U.S. House of Representatives Calls For End to Falun Gong Persecution in China (Updated)

New York—The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday urging the Chinese Communist Party to end its decade-long campaign against Falun Gong and expressing solidarity with victims of persecution in China. 

House Resolution 605 (full text) recognizes, “the continued persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China on the 11th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party campaign to suppress the Falun Gong spiritual movement and [calls] for an immediate end to the campaign to persecute, intimidate, imprison, and torture Falun Gong practitioners.” 

“The Falun Gong spiritual discipline is based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the resolution’s author  (full statement). “Yet these innocents are brutally targeted by the Chinese regime, whose heinous tactics include harvesting the organs of Falun Gong practitioners and violently harassing even those practitioners living in the United States.”

“The stark reality which this resolution addresses gives new meaning to the phrase ‘Butchers of Beijing.'”

Citing Western press reports as well as Amnesty International, the United Nations, and Washington’s own Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the resolution’s text provides a detailed timeline tracking events from the origins of the violent persecution through to the widespread arrests and deaths of Falun Gong practitioners that accompanied the 2008 Olympic games.

“The passage and specific wording of this resolution is especially significant for it demonstrates that the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China is as urgent today as it ever was,” says Levi Browde, Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center. “The reality remains that millions of innocent people in China who practice Falun Gong are at constant risk of arbitrary detention, torture, and death.”

“The resolution’s content also highlights that attaining genuine freedom and human rights protection for all Chinese people is predicated on ending the persecution of Falun Gong. For how can a civil, healthy society develop when tens of millions are targeted in such a fashion?”

The resolution also cites estimates that tens of millions continue to practice Falun Gong inside China, while challenging the Party’s anti-Falun Gong propaganda, particularly its use of the label “cult” to defame adherents at home and abroad. 

It calls “upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China to immediately cease and desist from its campaign to persecute, intimidate, imprison, and torture Falun Gong practitioners, to immediately abolish the 6-10 office, an extrajudicial security apparatus given the mandate to ‘eradicate’ Falun Gong, and to immediately release Falun Gong practitioners, detained solely for their beliefs, from prisons and re-education through labor (RTL) camps.”

It also calls upon the President and Members of Congress to mark the 11th anniversary of the launch of the persecution, which will take place in July 2010.

“It is important not to underestimate the real world impact that this resolution will have,” says Browde. “First, by articulating the official position of the U.S. Congress, a leader in the free world, it sets an example for policymakers around the globe to follow.”

“Second, as the resolution’s text is translated into Chinese and circulated among grassroots networks throughout China, it will bring meaningful hope to millions suffering persecution and encourage further nonviolent efforts to end abuses. Moreover, its exposure of Communist Party fabrications and assertion of solidarity with the victims will give pause to would-be persecutors.”

House Resolution 605 is the fourth congressional resolution passed since 1999 specifically highlighting the plight of Falun Gong practitioners. (three prior resolutions: House Concurrent Resolution 218 / House Concurrent Resolution 188 / House Concurrent Resolution 304)

Bipartisan Support

In addition to Representative Ros-Lehtinen, the bipartisan initiative drew 81 co-sponsors, split nearly evenly between Democrats (40) and Republicans (41). The vote on the resolution was 412-1. The only dissenter was Ron Paul of Texas, known for his opposition to censuring rights abuses in other countries.

The resolution went to a vote following a 13-minute-long floor debate. Besides comments by Representative Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) as cited above, Diane Watson (D-CA, full statement) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), spoke in support of the declaration.

In her remarks, Representative Woolsey referenced a resolution she had helped initiate in 2002 regarding the oppression of Falun Gong practitioners in the United States and China (H.R. 304), adding,”Sadly, eight years later, the persecution continues. People are being sent to jail, to work camps and are assaulted for their practice of Falun Gong. The Chinese Government must put a stop to this inhumane persecution.”

Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rush Holt (D-NJ, statement), and Frank Wolf (R-VA, statement), who could not attend the debate in person, submitted statements for the record.

“Falun Gong practitioners have been great witnesses of courage and peace,” says Smith’s statement. “I was in China last July. I remember going into an Internet cafe and trying to look up Falun Gong. You know the story: nothing. I mention this because many members of Falun Gong are great heroes of Internet freedom. Several members have come to my office and demonstrated how they help millions of Chinese men and women break the so-called ‘Great Firewall of China.'”

“This resolution is a testament to the millions of victims of the Chinese Communist Party that the Chinese government cannot hide the truth, and its victims will not be forgotten,” said Bilirakis’ statement.

“Egregious injustices, such as those suffered by the Falun Gong practitioners and others targeted by the Chinese Communist Party, are unacceptable in a civilized world and must end today.”