The United States has called on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to immediately end its “depraved abuse and mistreatment” of the spiritual practice Falun Gong.
“Twenty-one years of persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is far too long, and it must end,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a rare statement by a top administration official about the repression.
“Extensive evidence shows the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government continues to repress and abuse this community to this day, including reported torture of Falun Gong practitioners and detention of thousands,” he said on July 20, the 21st anniversary of the start of Beijing’s persecution campaign.
Pompeo also demanded that the Chinese regime release imprisoned adherents of Falun Gong and account for the whereabouts of missing practitioners.
U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said he talked to Falun Gong representatives on July 20 about Beijing’s ongoing persecution.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that includes meditative exercises and a set of moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice spread widely in China, with at least 70 million people practicing by the end of the 1990s, according to official Chinese estimates at the time.
“Since 1999, the Communist Party of China (CCP) has sought to eradicate Falun Gong, a spiritual practice originating in China, and its peaceful practitioners and human rights defenders who have fought for their right to practice their beliefs,” Pompeo said.
The secretary described the story of Zhang Yuhua, a Falun Gong adherent who survived detention in China. Pompeo welcomed her last year at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington hosted by the department.
“After surviving what she described as torture while in a labor camp and a prison in China, she advocates on behalf of her imprisoned husband, Ma Zhenyu, who has endured months of torture because he refuses to renounce his Falun Gong beliefs,” he said.
Zhang was repeatedly imprisoned and suffered torture in China for a combined period of 7 1/2 years before escaping to the United States in 2015.
“Forced organ harvesting still exists, so we should take action,” Zhang said at the time. “Words don’t work.”
FDIC spokesperson Zhang Erping applauded the United States’ support for the group’s “cause for freedom of conscience, association, and expression.”
“His [Pompeo] press statement and longstanding support will inspire tens of millions of Chinese people to continue their struggle for freedoms,” Zhang said in a statement.
“We call on the international community to follow America’s lead and help end this two-decade-long, horrific persecution of Falun Gong in China.”