Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On Falun Gong Congressional Record

Mr. LEAHY. Throughout my years in the Senate I have met with people from around the world who have been persecuted by their own governments. But the stories I have heard from survivors and family members of the victims of China’s efforts to silence and eliminate religious minorities continue to shock me. The Chinese government systematically brutalizes millions of people, including Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Falun Gong practitioners.

Those who practice Falun Gong use meditation and are guided by a philosophy of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. But because the Chinese Communist Party fears any organized religion or association it cannot control, it views this revival of traditional Chinese religion as a threat to its survival.

Falun Gong practitioners recently marked the 20th anniversary of the beginning of China’s campaign of brutality against their community. On July 20, 1999, hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in their homes in the middle of the night. Over the following week, as many as 50,000 Falun Gong were reportedly detained. In the years since that initial crackdown, the Chinese government has relentlessly continued its repression of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested, interred at reeducation camps, beaten, sleep-deprived, starved, sexually assaulted, electrocuted, force-fed, shackled, and had their limbs slowly broken, until they have renounced their beliefs and practices. They have been ordered to participate in propaganda vilifying their own community. They have had their organs harvested against their will. They have been murdered. We will probably never know how many innocent people have been the victims of these atrocities, since the Chinese government denies to the outside world that it is happening, while justifying it to their own citizens.

The Chinese government should immediately cease its arbitrary detention and brutalization of Falun Gong practitioners and other religious and ethnic minorities. It should release political prisoners from reeducation centers, decriminalize religious and spiritual practices, and allow international human rights groups and journalists to interview survivors. It should commit to ending the use of torture, organ harvesting of prisoners, and propaganda against minorities.

The plight of these people in China, the horrors of torture and murder by the government, can seem very far away from Washington, D.C., and very far away from my state of Vermont. And yet Vermonters travel to Washington to meet with me and my staff, urging Congress to take action on behalf of Falun Gong.

Vermonters are persistent people who rightly refuse to let us forget about Falun Gong and the other victims of China’s repression. It is all too easy to ignore crimes against humanity on the other side of the globe, when the victims are people we will never meet. But Vermonters demand that we pay attention. The Falun Gong deserve to be remembered, and they deserve the international community’s collective action.

# # # # #

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693