WASHINGTON—It’s time for the United States to recognize the “genocide occurring against practitioners of Falun Gong in China,” a religious freedom expert told rally attendees in Washington on July 16.
Noting the U.S. government’s designation that the Chinese regime’s repression of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region amounted to a genocide, Nina Shea, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, called on the United States to do the same in relation to Beijing’s ongoing persecution of Falun Gong.
“Genocide is the destruction in part of a religious community, for example, with the intent to eradicate it, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that what has happened these past decades to Falun Gong meets that criteria,” she said at the rally.
“This is the most heinous human rights [abuse], and it’s engraved in the American heart.”
The rally on the National Mall was held to mark the 22nd anniversary of the start of the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong on July 20.
After the rally, around 1,500 to 2,000 participants—an estimate from the organizers—proceeded to march from the U.S. Capitol down Constitution Avenue, ending at the Washington Monument, where a candlelight vigil was held that evening.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that includes a set of meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It saw surging popularity in China in the 1990s, with 70 million to 100 million practicing by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time. Deeming this a threat, the regime launched a sweeping campaign of suppression on July 20, 1999.
Since then, millions of practitioners have been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, where torture, such as electric shocks, beating, sleep deprivation, and other forms of abuses are widespread. An untold number have died from the ill treatment or due to forced organ harvesting.
‘The CCP Is Dissolving’
Rights advocates at the rally said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will not escape judgment for its decades-long suppression of Falun Gong adherents.
“We need to stand on the right side of history and to punish CCP crimes against humanity and totally dissolve the CCP,” Frank Gaffney, vice chairman of Washington-based advocacy group Committee on the Present Danger: China, said.
“The CCP is dissolving now,” he said, warning that from the decision-makers to those executing the persecution, “all the people participating in this crime” will be held to justice.
Faith McDonnell, director of advocacy at Katartismos Global, highlighted the grassroots Tuidang (quitting the Party) movement, which has seen more than 380 million Chinese in the mainland and overseas renouncing their ties with the CCP and its affiliated groups. Communists, she said, “want to take the place of God, and they are not going to do it.”
She also took special notice of a banner at the rally reading “The World Needs Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.”
“Truth is in low supply today,” she told attendees. “After 22 years of what Falun Gong has been through in China, and by China’s tentacles reaching out into the world as well, you have continued to stand for truth.”
Gaffney on July 16 called the CCP a “criminal organization.”
The “criminal act” of forced organ harvesting targeting Falun Gong practitioners is “absolutely undeniable,” and “they cannot escape the judgment of history,” he said.
An untold number of Falun Gong adherents have died from having their organs forcibly removed, with their vital body parts sold on China’s transplant market. A 2019 independent people’s tribunal concluded that the regime has, for years, been killing detained Falun Gong practitioners for their organs “on a significant scale.”
Other speakers at the rally included Dr. Kurt Werthmuller, a supervisory policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Jürgen Braun, a German member of parliament; Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at Freedom House; Andrew Bremberg, a former U.S. representative to the U.N. and president of the Victims of Communism Memorial; Wendy Wright, president of Christian Freedom International; Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians; Alan Adler, executive director of Friends of Falun Gong; 16-year-old Chen Fayuan, whose parents are in detention in China; Rong Yi, president of the New York-based Tuidang Center; and Wang Zhiyuan of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.
At the rally, Friends of Falun Gong also presented an award to Sev Ozdowski, president of the Australian Human Rights Education Council, “for his selfless efforts to help Falun Gong practitioners in China.” The award was received on Ozdowski’s behalf by Barry Shaka.
Lawmakers Call for Sanctions
Earlier this week, several U.S. lawmakers called for Beijing to be punished and sanctioned over its ongoing repression of Falun Gong adherents.
“There should be sanctions,” Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) told NTD, sister media outlet of The Epoch Times, on July 15.
Pointing to Beijing’s forced organ harvesting of practitioners, Babin described the Party as an “evil regime.”
In June, the Texas Senate adopted a resolution condemning the practice of live organ harvesting as “murder.” In March, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers also introduced legislation in both the Senate and the House to stop the forced organ trade. “Organ harvesting is an egregiously barbaric and inhumane act that has no place in our world,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said at the time.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), meanwhile, called on the administration and Congress to take action to stop the atrocities.
“We have to say that there are consequences. There’s going to be pain, there’s going to be economic pain, diplomatic pain, there is going to be a reputational consequence,” Perry said in a July 13 interview with NTD.
“There’s no time to waste.
“[As] every single day goes by, more people are being tortured. And it’s emboldening the Communist Party to just continue to do the things that it has done in the past, without any accountability.”
Cathy He contributed to this report.