Spiritual Group Seeks Visa Denials for Chinese Human Rights Abusers

Spiritual Group Seeks Visa Denials for Chinese Human Rights Abusers
Falun Gong practitioners hold wreaths with photos of people who were killed inside China for their beliefs during a parade in New York City on May 12, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

U.S. practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong have submitted a list of Chinese officials who have committed human rights abuses, urging the U.S. State Department to deny the officials entry into the United States, according to the U.S.-based website Minghui.org.

The list was submitted in response to an indication from officials earlier this year that the department would increase scrutiny of visa applications from foreign officials who have participated in severe violations of religious freedom, according to a July 23 statement by Minghui, which serves as a clearinghouse for information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

An official advised Falun Gong practitioners in the United States that they could submit a list of Chinese officials known to be involved in the persecution, according to the statement.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that has been brutally persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for 20 years. The discipline, consisting of meditative exercises and a set of moral teachings centered around the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, gained significant popularity in the 1990s, with an estimated 70 million to 100 million people practicing in China by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time.

Fearing that the practice’s enormous popularity would threaten Party rule, then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide persecution on July 20, 1999.

Practitioners have been, and continue to be, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for refusing to renounce their faith. At any given time, hundreds of thousands of adherents are incarcerated in China for their faith, according to estimates by the Falun Dafa Information Center.

The center, in conjunction with U.S.-based nonprofit World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, sent the State Department a list detailing the names, former and current positions, and abuses of Chinese officials involved in the persecution, Lai Shantao, president of the Falun Dafa Association of Washington, told The Epoch Times on July 23.

Individuals on the list were employed across a variety of state departments, including officials in the propaganda department, doctors involved in forced organ harvesting of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, and officials at the “610 Office”—an extralegal secret police force dedicated to carrying out the persecution of Falun Gong. The diversity of departments represented on the list reflects how the CCP mobilized the entire state apparatus to suppress the faith, Lai said.

He said the association in Washington intends to submit more lists in the future.

“We believe this visa ban is a really powerful vehicle to curb violations of religious freedom of Falun Gong practitioners in China,” he said.

“In the last 20 years, the number of perpetrators is probably in the magnitude of tens of thousands across the whole country. So we plan to continue compiling the evidence and submitting their names to the State Department.”

Under Section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, any person who serves as a foreign government official and is responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom is inadmissible for entry to the United States.

A state department official confirmed receipt of the list and said the department will take appropriate action in all cases, according to the Minghui.org statement. The official also said that a number of Chinese officials in recent years have been denied U.S. visas due to their role in persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.

There are various laws that bar the granting of visas to human rights violators, the official said, including laws that also deny visas to the spouses and children of perpetrators, according to the statement.

Lai said that while some perpetrators may have no plans to visit the United States, many are keen to send their children to live or study in the country.

“They really don’t want this path to be closed,” he said.

The recent news of the state department’s intensified efforts to tighten immigration checks on violators of religious freedom has already had a powerful impact in China, Lai said.

He said reports from Minghui.org indicate that some detention centers in China have recently removed photographs of local police officials from its walls, suggesting authorities are afraid of their names being exposed.

The State Department didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

From The Epoch Times

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