‘Immediately Cease’ Repression of Falun Gong, US Tells Beijing on Eve of Persecution Anniversary

The United States on July 19 urged the Chinese communist regime to “immediately cease” its long-running persecution of Falun Gong and release all adherents jailed for their beliefs.

The call, made by State Department Spokesperson Ned Price at a regular press briefing, came a day before the 22nd anniversary of the start of Beijing’s eradication campaign against the faith group.

“Tomorrow we recognize 22 years since the People’s Republic of China launched the campaign of repression against the Falun Gong movement, and its millions of practitioners, advocates, and the human rights defenders working to protect their rights,” Price said.

He added that “thousands of Falun Gong practitioners face detention, harassment and reported torture and abuse each year” for simply refusing to renounce the peaceful practice of their beliefs.

A meditation practice first introduced to China in 1990s, Falun Gong surged in popularity in the country with its slow-moving exercises and moral teachings centered around the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice had around 70 million to 100 million adherents by the end of the decade, according to official estimates. Deeming this popularity a threat, the regime on July 20, 1999, began a nationwide campaign targeting adherents. Since then an untold number of practitioners have suffered from mental and physical torture, financial pressure, forced labor, imprisonment, and forced organ harvesting—all of which have been deployed in a bid to eradicate their faith.

Survivors from the abuse have retold stories of going through toxic drug injections, grueling forced labor, electric shocks on private parts, and, to the pregnant, of receiving threats to forcibly abort their babies.

The 22-year-long suppression has led to an uncountable number of deaths. Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website that serves as a clearinghouse for the persecution, has verified details of thousands of deaths, although it notes the number is likely just the tip of the iceberg due to the extreme difficulty of collecting information from China.

NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade marking the 22nd year of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, in Brooklyn, N.Y., on July 18, 2021. (Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

The ongoing abuse is drawing growing concerns on the international stage. In May, the State Department sanctioned a Chinese Communist Party official who had a role in persecuting adherents in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in southwestern China. It did the same last year to a local Chinese police official in southeast China’s Fujian Province for his role in repressing practitioners.

The state of Texas and over a dozen counties in Virginia have passed resolutions warning residents against traveling to China to receive organ transplants. The measures were made in the hopes of ensuring Americans do not become unwitting accomplices in the regime’s state-sanctioned force organ harvesting, which targets primarily Falun Gong practitioners and also other prisoners of conscience. Bipartisan lawmakers in Congress, as well as UK and Canadian officials, are also looking to hold the regime accountable for this grisly practice.

In a rally on July 16 in Washington, religious freedom expert Nina Shea called on the United States to recognize the regime’s persecution of Falun Gong as a form of genocide.

“Genocide is the destruction in part of a religious community, for example, with the intent to eradicate it,” Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, said.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that what has happened these past decades to Falun Gong meets that criteria.”

From The Epoch Times