WASHINGTON—It’s time for the United States to recognize the “genocide occurring against practitioners of Falun Gong in China,” a religious freedom expert told rally attendees in Washington on July 16.
Noting the U.S. government’s designation that Chinese regime’s repression of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region amounted to a genocide, Nina Shea, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, called on the United States to do the same in relation to Beijing’s ongoing persecution of Falun Gong.
“Genocide is the destruction in part of a religious community, for example, with the intent to eradicate it, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that what has happened these past decades to Falun Gong meets that criteria,” she said at the rally.
“This is the most heinous human rights and it’s engraved in the American heart,” she said.
The rally in front of the Capitol building was held to mark the 22nd anniversary of the start of the Chinese communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong on July 20.
After the rally, around 1,500 to 2,000 participants, an estimate from the organizers, proceeded to march from the Capitol down Constitution Avenue that ends at the Washington Monument, where a candlelight vigil is to be held in the evening.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that includes. a set of meditative exercises and moral teachings centered on the tenets “truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” It saw surging popularity in China the 1990s, with 70 million to 100 million practicing by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time. Deeming this a threat, the regime launched a sweeping campaign of repression on July 20, 1999.
Since then, millions of practitioners have been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, with hundreds of thousands tortured while incarcerated, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
‘The CCP is Dissolving’
Rights advocates at the rally said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will not escape judgment for its decades-long suppression of Falun Gong adherents.
“We need to stand at our right side of history and to punish CCP crimes against humanity and totally dissolve the CCP,” Frank Gaffney, vice chairman of Washington-based advocacy group Committee on the Present Danger: China, said.
“The CCP is dissolving now and so will be apparent,” he added warning that from the decision maker to the executor of the persecution, “all the people participating in this crime” will be held to justice.
Faith McDonnell, director of Advocacy Katartismos Global, took special notice of a banner reading “The World Needs Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance.”
“Truth is in low supply today,” she told the rally attendees. “After 22 years of what Falun Gong has been through in China, and by China’s tentacles reaching out into the world as well. You have continued to stand for truth,” she said.
She noted the grassroots “Tuidang” (quitting the Party) movement, which by far has seen over 3.8 million Chinese in the mainland and overseas renouncing ties with the Chinese Communist Party and affiliated groups. Communists, she said, “want to take the place of God, and they are not going to do it.”
Gaffney on Friday called the CCP a “criminal organization.”
“During this persecution is the evil we never thought on this earth: to destroy human morality, is against humanity for 10 years,” he said. The “criminal act” of forced organ harvesting targeting Falun Gong practitioners is “absolutely undeniable” and “they cannot escape the judgment of history,” he said.
An untold number of Falun Gong adherents have died from having their organs forcibly removed, with their vital body parts then being sold in China’s transplant market. A 2019 independent people’s tribunal concluded that the regime has been killing detained Falun Gong practitioners for years “on a significant scale.”
Other speakers at the rally include Dr. Kurt Werthmuller, a supervisory policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Jurgen Braun, a German parliamentary member; Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at the Freedom House; Andrew Bremberg, a former U.S. representative to the United Nations and president of the Victims of Communism Memorial; Wendy Wright, president of the Christian Freedom International; Dede Laugesen, executive director of the Save the Persecuted Christians; Alan Adler, executive director of Friends of Falun Gong (FoFG); 16-year-old Chen Fayuan, whose parents are both in detention in China; Rong Yi, president of the New York-based Tuidang Center; and Wang Zhiyuan of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.
At the rally, FoFG also presented an award to Sev Ozdowski, President of the Australian Human Rights Education Council, “for his selfless efforts to help Falun Gong practitioners in China.” The award was received on Ozdowski’s behalf by Barry Shaka.
Lawmakers Call for Sanctions
Earlier this week, several U.S. lawmakers called for Beijing to be punished and sanctioned over its ongoing repression of Falun Gong adherents.
“There should be sanctions,” Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) told NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times on Thursday.
Pointing to Beijing’s forced organ harvesting of practitioners, Babin described the Party as an “evil regime”
In June, Texas Senate adopted a resolution condemning the practice of live organ harvesting as “murder.” In March, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers also introduced a legislation in both the Senate and the House to stop the forced organ trade. “Organ harvesting is an egregiously barbaric and inhumane act that has no place in our world,” Rep. Chris Smith said at the time.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), meanwhile, called on the administration and Congress to take action to stop the atrocities.
“We have to say that there are consequences. There’s going to be pain, there’s going to be economic pain, diplomatic pain, there is going to be a reputational consequence.” Perry said in an July 13 interview with NTD, an affiliate of The Epoch Times.
The congressman said that “there’s no time to waste.”
“[As] every single day goes by more people are being tortured. And it’s emboldening the Communist Party to just continue to do the things that it has done in the past, without any accountability.”
Cathy He contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times