In an exclusive interview, former U.S. State Department official Miles Yu said that there’s more evidence of a genocide perpetrated against Falun Gong adherents in China than the plentiful evidence of a genocide against the Uyghurs.
Both the Trump and the Biden administrations have designated the repression of Uyghurs in China as a genocide. Yu previously advised then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on strategies related to China. Now Yu is supporting the view that there is not only a Uyghur genocide taking place in China, but also one against Falun Gong.
Falun Gong is a peaceful spiritual practice based on Buddhist and Daoist principles that was popularized in China during the early 1990s. The practice’s following of 70 million to 100 million adherents by 1999 was seen as a threat by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which then instituted a policy of persecution to the point of genocide, to eradicate the practice.
Yu told The Epoch Times in an Aug. 9 email: “I am surprised that [a] genocide charge against the CCP re FLG [Falun Gong] has not become a focal point of international human rights campaigns targeting the CCP.
“When deciding [a] genocide designation, the most difficult legal barrier is to prove ‘intent’ of the perpetrator.”
According to international human rights lawyer Beth Van Schaack in her analysis of the Uyghur genocide: “The biggest challenge to establishing the commission of genocide is the mens rea (or mental state) requirement that the perpetrator(s) not only intend to commit the underlying act(s), but that the acts are committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. The intent element is the hallmark of genocide and what distinguishes it from other international crimes, such as war crimes or crimes against humanity.”
Yu believes “it would be much easier to prove this [intent] in the FLG case than the Uyghur case, because the CCP has tried harder to disguise its genocidal repression against the Uyghurs while its repression against the FLG has been more blatant.”
There is more documentary evidence of a genocide against Falun Gong than there is against the Uyghurs, Yu said. “The documentation of the CCP’s criminality re FLG is also more apparent and systemic.”
International lawyer Terri Marsh, executive director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, agrees. She told The Epoch Times in an Aug. 9 email, “The evidence does support a claim of genocide: There is a plethora of evidence documenting China’s well-coordinated plans and policies to subject Falun Gong believers to a widespread suppression campaign that features torture, rape, extrajudicial killing, and other forms of degrading and injurious treatment in regions across China.”
The Human Rights Law Foundation wrote a 2015 paper that described the CCP’s “struggle” or “douzheng” (斗争) campaign, including planning that amounts to intent constitutive of genocide to eradicate Falun Gong through extralegal methods such as imprisonment, torture, and forced organ harvesting.
Unfortunately, additional scholarly attention to the Falun Gong genocide is relatively lacking. According to a 2018 study published in the international journal Genocide Studies and Prevention, “The genocide against Falun Gong stands out as anomalous because it is virtually ignored.”
To overcome this elision in reporting and prosecution of the Falun Gong genocide, Yu advises using the International Criminal Tribunal’s (ICT) past genocide designations as templates. “It would not be a bad idea to use the ICT’s genocide designations for Rwanda and Srebrenica as a template for the FLG genocide designation,” Yu wrote.
Yu said that time is running out to make the designation, as some of the perpetrators are aging.
“One major question, it seems to me, is that usually there is one individual designee—in this case, [former head of the CCP] Jiang Zemin, who is about to expire due to advanced age,” he wrote.
“When [Jiang] is gone, ICT would have to find another designee, which could well be quite possibly the entire CCP government, in which case, I think other victims of the CCP’s atrocities (e.g. the Tibetans, the religious devotees of different orders, the Uyghurs, the Mongolians, etc.) could all join to push for a designation of the entire CCP regime as genocidal.”
Genocide is illegal under both international law, as found in the U.N. Genocide Convention in 1948, and U.S. law (18 U.S.C. Section 1091). The definition of genocide in both laws includes attempts at the eradication of not only ethnic, but religious groups such as Falun Gong. While this eradication could be in the form of mass killing, it can also be through forced conversion. Falun Gong adherents in China have suffered both, including systematic detention of millions, torture, and the deaths of likely well over 1 million practitioners, including from forced organ harvesting. Extensive evidence for the latter crime was found by the China Tribunal, which met in London in 2020.