After marking yet another somber anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of Falun Gong, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) expressed their resolute stand against the regime’s relentless targeting of the spiritual practice.
On July 20, the CECC took to Twitter to voice a powerful condemnation of the persecution — calling on the CCP to free all detained Falun Gong practitioners — and bring an end to a hateful campaign that has gone on for over two decades.
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“For the past 24 years, #FalunGong practitioners have suffered the most appalling human rights abuses imaginable – abuses that are ongoing. FLG prisoners must be released and PRC officials held accountable for their crimes, including by @UNHumanRights, say @CECCgov Chairs,” wrote chair Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), and co-chair Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
Subsequently, the CECC called for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government to “release all detained practitioners without condition.” The organizations’ tweet highlighted individuals such as #XuNa, #DengCuiping, #ZhouDeyong, and many others whose cases could be found in the @CECCgov’s searchable Political Prisoner Database.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer, congresswoman for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, also issued a proclamation on July 20 condemning the CCP’s ongoing persecution of Falun Gong — calling for an end to the CCP’s heinous practices of forced organ harvesting, arbitrary detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings.
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Chavez-DeRemer noted that the CCP’s treatment of Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience are “heartbreaking,” and showcase the Chinese authorities’ “lack of recognition of basic human dignity.”
“I look forward to the day when Falun Gong practitioners and all religious minorities in China can experience freedom of religion without fear of persecution.” she added.
What is Falun Gong?
First introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in 1992, Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, (法輪大法), is a spiritual discipline that combines meditation exercises coupled with a philosophy centered around the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance (真善忍). Practitioners follow these guiding principles to cultivate righteous virtues, improve their character, and elevate their moral standing and character (心性) through interpersonal and social conflicts.
Despite being embraced by hundreds of thousands of people — including many high-ranking government officials — CCP officials spearheaded by then-party head, Jiang Zemin, launched a merciless and systematic suppression of the practice in 1999 after witnessing its rapid rise in popularity as a threat to its authoritarian regime. Since then, thousands of Falun Gong adherents have perished at the hands of Chinese police — with the real number of deaths speculated to be much higher — possibly crossing into the millions.
According to Minghui, a U.S.-based website that documents the persecution of Falun Gong, more than 4,000 practitioners have been tortured and persecuted to death, with the number continuing to rise. Many Falun Gong adherents living outside of China have also been routinely subject to harassment, electronic surveillance, travel bans, as well as arbitrary arrests and imprisonment.
Decades of injustice
One of the individuals specified in the CECC’s proclamations was Ms. Xu Na, a Beijing-based artist. Her dedication to her faith has led to frequent encounters with the law over the past two decades. She faced a five-year sentence in 2001 for providing shelter to practitioners from out of town. Notably, Ms. Xu and her husband, Mr. Yu Zhou, were detained in 2008, just weeks prior to the Beijing Olympics.
The situation turned tragic as Mr. Yu was tortured to death while in detention after 11 days, and Ms. Xu was sentenced to a three-year prison term. In January 2022, Ms. Xu was once again arrested, sentenced to eight years in prison, and ordered to pay a 20,000 yuan fine (about USD $2,783).
Similarly, the life of Ms. Deng Cuiping, an elementary school teacher from Yuxi City in Yunnan Province, was highlighted by the CECC. After experiencing a home invasion in August 1999 and October 2000, Ms. Deng’s life has been marked by strife due to her adherence to Falun Gong. In 2006, Ms. Deng was handed a three-year sentence at the Yunnan Province No. 2 Women’s Prison. Stripped of her teaching position, she was left destitute.
In February 2017, she was once again arrested and sentenced to six years in prison by the Eshan County People’s Court. Though her sentence should have ended in 2022, Ms. Deng remains in prison due to her refusal to denounce Falun Gong.
Lastly, the CECC turned to the case of Mr. Zhou Deyong, a senior geological engineer at the Shengli Oilfield in Dongying City, Shandong Province. His arrest on April 23, 2021, led to a series of court appearances over two years — culminating in an eight-year sentence and a 100,000 yuan fine (almost USD $14,000) imposed on April 22 of this year.