Some, like editors with the Washington Post and former Daily News of Los Angeles columnist and FOX News contributor Michelle Malkin, believe physician, journalist and Falun Gong member Wenyi Wang was only behaving in the finest of American traditions when she yelled at Chinese President Hu Jintao during his visit to the White House on April 20.
In an April 22 editorial, the Post opined, “There’s no question that it … caused Mr. Bush to be embarrassed about a lapse of protocol for a visitor acutely sensitive to diplomatic niceties. OK, but the United States shouldn’t indirectly apologize to the Chinese by means of an action that affronts American values.”
For Malkin as well, the irony was inescapable. “We marvel at Dr. Wang’s timing, even at what might be recorded as a landmark accomplishment in China’s long march to a freer society,” the Asian-American Malkin wrote in a recent post to her blog. “Her outburst came just after Bush, in his prepared remarks, urged Hu to allow Chinese to ‘speak freely.’”
Unfortunately for Wang, a 47-year-old mother of two, the romantic’s notion of America as the home of free speech is about to collide with the harsh reality of what happens when small voices speak big truths to powerful people who do not want to hear such things. And in this case, it appears power is about to have its way again with Wang facing possible jail time, heavy fines, perhaps even deportation if convicted for her internationally televised 45-second tirade against Hu on the White House lawn.
The Post reports that court documents have Wang waving a yellow banner and shouting in Chinese: “Stop oppressing the Falun Gong,” “Your time is running out” and “Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime.” Although Wang disputes saying Hu’s time was running out, she reportedly also yelled to Bush, “Stop him from persecuting Falun Gong!”
Wang has lived in the United States for 20 years, holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Chicago and speaks English not perfectly, but well. She attended the Hu ceremony as a reporter with the Falun Gong-owned newspaper Epoch Times, which in March carried Wang’s latest story on lucrative organ harvesting by China’s communist government.
This wasn’t the only time that Wang had sought out top Chinese officials to get in their faces over what Wang believes is a systematic government effort to dismantle the Buddhist-based Falun Gong movement by jailing, torturing and killing members, then taking their organs — sometimes while victims are alive — at secret detention camps around the country.
She did it once before in 2001 — nearly two years after the government had formally branded Falun Gong as an illegal and subversive group — at an international conference in Malta attended by Hu’s predecessor, President Jiang Zemin, whom Wang reportedly reemed out in a public argument.
Although the State Department recently found no evidence to back up Wang’s allegations of prisoner organ harvesting, the practice has been well-documented and known to government officials and members of Congress for at least 20 years.
In Wang’s opinion, there is no question about what the Chinese government is doing to her fellow Falun Gong followers. She has plenty of personal and anecdotal evidence to tell of the practice. The problem is no one appears to be listening, not even her best last hope — the U.S. government.
"It’s not a crime but an act of civil disobedience," Wang said of her actions, as reported by the Post after a U.S. District Court hearing in Washington two days following the incident. Wang was to head back to court this week for a fourth time, with her attorneys expected to argue that since Hu felt personally threatened, he should testify against Wang. A novel idea, but Wang knows she is in trouble. If convicted, even though she is a naturalized citizen, her biggest fear is being deported.
In a recent interview, Wang spoke of her experience at the White House, how she feels about the charge leveled against her, China’s barbaric but highly profitable organ harvesting industry and what the future holds for both her and Falun Gong in China.
— Kevin Uhrich
What’s the next step in your case?
Wenyi Wang: We asked the US to dismiss the case unconditionally. Apparently the time they put the charge on me they were under extreme press from the Chinese delegation. The translation from the interpreter I don’t think it is right. It was reported “Your days are numbered,” so it sounds threatening. It was taken out of character and it was found out that was not the translations, so that was a problem. The United States government can’t say something for Hu because it was a threat to a foreign official. They cannot say anything for him; he has to come over. He will have to say exactly how I harassed, threatened him — mother of two, physician — asking him to stop the killing, how I threatened him. That would be great. A lot of lawyers have come to me and said they would take the case pro bono because this is a great case, because of this law, there has never been a case.
How are you so sure this prisoner organ harvesting is happening?
When I was a physician in China I knew they were using executed prisoners’ organs without permission. I know because I was invited to the execution site by a senior surgeon to pick up some kidneys because, at that time, I was in the research group on tissue typing for certain diseases.
The State Department has recently looked into this allegation of using Falun Gong prisoners for organ harvesting, but apparently they didn’t seem to find anything.
Because they went there as part of a tour, two days after we published the article [in March] they moved the camp right away. Actually, a source came to us and said they transferred right way, once we reported it. They are very good at this. Once they opened up the labor camps to AP, Reuters and BBC. You could see prisoners playing the piano; they had guards; they had a good life. Then all of a sudden the reporters become part of the propaganda machine. They considered our claims so serious that they had to go there. But they took the guided tour. An official guided them through the entire tour. A third witness pointed out that actually there are quite a few number of patients from the United States, they are from Taiwan, Japan, from Korea, so they just simply have that international market, because a lot of people in this country have to wait for years.
How do you feel about how you’ve been treated by the courts?
I was shocked. Telling the truth to stop people from killing and other crimes. The United States should be proud they have a First Amendment for free expression and the freedom of beliefs and assembly, and the way they treated me I could see it was the pressure there by the Chinese delegation. To me, anyone who does this [organ harvesting from prisoners], it’s a crime to humanity.
Why did you choose to protest that way?
You know how difficult it is to get to China. If you speak in front of them, you’ll get killed. You have to really find out the person in power who knows this, so that is the only time I can really get the message directly to the Chinese president, who is in charge of everything. I did not think he actually felt that I was a threat because he had a soldier behind him. My lawyers want him to come over and tell the United States and tell the world exactly how he feels I was a threat.
What do you expect America to do about this?
To at least call to stop the persecution and end the practice of organ harvesting. If they are really sincere about human rights issues and respecting human life, they should send an independent investigation team like what the Canadian government is now doing. They don’t have a reply to their application yet. If there is nothing wrong, it should be open.
This hasn’t hurt you professionally?
I hope not. I was told if I am convicted, because I am not a citizen yet, according to immigration law they are going to have to send me back to China, to face the persecution that I am protesting. So six months in jail in this country, $5,000 in fines, then back to China. But right now I am really focused on telling society why I cried out at that time. This is not for myself. I was only calling out for attention from the international community to stop such practices as organ harvesting … for those people whose voices cannot be heard.
But you have certainly put yourself at great risk …
But this is worthwhile, because humanity … I myself took an oath, actually, to save lives.
I know, but you are in danger …
But somebody has to step up to stop such things, otherwise I feel myself it is criminal, to humanity, to humankind if you know such things are happening and then just stand there and say nothing. That’s not right. … We all have to take responsibility in this killing because now of course the Communist party is the key killer, and if we say nothing, we would be really wrong. … No matter what, people have a right to live. No matter what, it is not right to subject people to such crimes.