More than 600 current and former lawmakers from 30 countries are calling on the Chinese regime to end its hostility against Falun Gong, saying the 21-year persecution campaign is one of the “harshest” against a faith group in modern history.
The lawmakers “urge the Chinese government to respect international norms … and to immediately stop the persecution of Falun Gong in China, and to unconditionally release all detained Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience,” reads the statement signed by 606 lawmakers from nations in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East.
“The persecution of Falun Gong in China has been one of the harshest campaigns against a faith group in modern times.”
The statement notes that Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a meditation discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice was, at one point, praised by authorities in China for its espousal of moral standards and for improving the health of adherents.
But its rapidly growing popularity—with government surveys showing that between 70 million and 100 million people were practicing by 1999—was more than then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin could tolerate. Jiang rose to power after leading the bloody confrontation against the Tiananmen Square democracy activists during the 1989 protests.
“The 20th of July, 2020, marks 21 years since the Chinese Communist government launched a systematic and brutal campaign to ‘eradicate’ Falun Gong,” the statement reads. “Since July 1999, millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China have been arbitrarily arrested and jailed without due process and many have been tortured and even killed.”
Canadian member of Parliament Peter Kent said the international community should “speak up more forcefully and more publicly” in denouncing the Chinese regime for its suppression of human rights.
“We must continue to work and hope that China will one day respect rule of law, the freedom of speech, assembly, and religion; a day when the tenets of Falun Gong can be spoken aloud in Tiananmen square: truthfulness, compassion, tolerance,” Kent, a former cabinet minister and former anchor with NBC and CBC, said in a statement. Kent, who also co-chairs the Parliamentary Friends of Falun Gong, is one of the 63 current and former Canadian members of Parliament who signed the statement.
George Christensen is among the 24 Australian federal and state-level members of Parliament who are signatories.
“The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, who have suffered oppression, torture, and victimization, is one of the most appalling campaigns undertaken by the Chinese Communist Party,” Christensen said.
“I will always stand in sympathy and support with those who practice this peaceful spiritual observance.”
Tommy Sheppard, one of the 29 current and former UK parliamentarians who signed, noted that Falun Gong adherents have been subject to “deplorable persecution” in China, adding that Beijing should be held accountable.
Swedish lawmaker Ann-Sofie Alm, one of the 26 current and former Swedish parliamentarians to put their names on the statement, said “the free world” is gradually getting to understand the cruelty of the Chinese Communist Party.
“I want to raise awareness about the many Falun Gong practitioners who have been detained in ‘reeducation through labor’ camps, prisons, and other detention facilities as prisoners of conscience. There have been reports of torture and even organ harvesting,” Alm said.
“This is why this joint statement is so important. The Communist Party of China needs to know what the free world wants. … [The persecution] needs to stop right now.”
Drs. H. Guspardi Gaus, a member of Indonesia’s House of Representatives and a signatory to the statement, called the persecution of Falun Gong “inhuman” and “very barbaric,” and asked for a legal process to end it.
Taiwanese lawmaker Wang Ting-Yu, who also signed the statement, said the CCP has used the techniques it learned through persecuting Falun Gong against other groups as well.
“Therefore, solving the Falun Gong issue is fundamental in solving all these problems,” Wang said. “We’ll let the Chinese Communist Party know that if you persecute Falun Gong, you will have nowhere to go in the world, nowhere to hide.”
Organ Harvesting and Other Forms of Persecution
The joint statement outlines a number of reports from governments, the United Nations, and human rights organizations that have documented the persecution campaign against Falun Gong.
It notes that last year, an independent people’s tribunal in London found that China has been harvesting organs from Falun Gong adherents for years “on a significant scale.”
The China Tribunal was chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who previously led the prosecution of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal.
The statement notes that the European Parliament passed a resolution in 2013 expressing “deep concern over the president and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting” by Beijing from Falun Gong practitioners in large numbers. It added that the U.S. Congress passed a similar resolution in 2016.
The statement also points to findings by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture, which stated that two-thirds of victims of alleged torture by the Chinese regime are Falun Gong adherents.
Another report cited in the statement, by Amnesty International, says Falun Gong adherents continue to be “subjected to persecution, arbitrary detention, unfair trials and torture, and other ill-treatment.”