WASHINGTON—Over a thousand Falun Gong practitioners and supporters gathered on Capitol Hill on July 15 in Washington to mark 12 years of persecution of the peaceful spiritual practice of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), in China.
A Senate resolution introduced July 13 is calling on the Senate to mark the official anniversary of the day the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began. It also calls for the CCP to “cease and desist” from its persecutory campaign, and recognizes “the Tuidang movement, whereby Chinese citizens renounce their ties to the CCP and its affiliates.”
The resolution is the first to be introduced in the Senate, and also the first U.S. government resolution to recognize Tuidang, a growing peaceful movement of Chinese people who are withdrawing from the communist party. This year’s rally, held annually, celebrates the approaching milestone of 100 million Chinese who have renounced the party since 2004.
“I find it deplorable that the government of the People’s Republic of China only protects citizens’ freedom of religion and spiritual practice if they submit to the authority of the communist party—and if they do not, as in the case of Falun Gong, orders an intensive and unforgiving campaign against them that includes abduction, detention, and torture for refusing to recant their practice,” said Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), co-sponsor of S. Res. 232, in a statement. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) also sponsored S. Res. 232.
Falun Gong espouses a teaching of the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. The practice involves a set of slow-motion exercises and meditation believed to improve health and well-being, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center, an official source for Falun Gong.
A number of lawmakers attended the group’s annual rally to show their support for the human rights of Falun Gong, and to call for an end to the persecution. Many members of the House and the Senate sent letters of support. Stephen Hunter read a speech on behalf of Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ).
“The persecution of Falun Gong must end, and it must end now,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL.), a long-time supporter of Falun Gong practitioners’ rights, and sponsor of a House resolution condemning the persecution which passed near-unanimously in March of 2010.
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), said one of his most important responsibilities as a member of Congress is to protect human rights.
Comparing Falun Gong practitioners to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi, Farr said, “human rights violations anywhere should be a cause for concern everywhere for everyone.”
Speaking to the hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners, who sat before the podium in rows, holding signs depicting those killed and tortured at the direction of the CCP, Farr said, “continue to pursue non-violent protest.”
Since 1999, when the persecution began, over 6,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been sent to prison, over 100,000 sent to re-education through labor camps, and more than 3,000 have died while in police custody, said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).
“Egregious injustices, such as those suffered by the Falun Gong practitioners and others targeted by the Chinese Communist Party, are unacceptable in a civilized world and must end today,” said Bilirakis.
The Tuidang movement commended in S. Res 232 began after the publication of an editorial series in the overseas Chinese language newspaper Dajiyuan, (Chinese language Epoch Times).
The series detailed the history of CCP, with a particular focus on its human rights record, and past campaigns such as the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.
Soon after the editorials’ publication, the Dajiyuan website began receiving letters from readers renouncing their affiliations with the CCP. Those letters, including some from prominent intellectuals, teachers, and plainclothes police, speak of the suffering endured under communism. The newspaper began compiling the statements. Word spread, and the movement grew larger day by day.
“It is a massive, peaceful, nonviolent movement happening in China; It is the awakening of the conscience, and morality in China that is irreversible,” said professor Sen Nieh, spokesperson for the D.C. Falun Dafa Association, and one of the organizers of the rally.
“Tuidang is about building a movement that begins to undermine the communist party from within. It is kind of like the sinkhole mentality, where there is nothing under it, and pretty soon the ground just sinks,” said Smith.
“This resolution will further empower the Chinese people to break away from the shackle of CCP’s despotic rule and eventually obtain the most deserved freedom,” said Rong Yi, president of the Global Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party, headquartered in Flushing, New York.
Smith, chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, said that he plans to introduce a similar resolution in the House of Representatives.
Continued: Challenging Evil