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US Lawmakers: In the Face of the CCP’s Persecution, America and Its’Allies Should Support Falun Gong

The Chinese authorities’ recent persecution of Falun Gong practitioners has once again sparked public attention. On Tuesday, the U.S. Congress held a special briefing where lawmakers and scholars called for international support for religious freedom and solidarity with the Falun Gong group which the Chinese regime suppresses.

Since Jiang Zemin declared a crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999, the Chinese authorities’ persecution of this spiritual movement has continued to the present day. The “Monthly Report on Political Prisoners and Conscience Prisoners in Mainland China” published by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders in April this year pointed out that the brutal repression of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is ongoing. Nevertheless, Falun Gong practitioners continue to resist without fear. Among the cases of sentencing collected in the report each month, Falun Gong practitioners constitute the largest group.

It is widely believed that the statistics from the Chinese civil society platforms are just the tip of the iceberg and the actual number of Falun Gong practitioners persecuted by the Chinese authorities may be much higher.

In response, the International Religious Freedom Caucus, a subsidiary group of the U.S. House of Representatives, held a briefing on Tuesday. Representative Gus Bilirakis of Florida condemned the long-term mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese authorities, stating that the CCP has a long history of oppressing and eradicating specific religions and ethnicities. He said, “The Chinese regime seeks to eradicate their culture. Falun Gong is one of their main targets. Under the Chinese Communist Party, Falun Gong practitioners are charged, threatened, investigated, imprisoned, subjected to forced labor, abused, subjected to having their organs harvested, and they are even killed, solely because of their beliefs.”

Nina Shea, Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, also spoke at the briefing, emphasizing the severity of the CCP’s atrocities against Falun Gong: “Of all the religious persecution in the world, the CCP’s crimes against Falun Gong are not often discussed, but they are extremely serious and even reach the level of religious genocide… The Chinese authorities are persecuting 70 to 100 million Falun Gong believers within China, arresting them, subjecting them to forced labor, torture, and abuse. Many believers disappear or die during their detention.”

Shea also pointed out that personnel from the illegal overseas police stations set up by the Chinese authorities in Manhattan, New York, have unlawfully oppressed and harassed Falun Gong practitioners within the United States.

During the briefing, Falun Gong practitioners who have been persecuted by the Chinese authorities as well as their family members shared their experiences. One participant, Simon Zhang, talked about his mother’s imprisonment and torture, highlighting the mistreatment and malnutrition she suffered. He described how his father, who is not a Falun Gong practitioner, was sentenced to eight years in prison on false charges of participating in Falun Gong after he returned to China from the United States.

In light of the persecution faced by Falun Gong practitioners, Representative Bilirakis called on the U.S. government and Congress to take action, stating that the United States and its allies should send a strong message in defense of basic human rights. He emphasized that no one should be intimidated, displaced from their homeland, imprisoned, or even murdered because of their beliefs. Simon Zhang urged the U.S. government to sanction the Chinese officials responsible for the persecution, noting that many Chinese police officers and officials fear being sanctioned as it would affect their children’s education and their ability to immigrate or buy or retain property in the United States.