Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

New Congressional Report on China’s Religious Persecutions Highlights Plight of Falun Gong Adherents

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: April 4, 2022
Falun Gong practitioners and supporters hold pictures of victims who were persecuted by the Chinese government as they take part in an annual rally and demonstration at the National Mall July 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Image: Alex Wong via Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chair and Cochair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the Commission’s 2021 Annual Report on human rights issues in China. 

The report, released on March 31, highlights the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing persecution, suppression, and abuse against prisoners of conscience and other religious minorities. 

In particular, the 20-year persecution of Falun Gong was brought up 27 times in its chapter on Religious Freedom, with CECC Chairman Merkley stating his hopes for Congress and the current U.S. Administration to act on the CECC’s recommendations and further press Beijing on its human rights record.

Chair of The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley speaks during a hearing at Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on February 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. CECC held a hearing on “The Beijing Olympics and the Faces of Repression.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
At center, Congressman Jim McGovern presides over a House Rules Committee meeting about the Build Back Better Act at the U.S. Capitol October 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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The report noted that the Communist Party continued its efforts “to solidify their control over the cultural and religious identity of the country’s ethnic minority groups,” despite this being “in contravention of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law and international law.”

In 2021, the PRC government “further intensified a sweeping campaign to ‘sinicize’ religion,” the report said, citing an expert as saying that the goal of these efforts is to “homogenize Chinese Culture to make all parts conform to a Party-led nationalism” with the “full force” of the state. 

Under the CCP, Chinese culture is re-interpreted along the lines of its atheist Marxism-Leninism.

Religious oppression

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline introduced to the public in 1992. Since then, the practice has been embraced by tens of millions of people in China and around the world. 

The practice, with its emphasis on its guiding principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, focuses on improvement of the practitioner’s personal character during daily life and through interpersonal and social conflicts. 

Hundreds of practitioners do the Falun Gong exercises to mark the 10th anniversary of the practice being outlawed in China on July 17, 2009 at the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Image: TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images)

In July 1999, the CCP began a massive campaign to eradicate the popular faith, incarcerating millions of people over the following decades. Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have since died from torture and abuse, with the number still on the rise. Many adherents have also been subject to relentless harassment, arrests and arbitrary imprisonment.

The widespread campaign against Falun Gong ran rampant across all aspects of Chinese society — from practitioners being arrested by the thousands — to ceaseless propaganda broadcasts describing Falun Gong practitioners as dangerous and brandishing the practice as an “evil cult.”

Thousands killed for their faith

Since the persecution began, over 4365 practitioners have been tortured to death, Minghui.com – a U.S. based website that documents the persecution of Falun Gong in China and abroad reported. However, based on first-hand accounts from those living under perpetual harassment by the Party’s various security organizations, the practice’s adherents speculate the real number of deaths to be in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions.

“Minghui reported that Chinese authorities continued to torture and mistreat practitioners, and that such abuse, sometimes occurring over several years, caused or contributed to the deaths of dozens of practitioners in 2020 and 2021,” the CECC report said. 

“As in previous years, authorities continued to detain Falun Gong practitioners and subject them to harsh treatment, with at least 622 practitioners sentenced for criminal “cult” offenses in 2020, according to Falun Gong news outlet Minghui,” the report said.

Falun Gong followers have since faced all forms of repression — from being fired from their jobs to receiving heavy prison sentences and enduring unimaginable torture, such as force feeding, beatings, and sexual assault at the hands of prison guards and other inmates.

The CCP has had a long track record of targeting religious faiths and minorities for violent assimilation to its atheist ideology since its inception in 1949. In addition to Falun Gong practitioners, the CCP has also subjected Christians, Catholics, Tibetans and Uyghur Muslims to relentless human rights violations targeting their religious beliefs.

In recent years, the Chinese regime has rounded up more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims for “re-education” in  “counter-extremism camps” across Xinjiang and other parts of western China. 

Murdered for their organs 

In addition to suffering widespread torture and abuse for over two decades, Falun Gong adherents have also been routinely targeted and killed for their organs in a disturbing organ transplant trade worth over $1 billion a year in China.

According to findings by UK-based NGO, the China Tribunal, investigations into “reports of thousands of transplant tourists going to China to purchase organs,” found that the Chinese transplant industry, together with other evidence, suggests that the CCP is involved in forced organ harvesting and selling for profit organs from murdered prisoners of conscience.

Although China has had an organ transplant industry for decades, the volume of transplants increased exponentially in the early 2000s, coinciding with the timing of when the CCP began its massive crackdown against Falun Gong and its adherents. 

“Chinese authorities continued to prosecute practitioners under Article 300 of the PRC Criminal Law, which criminalizes ‘organizing and using a cult to undermine implementation of the law,’” the report added. 

Lending a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves

“Documenting the human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government is not only the Commission’s mandate, but our moral obligation to those who, due to repression and censorship, are unable to tell their stories,” remarked CECC Cochair James McGovern. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to put the CECC’s recommendations into action.”

The report concluded with the committee reiterating the priority of “documenting the CCP’s unspeakable crimes,” and holding the Chinese regime accountable for those who are “suffering grave abuses due to China’s forced assimilation policies.”