A United States NGO dedicated to the lives lost under communist regimes recently held its annual commemoration event in Washington D.C. Making a debut appearance was Friends of Falun Gong, a nonprofit that is calling for the Chinese regime to end a nearly 17 year-long brutal persecution of a traditional spiritual discipline.
On June 10, dozens of groups from around the world gathered at a memorial erected in memory of those killed under communist rule for the ninth edition of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation wreath laying ceremony.
In a speech, Foundation chairman Dr. Lee Edwards called communism a dictatorship theory that posed the greatest danger to mankind in the 20th century.
“Our Jewish friends remind us that history must never be forgotten, nor should it be repeated,” Edwards added. “We are gathered here to remember the victims, and speak truth.”
In a short speech, Paul Goble, formerly a U.S. State Department special adviser and CIA analyst, said: “When those victims of Communism, past or present, are able to come to the United States, they will be because of the effort of those who have raised this monument, and be able to hear from another ordinary American: ‘Yes, we’ve heard of you plight. We know and we support your struggle to be free. That’s why we were here. They must not be afraid, because we are with them.'”
Falun Gong practitioner Yu Jing was one of several representatives who solemnly placed a wreath underneath the memorial statue.
“I am fortunate to have come to United States, the land of free. But there are still so many practitioners in mainland China facing harsh persecution,” Yu, a native of Langfang City in the northern province of Hebei, told New York-based Chinese language broadcaster New Tang Dynasty Television.
Yu had been detained three times, had her home ransacked twice, and was once tortured to the brink of death. But she considers herself lucky because two of her closest friends were tortured to death for refusing to give up their faith in Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline. Practitioners perform five sets of meditative exercises, and live by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Alarmed by Falun Gong’s popularity—an official survey in the late 1990s counted 70 million practitioners from a broad spectrum of the Chinese society—former Party boss Jiang Zemin ordered a Cultural Revolution-style suppression of the practice on July 20, 1999. According to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for information about the persecution, over 4,000 practitioners have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more languish in some form of detention.
“Presently Falun Gong is the most severely persecuted group [in China], in terms of numbers, and also the severity of the persecution,” said Nicholas Zifcak, a member of the nonprofit Friends of Falun Gong (FOFG). Founded in 2000, FOFG advocates for practitioners’ rights, and calls on the Chinese regime to cease the persecution.
Zifcak continued: “We know that many Falun Gong practitioners have had their organs forcibly harvested by the Communist Party for transplant. This is an incredibly brutal form of persecution.”
After organ harvesting allegations surfaced in 2006, researchers verified that the Chinese regime is killing prisoners of conscience, the bulk of whom are Falun Gong practitioners, for their organs to stock an on-demand, for-profit state-run organ transplant system. Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, an NGO dedicated to exposing the regime’s grisly and unethical practice, estimates that the death toll is in the hundreds of thousands.
Governments and international bodies around the world have recognized that the Chinese regime is carrying out forced organ harvesting, and have passed legislations to condemn it. The U.S. House of Representatives recently joined the calls of concern by unanimously passing H.Res 343, a legislation that draws attention to the “persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China.”
Films about organ harvesting have also won prestigious accolades. In 2015, the documentary “Human Harvest” won a Peabody and an AIB Award, two top awards that recognize excellence in broadcast media. “Hard to Believe,” which aired on PBS stations, won Best Documentary at the Hoboken International Film Festival. And Anastasia Lin, Canada’s representative to the 2015 Miss World competition, won a Leo Award for depicting an abused Falun Gong practitioner in “The Bleeding Edge,” a feature film that deals with Chinese censorship and organ harvesting.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation was established in 1993 by President Bill Clinton to document the legacy of communist regimes and honor those crushed by its rule, as well as create a memorial and museum.
The memorial, a bronze reproduction of the statue of Liberty that pro-democracy Chinese students created before the massacre on Tiananmen Square in 1989, was completed in 2007 and dedicated by President George W. Bush.