"We know where you are and who you are. If you don't give up what you are doing, we will kill more practitioners and come after you!" This chilling message was delivered to Falun Gong practitioner Mitchell Gerber of Atlanta over his cell phone on the evening of June 29. At least two other Falun Gong adherents received a similar call.
Mr. Gerber, a student of business and international relations at Georgia State University, knows why he was targeted for this abuse. "I do lots of work in Atlanta and at Georgia State University telling people about the persecution of Falun Gong in China. I put my name on fliers as a contact person, have organized a Falun Gong club at Georgia State, and have worked with Amnesty International to stage events that have been viewed by thousands of students. I also call and e-mail China directly, telling the people of China that the persecution of Falun Gong is wrong and must end."
Mr. Gerber is not alone in receiving a death threat. After he publicized what had happened to him, he learned that a Falun Gong practitioner in Washington, D.C., and another in Boston, had each received a very similar call that same night.
In publicizing the persecution of Falun Gong, Mr. Gerber has encountered firsthand the fear that Chinese students here in the U.S. have of even discussing Falun Gong. "The Chinese students will not even look at you when you pass out fliers. A few of them have talked with me in private. They fear losing their visas and fellowships."
Mr. Gerber believes the students have reason to fear: they, and he, are being monitored. "A Falun Gong practitioner at Georgia Tech learned there were several Chinese spies on campus. His source suggests there are also spies at Georgia State, and warned I should be careful."
What Mr. Gerber has encountered--death threats orchestrated from Beijing, and spies monitoring both him and Chinese students in the U.S.--fits the picture of Chinese espionage painted by the recent high-profile defectors Chen Yonglin and Hao Fengjun.
Chen, the 1st Secretary of the Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney, made headlines when he went public with his defection from China at a press conference in Sydney on June 4. Chen revealed that in Australia he ran a network of 1,000 spies. One of their assignments was interfering with and harassing Falun Gong practitioners.
Hao Fengjun, who before his defection had been an officer with the 6-10 Office- the office tasked with "eradicating" Falun Gong in China, went public with his defection a few days after Chen. Hao confirmed Chen's account of large Chinese spy networks in Western democracies that monitor and harass Falun Gong practitioners.
Mr. Gerber has found his brush with Beijing-inspired intimidation unsettling. His family is afraid but also angry. Mr. Gerber reports his mother is "very afraid."
Nevertheless, Mr. Gerber remains resolute. He has reported the call to the police, the F.B.I. and the U.S. State Department. "I will keep practicing Falun Gong, and will continue doing everything I can to expose the persecution in China."
Below is a transcription of Mr Gerber's statement.
Declaration of Mitchell Nicholas Gerber
My name is Mitchell Nicholas Gerber and I live at (address elided) Marietta Georgia 30068. I am over 18 years old and am competent to make this declaration. I have personal knowledge of the matters set forth in this declaration and would and could so testify if called as a witness.
1. Beginning at 8:22:56 PM on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 I receives 7 calls on my cell phone. The caller ID identified a number I did not recognize. That number was (612) 524-0455. When the phone rang for an 8th time, I answered it.
2. A man who spoke English as a native-born U.S. citizen informed me that the call was a "relayed chat from Beijing" and asked me whether I would accept it. I told him I would accept the call.
3. He then advised me that he was an interpreter in the conversation between Beijing and me, and that the person in Beijing would start the conversation.
4. He translated a message from Beijing as follows:" Mitchell Gerber, you are an enemy to our great nation of China, and must be dealt with properly." He continued, "Everything is fine in China, especially with the Children of China, there is nothing going on here." At this point, I felt extremely alarmed and uneasy, that I was threatened by such a harassing phone call.
5. The Interpreter then asked me if I would like to reply the person in Beijing. I stated, "Falun Dafa is good." The Interpreter interrupted me and asked me to spell "Falun Dafa," which I did. I continued, "We are not against the Chinese Government, we are not against China, and we think China is great and her people are great." "We just want to stop the brutal persecution against innocent Falun Gong practitioners in China." I felt very intimidated, but I needed to stand up for what I believe in and I needed the courage to speak out about what I stand for. It was truly frightening to me what was being said and my heart began to beat very fast.
6. The Interpreter abruptly stopped me and translated this message: "Shut it, you stupid fool." Based on his harsh tone, it was unclear to me whether he was a neutral translator or whether he was associated with the caller from Beijing.
7. "If you don't stop what you and your organization are doing, there will be severe consequences." "We know where you are and who you are." "If you don't give up what you are doing, we will kill more practitioners and come after you." I felt extremely intimidated and disturbed by the angry voice of the Chinese caller, as well as the interpreter. The conversation sent chills down my spine, and I literally started to cry.
8. The Interpreter asked me if I would like to reply to Beijing. Despite my distress, I tried to keep my composure and replied, "Only until every Falun Dafa practitioner is released form every jail, every concentration camp, and labor camp, and every brainwashing center, and is stopped being tortured, we will stop urging you to stop persecuting people who believe in freedom and individual rights and belief."
9. Angrily, the Interpreter translated to me; "Die!" "We will kill many more of your people in China, and kill you and anyone else who tries to come against our great nation." I felt numb and shock at the anger of the Chinese Voice and of the interpreter.
10. It was a three-way call and I could hear two other voices, the Interpreter and a Chinese voice. I tried to pay attention to the faint female Chinese voice in the background. As the conversation continued, the voice became louder as the person became angrier with me. He became even more angry when I said, "Falun Dafa Hao." (1)
11. The Interpreter cut me off again and stated, "We will create many practitioners' deaths unless you give up." The Interpreter asked me to continue and I stated, "The whole world knows that Falun Dafa is good, and we urge you to please stop persecuting innocent Falun Dafa practitioners. Thank you."
12. After about 20 minutes I ended the conversation. Afterwards, I could not complete my work because I was so shaken by the phone call. I found myself particularly upset by the caller's threat to kill more practitioners in China. Since receiving the phone call, my daily life has been disturbed and I feel chilled to the bone that the Chinese Regime would now extend its persecution towards the residents of the United States.
The above statement is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
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