Former Chinese Diplomat Testifies in U.S. Congress about Falun Gong Persecution

Recounts torture, illegal imprisonment for grassroots activism

Mr. Li Hai, a former lawyer for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, persecuted for practicing Falun Gong.

Mr. Li Hai, a former lawyer for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, persecuted for practicing Falun Gong.

WASHINGTON DC—A former staff lawyer for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs testified before the U.S. Congress on Wednesday about his illegal imprisonment and torture for practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Li Hai (bio), who fled to the United States in early 2012 after being held at a Beijing prison for seven years, spoke at a hearing about human rights in China before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Li was detained four times between 1999 and 2012. Most recently, plainclothes police abducted him in 2002 for joining other practitioners in producing and distributing 100,000 homemade video CDs to counter the Communist Party’s propaganda about Falun Gong.

“The officers didn’t take me to a police station, as required by law, but to a hotel outside Beijing. They asked my address, but I refused to tell them to protect the other practitioners,” Li recounted. “Then, they brought out electric batons. They shocked my neck, my palms, my genitals, and other sensitive body parts. The pain was unbearable.”

In his testimony, Li also touched on the broader reality of the persecution as he had witnessed it.

“I was in prison until May 2010. When I left, 60 to 70 Falun Gong practitioners were still there. There are three other prisons and labor camps holding Falun Gong practitioners just in Beijing,” he said. “The Falun Dafa Information Center and independent experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are in custody at any given time. From what I saw, I believe these estimates are true.”

More optimistically, Li asserted that he felt that the persecution is failing.

“Actually, 80 percent of Falun Gong practitioners start practicing again once they are released, as I did. This terrifies the Communist Party,” said Li. “I feel that despite the money and brute force the Communist Party has poured into censorship and repression, it is losing the true battle for the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.”

The hearing was chaired by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and attended by representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Howard Berman (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gus Bilirakus (R-FL) and Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), among others. Also testifying were Jared Genser, Founder of Freedom Now; Rebiya Kadeer, a leading advocate for Uighur rights; and Bhuchung K. Tsering, Vice President of the International Campaign for Tibet. 

A copy of Li’s oral testimony is available here.
A more detailed written testimony can be found here.
Li’s biography is available here.