Good Samaritans don’t exactly have it easy at times. Imagine receiving a death threat for helping others. Would you insist on what you’re doing, or choose to be silenced?
Meet Mitchell Gerber. At 25 years old, Gerber was studying business and international relations at Georgia State University when he received the chilling call, which he reported to the F.B.I. and U.S. State Department. The college student, though shaken, decided to stay committed to the important task he was working on, which was to inform his fellow students on campus about the Chinese Communist Party’s killing of Falun Dafa practitioners in China.
“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!” reads the transcript of the telephone conversation, which was made public on Minghui.
The alleged interpreter, who first called Gerber, asked if he’d accept a call from Beijing. Gerber agreed.
“Mitchell Gerber, you are an enemy to our great nation of China, and must be dealt with properly,” were among the first words translated to the alarmed student, who “literally started to cry,” he recalled. “The conversation sent chills down my spine.”
“We are not against the Chinese Government, we are not against China, and we think China is great and her people are great,” responded Gerber, his heart pounding in his chest. “We just want to stop the brutal persecution against innocent Falun Gong practitioners in China.”
At this point, the interpreter “abruptly stopped” the 25-year-old from saying any more. “Shut it, you stupid fool,” demanded the interpreter, who seemed less like a neutral interpreter by this stage, and more like an associate of the caller from Beijing.
When Gerber tried to explain that he’d continue with his efforts until every Falun Dafa practitioner is released from every jail and every forced labor camp, he was interrupted again. “Die!” shouted the interpreter angrily. “We will kill many more of your people in China, and kill you and anyone else who tries to come against our great nation.”
Gerber maintained the call for 20 minutes, until he decided to end it.
What’s Falun Dafa (aka Falun Gong)?
Introduced to the public in 1992 in northeast China, Falun Dafa, is a free-of-charge meditation discipline, which is now practiced worldwide. In its early stages in China, countless practitioners reported significant improvement to their mental and physical health, which led to a rapid increase in the number of Falun Dafa practitioners nationwide—totaling around 100 million by the late 1990s, according to official estimates.
Things took a turn in 1999, however, when former Party chief, Jiang Zemin, deemed the practice too popular, for it outnumbered the 70 million communist party members, and thus targeted it for elimination. A slanderous propaganda campaign ensued, utilizing all forms of Chinese-language media, framing Falun Gong and subjecting it to severe vilification, all with the intention of stopping people from practicing it.
The Chinese police are under orders to arrest and jail Falun Dafa practitioners, and an extralegal organization, the 610 office, was set up in order to oversee the persecution.
Falun Dafa practitioners are subject to horrific torture and forced organ harvesting in Chinese jails, according to an investigative report on Freedom House. Ongoing reports of deaths as a result of the persecution—an unverifiable amount—is of grave concern to the many Falun Dafa practitioners outside of China.
Why target Gerber?
Gerber, a Falun Dafa practitioner himself, says he used to 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.”
For his selfless endeavors, however, he was told that “there will be severe consequences.”
Mitchell Gerber today
Gerber, who’s 38 years old this year, says his mother was “very afraid” for her son’s safety upon learning of the threatening call, and adds that his family was quite angry that a foreign power could extend its hand of terror in America to harass an American citizen. Still, his family is fully supportive and proud of his noble aspiration to stand up for all the voiceless victims of the persecution.
Today, Gerber is as active as ever in his advocacy work to inform people about the 19-year-long genocide, which is still taking place in China as we breathe.
The 38-year-old says he will not stop exposing the Chinese regime’s crimes until the persecution of Falun Gong ends and every perpetrator is brought to justice.