A Chinese student group at Columbia University posted a statement on its Web site on Wednesday the last line of which reads in Chinese “Anyone who offends China will be executed no matter how far away they are!”
“Anyone” in this case refers to those who practice Falun Gong. The statement speaks of Falun Gong practitioners at Columbia University being “disloyal” to and “defaming” China.
Wednesday’s Web posting is the latest and most extreme instance of attacks by the Columbia University Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CUCSSA) on Falun Gong, dating back to a panel discussion sponsored by the Columbia University Falun Dafa Club on April 20 that was critical of the Chinese regime’s human rights record.
The panel discussion in April, titled “China’s New Genocide—Organ Harvesting from Live Falun Gong Practitioners,” had been widely advertised on the Columbia University campus and featured three speakers discussing the practice of harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners in China.
The CUCSSA responded by sending out an email to its members the night before that referred to using “flags dyed red in blood to beat” the “high spirits” of Falun Gong. The email also repeated slanders of Falun Gong typically used in the Chinese regime’s propaganda.
The Falun Dafa Club received a copy of the inflammatory e-mail and Columbia University police were on hand the next day when 20 to 30 CUCSSA members showed up carrying large red flags, which they were forced to leave outside the lecture hall.
During the panel discussion CUCSSA students held up small placards attacking Falun Gong using terms borrowed from the Chinese regime’s anti-Falun Gong propaganda, flew paper airplanes in the direction of the speakers, and in other ways acted in a disruptive manner. Two students from the CUCSSA group were prevented from reentering the lecture hall because of their inappropriate behavior.
After the events on April 20 Suman Srinivasan and one other Columbia student filed a complaint with Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) against the president of CUCSSA, Mr. Xu Kai, and three other CUCSSA members who, like Xu, are students in SEAS.
These Web postings would first be e-mailed by Xu to the CUCSSA e-mail list (CUCSSA claims 4,000 members) and then posted on the Web site.
An investigator from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) called Xu and asked him about the postings on the CUCSSA Web site. In a transcript of that phone call published by WOIPFG, Xu claims these postings are articles taken from the Chinese Embassy’s Web site and published with the Embassy’s permission.
Srinivasan said, “These articles and e-mails by Xu are hate speech. They are what the Chinese regime uses to justify the persecution of Falun Gong in China.”
According to Ms. Louk, after complaining to multiple offices of the University by phone and email on the evening of the 11th about the posting by the CUCSSA that recommends execution, she finally got a response on the afternoon of the 12th. A university administrator told her the complaint was being investigated and her office was waiting for an official translation of the Chinese-language post.
Whether the SEAS has disciplined Xu in response to Srinivasan’s complaint is not known, as University policy forbids disclosing the result of disciplinary hearings. However, the July 11 posting on the CUCSSA Web site claimed that Xu had been found “blameless” by SEAS.
Srinivasan confirms that SEAS reached a decision on his complaint. He learned this when he contacted the administrator handling his complaint to give her updated information and was told the complaint had been settled.
Srinivasan feels that the University administrators have been very cool to the Falun Dafa Club’s complaints and has sought to downplay the incidents of harassment. He feels the University simply wishes to avoid bad publicity.
The Columbia alumnus speculated on why the University would be slow to act. “Columbia University is desperately trying to raise money. It has extensive collaboration with China, and a few departments are very well funded by China,” he said.
After the Falun Dafa Club complained of the behavior of the CUCSSA on April 20, two Columbia University administrators were added to the CUCSSA advisory board, Ms. Beatrice Terrien, the associate dean for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Ms. Kecia Brown, the assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The University adminstrators’ presence in an advisory role has not had any noticeable effect on the behavior of the CUCSSA, as witnessed by the several postings attacking Falun Gong on its Web site.
Chen Yonglin, before he defected in Australia, was the first secretary of the Chinese Consulate in Sydney. He has explained how these groups “are an extension of the Chinese communist regime overseas.”
“Often, it is not convenient for the Chinese mission to do certain things. So to use student organizations, with a neutral name, is more effective,” according to Chen.