New York–The Chinese regime’s persecution against Falun Gong has intensified during the pandemic, while its practitioners in China have persisted in creative and courageous non-violent resistance, according to a new report published today by the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Drawing on first-hand accounts from within China, human rights reports, academic studies, Chinese government documents, and interviews with family members of detainees, the report outlines the latest updates and trends related to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) anti-Falun Gong campaign over the past two years.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of when Falun Gong was first introduced to the public in China, and 23 years since the CCP launched the brutal campaign to stamp out the practice,” says Falun Dafa Information Center Executive Director, Levi Browde. “While Falun Gong is now practiced in over 100 countries worldwide, the ongoing human rights abuses in China have a profound impact across the country and alarming ramifications abroad. This report brings the real story to the forefront, and offers a roadmap for what can be done to help end this terrible crisis.”
Millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China remain at risk of arbitrary detention, torture, and death in custody simply for self-identifying as a practitioner. Moreover, the Chinese authorities’ persecution of Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic largely because the Falun Gong community remains one of the most prolific whistleblowers of CCP crimes and abuses across China.
Falun Gong practitioners inside and outside China have bravely responded to the CCP’s campaign with innovative solutions, overcoming the party’s robust apparatus of censorship. In China, adherents are using homemade leaflets, text messaging campaigns, social media, and BlueTooth on public transportation among other avenues to share Falun Gong-related information with fellow citizens.
Outside China, the arts have been a crucial avenue for practitioners to share their faith and expose the persecution to international audiences via world-class dance performances, painting exhibitions, and award-winning films. These efforts have won support and appreciation from ordinary citizens and prominent human rights lawyers in China, high-ranking foreign officials, film critics, and others.
Key findings related to the persecution:
Intensified suppression during the pandemic: From 2019 to 2020, the number of documented cases of police harassing Falun Gong practitioners nearly tripled from 3,582 to 9,159. In 2021 alone, over 1,300 practitioners were sentenced to prison after sham trials, a large increase from 775 in 2019.
“Zero-out” campaign and high profile events worsen persecution: In the spring of 2020, a “Zero-Out” campaign was launched with the goal to reach the CCP’s ideal of zero Falun Gong practitioners in any given region. Events like the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and the CCP’s Centennial in July 2021 also contributed to escalated persecution. The reporting period found over 34,000 arrests, incidents of harassment, or deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Surveillance state contributes to arrests: Technological advances made in surveillance in recent years—including facial recognition video cameras in public places—and the proliferation of heavily monitored apps like WeChat have facilitated the detection, identification, and detention of Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong. Individuals have been sentenced to long prison terms for speaking to others about Falun Gong in public parks, handing out fliers at neighbors’ homes, or sharing a link with a friend about the practice or the rights abuses suffered by practitioners.
New research on organ transplant abuses: Academic research based on Chinese medical papers and investigative phone calls to medical facilities found further evidence that Falun Gong practitioners have been, and continue to be, killed so their organs can be used in transplant operations. Staff from military hospitals who were previously accused of performing organ harvesting surgeries have migrated to civilian hospitals in an apparent attempt to blur state responsibility and reduce accountability.
Top officials driving anti-Falun Gong persecution: Two central CCP officials are currently leading ongoing security campaigns against Falun Gong believers throughout China—including via torture and extrajudicial killing. They are Zhao Leji, a member of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, and Guo Shengkun, Deputy Director of the CCP’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee.
Threats and attacks in Hong Kong: The implementation of the National Security Law and other political crackdowns in Hong Kong have contributed to physical assaults against Falun Gong practitioners and threats of a ban against Falun Gong by pro-Beijing media and lawmakers.
Transnational repression: Since the persecution began, Falun Gong practitioners even outside China have been targets for surveillance, harassment, burglary, and beatings. Over the past two years, this has continued, including physical attacks in New York City and London, and Chinese Consulate pressure in Australia obstructing Falun Gong participation in community events. At times, other governments have done the CCP’s bidding, such as a Russian ruling disbanding a local Falun Gong group under an anti-extremism law often used to suppress free speech.
“The CCP’s persecution against Falun Gong believers inside and outside of China will undoubtedly continue over the coming year. International actors must not stand idle,” says Browde. “As Falun Gong practitioners pursue the spiritual path of their choice, live according to the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and make sacrifices to bring forth a freer and more just China, it is time for the world to stand at their side.”