of getting the attention of people who have never heard of the persecution and engaging them in conversation.
Hunter’s plan worked: On Brooklyn Bridge, Falun Gong practitioners handled out pamphlets about the practice and traumatic events from the past 16 years to passersby, and quietly explained to enquirers why they were marching. A policeman overseeing the proceedings was heard telling an elderly participant that it was “beautiful to see people from Germany, Finland, and other countries come together” to march.
Falun Gong practitioners also hope New Yorkers can appreciate the “beauty of truthfulness, compassion, forbearance,” said May Bakhtiar, a designer from Switzerland.
May Bakhtiar, a Falun Gong practitioner and designer from Switzerland, does a Falun Gong standing exercise in Cadman Plaza Park on May 13, 2015. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Bakhtiar, a youthful looking 52-year-old, was introduced to Falun Gong by a friend in 1997. After doing the exercises for three months, her allergies disappeared and her health improved, she said. Being mindful of Falun Gong’s moral teachings, she said, even tamed her fiery temper.
“Falun Dafa is good for the mind and body, and truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance is the answer to ending the violence in the world,” Bakhtiar said.

Then and Now

Many passersby accepted the pamphlets, and a handful stopped to listen to the Falun Gong practitioners.
This wasn’t the case the last time Falun Gong practitioners marched across Brooklyn Bridge in 2000, one year after the persecution began. The Communist Party’s propaganda against the practice was still in full swing, and the violent nature of the persecution and the peaceful nature of Falun Gong had not become clear to the world.
Qiu Ying, a 48-year-old Chinese teacher at a senior middle school in Italy, who has attended large-scale Falun Gong activities in New York since the early 2000s, recalls that New Yorkers then wouldn’t accept material from practitioners or even hear them out.
At an event outside City Hall on Tuesday, however, “casual strangers in the streets asking for directions accepted our pamphlets, were curious to hear about the persecution, and even expressed interest in learning the practice,” said Qiu, who is an Italian citizen.

The Beginning

An hour and a half after the march began, the last Falun Gong practitioners—a mother with a little girl in tow—stepped into Foley Square, the end point of the march. Banners were folded and stored away, and most of the marchers headed off in different directions.
“They’re going to Bowling Green Park, Central Park, and Times Square,” said David Tompkins, one of the organizers of World Falun Dafa Day.
Tompkins and co-coordinator Yi Rong have plenty planned for the week—Falun Gong exercise demonstrations in Central Park, candlelight vigils outside the Chinese Consulate, and a parade on Friday.
Some of the Brooklyn Bridge marchers stayed behind at Foley Square where festivities were already under way: performances of classical Chinese dance, traditional instruments, and a helping of Western music.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Iranian Scholars: Two Paths Converge at Shared Belief in Falun Dafa

April 06, 2015 | By Minghui correspondent Wang Mei
(Minghui.org) Mahnaz and Mohammad Esmaeili, an Iranian couple now living in Vancouver, Canada, met each other at a Falun Dafa activity. “Mohammad said to me, ‘I’m not going to get married this life.’ I responded, ‘No one would want to marry you, don’t worry.’” Mahnaz recalled with a smile, “Yet we fell in love and got married two years later.”
Iranian scholars Mahnaz and Mohammad Esmaeili

