Scotland: Support for Falun Gong in Scotland's Remote Western Isles

A practitioner from Glasgow was asked by her husband to visit Scotland’s Western Isles with him as a holiday. At first this practitioner was reluctant to go as she was very busy, but after thinking about it, she realised that this was a rare opportunity - these islands are several hours drive and a ferry crossing from Glasgow. The practitioner thought that the people on these islands should know about the organ harvesting situation in China.

After discussing with other practitioners in Scotland, the practitioner from Glasgow contacted human rights groups and the media on the islands beforehand. She also invited along some friends to go with her. The first island on the list was Barra. Over the phone, the practitioner explained about the Chinese Government’s persecution of Falun Gong to the landlady who was renting them a cottage. The landlady said that she would contact the human rights activists on Barra and tell them of their arrival.

The next day, the practitioner received a phone call from a resident of Barra. Neil is a postman on the island and a human rights activist. The practitioner emailed him a report about organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. She also sent him a report about a Falun Gong practitioner who was tortured in China. After Neil read these reports he told them to bring the petition so that he could put some in the local shops. It was also through Neil that this practitioner contacted the main branch of the media on these islands. The newspaper published an article about organ harvesting in China and specifically mentioned Falun Gong. They also included the reason for coming to Barra as well as the times and venues of the petitioning.

Barra

This practitioner’s husband was unable to make it but her friends went with her to Barra. After an entire day of travel they eventually arrived there. Barra is situated to the north of Scotland. The people on the island were very kind. The next morning they visited a few shops and after the shopkeepers heard about the persecution of Falun Gong, they agreed to take some material regarding organ harvesting. That afternoon, Neil came to visit. He asked a lot of questions about human rights in China and also told us that practitioners should come before the summer holidays next time, as the school teachers wanted them to give a lesson about human rights in China.

Neil used his free time to show the group around the island. The practitioner took this opportunity to tell him the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong. He said, “The people living in China don’t even have basic human rights.” His wife shook her head sadly when she found out about the situation, “This is awful! I can’t believe that things like this are still happening. Give me your petition. Our whole family will sign.” She then asked the practitioner to post some information regarding China’s human rights violations to her so that she could pass it on to the school teachers on the island.

After a retired couple learned the truth and signed the petition they said, “Everyone will support you. Everyone will sign your petition and wish you luck.” The elderly couple also gave the petition to their four friends and asked that they sign too. Before the group left Barra, they went to say goodbye to the elderly couple whose eyes were red-rimmed. They embraced everyone and said, “God bless you and hope that this persecution will be over quickly.”

Neil accompanied them to the port where the ferry left. He knew that very soon practitioners throughout Britain would be sending petitions to the Prime Minister at Downing Street. There was very little time and Neil felt a little pressurised. The practitioner reassured him and told him to do what he could. However Neil replied, “No, if you’re going to do something, you have to do it well. This is very important.” The practitioner and her friends then boarded the ferry heading for the next island.

Harris and Lewis

Harris and Lewis made up the biggest island of the Western Isles with around 2,500 inhabitants combined. The main media on the island, the Stornaway Gazette had already published an article about organ harvesting a week before the practitioner arrived on the island. Tarbert was the main town on Harris. The practitioner put organ harvesting leaflets and told people the news in the petrol station, hairdressers, butchers, gift shop, furniture shop, tourist information, newsagents and the police station. There weren’t very many people in Tarbert and so the practitioner was advised to go to Stornaway, the largest town on Lewis.

This practitioner asked for permission to set up a gazebo from the library near the area where she intended to do the petitions. The staff there reassured her that the space was free for use and also said, “The whole world passes here”. Two other practitioners had arrived the day before and began to set up the gazebo and posters. A young practitioner demonstrated the exercises in a bright costume, giving the other practitioners a chance to chat with people when pedestrians stopped to watch. Many people had already heard about the organ harvesting from live prisoners through a combination of media, newspapers and television broadcasts. They asked why the Chinese government was intent on destroying Falun Gong. Practitioners explained that Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance was the opposite of the Chinese government’s ideology. Instantly people understood the real motive of the Chinese government. The practitioners then took the opportunity to explain about the content of the Nine Commentaries and the wave of renunciations from the CCP after its publication. Some people told the practitioners that the CCP will not last for much longer, the Soviet Union collapsed and so will the CCP.

