House to Vote on Bill to Counter China’s Persecution of Falun Gong

House to Vote on Bill to Counter China’s Persecution of Falun Gong
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington on June 10, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—A bipartisan bill aimed at curbing the Chinese Communist Party’s decades-long persecution of faith group Falun Gong is heading to the House floor on June 25.

The legislation, called the Falun Gong Protection Act (H.R. 4132), would require the United States to impose sanctions on foreign individuals who “are knowingly responsible for, are complicit in, or have engaged in” Beijing’s state-sponsored forced organ harvesting in China.

It would also make it U.S. policy to avoid cooperation with China in the organ transplant field and to ally with international partners to highlight the persecution of Falun Gong and coordinate targeted sanctions and visa restrictions.

The practice of forced organ harvesting has drawn widespread alarm in recent years, especially following an independent tribunal’s investigation in 2019 that concluded that forced organ harvesting has taken place “on a significant scale” in China. Detained adherents of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline consisting of meditation exercises and teachings based on the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, make up the main group from which organs are forcibly taken, according to the tribunal’s findings.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who introduced the bill along with 18 other lawmakers in June 2023, said he looks forward to the Tuesday floor vote.

“I’m proud to fight against the horrific practice of organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners,” he told The Epoch Times. “It’s time we see which members of Congress are willing to stand up against the Chinese Communist Party and its heinous human rights violations like organ harvesting.”

Several other lawmakers supporting the measure said they are glad to see it moving ahead.

“We must do everything in our power to hold organ traffickers accountable for their unspeakable crimes, and this bipartisan legislation, which I was proud to co-lead, is a huge step toward that,” Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) told The Epoch Times, adding that he will “continue to speak out unwaveringly against the restriction of human rights and the persecution of religious groups, wherever they occur.”

On the state level, Texas, Utah, and Idaho have made laws that prohibit health insurance firms from funding China-originated organ transplants.

The State Department in Monday’s 2024 Trafficking in Persons Report also cited concerns over China’s forced organ harvesting, noting a 2021 statement from United Nations-affiliated human rights experts expressing alarm over how it “appears to be targeting specific ethnic, linguistic, or religious minorities held in detention, often without being explained the reasons for arrest or given arrest warrants, at different locations.”

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Caucus and member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in May 2023 held a congressional briefing featuring U.S.-based families who have lost their relatives under the Chinese regime’s persecution or have loved ones jailed in China for practicing Falun Gong.

The “deplorable” campaign, he said at the time, “has a direct impact on the U.S. citizens and people living in the United States of America.”

Ahead of the House vote on the bill, he shared pride for the human rights bill’s progress and described “holding China accountable for its reprehensible human rights violations” one of his priorities.

“These bills are just a start to the work we must do to pressure China to stop the persecution of Falun Gong and all religious minorities,” he told The Epoch Times.

From The Epoch Times