2023 USCIRF Annual Report Notes Ongoing Falun Gong Repression

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) named China as one of the world’s most egregious persecutors of religious faiths in its 2023 Annual Report. The report also states that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is still persecuting Falun Gong practitioners on a large scale.

On May 1, 2023, USCIRF released its annual report on religious freedom around the world, which summarizes the conditions of believers in nearly 30 countries and territories. In its section on China, the commission briefly outlined the current status faced by Christians, Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners between 2022-2023.

CCP’s Persecution of Falun Gong Developing

Since 1999, the Chinese Communist Party has violently attacked practitioners of the spiritual meditation called Falun Gong. Tens of thousands of practitioners have been taken from their homes and workplaces and forced into secret prisons. In detention, Falun Gong adherents are subject to brainwashing, torture, death, and even forced organ harvesting.

As the large-scale persecution of Falun Gong continues for the 24th year, the development of the repression tactics to silence Falun Gong practitioners continued via rule of law violations. The Commission stated, “The government continued its persecution of Falun Gong…often using “anti-cult” provisions under Article 300 of China’s Criminal Law. In 2022, Falun Gong sources documented 7,331 cases of harassment and arrest, 633 prison sentences, and 172 deaths because of persecution.”

Falun Gong in Russia and Vietnam Repressed

Governments that are friendly to the Chinese Communist Party, namely Vietnam and Russia, have aided in the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong within their own borders, according to the 2023 USCIRF report.

Vietnamese authorities continued persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, characterizing the community as adherents of a “false” or “evil” religion and vowing to eradicate them. The Commission stated, “In May, the Hanoi Government Committee for Religious Affairs stated that such groups [like Falun Gong] are ineligible for registering religious activities with the government.”

In the Russia country report, USCIRF noted that the repression of Russian citizens who practice Falun Gong continues.

Continued Efforts to Protect Religious Freedom

On November 30, the State Department redesignated China as a CPC under IRFA and reimposed existing restrictions on exports of crime control or detection instruments or equipment to China. In December, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed financial sanctions on Wu Yingjie, party secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and Zhang Hongbo, TAR Public Security Bureau director, for human rights abuses in Tibet, pursuant to Executive Order 13818. In addition, the State Department imposed visa sanctions on Zhang and Tang Yong, former deputy director of Chongqing city, for human
rights and religious freedom violations in Tibet and against Falun Gong practitioners, respectively.

During the IRF Summit on January 31, 2023, USCIRF researcher Dylan Schexnaydre and USCIRF Supervisory Policy Analyst Kurt Werthmuller spoke with Grace Chen and offered their condolences for her parents’ imprisonment. Schexnaydre took a copy of Falun Dafa Information Center’s most recent report on the persecution and said that his agency would continue to work closely with the Falun Dafa community. Werthmuller said that he’s been working with Falun Gong practitioners for a long time. He also spoke at a July 20th rally in Washington, D.C. in 2021, calling for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong which began in 1999.

Read the full report here. For more on the subject of religious freedom in China, also see the 2023 Falun Dafa Information Center trends and analysis report.