More than 30 U.S. lawmakers and officials have decried the Chinese communist regime’s 21-year-long campaign to eradicate the spiritual practice Falun Gong, resulting in the brutal suppression of millions of adherents.
Marking the 21st anniversary of the start of the persecution on July 20, Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom; Gary Bauer, commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF); and 33 bipartisan lawmakers expressed support for Falun Gong practitioners and called on the Chinese regime to stop its assaults on the practice.
“For 21 years, the Chinese Communist Party has been waging an intensive, comprehensive, and unforgiving campaign against those who practice Falun Gong,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wrote in a letter.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) wrote: “Falun Gong’s followers have been subject to abuse, torture, illegal imprisonment, and extremely cruel practice of organ harvesting.
“This brutal persecution is intolerable and must stop.”
On this 21st anniversary of China’s persecution of Falun Gong, we are again reminded of the horrific brutality inflicted by China’s govt on its own citizens. The Chinese authorities try to cover up these crimes, so it is all the more imp. for us to condemn them. See my statement: pic.twitter.com/YTwlgVSFCD
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) July 20, 2020
The U.S. officials were among hundreds of lawmakers around the world who issued or signed statements condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) suppression of Falun Gong. More than 600 current and former lawmakers from 30 countries signed a joint statement demanding an immediate end to the persecution and the unconditional release of all detained practitioners and other prisoners of conscience in China.
“The Chinese Communist Party is at war with faith. It is a war they will not win,” Ambassador Brownback said in a video statement. “A person’s belief is stronger than somebody that seeks to oppress them.”
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that includes meditative exercises a set of moral teaching based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Since its introduction in 1992, the practice spread widely in China with around 70 million people practicing by the end of the decade, according to government estimates at the time. Threatened by this popularity, the CCP banned the practice on July 20, 1999, launching an expansive campaign of persecution.
Since then, vast swathes of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained or imprisoned as a result of their faith. Millions of adherents have been detained, and hundreds of thousands have been tortured, according to estimates by the Falun Dafa Information Center. More than 4,000 practitioners are confirmed to have died from torture, according to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for information about the persecution of Falun Gong. However, due to the difficulty of obtaining information from China, the true death toll is likely to be many times higher.
USCIRF Commissioner Bauer denounced the CCP for continuing to detain Falun Gong practitioners earlier this year “when it should have been focused on containing the coronavirus pandemic.”
Many officials also expressed outrage over the Chinese regime’s practice of forced organ harvesting from detained Falun Gong practitioners. Evidence of this grisly practice has mounted since allegations first emerged in 2006. An independent people’s tribunal in 2019, after a yearlong investigation, found beyond a reasonable doubt that the CCP has—and continues to—kill imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners for their organs for sale on the transplant market.
“There is no place in the 21st century for forced organ harvesting,” Bauer said in a recorded statement.
Brownback said the administration would continue to raise this issue before international bodies and ask Beijing to open its organ transplant records to “let the rest of the world see where their organs are coming from in the transplants that they’re doing.”
A November study published in the scientific journal BMC Medical Ethics found that there was “highly compelling evidence” that the Chinese regime was systematically falsifying its organ donation data. It found that the official figures conformed almost precisely to a mathematical formula, a quadratic equation.
Bauer said the USCIRF urges the United States to conduct a thorough investigation into Beijing’s state-sanctioned organ harvesting.
“We believe an official U.S. government investigation will help shine a greater spotlight on this issue, and mobilize the political support necessary to take concrete action against Communist China for its crimes,” he said.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) was among many who expressed hope that the persecution would not be extended into the 22nd year.
“I hope that one day soon Falun Gong practitioners in China and all over the world may exercise their principles free of oppression,” she wrote in a letter.
Other U.S. lawmakers who issued statements expressing solidarity with Falun Gong practitioners were: Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.); and Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Van Taylor (R-Tex.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), David Trone (D-Md.), Daniel Crenshaw (R-Texas), Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), Ron Wright (R-Texas), Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), and Del. Eleanor Norton (D-DC).
This article has been updated to include four more U.S. lawmakers who issued statements.