Two Paths Converged at Shared Beliefs

Different paths led these two scholars to start practicing cultivation in Falun Dafa.
Mahnaz was teaching at Semnan University in Iran after completing her Ph.D. in psychology. Yet academic success didn’t bring her happiness. “I wasn’t able to solve my own psychological problems even though it is my field,” Mahnaz recalled. “I was constantly in anxiety. The anxiety caused me to have stomach and kidney problems. A car accident 20 years ago added back pain to my list of problems. I was often unhappy.”
“I hoped that something would save me someday.”
Mahnaz learned about Falun Dafa through a friend. They went to watch the nine-day Falun Dafa lecture video series in 2003. Practitioners from Sweden visited Iran a few times during 2002 and 2003 to introduce Falun Dafa.
The video lecture was in English. Mahnaz didn’t understand English back then. However, she was impressed by the energy field—it was strong and comfortable. Her back pain was significantly reduced. She realized that the practice was very powerful. She soon got a copy of the Persian version of Zhuan Falun, the main book of Falun Dafa, and began practicing cultivation.
Mohammad is a process management scholar. He said, “People thought I was successful, but I wasn’t happy.” He, too, was troubled by stomach problems and shoulder pain and resorted to smoking and drinking to ease his suffering. He went to Turkey and hoped to find a way to go to Europe, but didn’t succeed.
After he retuned from Turkey, Mohammad was in low spirits. His colleague gave him a copy of the Persian version of Falun Gong, Falun Dafa’s introductory book. Falun Gong is another name for Falun Dafa. He finished reading the book in one day and was happy to have found Falun Dafa, especially the tenets of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.
“I’ve obtained answers to a lot of my questions in life,” Mohammad said.
He quit smoking and drinking in a week. “I didn’t even know when my pain and diseases disappeared! One day, I suddenly realized that I was pain free! I also became lighthearted.”
Mahnaz Esmaeili introducing Falun Dafa at an international conference
Mohammad Esmaeili doing the Falun Dafa meditation outdoors

Better Relations with Others

Mahnaz attributed her different state of mind to her Falun Dafa cultivation, “I’m peaceful and able to forgive those who wronged me. I am no longer angry at them. I sincerely hope to help them because I feel their pain.”
Applying the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance was difficult at first. Mahnaz works in a very competitive environment. Professors compete for research topics and students. They often get into arguments during thesis evaluations.
“Many students want to study under me. Other professors weren’t happy about that. Some even ignored me when I greeted them. Our relations were once quite tense,” Mahnaz recalled.
“I often thought others were to blame for my problems. I thought I was right. After practicing Falun Dafa, I started looking within and realized that I had much to improve on my end. I still greeted my colleagues warmly, gave them my sincere compliments, and was able to improve my work relations. A colleague who used to be in a ‘cold war’ with me became a good friend of mine in the end.”
Mohammad had similar experiences, “I used to think that I was better than others based on my intelligence. I was attached to my skills. However, I understood the principle of looking inward and reevaluated my past success. I learned to be more down to earth and gained more trust from my friends and colleagues.”

Relaying the Truth

Ever since he learned about the persecution in China, Mohammad has made it his mission to clarify the truth. He raises awareness about how Chinese Communist propaganda has misled Chinese and people around the world and prevented them from knowing what Falun Dafa is. Due to economic relations between Iran and China, a lot of Iranians don’t know about the severe human rights violations in China, nor the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners.
Mohammad told his friends, colleagues, and local media about the persecution, especially about how Falun Dafa practitioners detained in China are subjected to state-sanctioned organ harvesting.
Mahnaz, with other practitioners’ help, translated Bloody Harvest, a book by Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas and former Canadian Secretary of State David Kilgour on the subject of organ harvesting, into Persian. The first print was published in 2012 and sold out.
Mahnaz made a presentation about forced organ harvesting at an international human rights conference in Tehran in November 2012. The issue was reported by local media and had a notable impact on the public.

Moving to Canada

Practicing Falun Dafa has also sparked the Esmaeili’s interest in Chinese culture. They felt close to Chinese people and the culture, so they had the idea to move to a place where they can practice freely and be in touch with many Chinese. In the end, they chose Canada.
They arrived in Vancouver in January 2015. They were happy to see so many Chinese. “I very much want to let my new Chinese friends know that they should get to know Falun Dafa on their own, independent of the communist propaganda. Don’t be deceived by the Chinese Communist Party that persecutes innocent people for its own political gain,” Mohammad said.
The Esmaeili’s feel certain that, just as predestined connections brought them to the practice and together on the journey, their move to Vancouver will facilitate many more predestined encounters with Chinese who are yearning to learn the truth about Falun Dafa.
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