Sen. Menendez Calls for an End to Beijing’s 22-Year-Long Persecution of Falun Gong

July 22, 2021 Updated: July 22, 2021

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has called on Beijing to “respect the religious beliefs and practices of all its citizens” and release jailed spiritual adherents of Falun Gong in China immediately.

“China should immediately release all Falun Gong practitioners it has detained, and allow them to practice their faith with dignity and respect,” Menendez said in a July 20 statement.

July 20 marked the 22nd anniversary of the start of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) nationwide suppression of the spiritual group.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice consisting of meditation exercises and moral teachings that incorporate the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. As it grew in popularity due to its health benefits during the 1990s, the Chinese Communist Party, under then-leader Jiang Zemin, launched a systematic elimination campaign on July 20, 1999. Since then, millions of the faith’s practitioners have been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, with hundreds of thousands tortured while incarcerated, according to Falun Dafa Information Center.

Menendez described the ongoing treatment of Falun Gong practitioners in China as “ruthless and brutal.” The senator also pointed to “credible allegations of organ harvesting” perpetrated against detained adherents.

In 2019, an independent people’s tribunal found, after a year-long investigation, that the CCP was harvesting the organs of prisoners of conscience—mainly Falun Gong practitioners—on a “significant scale.”

The tribunal said it was “certain” about the conclusion after considering a variety of evidence, including testimony from more than 50 witnesses given over the course of two public hearings.

“The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, [and] that more may suffer in similar ways,” tribunal chairman Sir Geoffrey Nice QC said.

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade marking the 22nd anniversary of the start of the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, in Washington on July 16, 2021. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

“No one should have to face prison, torture, or worse simply for how they choose to practice their religion,” Menendez said.

Earlier this week, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States should help bring an end to the Chinese regime’s “horrific” persecution of Falun Gong.

“It’s gone on for too long, and America needs to lead the world to ensure that those people have the opportunity to practice their faith in the way they want to,” he told NTD News, a sister media out of The Epoch Times, on July 20.