TRENTON, N.J.—Policymakers and staff of the New Jersey Legislature were invited to attend a special screening of the new award-winning documentary, “Free China: The Courage to Believe,” at the New Jersey state capitol on Monday. Following the film, attendees reflected on America’s role in stopping human rights atrocities in China.
The film, completed in 2012 and not yet released to the public, sheds light on the grim practice of harvesting organs from live prisoners of conscience and the widespread use of slave labor to make exports for the West.
“I thought it was very eye-opening,” said John E. Harmon Sr., president and CEO of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. Forced labor in Chinese prisons “brings up memories of the slave trade in the United States,” he noted. “Clearly this is a practice that we as Americans should continually speak out about.”
New Jersey resident Charles Lee is one of the stars of the film. Lee was abducted by the communist authorities upon his return to China in 2003—despite being an American citizen. His “crime” was practicing Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a meditation practice that spread widely in China in the 1990s and is currently practiced in more than 100 countries.
The Chinese communist regime launched a brutal campaign to suppress and eradicate the practice in 1999, fearing its rapid spread, as the number of Falun Gong practitioners surpassed the membership of the Communist Party.
Lee was subjected to three years of slave labor and forced to produce items such as Homer Simpson slippers, widely sold in the United States at the time. He attended the screening in the New Jersey capital of Trenton to share his experiences and answer audience’s questions following the film.
He called on the United States to uphold its status as a “beacon of human rights” and consider the torture, exploitation, and killing of prisoners of conscience in its trade relations with China.
Chinese Communist Party leaders “don’t think in a way a normal government thinks,” Lee said. “They do not behave as a normal government would behave. So, it is critical for us to understand what kind of a regime we are dealing with when we do trading, cultural exchange, all those things with China. We have to have the right concept to really move forward.”
Jovi Hammer, legislative aide to event sponsor Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, appreciated the opportunity to gain awareness of the reality behind China’s façade of economic progress. Without paying for labor—by subjecting prisoners to slave labor—the regime has made a great profit on goods exported to the United States and other countries.
“I think one of the most unfortunate things is that there is no international sovereignty [to facilitate change within China],” said Hammer. However, he expressed hope at the dissemination of truth by media outlets such as New Tang Dynasty Television, co-producer of the documentary.
New Tang Dynasty has broadcast uncensored news into China via satellite since 2003, overcoming numerous attempts by the communist regime to block it. Despite the regime’s media monopoly, Lee says people in China are becoming more bold in their criticisms of the Party.
Lee was subjected to three years of slave labor and forced to produce items such as Homer Simpson slippers.
“‘Discontent is the first necessity of progress,’” noted Hammer, quoting Thomas Edison. “[It] is the initiation of progressing into something better.”
Not only the Chinese, but also Americans and other Westerners must be aware of the true nature of the communist regime, said Lee. He compared the regime’s crime of organ harvesting to the Nazi practices during World War II.
“It is not a behavior of human beings at all. … The Nazis used gas chambers on thousands of people, used their hair to stuff the pillows, used their skin for gloves, and ground their bones to be a fertilizer. … [The Communist Party] has not only taken organs from people who are still alive, but also used their body remains in plastination procedures to do exhibits in this country and other countries, … making a lot of money from this,” he said.
Accumulated evidence from multiple independent investigations, most recently published in a book called “State Organs,” edited by renowned Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, reveals that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been marked as potential donors and then killed for their organs while being incarcerated in Chinese labor camps and prisons. Practitioners of Falun Gong do not consume drugs or alcohol and enjoy the health benefits of the practice, which makes their organs desirable.
“As long as the Communist Party is in power, things will not change for the better,” concluded Lee.
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