Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Virginia State Delegate Calls for Attention to Ongoing Persecution of Falun Gong

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: March 13, 2024
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)

RICHMOND, Virginia — On March 8, Virginia State Delegate Eric Zehr (R-VA) addressed the state legislature and urged lawmakers to turn their attention to the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. 

During the appeal, Zehr highlighted the plight of Falun Gong adherents as they face forced organ harvesting, arbitrary arrests, and slave labor in a widespread campaign that has continued unabated since 1999. The plea, which took place on International Women’s Day, was marked by the presence of four female Falun Gong practitioners residing in Virginia, one of whom, Chunyan Wang, showcased garments that she was forced to make while in detention.

Falun Dafa, (法輪大法), also known as Falun Gong, is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation exercises with a moral philosophy based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (真善忍). The practice gained enormous popularity in both China and beyond — attracting tens of millions of adherents since being introduced to the public in 1992.

Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners meditate through body movements to mark the 10th anniversary of the practice being outlawed in China on July 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Image: TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images)

RELATED: 2023 Report on the Ongoing Persecution of Falun Gong Unmasks Grim Reality

But in July 1999, after seeing its rapid rise in popularity as a threat to its authoritarian regime, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a massive campaign to eradicate the practice — 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 Falun Gong followers have also been subject to relentless harassment, arrests, and arbitrary imprisonment that continue to this day. 

Systematic oppression

Zehr, who represents Virginia’s 51st district, also recounted a poignant encounter with the practitioners — including Ms. Wang and Miss Tang — as he learned first hand about their harrowing experiences of persecution and detainment in China.

On March 8, Virginia State Delegate Eric Zehr (R-VA) addressed the state legislature and urged lawmakers to turn their attention to the severe persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. (Image: Xin Mei/Vision Times)

“Falun Gong is a peaceful practice rooted in Chinese traditional meditative exercises,” said Zehr, adding, “However, since 1999, the CCP has decided to oppress its practitioners, arresting tens of thousands [since then], including Ms. Wang.” 

He further detailed Wang’s brutal experiences in prison, where she wasn’t just a detainee but essentially a slave to the Communist regime. During her time in prison, Wang was forced into labor and witnessed the disappearance of several prisoners who were presumably taken to be tested for organ transplants.

Zehr’s speech also aimed to raise awareness among the legislators of the human rights crisis affecting Falun Gong practitioners. He encouraged his colleagues to sign a statement to draw public attention to this issue, while also asking for a round of applause for the bravery of the four women who dared to reveal the truth about their treatment in Chinese prisons.

The March 8 appeal saw the attendance of four female Falun Gong practitioners residing in Virginia, one of whom, Chunyan Wang, showed garments that she was forced to make while in a Chinese prison. (Image: Xin Mei/Vision Times)

Wang began practicing Falun Gong in early 1999 — and like many others who have embraced the practice — found it to be a life-changing experience. She reported experiencing improved health and mental clarity, as well as a newfound sense of purpose and meaning in her life. “I used to suffer from several ailments, such as insomnia and arthritis in my bones; after taking up the practice, all these issues disappeared in no time,” Wang told Vision Times in a previous interview. 

Prior to being targeted by the CCP, Wang ran a successful foreign trade business in Liaoning, and enjoyed a harmonious family life alongside her husband and daughter. However, after the persecution began, Wang’s husband was tortured to death for trying to protect her. 

RELATED: Artistic Freedom Under Siege: New Report Exposes the CCP’s Widespread Censorship and Oppression of Falun Gong, Shen Yun

Forced labor running rampant

In 2002, Wang was arrested for using her company to print truth-clarification materials, and was sentenced to two years in jail. While in prison, she was subjected to routine abuse and torture, and forced to perform hard labor including sewing designer clothes that would go on to be exported and sold in Western countries. Despite these hardships, Wang did not renounce her faith and continued to practice Falun Gong.

Wang (L) and 38th District Delegate for the state of Virginia, Kaye Kory, (R) pictured during the Virginia State Assembly on February 23, 2023. (Image: Min Xiao/Vision Times)

After being released, Wang was again arrested in 2008, and sentenced to five more years in prison. During this time, she recounted seeing several inmates fall ill due to the long work hours and oppressive conditions. She also said there were no health inspections or quality control conducted on the products they were forced to made.

Another practitioner, Miss Tang, noted during the appeal that this targeted oppression by the CCP has been ongoing for nearly 25 years. She expressed hope that new members of the Virginia state legislature would learn the truth and work together to end the atrocities that Falun Gong practitioners face.

Currently, 26 counties and cities in Virginia have passed resolutions condemning the CCP’s forced organ harvesting practices from Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners of conscience.