Freedom House

Since 1999, Freedom House has been one of the most consistent international voices in support of Falun Gong practitioners’ right to practice their faith without fear of persecution. In 2000, Freedom House included Falun Gong practitioners in its delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. In March 2001, the organization awarded Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi and the Falun Dafa Association its International Religious Freedom Award.

“Falun Gong … is, in my judgment, the greatest single spiritual movement in Asia today. There is nothing that begins to compare with it in courage and importance.”

Freedom House reports have regularly referenced the human rights violations suffered by practitioners in China and senior staff have repeatedly spoken at annual Falun Gong rallies in Washington DC. Former board members such as Ambassador Mark Palmer and Professor Arthur Waldron have been outspoken in their own capacities on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners.

Excerpts from Recent Freedom House Reports and Statements

China chapter, Freedom in the World 2010

“Security forces led by the 6-10 Office, an extralegal agency created in 1999, continued to target Falun Gong adherents nationwide for surveillance, imprisonment, torture, and forced conversion, sometimes leading to deaths in custody. In January 2009, Chongqing resident Jiang Xiqing died while held at a ‘reeducation through labor’ camp for practicing Falun Gong; lawyers seeking to investigate his death were detained and beaten.”[1]

China chapter, Freedom in the World 2009

“According to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, repression of the Falun Gong spiritual group [...] intensified following central government directives. The crackdown included increased propaganda efforts to vilify the group, restrictions on movement, arrests, and sentencing of adherents to ‘reeducation through labor’ camps and prisons, with terms of up to eight years.”[2]

Press Release ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Visit to China, November 2009

“Freedom House urges President Obama to raise the names of the following [...] individuals who have been the subject of intense repression by the Chinese Communist Party and to urge their immediate release from custody:

[...] Xu Na: Xu Na, a poet and a painter, was detained in January 2008 with her husband, Beijing musician Yu Zhou, for possessing Falun Gong-related literature. Yu died in custody 11 days later under mysterious circumstances. Xu was sentenced in November 2008 to three years in prison after an unfair trial because of her identity as a Falun Gong believer. She had reportedly been tortured during a previous detention and is at risk of abuse.”[3]

Excerpt from Statement by Freedom House Asia Research Analyst Sarah Cook, Congressional-Executive Commission on China roundtable on spiritual movements, June 2010.

“Since 1999, Freedom House’s annual and other publications have recorded the ongoing rights abuses suffered by those who practice Falun Gong in China. Several aspects of the persecution stand out from a review of those findings. [...]

  • First, large scale detentions and widespread surveillance. [...]
  • Second, ongoing torture and deaths in custody. [...]
  • Third, the sentencing of practitioners to long prison terms following unfair trials or to “reeducation through labor” camps by bureaucratic fiat. [...]
  • Fourth, Falun Gong is a permanent taboo for Chinese media outlets and one of the most systematically censored topics on the internet.”[4]

Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania and former board member of Freedom House, writing in the Foreword for an earlier issue of the Falun Dafa Information Center’s Compassion magazine.

“[Falun Gong’s] continuing existence and growing strength are among the most prickly and difficult problems facing the authorities in Beijing today. This is not because of anything Falun Gong practitioners themselves have done. Rather, it is because of what Beijing has tried to do to them—and failed.

[...] Far from being ‘marginal’ as many commentators seem to imagine, the Falun Gong and other ‘dissident’ groups in China are in fact as central to that country’s future as the Soviet dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s were to the future of Russia.”[5]

Notes:

[1] Freedom House, “China,” Freedom in the World 2010; http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=363&year=2010&country=7801

[2] Freedom House, “China,” Freedom in the World 2009; http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2009&country=7586

[3] Freedom House, “Support Chinese Human Rights Activists, Freedom House Tells Obama on Eve of Visit,” November 13, 2009; http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=1096

[4] Sarah Cook, “Congressional-Executive Commission on China Roundtable: China’s Policies Toward Spiritual Movements,” June 18, 2010; http://www.cecc.gov/pages/roundtables/2010/20100618/cookTestimony.pdf?PHPSESSID=5df33ec8a63bfadd3a54264e7697530a

[5] Author Waldron, “The Falun Gong Factor,” Compassion, June 28, 2007; http://www.faluninfo.net/article/504/