Around midday a young, western student passed by when he saw the posters. He approached the table and spoke to one of the practitioners in fluent Chinese. When she told him about organ harvesting, the student told her that he had read the news in the local newspaper. He helped the practitioners hang up the last of the banners and had his picture taken besides an organ harvesting banner. As the student was about to leave he said: “I really admire you and hope that you have success!” The next day he presented the practitioners with a box of apricots as a gift.

A local lady, called Mrs. Morrison took one of the organ harvesting leaflets. A while later she came back with tears in her eyes and said: “I’ve just read the leaflet you handed me. This is awful! We have to stop this! What can I do to help?” The practitioner encouraged Mrs. Morrison to contact her MP about the organ harvesting. She also mentioned that since there were so many refugees fleeing from China, the governments in other countries have to deal with an asylum issue but in order to deal with this issue, the British government have to look into China’s human right violations.

Just before the practitioners were about to pack up, a deaf lady came up to our gazebo and warmly embraced everyone before placing her hands over her heart. The lady’s husband told us that it meant she felt for us.

Upon picking up one of the Falun Gong leaflets she scanned the column of cities where there were Falun Gong classes and was disappointed to find that the nearest class was in Aberdeen. After embracing all the practitioners again and pressing her hands together in gratitude, the lady departed with her husband.

The practitioner’s husband who was unable to come earlier in the week now arrived in time for a small marathon on Harris. Around a hundred contesters from all over the UK arrived for the event. This was a very good opportunity to spread the news about organ harvesting from live prisoners. A practitioner asked for permission to place a small table in the hall where the participants would be registering. On the table she placed leaflets concerning the organ harvesting situation as well as the petition. When the participants arrived, they thought that the table was where they were supposed to register and flocked around. When they heard about the organ harvesting many of them signed the petition.

The final destination for the marathon was the local school. Unfortunately all the teachers were away as it was the summer holidays but the school’s receptionist took kept a few sheets of the petition. The practitioner also met a gentleman who offered to pass some materials along to the school once it opens. He said that the pupils should know about the persecution so that they will appreciate their peaceful environment.

Skye

Two practitioners from Edinburgh travelled to Skye especially for the event there. They set up a table in the centre of Portree the largest town on Skye. The weather was particularly temperamental with alternating showers and sunshine. Later in the afternoon, the two practitioners who had returned from Harris joined them. The group then split up with two practitioners going around the shops and tourist information centres putting Falun Gong leaflets and information about organ harvesting. The remaining practitioners stayed and looked after the table. One of these practitioners started to do the exercises. Soon a large group of teenagers arrived and began to make fun of the practitioner. After learning about the organ harvesting however, they all signed the petition and watched the practitioner with respect and interest.

A tourist originally from Glasgow mentioned that she had seen Falun Gong practitioners out on the streets giving out leaflets there. She also mentioned that the islands were so empty because it was the summer holidays and everyone goes abroad during the first two weeks, as the English holidays haven’t started yet so it is cheaper to go abroad.

Just before the practitioners were ready to pack up, a large white van carrying a dozen or so Chinese tourists stopped right in front of the table. The practitioners instantly rushed up to hand out leaflets, the Nine Commentaries and CDs. Most of the Chinese tourists accepted the leaflets and even inquired about Falun Gong. There was no negativity at all. To the practitioner’s surprise, even the courier who was supposed to prevent his group from taking leaflets or any materials took the information. He stood in front of the posters detailing the persecution and read them with great interest. Overall it was a very successful event.

Falun Gong practitioners had toured four of the Western Isles, explaining the truth about organ harvesting in China. They were deeply moved by the encouragement and support that greeted them wherever they went. Even though the practitioners had left, the petitioning was still ongoing. The human rights activist, Neil, had placed the petitions in the local shops and many people had signed including the local priest as well as the only MP for the Western Isles. Which shows that he is supportive of the action to have an independent investigation into the organ harvesting in China. Also, a social worker on Harris took a few sheets of the petition and put it in her office. The news of the organ harvesting from live prisoners will be spread from person to person until the whole of the Western Isles know about it.

Hopefully the people there will have a bright and prosperous future!

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