At 10 a.m. on August 11st, 2006, a pilot of China Eastern Airlines, who is also a Falun Gong practitioner, Sheng Yuan explained his decision to stay in the U.S. to media during a press conference held at the National Press Club, Washington DC.
|Sheng Yuan gives speech in the press conference|
|Press conference venue|
Mr. Yuan has been a pilot for 18 years at China Eastern Airlines. He told an airport staff member about the persecution of Falun Gong prior to his flight to the United States on August 8th, 2006 at Shanghai's Pudong Airport. He also introduced the "Nine Commentaries on Communist Party" and advised the staff member to renounce the CCP. The staff member reported him, and the police subsequently detained him. Because the flight crew could not be changed so close to the flight time, Mr. Yuan was allowed to board the flight and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at noon on August 8th. At noon on August 9th, Mr. Yuan announced his intention to seek asylum in the U.S. To avoid persecution in China upon his return.
Mr. Yuan said during the press conference, "I started to practise Falun Gong at the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998. I was a little over 30 years old. Due to a heavy flight schedule, I flew to other countries for more than 20 days each month. I could not eat or sleep well because of adjusting to time differences every day. I became weak and felt tired even after walking a few steps. My teeth became loose. I felt that the future was quite bleak."
At that time, he flew to Los Angeles. A former colleague who lived in Los Angeles came to visit him and introduced Falun Gong to him by presenting him with a copy of Zhuan Falun and telling him about the health benefits and the wide spread of Falun Gong.
After returning to China, he found that many people practised in his residential area. Thus he started to learn and practise. Though he was busy and did not practice much, he found his health was improved and he regained his confidence.
On July 20th, 1999, he flew back to Shanghai from the U.S. As soon as everyone arrived at home, the airline officials called together those who practised Falun Gong and held a forced brainwashing session. They were forced to read newspapers slandering Falun Gong and look at fabricated propaganda. The airline officials talked to them everyday and asked them to write a statement renouncing Falun Gong. Otherwise they would not allowed to be a part of the flight crews.
Mr. Yuan said, "I felt very bad. I cried one day, the only time I have done so in my adult life. Why is it not allowed to practise such a good thing? The most painful point was that I wrote the statement of not practising Falun Gong against my conscience."
He said that he heard a lot about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners around him. For example, during a recent Shanghai Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, many practitioners, including several from the area near his home, were arrested.
Renouncing the CCP in Paris
In March 2005, Mr. Yuan flew to Paris. He saw the Epoch Times and Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party in his hotel there.
Mr. Yuan was a CCP member. He said, "After reading the nine commentaries, I did not waste one minute and called the local service centre for withdrawal from the CCP. I used my true family name and stated my intent to renounce the CCP. I could not stay a part of such an evil organisation, as I saw how the evil party persecuted so many fellow practitioners."
On August 8th, 2006, Mr. Yuan was one of the two pilots on the flight and was in charge of the return flight. At a little after 2 p.m. on that day, 310 passengers boarded the airplane. He saw a young security staff member standing there and greeted him. From his accent, Mr. Yuan knew that he was from Shandong Province and started to talk to him about the Nine Commentaries, the wave of withdrawals from the CCP, and the persecution of Falun Gong, and advised him to renounce the CCP. They talked for more than half an hour and the young man left. After a little while, he brought back four airport police. The police wanted to take Mr. Yuan away.
All the passengers were boarded already at that point. Upon the insistence of the flight crew and ground personnel, the police allowed Mr. Yuan to board but told him, "After you come back, we need to clear up this incident."
Mr. Yuan said that it is important to have people see the "Nine Commentaries", "Many Chinese people live amidst the CCP’s lies. Many young people don’t know the facts. The 'Nine Commentaries' provide the opportunity for Chinese people to learn the facts. People will be able to walk away from the CCP’s lies and won’t be deceived after reading the 'Nine Commentaries.'"
A Choice Made from the Heart
Mr. Yuan said, "On the way here, I thought about it over and over. I came to the U.S. often and never thought to live here because I have a comfortable and privileged life in China. I have family there. How can I leave so suddenly? But this time I thought it over and felt differently. Because the CCP is most afraid of the 'Nine Commentaries', I talked about the 'Nine Commentaries' and renouncing the CCP. It is the most sensitive topic in China. I saw the danger of my situation and got the idea to stay here."
Colleague’s Good Wishes
Flight MU586, which Mr. Yuan was scheduled to pilot, landed in Shanghai at 6:30 p.m. local time on August 11th. Three and half hours later, Mr. Yuan urged the CCP regime not to implicate his colleagues at the press conference.
When approached by overseas media, several colleagues of Mr. Yuan complimented his kindness and earnest nature. "He is kind to others, has great integrity, and is a sincere man. He is an honest man that doesn't lie." "He is very kind to friends and colleagues. He works very hard and is committed to his work. He has a good safety record with no accidents."
His colleague Mr. Zhang said, "Whatever happens, I hope that everything will turn out all right for him. Whatever he chooses, I hope he will be all right."
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