In a 72-hour time frame, more than 50 members of the Assembly signed. “I’ve been in politics a very long time, almost three decades, and I’ve never had an issue get that much interest and support in such a short period of time,” said 8th District Assemblyman Phil Boyle, who initiated the letter.
He initiated the letter on June 18. Its signing comes just weeks before July 20, which will mark the 10th year of the CCP’s brutal suppression of Falun Gong.
More than 3,000 Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) practitioners are confirmed to have been killed by the CCP, although the full number cannot be confirmed. Countless others have been thrown in prisons and “re-education” camps where brutal torture methods are often used on them.
Boyle said that in the New York State Assembly “there was such strong support for Falun Gong practitioners,” adding that the response was “amazing because we got started with only a few days left in our Assembly session.”
When asked why there is such a strong stance against the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the New York Assembly, Boyle said, “I think they appreciate what Falun Gong represents.”
The practice is the most popular qigong discipline in China and was once regarded favorably by the ruling party, due to its health benefits. Between 1992 and 1999, an estimated 70 to 100 million people began practicing Falun Gong in China, according to a state poll that was conducted in 1999.
Its widespread popularity is often attributed to its free teachings and its foundation in the values of being truthful, compassionate, and tolerant. Its popularity was also considered one of the factors spurring the CCP to persecute the practice.
When asked what the interest in foreign human rights is to the New York State Assembly, Boyle said that around the world, human rights are “coming to the forefront of foreign policy.”
“It’s our hope that in his dealings with leaders of communist China, President Obama will keep the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners at the forefront of his mind when he’s dealing with leaders in Beijing,” Boyle said.
He added that the CCP’s violence has stretched into U.S. communities, as was witnessed in the numerous attacks against Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing in the borough of Queens, N.Y.
These attacks were addressed specifically in the New York State Assembly’s letter to Obama.
The letter states that “The persecution of Falun Dafa followers by the Chinese communist regime is not limited to the People's Republic of China. Pro-communist mobs have berated, threatened, and physically attacked Falun Gong adherents in New York City. New York City police officers have had to arrest several members of an anti-Falun Gong mob for attacks against practitioners, with charges ranging from assault to resisting arrest.”
Boyle said that he was “outraged” upon hearing of the attacks taking place in Queens, adding that such attacks need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law “because if the thugs that carried out these assaults and intimidation think they can get away with it because of their connections back in Beijing, then there’s no end in sight of what they may try in the future.”
When asked what his suggestions are for Obama to demand the CCP end its persecution, Boyle said one issue is the concern that bringing up the issue would affect trade relations with China.
He said, “The President is going to need to stand up and show that courage to say: We know these are tough economic times, but human rights is the most important principle that we stand for in the United States, and with or without the Chinese government, we’ll get through this crisis as a country.”
“I think we should have similar letters being sent to President Obama from around the country,” said Boyle.