Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, an ancient meditation discipline with moral teachings centered on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, was first introduced to the public on May 13, 1992, in the city of Changchun in northeastern China. May 13, which is also the birthday of the practice’s founder, Li Hongzhi, is now recognized as World Falun Dafa Day.
Every year, practitioners in more than 90 countries around the world celebrate the occasion.
Lawmakers from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Australia joined in the commemoration.
“This day recognizes the millions of people around the world that have found this ancient Chinese culture practice to be key in addressing stresses and anxiety of modern-day life,” Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pa.) stated in a letter.
Tamara Jansen, a Conservative Party member of Canada’s Parliament, wrote, “Though the festivities are taking place in a different form this year, the Falun Dafa principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance are being honored and celebrated.”
State Senator Tom Killion (R-Pa.) called the practice “a powerful mechanism for relieving stress and healing,” and expressed appreciation for the group enriching his constituent community’s diversity, while Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Falun Gong serves as a “positive example to the world.”
Meanwhile, a request for the U.S. flag in front of the Capitol building in Washington to fly in honor of World Falun Dafa Day on May 13 came from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and the mayor of St. Peters, a city in Missouri, proclaimed May 13 to be the city’s Falun Dafa Day.
“On World Falun Dafa Day, we strive to uphold the universal tenets of truthfulness, compassion, & forbearance, ideals that are fundamental to the expression of the Falun Gong faith,” Sam Brownback, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said May 13 in a message of support on Twitter.
The celebration has been overshadowed for years by the continuous persecution of adherents in China. Since July 1999, hundreds of thousands of adherents have been thrown into prisons, labor camps, and brainwashing centers amid the atheist Chinese regime’s sweeping persecution campaign.
Minghui, a U.S.-based website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China, has documented nearly 4,500 Falun Gong practitioners who died due to the Chinese regime’s campaign, although it said the true death toll is likely far greater.
The persecution has continued unabated despite the pandemic—around 750 practitioners were harassed or arrested by authorities in the month of March alone, according to the website.
Pat McGrail, mayor of Keller city in Texas, sees a similarity in the regime’s persecution of faith and its handling of the pandemic.
“The evil nature of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is now in full view on the world stage, having covered up the initial outbreak of the coronavirus and even punishing the good people of China who wanted to make the truth known, further demonstrating its disregard for human rights,” he wrote.
Some lawmakers also called attention to the ongoing atrocity of forced organ harvesting in China. Last year, an independent people’s tribunal in London found that the spiritual group was the main source of organs for China’s state-sanctioned organ transplant industry, and that forced organ harvesting had taken place “on a significant scale.”
In 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the human rights violation, calling it “one of the great crimes of the 21st century.”
Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas) said he hoped to work with Falun Gong adherents to “end religious persecution and the forced organ harvesting by the CCP.”
Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston, Texas, said the practitioners’ “determination and courage” to stand up for their values “has shown the world the value of life and the beauty of human dignity.”