CECC Annual Report Highlights Persecution of Falun Gong

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) released its 2021 Annual Report on March 31, 2022. The report details ongoing human rights violations in China including the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

“The Chinese government’s horrific abuse of human rights and trampling of human dignity make it more important than ever that the Congressional-Executive Commission on China document abuses of human rights and the rule of law in China, as the Commission has done for the past 20 years,” said CECC Chairman Merkley.

The 334 page report discussed the persecution of Falun Gong in sections on freedom of religion, criminal justice, and featured cases of detained individuals.

Religious Freedom

As in previous years, the report states that Chinese authorities continued to detain Falun Gong practitioners, with at least 622 practitioners sentenced in 2021. The report, citing Minghui.org, also stated 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 report also addressed forced organ harvesting. It stated, “In June 2021 a group of 12 UN human rights experts said they were ‘extremely alarmed’ and ‘deeply concerned’ by credible reports of forced organ harvesting in China that appears to constitute ‘targeting [of] specific ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities held in detention, often without [explaining] the reasons for arrest or giv[ing] arrest warrants, at different locations.’ Among the groups targeted, the UN group mentioned minorities, Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims, and Christians.”

Criminal Justice

In the report’s section on criminal justice, it pointed out that Chinese authorities arbitrarily detained Falun Gong practitioners through the use of extralegal detention centers. “Their existence and use have no legal basis, and people detained at such sites—many of whom are petitioners and Falun Gong practitioners—do not know when they will be released and do not have any procedural protection,” the report stated.

Arbitrary detainment violates both international human rights law and China’s constitution which the report states, “prohibits unlawful deprivation or restriction of a person’s liberty.”

The report also described how ill-defined laws were used to detain Falun Gong practitioners and others through the legal system. “Chinese authorities continued to suppress the exercise of universal human rights through the use of criminal charges.” Practitioners are often charged with “organizing and using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.” The report pointed out that lawyers are prohibited from contesting the government’s cult designation in the course of defending the accused.

Featured Cases

Featured in the Executive Summary of the report was a list of cases of particular concern. Among them was the case of Ms. Sun Qian, a Falun Gong practitioner and Canadian citizen.

Ms. Sun Qian

The report provided the following description of her case: “Police detained Sun Qian, a Canadian citizen, health technology company executive, and Falun Gong practitioner, in a February 2017 raid on her Beijing home. In the raid, police seized Falun Gong materials. Following a September 2018 trial, the Chaoyang District People’s Court sentenced her on June 30, 2020, to 8 years in prison in connection with her practice of Falun Gong.

Authorities prevented Sun from obtaining legal counsel of her choice by pressuring her lawyers to withdraw from the case, and abused her in custody by shackling her for extended periods and pepper spraying her. Upon sentencing, Sun allegedly renounced her Canadian citizenship under duress.”

Recommended Actions

The Executive Summary of the report listed a series of recommendations to the U.S. Congress and Administration to curtail the CCP’s human rights abuses. The list included actions such as ending forced labor imports, supporting victims of persecution, and addressing digital authoritarianism.

The commission also recommended using the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to sanction Chinese officials involved in egregious human rights abuses. In May of 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the act to effectively ban Yu Hui, the former director of the CCP’s 6-10 office, and his immediate family members from entering the U.S. The sanctioning of Yu Hui serves as a precedent for future sanctions on perpetrators involved in the persecution of Falun Gong.

“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.”