Today’s news:

Expert’s views on Falun Gong distorted group’s mission

I am writing regarding the July 10 article "Flushing Falun Gong rallies a ploy: Prof" in which your reporter interviewed a Professor Yan Sun from Queens College.

In that interview, Sun compared Falun Gong to the Branch Davidians and disparaged the spiritual practice as being irrational and a joke. The reporter sought out Sun because she is a "mainland Chinese immigrant and an expert on East Asian politics and post-communism studies," hence her statements carried a certain weight of credibility and scholarship.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Sun's characterization of Falun Gong parroted lies propagated by the Chinese government to justify its persecution of this peaceful spiritual group. The recent series of Falun Gong activities in Flushing were meant to inspire Chinese immigrants to think deeply about the nature of the Chinese and U.S. governments.

As these immigrants gain understanding of what Falun Gong is about, perhaps they will understand the truth behind Beijing's persecution of people of faith in China. At the same time, they will see in stark contrast how people in the United States are allowed to defend their freedoms of speech and assembly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Since Beijing began its crackdown of Falun Gong in 1999, overseas practitioners have chosen to use non-violent means to combat Beijing's slanderous propaganda and convince Chinese immigrants to quit the Communist Party to show their support for human rights. The practice of Falun Gong has always been voluntary and free of charge.

To Sun's assertion that these activities were a ploy to raise funds, all I can say is this: If anyone ever appealed to people for money, you can be sure it would have already been reported by the pro-Beijing Chinese media.

In a debate, if one side is telling the truth and the other lies, should a journalist provide equal space to both sides in the name of objectivity? I contend that a responsible journalist, like a juror, ought to dig for the truth and filter out the fiction in presenting a story to the public.

I am not accusing Sun of lying per se — for all I know, she is just another victim of Beijing's pervasive disinformation campaign against Falun Gong over the past nine years. It is easy to fall into this trap if one does not take time to truly understand Falun Gong's nature.

I know, because I used to hold the same opinion of Falun Gong until I encountered a practitioner a year and a half ago. After extensive research and reading, I realized the extent and degree of the lies that have been perpetrated on the world by the Chinese Communist Party.

World events have a way of intruding on local communities. I encourage your reporters to take a broader world view when reporting on New York's diverse communities.

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